How do you discover a city? How do get under it’s skin in a way that feels like more than just basic touristing? How do you explore the local hangouts, the un-touted hotspots, and the beloved haunts?
You ask a local, that’s how. But not just any local, you ask someone who’s “in the know” — a mover and shaker who keeps up to date on what’s hot and what’s stale; someone who takes pride in truly knowing their city. A person who helps keep their hometown awesome while also utilizing all it has to offer. That’s why we went to the pros when we wanted to learn about all things Los Angeles.
We partnered with Toyota Camry to ask VIAA — an R&B songstress on the come up — and Hollywood — a legendary dancer/ choreographer — for their takes on the one city that never seems to go out of style.
Scroll or use the interactive map to explore!
PART I: VIAA’S LOS ANGELES
LA made me feel truly accepted for the first time — everyone’s more eccentric, everybody’s kind of hustling and doing their thing. There a sense of camaraderie here. I let the universe do what it was going to do with me, and now I feel like I’m on the right track — I love LA for that.
VIAA is the American Dream come to life. She’s an ex-Army brat who moved to LA to chase a dream. It would be easy to declare her a success — she’s played with stars like Anderson Paak, Willow Smith, and Doja Cat — but VIAA would probably insist that she’s in the process of succeeding. With a solo project dropping, celebrity love (“Uncle” Warren G is a fan), and a big buzz across the nation’s entertainment capital, she’s most definitely a star on the rise.
To spin VIAA in her own words:
I’m a singer, songwriter, musician — I pretty much do it all. For my own projects, I sing and write and perform. I’ve been doing that for about a year now. I also I’m a touring backup singer, so in my off time from solo work, I’ll tour with other bands.
Now that you know a few things about VIAA, you can see why we wanted her take on what to see, what to eat, and where to listen to music in the city she calls home.
Highland Park is where I first moved when I came here, and it was a really good transitioning city from the suburb I was in, in Ohio — because there’s kind of a suburb feel. I also really like Silver Lake. It’s pretty hipster but it really does live up to it’s reputation as far as really great coffee and really great dive-y bars and a cool scene. It’s just makes you cool and at home. Plus, there’s a little more nature there too.
I’m also connected to Los Feliz. Sometimes I work there at this one this ceramic store. It’s like a paint your own ceramic store and… I don’t know I just think it’s really cute. Like the whole neighborhood is just like really cute, families.
Must-Visit spots for a newcomer:
If you had just moved to LA, I would bring you to the beach first. You need to go. Venice or Santa Monica — because that’s like quintessential like cool culture whatever, it’s very vibe-y and cool. Then I would take you to Malibu because it’s more chill and it’s like just so relaxing and you just need to go at least once.
After that, I’d bring you back into town and just take you on like hikes or nature walks. I really love the Hollywood Reservoir and it’s like really discrete, not a lot of people know about it. You just go up in this like cool hill-y house area, it’s near the Hollywood sign, if you’re into that.
Then I would take you to some cool restaurants and coffee shops — I love this restaurant HomeState because it actually reminds me of my hometown in Ohio. For coffee, we’d go to Commissary in Hollywood or maybe Go Get Em Tiger — which has a location on Larchmont and one on Hollywood.
For me, the best places to shop are vintage stores. There’s this really good vintage store in Los Feliz, called SquaresVille. Every time I’ve gone in I’ve found a piece that I really love and I still wear. Usually I find something I’ll wear on stage because it’s just a little over the top, which I like. Then there’s another place around the corner from there, because there’s a lot of really cool vintage stores in that area. It’s called Bearded Beagle, which is cool and really affordable.
Style is important to me because it’s just another extension of who you are and how you want to express yourself. Sometimes I have a hard time expressing myself verbally or emotionally, which you know is kind of the reason why music is so important to me. Style is another form of that. I’ve always … My dad used to ask me: “Why do you always want me to take you shopping? Why do you always want new clothes? I don’t understand why you can’t just wear the stuff over.” I was just like, “Dad you just don’t understand me. I need to express myself in this way. I like wearing new things and wearing loud things and wearing things that people don’t normally want to wear or would think is cool because it just makes me feel better.”
There are so many places I really love to eat in LA. One is kind of a new place, it’s called Dinette — they’ve got the best waffles ever, served in a bunch of different styles. Then like I said, HomeState is like one of my favorites because they’ve got queso and barely anybody out here has queso dip, so I’m about that. A staple for me, as far as like Mexican food goes, is El Compadre.
Another classic, it’s been there forever, is Canters on Fairfax. They’ve got amazing matzo ball soup so I go there for all that all the time.
I love seeing shows at the Bootleg Theater. I think they’re really good about putting on underground and new indie artists. They have a free Monday night residency, which is really, really tight. I’ve actually played a residency there and it was like one of my favorite shows I’ve played. Then there’s also the Echo and the EchoPlex — they’ll have like really big artists come play there or like people that are coming up super hard. Then also just like nights where they’ll have young artists, which is really tight.
This is kind of a wild card, but I actually just played The Peppermint Club and they’ll put on bigger artists and smaller artists but just the venue itself is really beautiful. I actually just went to the Resident, too. There was a DJ playing and it was super cool.
How the city inspires creativity:
I feel empowered and inspired in LA — being surrounded by a lot of like minded people, specifically women that help me realize that it’s cool to stand up for yourself, it’s cool to have a voice… people who encourage you to figure out who you really are because it’s really the only way you’re going to be happy. The city just kind of blankets me in this feeling that I can do whatever I want to do. In terms of like my music and my art it just makes me feel empowered that I’m usually using my voice and reaching out to people and showing people that I have something to say or that I have something to give and offer them and that they can take it for what they will but LA inspires me and empowers me in that way, to approach my life in a different way and use my voice the way it’s meant to be used.
PART II: HOLLYWOOD’S LOS ANGELES
I didn’t have a Plan B when I got to LA. I went for it. I just let everything go. I moved. And just made my dreams come true and still making my dreams come true.
Hollywood is hungry. Not for food, though he’s got some great reccomendations there. He’s hungry for success. That longing brought him to LA and it made him fall in love with this city of strivers. So how are things working out? Stunningly. The dancer choreographer is a legend in the making — beloved by megastars like Beyonce and Rhianna. He’s a man of raw passion who chases his dreams fearlessly. No wonder he’s been so successful.
Check out Hollywood in his own words:
I moved to L.A. in 2008. I was hired thanks to Tanisha Scott for the Rude Boy video by Rihanna. So I was the only dancer in that video, and because of the connection and the good energy, Tanisha asked me to assist her with choreography on Rihanna’s Last Girl On Earth Tour. Beyonce found my work on YouTube. Everything just piled up after that.
Now that you trust Hollywood’s credentials, check out his favorite spots in his beloved city of Los Angeles:
The places that inspire him:
I get inspiration from anywhere that my soul responds to. It might literally be walking down by Hollywood Boulevard, or me going down to Santee Alley, or maybe the Santa Monica Pier to people watch. I get inspiration from energy and this city has that.
Where a newcomer should go first:
If someone has never been to L.A., I would say go to the Griffith Observatory, go down Mulholland Drive, go to Runyon Canyon, go to the fashion district, go to Slauson Market, go to Universal CityWalk … Hit those iconic places, and this city has a lot of them.
Where to shop:
I actually go to the vintage shops — ’cause you get more for your buck, number one, and you get really good clothing, number two. When I want to feel very fancy, I go to the Beverly Center or I go to the Burbank Mall.
Where to eat:
My ultimate go to spot in L.A. is any taco truck that might be on the street — Every Thursday on Magnolia & Lankershim, they have taco trucks, chicken trucks, any type of truck that you can possibly imagine. They have it there. I also like the sushi spots downtown, by Koreatown.
Where to see music:
My favorite venues in L.A., to see music, I would say the Hollywood Bowl. They also have free concerts at the Universal CityWalk and I recently caught Beyonce at the Dodger Stadium.
The perfect day in LA:
My perfect day in L.A. is waking up around 8:30, 9:00, going outside and the sun just smacks you right in your face. You drive, get your cup of coffee or orange juice, and you go to the park, and be with the universe and the trees. Then after that, you grab your car and go to the beach and have some mimosas by the sand. After that, you wait ’til the sunset comes down and you go to the hills and watch the stars from the Griffith Observatory. Bam!