By Michael Kinney
One of the first travel stories I ever put together focused on a trip to Los Angeles I made while following the Oklahoma City Thunder during a playoff run. It was a long road trip, which allowed me the opportunity to check out a city that has great food, great weather and great culture.
I found myself back in Lala land once again following the Thunder on another road trip the first week of November. Facing both the L.A. Clippers and L.A. Lakers during the span of four days, gave me a chance to explore not just Los Angeles but parts of the region I was unfamiliar with.
So instead of hitting normal haunts like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art or Griffith Observatory, I went in search of a few hidden gems. A few spots that normally do not pop-up trip advisories or that are overlooked in such a massive city.
To my surprise, I found more than I expected.
However, I first had to get past my first major hurdle. Transportation.
With car rental and gas prices having gone through the roof, driving around was out of the question. The airport had only passenger vans and sports cars left. Either one would have taken more than $1,600 out of my pocket for five days of action.
Instead, I went with public transportation. LA County’s metro system (trains, buses) runs throughout Los Angeles and into Long Beach, Santa Monica and Venice as well. An all-day metro pass is only $7 or $25 for five days.
The train and buses do have their drawbacks, of course. You are now bound by their schedules. which limits spontaneity. Ofcourse, you will see all kinds of people, which can be a positive or a negative.
Despite that, it was a good value and it avoided the massive track jams that take place daily on L.A. highways. Even on nights I was leaving the Staples Center after games, it was a five minute walk to the train station and I was back at my apartment in Long Beach in an hour.
A few stops I was able to make my way to in downtown L.A. included The Last Bookstore (lastbookstorela.com/), The Grand Central Market (grandcentralmarket.com/) and The Broad (thebroad.org/).
While The Broad isn’t as expansive as the LA County Museum, it’s definitely worth making the trip to see. From Andy Warhol to Roy Lichtenstein to Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Broad’s collection of art was impressive.
The final stop of my trip was to a place I had no idea even existed. The California African American Museum (caamuseum.org/) was founded in 1977 and despite several trips to L.A., no one had ever mentioned it to me.
Located on the campus of the University of Southern California, the CAAM is a little different from the typical museums I like to check out. It lacked the historical content I normally devour.
However, it did provide space for artists of color to showcase their work. While I was there LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sanford Biggers and April Bey each had space dedicated to their work on display.
One of the more interesting displays was the Rights and Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture. It was not a subject matter I thought I would have any interest in, but I found myself immersed in the history of it all.
While it will not make my list of top 10 museums, the CAAM was solid.
The most interesting stop wasn’t necessarily even on my list as a must-see. However, due to the current supply chain crisis that has taken over the globe, I wanted to get a first-hand look at the Port of Los Angeles. And what I saw blew my mind.
The Port was in complete gridlock. There were large containers as far as the eye could see just stacked on top of each other. Even more significant were the ships lined up in the harbor just to get in and offload their cargo.
I thought I understood what they meant by supply chain bottleneck, but it took me seeing it up close and personal to see why people won’t get furniture or windows they ordered until possibly 2022.
The only reason I got the chance to check out the Port is because I took a road trip down to the Santa Monica Pier earlier in the day and had lunch at The Albright (thealbright.com/), which is right on the pier. The fish and chips were excellent. Their version of southern sweet tea was not.
Going to the beach during the weekday is the best time to go if you are looking to avoid the crowds and long lines.
Being able to sit on the dock and stare out into the ocean as musicians played for money in the background was a perfect reminder of why people are willing to put up a high cost of living and painfully congested traffic to live in SoCal.
Story and Photos: Michael Kinney Media
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