Los Liones Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, California, is just the best!
One of the most important things when traveling the world over and learning about a new city or country is to hang out with people who actually live there and do what the locals do. Find your people and soak up the local culture.
When deciding whether to spend most of my 90 days in the USA in New York or Los Angeles, the factors that I used to weigh up my decision were the culture (I felt like New York would be a better fit for me), weather/climate, opportunities and friends/networks.
Ultimately the weather and my friends/networks played a BIG factor in me deciding on Los Angeles as opposed to NYC, but one of my concerns was getting trapped up in the plastic fantastic lifestyle of Tinsel Town, like I did when based in Dubai whilst working with Emirates Airlines. I needn’t have worried.
Sure, if you’re keen to party all the time (and I had my moments), there’s something on every single night of the week in Los Angeles if you want it; a killer stand-up comedy scene at places like Nerdmelt Showroom, The Comedy Store or Hollywood Improv, world-renown live music venues like Sayers Club, Whisky A Go Go and Viper Room, a vast array of restaurants/bars and because a vast majority of the population work in the entertainment industry, there’s always launch parties, awards ceremonies or drinks and networking meetings to get to.
My focus for this trip was to enjoy LA, but it was also imperative that I knuckle down into my new freelance Australian social media contracts that I was working on remotely, to get a feel for California and start building some networks.
I also didn’t want to get trapped up in meaningless acquaintance-style friendships partying 5-7 days a week like some of those I made in my Dubai days, ’cause I’m at a stage in my life where things are really starting to take shape and I’d rather pour the majority of my time and money into something more tangible, that makes me truly happy.
As regular readers will know from my hiking articles so far on Griffith Observatory, Lake Hollywood and Hollywood Peak, I balanced my nights out in LA watching live comedy, catching up with friends or watching the NBA Finals at my local sports bar, with some of the best hikes all around Los Angeles.
And no, I’m not just talking Runyon Canyon, where all the beautiful people hang out and talk shop – I loved chatting with friends who live in LA about their favourites hikes or seeking out new ones to try together. It’s a wonderful way to strengthen friendships and get away from the bubble of Hollywood, that it could be so easy to get trapped up in.
One such trail I discovered recently with my friends Sam, Bec and Cat was Los Liones Canyon, a short drive past Santa Monica Pier to the start of the Santa Monica Mountains, a coastal mountain range in Southern California, parallel to the Pacific Ocean, with over 500 miles of trails offering the perfect escape from the urban jungle.
We hiked for a solid 2 and a quarter hours, with an array of wildlife in the area including a bunch of lizards & one solitary sleepy snake, who was struggling to get off the trail, and as the “May Gray” (yeah, that’s a thing) started to wash away from the SoCal skies about halfway through our hike, we were left with stunning, sweeping views of Santa Monica, the whole of greater Los Angeles and it’s seemingly endless beaches…
Ultimately it’s become abundantly clear to me through Californian experiences like these, that while LA is definitely Hollywood and Tinsel Town it is so much more. By trusting your gut instinct, doing a little research and approaching the exploration of cities that are brand new to you with the right mindset, you can choose your own adventure and it’ll change your life. This 90 days in Los Angeles, California was the right decision for me.
Article & travel photography by Dan Wilkinson (Hot & Delicious: Rocks The Planet!).
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