13 Places To Take Your Family If They're Visiting You In LA

Having to figure out what to do in Los Angeles with visiting family is always a challenge. Unless you are me. I have a very easy way of pleasing the parentals. It took me years to master how to be a great host, but I can safely say that now I am totally able to handle even the most unexpected of drop ins. I learned the essentials when I moved from NYC to San Francisco. I honed my skills after my move from San Francisco to Boston. Finally, I perfected my technique when I made the move from Boston to Los Angeles.

No matter the number of people, the level of interest, or even their nationality — I will give the best tour of Los Angeles possible. I know exactly where to take your family. Some of my choices are "out of the box" and seem to be unconventional. Don't fret. I chose them carefully, weighing my options against tour guides and Yelp advice. I start off with touristy things to help maximize the stories my guests will tell once they come home to their respective friends. Then I get into the weirder and more offbeat locations. I end with what people in the business call "alternative" spots. Things that make a statement. Things that really show my personality. There will be no Mohegan Sun tours or shopping sprees in Beverly Hills on my watch. I offer the gritty Los Angeles and my guests eat it all up. Lucky for you, I'm willing to share. So sit back and take notes people. Class is in session.

Part One: The Appetizer (AKA Tourist Bait)

Hollywood Sign

Like I said earlier, this is where you get your folks hooked. You want to make sure that they see what your city has to offer. Los Angeles is the homeland of movies and entertainment. You have to show your guests iconic locations. What can be more iconic than the Hollywood sign? The hike will tire out your guests so that by the end of the night they will feel accomplished. Added bonus: they will be too tired to make you show them things at night. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for yours truly.

Santa Monica Pier


This pier will serve multiple purposes. First, showcasing the beach. Los Angeles, and California for that matter, are both known for their beaches. You want to show your family what that means. Secondly, chances are that someone in your family is a big fan of the Forrest Gump movie and will enjoy the conveniently located Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant. Lastly, the sunset is beautiful enough to calm even the most neurotic of family members. I'm talking about you, Aunt Ruth!

Hollywood Cemetery

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This last stop for the day is a taster. What I mean by that is — it's weird enough to give a hint of whats to come without causing alarm. Your family will walk into a cemetery to watch a movie (brownie points if its a scary movie). They will come out with a cool experience to brag about to all of their neighbors.

Part Two: The Main Course (AKA What You Love)

Davey Waynes

This bar is located in Hollywood. You walk in through a refrigerator door. Warning: The bar in the back is plastered with porn. This is a perfect place to show your family (particularly the similarly-aged, hipper set) because they will think you are a lot cooler than you are. It's a little edgy but totally hopping on every night of the week. (Sorry, Aunt Ruth.)

Nethercutt Museum

Wipe their palates clean with a trip to this museum. Instead of paintings and sculptures of butts, you will be taking your family to a museum of classic cars and automobiles. There are so many cars. There is also a giant train in the back which you can board. I got to pull the huge whistle in the front. It was a big day for me. Anyway ... this is great for an older crowd, but is still interesting enough for any teens coming along.

Hollywood Bowl Overlook

This scenic stop is exactly what you'll want to show a family that doesn't have a lot of time on their hands. This overlook shows the complicated highway systems of Los Angeles, as well as the scope of how flat the entire city is. You will look down onto the city while houses that cost millions of dollars cast a nice shade behind you. You don't actually have to know the city well enough to make up facts from that distance. It's not like Aunt Ruth will know the Capitol Records building from a Chipotle.

UCB Theater (Franklin and Sunset)

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It's a known fact that everyone loves to laugh. This stop is a cheap alternative to paying hundreds of dollars for a theater show. Instead, your family will enjoy a night of up and coming comedians for a fraction of the cost. You can even make yourself look really good by buying the $5 tickets yourself. This will be the perfecting ending for the second part of your tour. The next day you will start on the alternative locations that are serving many different purposes.

Part Three: The Desert (AKA The Closer)

Anywhere That Serves Delicious Coffee

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At this point, your family will be eating out of your hand. Find a nice, family-owned cafe, and take your family there for breakfast. They will enjoy the local feel, and suddenly understand why you love living where you live, even if it's 3,000 miles away. Because if there is anything I learned through years of showing people around, it's that everyone loves a good cup of coffee.

Your Friend's Gross Apartment

The grosser the better. You might be wondering what on earth I'm thinking, bringing your wholesome family to such a messy place. Listen, I'm a professional. You want your family to leave with the comforting thoughts that you are on your way to a great life. You want to stack the deck in your favor. Creating a contrast to your own living situation is, if I do say so myself, genius. You will stop getting frantic calls from your mother the moment she sees that Trey has a roach motel on his kitchen counter and four bongs. You will become the responsible one.

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles


This place is delicious. There really isn't a reason other than that to eat lunch here.

Emerson College — ELA

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Architecturally beautiful, and located a block away from Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, this building is pretty enough to have a little photo session. (Family holiday card, anyone?) This building has won major architectural awards, so it adds culture to your entire day.



But why the LA Target in particular?

Again. I'm a professional. Take your family to Target for any last minute souvenirs or travel necessities. They will feel a sense of comfort due to Targets everywhere being similarly reliable and organized. You are subconsciously preparing them for their trip back without you. Someone needs to call Kanye West because there is another Yeezus in town, and her name is Dasha.

The Airport


Don't be the jerk that makes their family take a cab to the airport. Drop them off yourself. This will be the perfect bookend to the trip and leave a wonderful last impression on everyone.

If you follow this guide, your entire family will absolutely adore you. You will be the talk of the town. Be ready for so many more visits from other people because word of how great you were will spread like wildfire.

Images: Giphy (2), Pixabay/skeeze, Pixabay/PatrickBlaise, Pixabay/levelord