10 spots to avoid spring breakers in L.A.


I've been over spring break since I was in college, so finding a way to avoid it in Los Angeles was high up on my list of things to do. I think I've got it down pretty well, so I'm here to help you do the same. Keep your exposure to tourists and sun (always SPF up) to a minimum with these low-key spots.

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Avoid the beach, hit some water inland at Echo Park Lake
It's all but guaranteed that come February-March-April, the numbers of bathing-suit clad beach lovers are going to multiply like Easter rabbits. Save yourself the crowds and trouble parking and hit the pedal boats at Echo Park Lake. For $10/adult and $5/child, you and your crew can set sail for an hour. It's a bit of a workout, but you'll get all the relaxation feels you'd get from the beach in this little slice of nature in the city (and a great view of the skyline).

Credit: Megan Cooper

Take a hike off the beaten path at Griffith Park
You could hike at Runyon Canyon and dodge tourists, locals, dogs and maybe a celebrity or two (on rare occasion) or you could take a quiet hike on the southeast side of Griffith Park. These aren't the trails that will take you to the Griffith Observatory, these are the ones that will take you to the Old LA Zoo and up a few intense hills (in case you skipped a leg day or two). If you didn't skip leg day, there are some less taxing trails leading to some more Old Zoo sites to see.

Pro tip: When you get to the Visitor Center, go a little further and turn left on Fire Road. That'll take you by the old Merry Go Round where there's tons of free parking close to the trails.

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Stroll through the botanical gardens at Exposition Park
The L.A. Zoo and Botanical Gardens are probably going to be near capacity. Don't miss out on what could be a nice walk through a hidden oasis at the Botanical Gardens at Exposition Park. If you're on vacay with your sweetie, this is a great place for romantic selfies. If you love nature, it's a great place to admire over 200 kinds of roses. Every now and then you can catch a groundskeeper who can give you the 4-1-1 on the park and answer any questions you might have about the gardens. Also, the place smells amazing. Think of the best thing you've ever smelled. For me, it's fresh baked chocolate chip muffins, and the naturally created "perfume" totally tops that.

Pro tip: Bring about $20 in cash for parking. There's not a lot of street parking available and the lots around vary in price. The gardens are free, though.


Credit: Megan Cooper

Shop local at the Melrose Trading Post
Instead of going to Hollywood Boulevard where you'll be stuck in a herd of tourists shuffling down the Walk of Fame and stopping at random to grab pics of their fave celebrity stars, try something a little more open air. Not only is the Melrose Trading Post roomy, it's got character. Maybe you want to catch some local music, maybe you want to shop, or grab some grub at a unique stall, it's all here. If vintage is your thing you can find clothes, a camera, a hat, or a souvenir that captures the spirit of L.A. better than a knick knack from any gift shop. L.A. is creative and chill, two words that likely best describe what you'll find here.

Pro Tip: Get cash before you arrive. There are ATMs on site, but there's usually a line. The MTP requires a $3 admission fee, which goes straight to benefit Fairfax High School.


Credit: Megan Cooper

See Hamilton (the cocktail) at The Village Idiot
Spend the money you can't spend on sold-out Hamilton (the musical) tickets at The Village Idiot. Their chill gastropub vibe coupled with their fab selection of drinks make this place a winner. The cocktail names are a little off the wall but your jaw will hit the floor after a sip or two. Of note are Hamilton: The Cocktail (rum-based containing egg white and banana liqueur) and Hot Flash (serrano in a drink, what?).



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Detox after a night out at Honey Hi
Hair of the dog ain't got nothing on one of the nutrient-packed bowls at Honey Hi. It's guaranteed to get you back on your feet but keep you out of the hustle and bustle of spring breakers. If you're not familiar with L.A. standard fare, this is the place to treat yourself to it. That One Bowl was my fave, but I got a few bites of my friend's miso bowl and I was an instant fan. Almost everything is or can be made gluten free, vegetarian, or dairy free, so it has something for literally everyone.

Credit: Al Pavangkanan/Flickr

Catch a movie without the crowds at Cinefamily
Let's face it, spring is the start of blockbuster season and after a day in the sun, people flock to the theater. Anything with stadium seating and decent popcorn is going to be packed. You could sit front row and have a blah time or you could hit The Cinefamily and see a movie, go to a party, or meet a filmmaker. This former silent movie theater has indoor and outdoor facilities that have kept a lot of their original charm, so you'll feel like you're watching in a piece of history.

Pro tip: They're always hosting an event or a special film series, check out their website to see if there's something you don't want to miss.

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Chow down on tacos at Candela
If you're looking for a place to have a late lunch, but not looking to wait in line for that lunch, you might want to stop by Candela. Catch 'em on a Wednesday and you can get tacos for just $1 (with purchase of a drink). Smack between 8th and 9th on La Brea, you're almost guaranteed to find street parking outside. Once you get seated, a server will drop off chips and salsa. Try not to eat too many, you'll want to save room for the main meal and yam flan for dessert.

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Get a dose of culture at the Autry Museum of the American West
Modern art is cool and all, but it's not everybody's rodeo. Step into history and have a rootin-tootin' grand ol' time at the Autry Museum of the American West. It's loaded with art and artifacts from the wild wild west. Ever hear of Annie Oakley? One of her guns is on display here. How about an actual stagecoach? They're a lot cooler than they look in the movies. Hop on your horse and get on down to the museum, yeehaw!

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Get classy at Fig and Olive
While everyone else is dining at packed seaside restaurants, you should be chilling at Fig and Olive. This breezy spot's menu is full of minimal dishes that might send your taste buds into maximum overdrive. Their dinner crostini selection is tough to match, and one of each makes a fantastic dinner (they have 9 total). The gorgonzola and the manchego were stunning. Every dish, though, is perfectly balanced and bursting with complimentary flavors. Even if the dining room is full, the care that goes into the food will make you feel like they're cooking just for you.



Megan lives in Los Angeles and enjoys running and eating her way around the city. She's here to write, follow along on her website.