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Only the Lonely
What to do in Los Angeles when you’re rolling solo
It happens. You find yourself all alone in Los Angeles, a city that’s already isolating to begin with. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of places to go if you want to feel less alone, and an equal number of destinations that are best enjoyed by yourself, because if L.A. understands anything, it’s solitude.
Take a look at our car culture. How many vehicles do you see in those carpool lanes? Exactly. People here love being in their cars, by themselves, in their own little world. If you’re one of them, why not embrace this and go for a truly pleasurable solo trio? Mulholland Drive offers breathtaking views and little traffic (beware the blind curves). Wanna take it further? Wind up the Pacific Coast Highway with your pup and hang around the typically empty Leo Carillo State Beach, or mosey up the 101 and through the Agoura Hills to Paramount Ranch, an old West film set-turned-park. If you’re in the market for a little personal reflection, you can take yourself to the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple and roam their gardens, or for a more central moment of Zen, Van Nuys’ Japanese Gardens allow you to commune with your surroundings. Or else forget Mother nature, keep to the car, and enjoy the air conditioning.
Speaking of betterment: museums. You always vow to go, but you rarely ever do, right? The Skirball and The Getty offer lush campuses for roaming, while Northeastern Pasadena Museum Of California Art and Pacific Asia Museum’s are on the same block, providing two very specific entries to the L.A. art canon. REDCAT is a very under-the-radar yet accessible spot that satisfies interests ranging from film to dance to music—or skip the erudition and reserve a seat for yourself at the Arclight. (Do you know how revolutionary online movie seating is? Elsewhere, people buy regular tickets and show up early to line up for their preferred seat. Insanity!) The more serious cinephile should check out the New Beverly—Quentin Tarantino owns the building, and is known to make programming suggestions, and occasionally attend screenings.
The architecture lover can head downtown for a self-guided architectural tour from the Central Library to the Bradbury Building to Union Station. Dip into Grand Central Market for a bite and maybe a chat with a vendor, before grabbing a gin gimlet at Traxx.
Walking! An idea I’m always eager to encourage. Have you ever been to Exposition Park? Dudettes, it’s always empty, and there are some rad museums surrounding it. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook? It’s easy to hike and provides panoramic views. The new Echo Park Lake—what are you waiting for? You could even enjoy a casual afternoon glass of wine with just the bartender at El Prado afterwards. Looking for a new area to explore? Some people haven’t even heard of Frogtown. And Barnsdall is the best spot in town for a solo picnic.
Maybe a little activity is in order. For confined, pedestrian- and bike-friendly areas, take to the Los Angeles River, Chandler Bikeway, the VA Campus, or Mount Hollywood Drive. If you prefer some company, consider a Bikes & Hikes tour.
If none of these options sound good and you are just so sad about your solo-ness, Los Angeles is still there for you—and she has cocktails! My first thought is to find an opulent hotel with a delicious lobby bar, and get yourself there. Might we suggest the lounge bar at the Beverly Hilton or The Roosevelt? They are great. For hipper venues, try Sassafras during the week or Cube for wine and cheese. Hollywood’s Vintage Enoteca always has a seat for you and the quirky camp classic Bona Vista Lounge is always near empty. Not a drinker? Have a little coffee or tea—and a whole lot of me—at the cozy Larchmont spot Go Get Em Tiger or, if you want to bump into locals, go to Intelligentsia in Silver Lake. It’s basically Cheers.
This is the joy of Los Angeles: You don’t have to be with anyone else to enjoy it. Unlike other places where there is a distinct urban vibe and you almost never feel alone, we can live in a city where isolation, individuality, and nature is part of our culture. I always find my L.A. moments of solitude to be the best, because I get to encounter the city on my own terms. I wouldn’t spend my ample me time anywhere else.
Kyle Fitzpatrick is a writer, an infrequent performer, and a lover of dogs, art, shorts, champagne, and L.A. You can find his musings Fridays on CityThink. For more, check out his locally focused art, design, and culture website, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.