Forget about hordes of tourists Instagram-ing acai bowls, L.A. has a new summer infestation: Pokémon. The augmented reality iPhone game Pokémon Go launched in the US only a few days ago, but it’s quickly become a cultural phenomenon, prompting people to walk around with their heads buried in their phones in the hopes of capturing a dog that shoots fire tornados from of its face-hole or a giant snake made of rocks.
Players can collect and evolve their pocket monsters to battle for control of gyms stationed across the city, which means people are exploring different neighborhoods in a new and unprecedented way. As you level up, you’ll encounter more rare and difficult to catch breeds (are they called breeds?), and you can diversify your collection by hitting up a range of different spots in L.A.
It’s also a good idea to consider natural habitats, so head to the ocean to find water Pokémon and play at night to pick up dark Pokémon. Beyond that, here’s where to head to pick up some common local breeds:
- Culver City: Ekans and Geodudes galore. It’s also common to spot Sandshrew, Mankey, Machop, Dodou, Rhyhorn, and Cubone.
- Santa Monica: The entire area is prime for hunting, but head down by the Pier for a lively mix of water Pokémon like Kabuto, Psyduck, Kabutops, and Omanyte. Malibu and Venice are also good for water types, so take a walk along the beach.
- Palms: The neighborhood has a lot of common Pokémon, but one unique feature is the sheer number of Growlithes.
- Pasadena: This is prime Pidgey, Rattata, Spearow, and Zubat territory. Looking for more specific Pokémon? Charmanders have been spotted down Rosemead Blvd and Old Town is home to many a Growlithe.
- Koreatown: Less common Pokémon spotted here include Cubone, Onix, and DoDuos.
- Downtown: Downtown LA is home to traditionally common Pokémon like Pidgey and Rattata, but it’s also a good place to find rock, electric and fighting types. Jolteon, Diglett, Hitmonlee and Ekans have all been spotted here. Pick up Rhydon, an armored drill type Pokémon, in more industrial areas.
If you really gotta catch ‘em all, you’ll have to log some serious hours. Here’s some sage advice for your journey:
- This is probably the one time you’ll be excited about traffic. Pokémon eggs hatch after being incubated for a specific distance, but they’re immune to high speeds. In other words, you’re not going to hatch a Pikachu going 65 miles an hour. After all, this is a game that encourages physical activity, not driving. However, bumper-to-bumper speeds simulate walking or biking, meaning those eggs have a good chance of hatching. Looking to hatch Pokémon as the game intended? Grab a bike or take a nice long walk. Who says L.A. isn’t a walking town now?
- Hunt in popular L.A. spots. Pokémon are programmed to appear in areas that have high cell phone traffic, so you’ll find more in more crowded places. If you’re really committed, head to the happiest place on earth. Yes, you’ll have to buy a ticket, but the cell phone traffic at Disneyland can’t be beat. College campuses and museums like LACMA are also prime Pokémon breeding grounds.
- Feel lazy? Find a bar or coffee shop that doubles as a Pokéstop (a place to pick up game materials like Pokéballs) and set up a beacon. It’ll lure Pokémon straight to you while you grab a drink. This is also a great way to make friends, as any player can use a beacon—and people will come running when they spot one.
- Embrace social interaction. Players around the world have been enjoying spotting other players, and talking with them is a great way to find out about good areas to catch Pokémon. Some players are pretty allegiant to their team, but most are happy to let you know where they spotted Squirtle.