by Mya Stark
At first glance, one might feel that "The Best Things To Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas" has three strikes against it. It's a book rather than a blog or an app; it's about LA, a city which still hasn't quite shaken Woody Allen’s iconically unfavorable comparison to the culture level of yogurt and, it's being reviewed here and now by a native Angeleno who's ready to dock points for the slightest sin.
However, this labor of love by writer, editor and creative consultant, LA born-and-raised Joy Yoon, erases all those potential negatives within its first few pages. Thoughtfully organized by type of experience rather than geography, the book does the impossible and makes a bewilderingly complex megalopolis remarkably accessible.
Planning a trip, or even a lunch break, in LA can get you as lost in Google as you'd be on the 5-10-105-110 interchange without a map. The bounded, finite solidity of Yoon's Los Angeles atlas between two real, tangible covers makes the idea of a sortie into the bloom and buzz of it all feel comfortably doable.
The book won't lead you astray in terms of its suggestions. Yoon's stated goal is to inspire LA exploration as well as inform about it. Different engaging sections—10 in all—cover areas including street-level activities known only to locals, the unheralded LA "Great Outdoors," views, arts, shopping, learning, cars and the stuff you'll find "Only In LA"—without neglecting tourist classics.
Tightly-written capsule descriptions give you everything you need to know to plan your voyage. The book leaves no LA neighborhood stone unturned; from behind the Orange Curtain to the San Gabriel Valley. Yoon even provides brief education on local fashion designers, philanthropists and seasonal street fairs.
Of particular note is the eating and drinking section: Yoon's foodie background (she began her career as a food researcher for Vogue and has foraged produce for a bunch of four-star chefs) means that the restaurant recommendations are deep, delicious cuts. Finally, the book features guest star lists from LA notables like artist Gary Baseman and pop-up dining impresario Ludo Lefebvre.
Rather than committing sins of omission, the review copy now bears dozens of dog-eared pages, bearing witness to the truly inexhaustible landscape of stimulation LA has to offer—if you have the right guide. "Best Things to Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas" is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $14.
Images by Sarah Newby