I Like Los Angeles Better

I like San Francisco. It’s a beautiful, vibrant city and that’s probably why, for 17 straight years, the readers of Conde Naste Traveler have rated it the top city to visit in the United States.

But I prefer Los Angeles.

Randy's Donuts, Los Angeles.

Randy's Donuts, Los Angeles.

There, I wrote it down. I’ve said it in the past, to the horror of just about everyone who has heard it.

Los Angeles? Dirty, smoggy, modern, sprawling seat of all that is wrong with popular culture and America in general? Yup, I like it.

And here’s why.

San Francisco is terrific but it’s like many other cities. It reminds me of New York, a bit, and the people on the street exhibit some of the same hurried indifference. Sure, it has the Golden Gate Bridge, the waterfront, the streetcars … I’d be delighted to visit any time.

But Los Angeles is like nowhere else on Earth. The six-lane car culture, the crazy Hollywood vibe, the Googie architecture, the Santa Monica Pier. It’s a carnival, and it’s fun.

Hey, I’d probably rather live in San Francisco. (Not that I can afford it.) But Los Angeles is  the only place where, as Sheryl Crow pointed out, “the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.”

Last time we were in Los Angeles, just for an overnight on the way back from Santa Barbara, we ate in a stylish little Thai restaurant, strolled along funky Venice Beach, photographed a Qantas A380 (biggest passenger jet in the world) coming into LAX and otherwise just reveled in the vibe.

Smog-shrouded downtown Los Angeles, from Mulholland Drive.

Smog-shrouded downtown Los Angeles, from Mulholland Drive.


5 thoughts on “I Like Los Angeles Better

  1. Kate

    As you know, I must disagree.

    Here’s my problem with LA:

    1. The traffic is unbelievably horrible and stressful even WITH six lane highways (several of them!) and the city is so spread out that if you want to get from point A to point B you have to take the highway.

    2. Unlike San Francisco, LA does NOT have an extensive public transportation system.

    3. Good luck parking.

    4. LA is, for the most part, not a walkable city.

    5. LA is obsessed with the superficial and I find very little substantive cultural history there.

    6. There’s very little middle ground: the extreme wealth is ostentatious and horribly out of touch, and the extreme poverty is very dangerous and very sad.

    7. Everybody knows that Disneyworld is better than Disneyland.

    8. LA has more than its share of baseball and basketball teams. This annoys me.

    9. GO PHILLIES and YANKS!!!

  2. Don

    And, to be fair, there’s another difference … NY is infinitely cooler than SF.

    As for LA, it’s rock and roll like nowhere else. And all the flyin’ bricks from SD or SF won’t change that truth.


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