Alana, a Hawaii native living in Los Angeles, is a cinematographer, photographer and director. But, you might know her best from her YouTube channel where she posts travel and adventure videos, and gets really excited about things. She loves colors, adventures, how-in-the-world-are-we-gonna-do-this challenges and fabulous long massages. She is also keen on finding herself in great conversation with new friends, whether in her native English or (preferably) not. She's a big fan of Los Angeles for its vast variety of cultures and, you guessed it—the weather. In LA, there's always something new to explore, and a nomad like Alana needs that in a home base.
Read on for Alana's favorite things to do in LA, be it watching a flick in a cemetery, joining a weekly mashup dance party or checking out the latest cultural fest:
Eat, Drink, Be Merry
Always delicious, amazing coffee, and beautiful locations. I always get the turkey burger or Pot Roast Sandwich without the bread. Trust me—it's amazing that way. And you must try their blendid Spanish Latte Granita.
It's simply the most delicious burger I've ever had. Their ingredients are always fresh and natural, plus they accomadate all sorts of diets ... gluten-free, pescatarian, paleo and more.
They have amazing musubis! And amazing musubis can be hard to find in the US.
French Market Cafe
French Market Cafe has lovely ambiance, a garden-like terrace and fantastic coffee. It's a great way to feel like you're in Europe when really you're in LA. I usually get their salmon salad and a vanilla latte ... and sometimes a few macaroons.
A Perfect place to meet friends. Hangout, have a few drinks and eat. They have great appetizers. I'd start by ordering a few for the table.
"Drive up PCH through Malibu just before sunset. It's perfect," says Alana.
Cinespia Outdoor Screenings
Speaking from experience, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery screenings make for theperfect date night. Definitely bring some blankets, food and wine. It pays to get there early for good seats, and parking can be tricky. I'd take Uber or Lyft.
Santa Monica Pier
Because who doesn't love a ferris wheel or roller coaster ride overlooking the ocean?
This is the best dance party in LA and a great excuse to dress up. People go all out for these weekly theme parties.
Malibu Hindu Temple
A lot of people visit Lake Shrine in the Palisades, but miss out on the Hindu Temple that sits in nearby in Calabasas. It's entirely white and absolutely gorgeous. A great place to spend an afternoon.
With the exception of parking, the Getty is free and it's absolutely incredible inside and out. I love browsing art at museums, but I'd even visit The Getty just to picnic / journal / sketch / all of the above in the park that surrounds it.
What should travelers know about the people of LA?
Alana Fickes: Los Angeles has such a beautiful mix of cultures. There are people from all around the world that call LA home. I recently had the greatest time shooting a series on cultural events in LA this and was so impressed by all of the great festivals we have in our city. Chinese New Year, the Holi Festival, and Nowruz (Persian New Year) to name a few and they were an absolute blast. The people at the festivals were all so warm and treated me like family. My philosophy is to always lead with a smile and be friendly, and the people you meet usually reflect that positivity right back at you.
The Malibu Hindu Temple was built in 1981.
Where’s your favorite place to explore outside of your own neighborhood?
AF: I live on the Westside, which I adore, but when I want to explore, I head to the Eastside—Silver Lake, Echo Park, and east Sunset Blvd. I suppose opposites attract. Some say East LA is the “hipster capital” of LA, but it's really down to earth. It has this 'cool small town in the big city' vibe. These neighborhoods value a good coffee, reading books on the lawn by the Echo Park Lake and comfortable dive bars. You'll find several smaller, novelty family-run shops and hardly any chain stores. For example, The Vista Theatre is gorgeous and only shows one movie at a time—how romantic! On the Eastside I'm always reminded to stop and smell the roses—to just put away the phone, connect with other people and enjoy the present moment with my favorite African blend nut-infused cold brew, of course. Or as I call it, "iced coffee".
Have a picnic at The Getty.
If you won the lottery today, which restaurant would you go to tonight?
AF: If I won the lottery tonight I'd go to Yamashiro for the best Japanese dinner and view in Los Angeles. The view inside isn't bad either. A ton of movies and TV shows have been filmed in there including "Kill Bill". It's worth a Google. From there, I'd stroll down the driveway to The Magic Castle and step back in time to a night of magic, mystery and cocktails. I'd be a regular at Magic Castle if I could, but getting in is tough. You basically need to know a real magician, but those guys pop up out of thin air in LA.
The Magic Castle is an exclusive Hollywood nightclub for all things magic.
What's your go-to beach?
AF: I can't lie, Venice has gotten pretty dirty and overpopulated, so when I'm craving sun and sand I head to Playa del Rey. It's a fairly small beach town, with decent parking (very important), and the beach is gorgeous. If I'm so inclined, from Playa Del Rey I'll just continue down the coast about fifteen minutes to Hermosa Beach. Hermosa is the quintessential California beach town, and even better if you're on a bike. But come down to Playa as soon as you can! As Google and Yahoo have moved in, some have dubbed it "Silicon Beach.”
Take a ride at The Pier.
The ferris wheel will forever be an LA landmark.
Where do you go for a dose of the great outdoors without leaving the city?
AF: When I have a friend visiting and they want to have the quintessential LA hike experience, I’d take them to Topanga Canyon for a real rugged adventure. I also love to wander through the Griffith Park Forest and head up to the look out at the Observatory. The view from here is absolutely magnificent. The Huntington Library in Pasadena is also a great place to experience the fabulous outdoors in Los Angeles. Contrary to the name, it's a huge estate turned small museum with 15 different botanical gardens that you could easily get lost in. The serene Japanese Garden and infamous Rose Garden are my favorites. Insider tip: bring a camera, sketchbook, and/or book. Also, if you’re not a member, it costs a touch over $20 to get in—and it’s worth every penny, but the first Thursday of the month is free!
Be sure to keep up with Alana on social.