Caveat: this guide might only work if you are me.
  1. Read Joan Didion.
    Specifically, read Slouching Towards Bethlehem. "Goodbye to All That," her essay about leaving New York, is easily the most famous essay here, but the book as a whole is about California, and about coming to LA and who you become here. "The wind shows us how close to the edge we are" she writes in "Los Angeles Notebook" and after picking up a used copy from the Los Angeles section of The Last Bookstore downtown one lonely weekend my first year here, I read those words and felt a little at home.
  2. Waze lady = new BFF
    LA traffic is terrible, sure, but if I’m in the car, the waze lady is in the car too. As constant companions go, she’s pretty great, but she has no idea what a “Sepulveda” or a “cienega” might be. Also buying an aux cord changed my life.
  3. Find bookstores you love
    For me, it was bookstores, for you it might be a wine shop or a cheese store (I’m just naming places I adore) I love knowing exactly where to go to get solid recommendations on new books, or curl up in an armchair and read a YA novel. My faves in LA? The Last Bookstore for used books and fun surprises, Stories in Echo Park for a place to break out the laptop and coffee surrounded by books, Book Soup and Skylight for readings, and, weirdly, the Barnes and Noble in Burbank to just sit and read.
  4. Walk
    I walk whenever I can, and when I first got to LA I walked constantly. On Halloween I walked (drunkenly) a mile and a half across the city in a dino onesie at four in the morning. A dude dutifully giving his dog a late night walk actually screamed when I emerged from the mist, tail clutched in my hand. My point is: when you wander LA on foot, you see things you’d otherwise miss. Also it makes me feel alive.
  5. Become a regular
    I meant to do the cool thing and become a regular at a bar, but instead the bowl-masters at my local Chipotle know my name (embarrassing…) and the dudes behind the counter at my favorite over priced café know my order (oh hey, Sycamore Kitch and your pork belly BLT). I wish my go-tos would make me look cooler, but I can’t help loving that “I belong here” feeling. And I’m still working on the bar thing. It’s definitely going to happen soon.
  6. Mope on the couch
    Huge believer in the power of hibernation. Don’t wait for the sun to stop shining. THE SUN IS ALWAYS SHINING. Just go ahead and mope.
  7. Read some Raymond Chandler
    If JDid gives Los Angeles an atmosphere of Santa Anas and windowsills grown over with bougainvillea, Chandler’s all LA myth and swagger. He wrote Philip Marlowe’s LA as dark and bleak and filled with mystery, and it’s all prettttty great. Start with the Big Sleep and then get ready to talk all gumshoe-y and cool for days.
  8. Brunch exploration
    I’m naturally lazy and uninclined to check out new neighborhoods. Even when there are cool things in them! Even when there’s no traffic! Luckily I will happily emerge from the couch if you promise me eggs/bacon/mimosas/fancy toast/a burger if we waited too long and now it’s basically lunch time. New brunch spots are my jammmmm, and all the better if after brunching I’m too full to drive and have to wander the streets and check out a new place.
  9. Do the thing you came here for
    LA is a place people come for a reason. Do your reason.
  10. Hike!
    LA has great hikes. People watching, city views, ocean views, wilderness--we've got it all. I'm too lazy to point any out. Thank god for all these lists. Hit up that search function and there are already a couple winners.
  11. Wait it out
    Some places hit you in the face and demand to be loved. LA is a grower.