50 Things That Make Us Thankful to Live in L.A.

Just another sunset over the Pacific...
Just another sunset over the Pacific...

OK, we'll admit it: We Angelenos like to complain. The traffic! The housing costs! The surly neighborhoods! Oh, and did we mention the traffic?

But once a year, it's time to drop our critical pose. For everything that can make life in L.A. maddening, the truth is that we love this place. And we don't care who knows it.

Here are the 50 -- yes, 50 -- things that make us thankful to live in L.A. right now.

50. We've got the best farmers' market in the nation. And a bunch more great runner-ups, too. On any day of the week you can find a farmers' market in this town hawking better produce than most of the grocery stores in the rest of the country.

49. We've got weird museums in abundance: the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Pasadena's Bunny Museum, the Museum of Death. And did we mention we have tar pits?

48. The fact that we're the nation's second biggest city doesn't stop wildlife from popping up in surprising places: bears in backyard swimming pools, coyotes on the streets of Los Feliz, raccoons in an apartment hallway in Santa Monica, owls swooping down to kill squirrels in the Valley. You never forget in L.A. that you're part of the natural world.

47. We were gay before that was cool, with so many beautiful men from Rock Hudson on down hiding their sexuality in plain sight. Today, young stars are figuring out they don't have to hide anything -- the most beautiful thing of all.

46. We've got two kick-ass NBA teams to pick from.

45. Also, the Dodgers. (Clayton Kershaw!)

44. Thai speakeasies that secretly serve beer until 4 a.m.

43. Bacon-wrapped street hotdogs.

42. Taco trucks. Old-school taco trucks. Old-school taco trucks where you can eat the most amazing food in the city at night on the hood of your car for a couple bucks.

See also: 10 Best Taco Trucks in Los Angeles

Turn the page for more things we're grateful for, including the coolest kind of "stars" in town.

 

Disney Hall: One of the 50 things we're loving right now about L.A.
Disney Hall: One of the 50 things we're loving right now about L.A.
FLICKR/ Michael Locke

41. We can witness reality shows happening in reality. Plus, we're ground zero for web and YouTube series, some of which are actually awesome.

40. Every commute takes you by at least one cool movie landmark.

39. Odds are excellent that any given person you meet is secretly a writer, filmmaker, actor, photographer or musician in their down time. And when they invite you to their screening/play/gallery opening/show, sometimes, it's really great.

38. Brilliant murals and street art.

37. Everybody owns a chihuahua, and they're seemingly all dressed up in some type of amusing outfit.

36. There are 48 Trader Joe's within city limits.

35. Nobody blinks when you do, say, or wear something weird.

34. Walt Disney Concert Hall. It's not just that those Frank Gehry curves make a great backdrop for your wedding photo (although, yes, there's that). It also has good acoustics and a killer design. Plus, it houses the eccentric "French Fry" pipe organ, which is as fun for the eyes as it is for the ears.

33. Pretty girls are everywhere -- aspiring actresses and models, yes, or just the prettiest girl in her high school class who was smart enough to get the heck out of Nebraska and come to the big city to do PR. Or write a screenplay. And as for your server: He could be on the cover of a magazine. Probably should be on the cover of a magazine (so what if he's a little uninterested in taking your order...).

32. You never know when you'll run into the star of your favorite TV show, or even last year's Oscar winner, while grocery shopping or at the carwash.

31. Porn stars. You might run into them, too.

Turn the page for more things we're thankful for in L.A., including a very special kind of ATM.

 

Nothing to look at here, folks -- just downtown L.A.
Nothing to look at here, folks -- just downtown L.A.

30. You've got plenty of chances to see that favorite old movie -- and not just in the theater, but followed by a Q&A featuring the stars and the director. You'll even find screenings devoted to spectacularly awful movies -- even one billed as "the worst movie ever made." It's that kind of town.

29. We don't just have an abundance of record stores, even though that's a real accomplishment in 2013. In Amoeba, we have one of the best record stores ever.

28. We also have a 24-hour Sprinkles cupcake ATM.

26. Everything changes here, fast -- and yet we have these blessedly preserved vintage bars and restaurants, stuck in the most wonderful time warp: the Dal Rae, Musso & Frank, the Dresden, Tam O'Shanter, HMS Bounty.

25. Burger stands.

See also: 5 Great Old School Burger Stands in Los Angeles

24. And fruit stands, where you can buy fresh melons with lemon and chili powder, year-round.

23. Our malls are outdoors. And the coolest mall of all isn't even a mall -- it's the Original Farmers Market.

22. You'll see more amazing sports cars, and classic models, in a day's journey around town than most people see in a lifetime. If you prefer a museum setting, there are a half-dozen within easy driving distance -- including one where, once a month, they let you ride in the cars.

21. Even our car washes kill it. They're colorful and architecturally fabulous -- or at least funky.

20. We have so many haunted houses that we have a haunted house critic.

19. We can turn any place into an art gallery.

18. Forget listening to podcasts. Here we watch them record live.

17. And forget you've been told: Lots of people walk in L.A. We have awesome trails and even some gorgeous walking neighborhoods.

16. And lots of people read! There are readings nearly every night of the week at Stories, the Last Bookstore, Book Soup, Skylight and even at bars like The Virgil and Federal Bar. Big names like Susan Orlean come out for free readings, even in neighborhoods far from the city center. Plus everyone's a screenwriter so there's no shortage of writing groups and friends to read and critique your work.

Turn the page for more things we're thankful for, including our great access to a certain cheap vegetable.

 

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies...
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies...
FLICKR/ Eric Demarcq

15. Our library has free Netflix (almost).

14. Cheap avocados.

13. We get free outdoor movies -- all summer long.

12. We also get free concerts -- with big acts, too. Because let's face it: L.A. is home for most of the huge touring acts that the rest of the country only gets to see once every couple of years.

11. Our tourists are concentrated and therefore easy to avoid. Just stay away from Hollywood Boulevard and the beach.

10. But if you stop worrying about tourists already, the Pacific Ocean will take your breath away. Try it in the morning when even the heart of Venice is quiet. Or what the heck: Try it in the evening, when Ocean Front Walk is a virtual insane asylum of people hawking CDs and pot and T-shirts. Look to the West. Mob scene or no mob scene, the sea is never less than glorious.

9. Cowboys. No, it's not the Wild West anymore, but tons of places around here are named after cowboys, and you can even visit their old homes: the William S. Hart house in Newhall and a park annex in WeHo, the Will Rogers Park State Beach in Malibu and Will Rogers Park in the Palisades, and, of course, the Autry Museum.

8. Extreme yoga -- on the beach, on a mountain, pretty much free yoga anywhere you want to do it.

7. We treat cauliflower like steak, and our vegan food doesn't taste like vegan food. At places like Crossroads, Sage and Native Foods, you can give up meats, cheese and eggs and still enjoy eating.

6. Comedy. Everywhere, all the time, and sometimes, for free. In backyards, in old movie theaters, in bars, on rooftops, at taco stands and in parks. SO. MUCH. COMEDY. Half of the new SNL cast was drafted from L.A. comedians. Buy a ticket for a no-name bill at any of our bigger venues, and someone big is sure to stop by, honing new material.

Turn the page for the five things we're most thankful for -- including one you probably saw coming...

 

Whatever you want, L.A. has got -- and probably better than the place that originated it.
Whatever you want, L.A. has got -- and probably better than the place that originated it.

5. New friends are easy. Everyone's from somewhere else; everyone's trying to network. And no, not everyone is just trying to push their screenplay (or their app). Some of them really will become your friends for life.

4. There's a neighborhood for every ethnic group imaginable: Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Historic Filipino Town, even Little Bangladesh, sometimes even right on top of each other. And for the most part, everybody (mostly) gets along, too.

See also: 10 L.A. Neighborhoods That Confuse the Hell Out of Everyone

3. Sunset Boulevard and Mullholland Drive aren't just movies -- they're streets we cruise every day and, despite their iconic status, we think nothing of it. Try Sunset at sunset. Or what about the view from the ramp that connects from the 105 E to the 110 N -- a panorama that includes the downtown skyline, the mountains, tops of palm trees and the Hollywood sign? And just try to top the thrill of driving PCH on any day, any time of the week, heading north into Malibu.

2. We have one of the country's best cheesesteaks outside of Philly. We have one of the best lobster rolls outside of New England. And forget cronuts. L.A. has more good old-fashioned donut shops per capita than any other American city. You want it? You got it. Whatever any other city has, we have it here, in abundance.

1. The weather. Yes, it's a cliché, but you know what they say about that -- they get repeated because they're true. After you've lived here, how could you ever be happy with the climate anywhere else?

And after you've read this list, how could you ever complain again?

(Really, can you at least hold off 'til the next time you're stuck in traffic?)


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