By Krista Carlson

Between the celebrities, the wannabes, the tourists and the regular folk who flock to Los Angeles from every corner of the globe, this city is easily the best possible place to get get your people-watching on. So much so, that you almost don’t have to go anywhere special to do it–but there are a few spots that are exceptional for this no-cost activity.

Hollywood and Highland Center

6801 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA
(323) 466 0647

While this locale is renowned for the Walk of Fame stars that line the streets – especially Hollywood Boulevard – the people that populate this junction today are a much more entertaining site than the ones whose names dot the pavement. Perusing the Kodak Theatre, admiring the views of the Hollywood sign and nibbling at one of the 26+ restaurants make for a full day. But show up to spot superheroes and street performers vying for attention. Everyone from Spiderman to Elvis to the pair of adversarial Jack Sparrows work the boulevard in hopes of weighting their pockets with donations from enthusiastic tourists, whose own regional costumes and mannerism invite the curious to guess where each might hail from.

Swingers Diner

8020 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Hours: Daily 6:30am-4am
(323) 653 5858
Website & Reviews

Come for the food, stay for the people. This iconic Hollywood diner features funky decor and a menu that features some adventurous twists on classic diner fare, with a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options. What really makes Swingers a go-to location for people watching is all the stylish folks who frequent the joint – Quentin Tarantino among them. You’ll get an eyeful of hep cats dressed in vintage duds and sporting snazzy ‘dos chatting it up about film, fashion and restoring their ‘52 Chevy Coupe.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs 12pm-8pm; Fri 12pm-9pm; Sat to Sun 11am-8pm
(323) 857 6000
Website & Reviews

Stroll through the iconic Urban Light sinstallation, wander over to the Palm Garden, or just lounge in the grass in between, watching museum goers ranging from casual to cosmopolitan, along with a healthy swath of sleek Los Angeles professionals donning suits and heels passing through to take lunch at Ray’s Cafe or making their way through the area on their route home.

Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Venice Beach Promenade

Nothing beats a trip to the beach! From bikini-clad beach bunnies to the rippled and glistening Muscle Beach devotees, scruffy skaters, eccentric hippies, b-ball diehards, street vendors, buskers, artists and venice vagabonds, there is plenty to take in here. Just don’t forget your sunscreen; even when it’s overcast the sun beats down on all who wander this sandy stretch of cement balanced between the city and the sea.

Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

Take a ride on the Red Line

You never know what sight you might be graced with when riding the city’s main subway line. You might be delighted by the sight of an adorable pigtail-sporting toddler and her intensely serious gaze, or shocked by the wardrobe choices made by the guy who looks like he took a trip in Bill & Ted’s phone booth and picked up a little something at each stop, or frightened by the delirious woman ranting at no one and everyone about the impending end of the world–chances are you’ll encounter all three if you travel the full length from downtown’s Union Station to North Hollywood.

King Eddy Saloon

131 E. 5th Street.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 629 2023

A trip to the King Eddy will put you within steps of the city’s Skid Row and provide a rare opportunity to see a side of the city most people would probably prefer to pass up. But the reality is that you can’t get more raw and free of pretense than this little bar. Housed on the ground floor of the King Edward Hotel, patrons include the building’s flux of Skid Row tenants and undaunted locals. Bearer of the city’s longest-standing liquor license, don’t expect any signature drinks or gastro-fare. What you get here is cold beer and a glimpse at real Los Angeles grit.

Krista Carlson is a native Angeleno whose passion for adventure continues to lead her to destinations both urban and wild. She writes about her experiences at Kryxtanicole’s Blog.