Things are about to get heated here…and I’m not talking about the summer right now.
Here’s the situation: for me, having grown up in Los Angeles all of my life, I can’t help but feel miffed that, whenever my international friends and acquaintances tell me they want to visit the U.S., they almost always say that they want to go to New York.
Now, I can *sort of* see why many of them would desire to go there: New York (specifically, NYC) is a major political, economical, and social hub of the country, with millions of inhabitants and tourists from all over the world. It has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and all of those famous iconic monuments that often get shown in pop culture when it comes to representing the United States. It’s a concrete jungle, and offers so much to see and do whether you’re a visitor, a local, or an admirer of the concept of “the American dream,” which seems none so more prevalent than in the Big Apple.
Seriously, I get a bit disappointed when people gush about how New York City is so great, and that they dream about going there for vacation, to study there, or even live there. Perhaps me, being a hardcore champion for Los Angeles (the West Coast, in general), I just don’t see what the big deal is about visiting a densely-packed, heavily-polluted city full of traffic, dark grey buildings, and just way too many people crowding everywhere (I can imagine how crazy it must get during the New Years at Times Square. Oy vey…).
Don’t get me wrong: New York City isn’t terrible. I went there nine years ago to visit with my family during the winter, and while it was nice to see all of the main touristy places, I was fine returning home to enjoy the Los Angeles weather (still nice and warm in the winter!). What I want to say is that there’s so much more to the United States than just New York City. It’s similar to saying that Paris is France while not noticing (even ignoring) the fact that places like Lyon, Strasbourg, and Marseille also exist…and are wonderful places worthy of visiting, too! Yes, Los Angeles is a popular destination, too, but it doesn’t get as much recognition from people- for whatever reason it is, I don’t know. Then again, I guess it’s better than people not knowing where Columbus, Ohio or Madison, Wisconsin are…those are pretty notable places, too!
*story time* When I was teaching English in France, the French thought that Las Vegas was in California. I guess since they’re French, U.S. geography isn’t their forte, but still, it gave me a little chuckle.
Call me biased for loving Los Angeles but, after having spent a good amount of time abroad in Europe and Asia, I realized that I’ve really taken my hometown for granted all this time. Thankfully, my international friends know of Los Angeles, but to get them interested in visiting it besides only New York, that’s different. There’s so much to love about the City of Angels that I’ve decided to put together a short list of reasons why Los Angeles is better than New York; this also works as a fact that the West Coast trumps the East Coast, so let the rivalry begin!
1. Consistently good weather. Forget experiencing the four seasons…who wants to freeze in the winter or fry up in the summer? Not me. In Los Angeles, it almost never goes below 60°F (15.5°C) in the winter…and from where I live in the city, it never gets hotter than 90°F (32°C) in the summer. True, people might say that the same weather every day can get boring, but I would choose that over having to adjust my day-to-day schedule based on the fact that it’s crazy humid outside or, even worse, raining (and I really do hate the rain!). Call us spoiled, but I think we Los Angeleans are actually just lucky (#sorrynotsorry).
2. More space. New York, let alone the East Coast in general, is completely packed like sardines with the sheer number of locals and visitors there every year. In fact, New York City’s population density is over three times compared with that of Los Angeles’ while being smaller in land size. True, there’s traffic everywhere in both major U.S. cities, but at least in Los Angeles, there are wider and more number of lanes to choose from when making your commute to downtown, and you can actually afford to have your own house (not an apartment) even in the city center. The way I see it, more space equals more comfort!
3. The beaches are better. While New York City does have its famous Coney Island beach, Los Angeles is home to a lot more beaches that are sunnier and warmer all year-round (this ties back to #1)! Even if you don’t live near the coast, it’s not a big problem to make the drive to one of the million beaches in the city, from the famous ones like Newport, Venice, and Santa Monica to others like Hermosa, Redondo, and Manhattan Beach (ironically named, I just realized). Throw in some palm trees for an extra good measure, and you’ve got the meaning of paradise!
4. Hollywood > Broadway. Sure, people still go see theater performances, but for me, they seem a bit outdated compared with the huge technological growth that has pioneered the film industry to create visual effects (i.e. CGI) for capturing a sense of realness in a fictional world. Plus, it’s much cheaper to pay for movie tickets ($7 for matinee) compared with a minimum $100 for a theater play (who has that kind of money for that?). While I do admire the visceral quality of watching a live performance as opposed to a screened one, my wallet certainly does not.
5. Pride-friendly, animal-friendly. Two very different things, but in any case, Los Angeles welcomes anyone from anywhere to the city, regardless of who they are or, well, if they’re human or not (animals, that is!). Seriously, people love their dogs here so much; there are restaurants and cafes where people can bring their pets to enjoy lunch with- can’t imagine that happening in a place as dense and urban as NYC!
…and while there’s Pride in the Big Apple, it’s a huge thing here in Los Angeles in terms of the amount of discussions on social media, in pop culture, even in our college classrooms! Many people choose to move to Los Angeles not just for the weather, but also for its LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere and its notable progressiveness in society.
6. Famous from television. Try to think of any popular television series that you enjoy watching; more often than not, at least a good handful of them are set in Los Angeles! From the classics like Beverly Hills, 90210 to Modern Family (one of my favorites), Los Angeles just has that charming quality that makes it so appealing for TV shows to take place in. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Two and a Half Men, even Baywatch…we have it all.
7. The great outdoors. Whether you’re a big fan of camping and hiking or just going out for shopping, Los Angeles has everything for that. There are constant weekend hikes around Beverly Hills, the San Gabriel Valley, and even those up to the Hollywood sign! Trails are abundant even in the heart of the city, and you can even take your pet on the journey! Of course, we have plenty of beaches for swimming and soaking up sun and even have a national forest for the hardcore nature lovers, at Angeles National Forest.
Even if you’re not a huge outdoors-y type of person (like myself), even places in the concrete environment offer lots of opportunities to get fresh air. Shopping malls are designed for people to walk outside, and even schools are built for people to go outdoors during passing periods, even eat lunch on the grass. This is nothing like the tall, single buildings of the public schools in NYC, and I suppose all of that time being outside helps with getting some vitamin D for the skin- no pale faces here! Again, it’s that good, Los Angeles weather!
*story time* When I was working and living in Normandy, France, I rarely saw sunlight and also rarely went out because it was often dreary and raining. As a result, my skin actually got really pale, which I jokingly refer to as a shade of “Normandy paste.” Pretty sure that I was vitamin D deficient, too…upon returning home after the program, my skin got its color back- thank goodness!
I’m sure that I’ve missed a lot more points here in this post, but hopefully I got the main ones out there. This was not written to bash on New York (which has its positives, too), but rather convince people otherwise that there’s so much Los Angeles has to offer for another slice of American culture than just New York. I’m sure that visiting other U.S. cities (e.g. Portland, Atlanta, Des Moines, etc.) will open you up to the diversity of cultures within the country, to discover that being “American” is a conglomerate of these distinct entities which makes us, overall, a melting pot!
For my American readers, where’s your hometown and why is it better than the big cities everyone knows about internationally? I’d be happy to find out!