4 Surprise Tourist Hotspots in LA - What English Tourists Really Want


I recently had a visit from a friend who had never seen the United States and had lived in England all of his life. I know the sort of town he grew up in, because it is very similar to the town I grew up in back in the UK. So, I know in advance what he expected to see, what he thought LA was about and what would disappoint him.

When you haven’t see the city and have never been to the US, you have a certain perception. You think of LA as this place of glitz and glamour. A place of film studios and condos, but also a place of plastic surgery, personal injury lawyers on every corner and copious amounts of medical marijuana. There is pretension in certain places, but you’re okay with that just as you’re okay with the knowledge that Vegas is a little tacky and is not all about glitz and glamor, and NYC is a little smoggy and chaotic, and is not all about culture and the New York Stock Exchange.

Still, I wanted to show him a different side. Forget the beaches and the Hollywood nonsense, I decided to take him to see some of the things that I knew an Englishman would adore about LA. This is where I took him.

Anything Gun Related

Even pacifists can enjoy themselves at the range

You don’t need to go far to find someone from the UK who has a severe hatred of guns. We didn’t grow up with them. We don’t have many shootings and the only people who have guns are farmers.

However, we all pretended to be cowboys when we were younger. We all played COD and watched action movies, so there is a fascination there. To an American, it doesn’t make much sense. Maybe less so here in LA where guns are not as big of a part of life as they are in states like Texas. But still, many Americans have been to shopping ranges or have grown up around guns. That just doesn’t happen in the UK. 

Guns are therefore something we’ve al seen and used on TV, but something we’ve never seen in person and have definitely never used. Take a pacifist from the UK to a shooting range and it’s like watching Gandhi turn into Rambo at the pull of a trigger. It’s quite hilarious, and also a little frightening.

Roller Derby

Fast, brutal action. Perfect for English tourists

Another aspect of US life that is non-existent in the UK, this is a spectacle that many UK citizens don’t even realize exists. My friend had been exposed to it through the Whip-It film and through an episode of King of the Hill, but that was it, and he’s the exception. 

Still, he loved it. It’s fast, it’s aggressive and it’s everything that people in my home country love about sport. In the US, we have the aggression and with hockey and basketball, we have the speed. But the same can’t be said for baseball and football. They are slow, stop-start games that many people from the UK just won’t watch. Roller derby is a perfect antidote for that. 

Also, you can still get an Englishman to watch baseball, just tell them that they serve beer in the stadium and that it’s basically one big drinking party and they’re all game.

In-n-Out Burger and Other Chains

A Cali staple that other states just don't get

There is a perception that Californians are a little too obsessed with this burger chain. Texans prefer WhataBurger, most other states have a thing for Five Guys or Sonic. But it’s not just about the chain, it’s the experience.

Americans do fast food differently to the UK. We have McDonalds over there, we have KFC and we even have Five guys. But we don’t have the sheer variety that the US does and we just don’t do things in the same way. We don’t have the car-side service that you’ll find here or at chains like Sonic and Applebees. We don’t do food that is so cheap or so hugely proportioned. We don’t do massive pies for dessert, pizzas sold by the slice, steak and eggs for breakfast, drinks with free refills, and many other US staples.

The fast food capital of California

It sounds bizarre, but if you ask any visitor from the UK what they ate when they were in the US, they’ll give you a list of all the fast food places they went to. For many, it’s the highlight of the holiday.

Mexican fast food is also great for anyone outside the UK. We have Mexican food in the UK, but we don’t have many Mexican fast food chains and we have no successful and widespread ones. While Mexican food is common here, it’s incredibly rare in the UK. Yet for the most part, everyone loves it and is more than happy to indulge in a little Chipotle or Taco Bell.



In the UK we don’t do jars of peanut butter the size of small crates. We have CostCo, but even there you just can’t find the mammoth portions of food that you can find in the average US grocery store. However, we all know these places exist because we’ve all seen them on TV, so places like Walmart become almost legendary destinations that we just have to see. 

I dropped by the first day I landed in this country several years ago, and I also took my friend here within hours of him touching down. It’s a great way to see how things are done over here, to see the brands that are familiar and the brands that are not; to buy treats by the crate load and to spend very little; and to experience the US retail experience first-hand.

A must see for all retail lovers traveling to the US




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