As a tourist town, Los Angeles suffers by comparison to other cities. It lacks the compactness of Boston, D.C., or San Francisco; cities where a solid day’s walk lets you to soak in a wealth of sights. It doesn’t have must-see architectural landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Willis (Sears) Tower, the Space Needle or any of the monuments along D.C.’s mall. It doesn’t have grand sanctuaries of green like Golden Gate Park, Central Park, Prospect Park, Grant Park, or the Boston Common. Even visiting Philly’s Rocky statue is more fun than the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is an experience as exciting as reading a Wikipedia list of famous people.
But what L.A. has over every other big city is easy access to nature. You can drive two hours up to shred Big Bear’s slopes then come back down for a Pacific Ocean surf session. The Santa Monica Mountains that cleave the city between the L.A. basin and the San Fernando Valley feature dozens of great hikes. And the most beautiful big city bike path in the country is the 22-mile Marvin Braude Trail that runs along the beach from Pacific Palisades down to Rancho Palos Verdes.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if you wanted a definitive L.A experience that included time for watching soccer, your best bet is Santa Monica’s Ye Olde King’s Head. With the King’s Head as your base of operations, you can go for a hike, go shopping, hit the beach, and visit the pier and still have time to take in a big match. Along the walls of this venerable institution you’ll find photos of the many British luminaries who have stopped in for a tipple, including David Beckham, Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams, Michael Caine, Oasis’ Gallagher brothers, Wimbledon’s “Crazy Gang” midfielder Vinnie Jones, and gloriously-mulleted cricket legend Ian Botham. The King’s Head serves up all the pub classics like Welsh Rarebit, a ploughman’s plate, chicken tikka masala, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, and, of course, a properly hearty Sunday roast. While their main barroom gets jammed tighter than a tube train for almost all matches, it’s a fairly massive place so you’ll always be able to squeeze in. If your significant other isn’t into the thought of nervously following football in a dark room, there’s retail therapy available nearby at the 3d Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place mall. Best of all, win, lose, or draw, the Pacific Ocean is only two blocks away for a post-match sobering swim.