Outside the City by Valerie Chiang in Angeles National Forest, Arcadia, CA 91006

The Angeles National Forest lies just 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and offers a completely different view of the city, both literally and figuratively.

Name:Valerie Chiang

Freelance photographer


Student at the University of Southern California

Tell us about Los Angeles:

Right now I live near USC in an area called South Central. It’s near downtown LA. It is definitely not the most interesting part of LA but it has easy access to every part of the city. I spend most of my days near the school but venture out whenever I can. A trip to the beach, lunch at a hole-in-the-wall burrito restaurant, and a rock concert by a local punk band are all just a drive away. I grew up in a tiny town in northern Michigan and lived in North Carolina for ten years before moving here. Los Angeles is such an exciting place to me.

A perfect day?

Wake up early, go to the farmer’s market, have lunch at Yuko Kitchen, one of my favorite restaurants, spend the afternoon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, visit Amoeba Music and get tacos and beer with friends at night.

What is the best thing about LA?

Easy access to some of the most beautiful mountains, deserts, and lakes in America.

What is the worst?

One word: traffic.

What would be surprising about LA to an outsider?

Pretty much everybody agrees that Los Angeles is not beautiful at first glance, but if you take time to explore the city and its surroundings,  you will find something to love. Los Angeles is a huge, sprawling city. The places within it are as diverse as its people: there are places in LA that range from New York City-like shops and restaurants, to small town suburbs and parks.

If LA was a famous character who would it be?


Who are three of your favorite artists?

Gary Soto (author/poet), Sissy Spacek (actress), Wim Wenders (filmmaker).




Name:Valerie Chiang

City:Los Angeles

Favorite place to eat:

Guisados & Delancey Pizza

Favorite place to drink:

Stories Books and Cafe

Local Tip:

Go for a walk. Some of the best things I’ve discovered in LA were by accident.

Must Do:

Drive to the desert