Los Angeles Destination Guide
LA. It's a sunny Californian chameleon with its own coastline and canyons. On a Los Angeles holiday mix the cuisine of Chinatown, the clubs of Koreatown, shopping Downtown. Swim at Santa Monica and get Hollywood stars in your eyes. If you're here for a week or a day, there's green LA, gay LA and free LA to find. This 'town' does budget and luxury in its own style and brunch in Beverly Hills is recommended at least once. The Getty Centre and California Science Centre are among the top free cultural attractions and if you want to get above it all, take in the view from the Griffith Observatory.
Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the big-ticket things to do in Los Angeles; mixing a movie theme park with behind-the-scenes studio tours, it's a winner for anyone wanting to feel like part of the movies without actually being in one. For a broader cultural experience, a must-see is The Getty Centre. Sports fans will appreciate the chance to see the Lakers, Dodgers or Galaxy in action in their iconic stadia. The La Brea Tar Pits are a quirky but fascinating phenomenon in the heart of the city and certainly worth a visit. Hiking the trails in one of the USA's largest urban parks – Griffith Park – is also a great way to take in a small slice of California.
Foodies get a little bit sweet on this city. Los Angeles restaurants span Michelin-starred establishments to the far less formal eatery: gourmet food trucks. Chef-prepped food tends to be flavoursome rather than fatty and neighbourhoods aren't only defined by their multicultural elements but their culinary contributions. For example, go to Glendale for delectable Middle Eastern food; Pico Boulevard has 'kosher restaurant row'; vegans are catered for across the city and 'Little Osaka' is in West LA. High end picks for flavour sensations and fine wine include Bastide (on Melrose Place, yes, it does exist) and Spago in Beverly Hills.
Which word could you insert before: business, family, hip, historic and luxury? Yes, 'hotels'. Some Los Angeles accommodation can be a destination in itself: The Beverly Wishire, The W Hollywood and the Four Seasons are favourites with the luxury crowd. Families wanting accommodation with easy access to top attractions include the Hilton Los Angeles (Universal Studios), The Shore Hotel (Santa Monica Pier), Hotel Amarano (LA Zoo). If staying near the airport (LAX) is a priority, you can't go past the welcoming hospitality just a 5-minute drive away at the Inn at Playa del Rey.
If you've no concern about splashing your cash while shopping in Los Angeles, make a beeline for Rodeo Drive and Robertson Boulevard. In West Hollywood, The Grove is a premier mixed shopping/dining/entertainment venue with top brands including Anthropologie, Apple, Michael Kors, Coach and Nordstrom. The Hollywood & Highland Centre sports a similar mix and has the added advantage of being right next to the red carpets when films premiere. Fashionistas should also check Downtown. Santa Monica Place is just a couple of blocks from the beach and if you're a bargain hunter, you'll be in good company closer to Anaheim at many of the factory outlets.
Los Angeles like a Local
'Angelenos' know their city is huge – there are more than 80 districts – and become accustomed to driving everywhere to get anywhere. It can take at least a couple of hours to get across the city if you're driving, so keep that in mind when planning an itinerary. If you're not up for the hire car option, pre-arrange a hotel transfer and take up organised tours if you want to venture far beyond your accommodation. LA weather can also be temperamental during May and June ('May grey' and 'June gloom').