Words by Carlie Tucker
The City of Angles is synonymous with glitz and glam. From the stars of Hollywood to swanky Beverley Hills, Los Angeles has long called to those that prefer the finer things. It’s known for its celebrity culture and iconic silver screen landmarks, but there’s more to this west coast destination than what you see in the movies. Fine food, beautiful landscapes, some of the world’s best accommodation and more things to see and do than you can shake a Louis Vuitton clutch at. Here’s how to see LA in the lap of luxury …
At A Glance:
- Official Language: English
- Currency: United States Dollar (USD)
- Time Zone: Pacific Time Zone (UTD - 8/-7 in summer)
- Flight Time: Exiting Sydney flight time is approximately 15 hours, 20 minutes
- Required Visas: Travellers from Australia qualify for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), but must have authorisation from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travelling to the US.
Hollywood & Beverly Hills
Two of the most famous districts of Los Angeles, travellers usually flock to Hollywood and Beverley Hills. It doesn’t hurt that they’re located side-by-side and both are counted as places to see and be seen. They also happen to be home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks and 5-star luxury hotels.
When it comes to Hollywood, there are plenty of must-dos. Check out the Hollywood sign and Chinese Theatre. Stroll the walk of fame … If you want to up the luxury factor, though, you’ll want to head for the hills. The Hollywood Hills that is. Take in a show at the Hollywood Bowl. This aesthetically stunning outdoor amphitheatre hosts a full schedule of classical and modern music concerts throughout the year. Or take a hike in Runyon Canyon. Aside from squeezing in some exercise while on holiday, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work with amazing views of the city.
Alternatively, keep it in the city with a visit to the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The poolside lounge is known for its parties (often frequented by celebrities) while the Spanish Colonial design and restored David Hockney mural add a touch of old world glam. There are also countless clubs lining Sunset Boulevard to while the night away. Just make sure you dress to the nines lest you feel out of fashion among the glitterati.
Venture into neighbouring Beverly Hills to strut your stuff along Rodeo Drive. This famous shopping destination is three blocks of haute couture. From Cartier to Chanel, Giorgio Armani to Gucci, the shop fronts here read like a who's who in the fashion industry. Of course, you could always stay amongst it all at the renowned Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Get more luxury in the USA.
Downtown Los Angeles
Often overlooked, Downtown Los Angeles is a treasure trove of cultural activities thanks in large part to a $3 billion (USD) rejuvenation that started in 2007.
One area that has benefitted greatly from this face-lift is the city’s Grand Avenue. Along with the development of Grand Park (well worth a visit to see it’s beautiful fountains), this area is now home to The Broad museum. It’s LA’s newest offering focusing on the contemporary art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad’s 2,000 post-war works. Even better, it’s free to enter.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall and Music Centre are also nearby. The former is worth a visit just to take in its unique architecture designed by Frank Gehry. And, if you have time, check out a performance or two. Both centres offer varied schedules with programs to suit all ages. If your time is somewhat limited, or you’d like expert insight into this inner city district, it’s well worth checking out one of the many walking tours available. From pointing out movie shot locations to showcasing the city’s many architectural masterpieces, you’re sure to find something to pique your interests.
Should you tire of inner city fun, LA charms with a sweep of coastal getaways. Of course, many are well-known in their own right. Santa Monica is a great place to start if you seek the respite of sandy shores. Along with a stretch of golden sand slipping into temperate ocean waters, it’s home to the famous Santa Monica Pier — the perfect photo op come sunset. Take a turn on the Ferris Wheel for stunning views over the ocean, or grab a bite and stroll the boardwalk to take in the vibe.
Not far, Venice Beach is also worth a stop. Though not quite as refined as some of LA’s other beaches, the people-watching here can’t be beat. From the flexing biceps on Muscle Beach to the street performers lining the boardwalk, entertainment is never far away. This area also offers up a satisfying mix of spas, boutiques, organic coffee houses and thrift shops. Or take it all in with panoramic views from the rooftop lounge at the Hotel Erwin.
Just a bit further down the coast, Marina Del Rey’s refined shores beckon with a touch of sophistication. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of coastal biking trails and green spaces, while water-lovers can hit their stride by renting a kayak or paddleboard to catch some waves. Boat rentals and parasailing area also available, or slow things down a tick with a sunset dining cruise. If you can stand to tear yourself away from the water’s edge, there are also a number of boutique shops to scour for the perfect souvenir.