Los Angeles hotels
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When people (mostly people who live on America’s East Coast) say they don’t like Los Angeles, they probably mean they don’t like Hollywood. ‘It’s too superficial,’ they argue. Or Beverly Hills (‘too superficial’). Or Bel-Air (‘it’s too – what’s the word? – superficial’).
Well, of course it’s superficial. Modern Los Angeles has been built around the fantasy and make-believe that is the movies. It’s the definition of superficiality, so when visiting it, stop trying to sound all cultivated and whatnot, hire a convertible, drive down Rodeo Drive, suppress your natural instinct to laugh at the posers on Muscle Beach and embrace your inner, like, airhead.
And besides, with its Mediterranean climate and 310 days of sunshine per year, it’s no wonder Los Angelenos like to tell New Yorkers they can stick that in their pipes and smoke it – though that’s probably more of a West Coast thing to do anyway.
Besides, to say Los Angeles lacks creativity is waaay off the mark. From the eclectic boardwalk of Venice Beach, to the local fashion boutiques of Melrose Avenue, to the vast collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles is fast gaining a reputation for being a city of vision and virtuoso.
Add to this the beautiful people-crowding the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu, and the best range of fast food in the United States, and it’s easy to see why those who think their relationship with Los Angeles is over keep crawling right back.
Los Angeles’ Top 10
10. Museum of Contemporary Art It’s no Getty, but a must-see if you’re in LA. And, hey, it’s free on Thursdays.
5. Disneyland The original, the biggest and still the best. Go on, get the Mickey Mouse ears on – you know you want to.
9. Venice Boardwalk Plenty of spirits and steals – however you want to interpret that.
4. The Hollywood Bowl The Mecca of American live entertainment, screw putting this on your LA list – put it on your bucket list.
8. Muscle Beach It’s been around since about 1930. From the looks of them, so have most of the men who pump iron there.
3. Santa Monica Pier The most beautiful place to enjoy LA’s quirks and obsession with fast food.
7. Sunset Boulevard A bit seedy, but that’s the beauty of LA’s famous strip. If you want to commemorate the visit, there’s no shortage of tattoo parlours.
2. Hollywood Walk of Fame Taking photos of the sidewalk has never been so much fun. Look at the famous names of years gone by – and realise that these days, they’re giving a star to pretty much anyone.
6. Universal Citywalk A movie-buff’s heaven, there’s a good reason why this place costs more than the Walk of Fame
1. J. Paul Getty Museum The views and architecture are just incredible, and the paintings ain’t too shabby, either.
Los Angeles History
- El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Park – Covers more than 44 acres and has many famous landmarks.
- Olvera Street – The city’s name of Los Angeles comes from a mission established here many years ago.
- Union Station – Another historic area and the railroad centre of the city.
- Fort Moore – A memorial in honour of a fort constructed during the Mexican-American War.
- Angels Flight – The “Shortest Railway in the World” opened to the public in the early 1900s.
Los Angeles Art & Culture
- The Getty Centre – Located in the mountains of Santa Monica, this fine museum boasts a large art collection.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art – An extensive art collection of more than 100,000 pieces.
- Page Museum at La Brea Discoveries – An incredible place of paleontological excavations and exhibits.
- The Los Angeles Music Centre – One of the three largest centres for performing arts with more than 1.3 million visitors annually.
- The Walt Disney Concert Hall – Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Los Angeles Shopping
- Universal City Walk – A shopping wonderland located beside Universal Studios.
- Hollywood and Highland Mall – Home to the Kodak Theatre and more than 75 stores and restaurants.
- Beverly Centre – Enjoy an amazing view of the city from this unique, multilevel mall.
- The Grove – An outdoor shopping mall with brand-name stores, theatres and more.
- Two Rodeo – This cobblestone street is lined with shops and outdoor cafés.
Gay & Lesbian Los Angeles
- FUSION: The Los Angeles LGBT People of Colour Film Festival is held the first weekend of March.
- Gay Pride Month – The greatest events are held during the month of June, with beach days, motorcycle riding and the crowning of Mr Gay Prince and Ms Lesbian Princess.
- Sunset Junction Street Fair – Held in the heart of the oldest gay community in Los Angles at the end of August.
- Outfest – Now in its 29th year, this is a top-of-the-line gay and lesbian film festival and held in mid-July.
- AIDS/LifeCycle – A sponsored seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Outdoor
- Griffith Park – A wonderful place for hikes, picnics or hanging out with friends.
- Exposition Park – Home to an art and history museum.
- Mulholland Drive – A famous avenue and setting of many movies and first kisses.
- Venice Boardwalk – A wonderful place for a seaside stroll, snacks and entertainment.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame – A great place to spend the day in Los Angeles as you explore this famous sidewalk.
Los Angeles Sport
- Watch a Dodgers baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
- Catch a basketball game with the LA Lakers at Staples Center.
- Check out the LA Clippers basketball team, also at the Staples Center.
- For a fast-paced game of hockey, the LA Kings play at the Staples Center.
- Stop by the Staples Centre for a women’s basketball game featuring the LA Sparks.
Los Angeles Local
LA’s suburbs are as different from each other as Paris Hilton and the glue-sniffing homeless guy standing outside 7-Eleven Downtown (in other words, some have class and Miss H doesn’t – booya!). They’re also far apart geographically, so renting a car is a good option for getting around. If you don’t travel to at least three different neighbourhoods, you’re doing LA wrong – even if you’re staying in Beverly Hills.
Sunshine, sand and shopping come together at Santa Monica, LA’s answer to the dirty streets and overpriced malls of Hollywood. This isn’t to say that you won’t catch a homeless dude catching some zzz’s on a park bench, but even that guy looks like he’s enjoying the Mediterranean climate.
Start your day at Santa Monica Beach, a wide strip of golden sand hugging the famous Santa Monica Pier, before wandering up towards Third Street Promenade for some retail therapy – not that you’ll need it. As night falls and you realise you’ve missed your chance to catch the sunset from the pier’s Ferris Wheel, get a dose of visual pleasure by catching a film at The Monica instead.
You know those pictures you see in gossip mags of celebrities shopping for miniature canine apparel? If they’re not doing it in Beverly Hills, they’re doing it in West Hollywood. To be more specific, they’re probably doing it on Melrose Avenue, a strip of designer stores and trendy clothing boutiques (for dogs and humans), or at The Grove – a fairy-lit shopping spot that comes alive at night thanks to the plethora of relaxed dinner options and the presence of The Grove Theatre. Clearly it’s best to end up here at night, so start your day on Melrose – Pink’s Hot Dogs is the best excuse to grab a hot dog for breakfast.
Leave the fanny pack and binoculars at home – please! In fact, you’ll probably need to buy an entire new outfit just to walk down Rodeo Drive if travelling has taken a toll on the condition of your clothing. If you feel like spending more than the cost of your flight tickets, visit the Chanel or Prada boutiques on Rodeo, or Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue for less snooty service.
In truth, though, the best way to spend a day in Beverly Hills is to sip a coffee outside Starbucks and scope out the plastic surgery disasters before an afternoon stroll through the Beverly Gardens Park.
Contrary to popular belief, Downtown LA is not the most happening suburb and the Fashion District is not the most fashionable. However, if you know where to go and what (or who) to avoid, Downtown can actually be rather cool.
Little Tokyo is the cultural heart of the Japanese-American community, and the many eateries in the open-air shopping streets of the Japanese Village Plaza are perfect lunch spots. For something more substantial food-wise, head to Restaurant Row for some killer ramen, or shopping-wise, try Weller Court.
Outside of Little Tokyo, the Historic Core of the neighbourhood features the appealing architecture of the Old Bank District, Gallery Row and the Bradbury Building.
You will never spot a celebrity in Hollywood. You just won’t. You will, however, encounter people trying to peddle you tickets to bad comedy shows and overpriced sightseeing tours. Fight your way through, past and/or around this to see some of LA’s most iconic landmarks.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, the Walk of Fame, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and the Kodak Theater (home of the Oscars) are all located in Hollywood and you don’t have to be embarrassed about holding a camera or a giant map – in fact, you’d probably look out-of-place without them. Stick to the photo opps – Hollywood and Highland Mall is only good for sights of the Hollywood Sign.
Los Angeles Eat & Drink
LA has some of the best fast food in America, but you don’t think film stars survive on greasy burritos and In N Out burgers, do you? LA is also a fine dining winner, and these 10 spots are the cream of the elegantly presented crop.
Patina The best food is simple food – and anything involving cheese.
Beacon If you thought In N Out was good, wait until you try the burgers here. Just don’t ask for them ‘animal style’.
Tantra The best Indian food you’ll get anywhere. Even India.
Spago There’s a whole lot of hype surrounding this top-rated LA restaurant – don’t you want to find out why?
Frida It’s arguable thatLA has some of the best Mexican food in the world. It’s undisputed that Frida has some of the best Mexican food in LA.
Saddle Peak Lodge This old hunting lodge-turned-steakhouse is worth driving to Montana for – but, luckily, Malibu is closer.
The Ivy Celebrities are often less beautiful close-up, but The Ivy’s décor isn’t. West Hollywood
Melisse If you have money to burn, don’t. Spend it on Melisse’s 10-course tasting menu instead. Santa Monica
Koi One of the only places where you’re likely to find soothing ambience and Ozzy Osbourne in the same room.
Mastro’s Steakhouse: The top-rated restaurant in Beverly Hills. If you like your steak rare, order it medium.
Los Angeles Events
What exactly is ‘breaking the sake barrel’? It’s a Japanese New Year (1 January) event that makes a trip Downtown worthwhile.
January’s Tournament of the Roses is a parade you have to see to believe. It’s not actually a tournament, but a massive throng of floral floats.
No-one does 100-foot-long dragons and firecrackers like the Chinese. In February’s Golden Dragon Parade, they top all this off with awesome martial arts displays.
Anyone who says Downtown is dead obviously hasn’t been to an Olvera Street Mardi Gras Festival in February.
The only time celebrities are actually seen in Hollywood is for the Academy Awards in February.
The Blessing of the Animals, the day before Easter, is as weird as it sounds. Hundreds of pet owners doll up their dogs, cats, birds and hamsters to have them blessed with holy water. How much more LA can you get?
If you thought Cinco de Mayo was big wherever you come from, wait until you see it in LA – unless, of course, you’re actually from Mexico.
Where better to experience a Film Festival than in the film capital of the world? This world-class event is held each June.
Grand Avenue Festival in October is a street party focusing on great cultural institutions, and an awesome excuse to get free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
If the Doo Dah Parade sounds silly, that’s because it is. It’s an irreverent and satirical parody of the Rose Parade, held in November.
When To Go
Any time, really, is a good time to go to LA – the city is warm and sunny all year round.
January and February are the rainiest months, but all you really need is an umbrella and light jacket.
Typical summer (June, July, August) highs are around 30°C (86°F), but it can get hotter. Whether this is a good or bad thing is probably personal.
What To Miss
Don’t go to Skid Row just because you were a fan of the band in the ’80s. This street is as bad as the music was.
The Fashion District and Jewellery District are not, as the names might suggest, prime shopping streets.
Skip the overpriced movie star home tours. You won’t see a movie star, and are better off spending your money at Universal Studios.
You definitely need a set of wheels to explore LA properly. Just avoid the 405.
Don’t rip the GPS system out of your rental car if you get sick of someone telling you where to go. They’re endlessly useful on freeways.
Distances are long and cab fares high in LA, so if you’re relying on public transport try to stick to buses.
Los Angeles Information
A bona fide world capital, Los Angeles, the city they call La-La-Land elicits endless curiosity. A considerable enterprise to undertake and despite vast proportions, Los Angeles has ample charm in small urban enclaves.
Beneath the marquee idol looks and shiny veneer is a seamy, yet affable underbelly. The sum total is a magnet for intrepid travelers.
With ethnic pockets, superb cheap eats, architecture, nightlife and enough heady glitz and glam to make your head spin, Los Angeles is a veritable amusement park, with a depth that seldom makes the final cut in tourist brochures. And with attractions like Universal Studios in Hollywood and Disneyland nearby it’s always going to be a huge hit with the kids too.
A prototypical Los Angeles experience, a walk on Sunset Boulevard is mandatory. The famous 1.5 mile strip of Sunset that runs through West Hollywood features wall-to-wall billboards, boutiques, bars and restaurants. From the Viper Room to Whisky a Go Go, Troubador to The Roxy, the area has some of the best live music in the city.
While a stroll on the Sunset Strip is a must, the best way to enjoy Los Angeles is by car. Rent a convertible and cruise down Sunset from the downtown core, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. A drive on Mulholland at dusk provides spectacular views of the city.
If you love Hollywood lore, make a pilgrimage to both Westwood Village and Forest Lawn Cemetery. The graveyards house the remains of show business legends.
Venice Beach is still the place for hot bods, freaks, performers, artists and hustlers. Ocean Front Walk is the stage for entertainment, with the beach and Pacific in full view. For a reliable free show, check out the action on the basketball courts and the narcissistic egomania on Muscle Beach.
Melrose and Robertson streets provide cool retail fodder for shopaholics, while nearby Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is the place to lose your head and good credit score.
For a taste of culture, the Getty Center is the best museum in Los Angeles, with lush gardens, avant-garde architecture and eclectic exhibits.
City districts like Little Tokyo, Thai Town and Koreatown provide Los Angeles with wonderful diversity and for tourists, great ethnic shops and authentic cuisine.
More Info On Events
With a metropolitan population just under 14 million people, there is never a dull moment in Los Angeles.
The city has phenomenal concert halls, from the historic Hollywood Bowl, summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and world class jazz festival in June, to the dramatic home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theater.
The Disney Concert Hall, a controversial Frank Gehry creation, is host to many landmark events throughout the year.
With a number of pro sports teams, the Lakers at Staples Centers and Dodgers at Chavez Ravine are tough tickets to come by. The two provide Los Angeles with respective global icons in basketball and baseball.
Annual ethnic festivals flourish in Los Angeles, from Fiesta Mexicana and Greek Fest, to Thai Cultural Day and Latino Heritage Celebration.
Los Angeles has a typical Mediterranean climate, with sunshine 325 days of the year and warm, stable conditions, courtesy of the Pacific Ocean.
- Winter (November to February) 9-23°C
- Spring (March to May) 11-24°C
- Summer (June to August) 16-29°C
- Fall (September to October) 16-28°C
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