Home of the American Dream, this is the city of stars as well as the City of Angels. Ever since the film business sprang up in Hollywood a century ago, Los Angeles has been a place of opportunity and excitement.
Now a sprawling metropolis, it’s a melting pot of sights and people that offers myriad opportunities to explore, shop and just soak up the scene. You could go hiking at sunrise, be frolicking in the surf by noon and then head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame after lunch.
The endless summers and gorgeous beaches, including Santa Monica and Malibu, make the city a great port stop at any time of year, and visitors are sure to love LA’s array of theatrical and musical events.
The Hollywood Bowl has hosted stars from Billie Holiday to The Beatles – with Andrea Bocelli and The Beach Boys there this year – so be sure to check out who’s playing when you’re in port (watching a concert here as the sun goes down is truly a night out to remember).
Foodies will be spoiled for choice, too, with restaurants ranging from retro diners to clean-living Californian vegan joints. Choose the right spot and you could even be sitting next to one of the many A-listers who call the city home.
Must-see in Los Angeles
High in the Hollywood Hills, the Observatory offers free events and exhibitions, including public viewings on clear nights and programmes in the Planetarium. Feeling fit? A sunset hike up to the Observatory through the park is magical, with paths for all abilities. The bonus? A great view of the famous Hollywood sign.
Universal Studios Hollywood
This famous dream factory is not to be missed. Highlights include the spooky motel from Psycho and the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem virtual reality ride. But top billing goes to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you and your family can take the Flight of the Hippogriff rollercoaster and enjoy the 3D thrills of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
This free contemporary museum on South Grand Avenue has a permanent collection of almost 2,000 works. Artists represented include Jean-Michael Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein. It’s also home to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, a beautiful reflective light show (you only get 45 seconds inside, but you won’t forget it). The Grand Central Market is close by, so you can drop in for lunch with the locals.
Head straight to the oceanfront walk to see street entertainers, skaters and magicians, then to Abbot Kinney Boulevard for world-class shopping. On a stroll along the picturesque Venice canals, you can admire the million-dollar houses.
Snap and go
Observation Deck, City Hall
The tallest building in LA until 1964, City Hall offers a spectacular 360- degree view of the city. On a clear day you can see the Hollywood sign itself. After updating your Instagram on the observation deck, check out the Byzantine-style mosaics in a room called The Rotunda. Admission is free.
The Walk of Fame
If it’s your first time in LA, don’t miss the Walk of Fame, where over 2,600 stars of the silver screen are immortalised, including Marilyn Monroe and Brad Pitt. Then snap a selfie outside the Chinese Theatre.
Grab a bite
Fancy a bit of fun? Head to Mary’s Hamburgers in Hollywood, where you can enjoy American burgers and play bingo with the resident drag queens. Hoping to rub shoulders with celebs? Book a table at Malibu’s Moonshadows for great cocktails and salads. It’s a favourite with the A-listers who live nearby. For a totally authentic LA eaterie, head to Little Pine in Silverlake, DJ Moby’s fine-dining vegan restaurant. Celebs galore love it, and the passionfruit cheesecake is divine.
No shopping visit to LA would be complete without a trip to Rodeo Drive. Here you’ll find stores like Coach, Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel, as well as plenty of local boutiques. Looking for something vintage? If you’re visiting on a Sunday, head down at 10am to Jet Rag in Fairfax for the famous $1 parking lot sale. Be warned, though: you’ll need to buy an extra case for all those bargains.
Did you know?
Los Angeles means ‘The Angels’ in Spanish – hence LA’s second name, City of Angels.
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