When it comes to destinations, there’s no place quite like Los Angeles with its history of Hollywood glamour, famed theme parks, resurgent down-town district, stellar shopping centres and year round warm climate.
Here’s our guide to where to stay and play in the City of Angels this au-tumn/winter…
Must see and do
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without paying a pilgrimage to the Dolby Theatre - renowned as the home of the annual Academy Awards. If you want to get up close and personal with a genuine Oscar statuette, you’ll need to be prepared to put your hands in your pocket and pay for a 30 minute tour which take place daily between 10.30am and 4pm (www.dolbytheatre.com/tours/tour-information.)
Next up, head to the nearby Hollywood Walk of Fame (www.walkoffame.com) to pose with a sidewalk star - one of the city’s most beloved free attractions. Honouring luminaries in motion pictures, television, radio, live theatre, and recording since 1960, the famous sidewalk comprises more than 2,600 five-pointed pink stars.
From the Hollywood Walk of Fame it’s a short walk to the TCL Chinese Theatre (www.tclchinesetheatres.com), where screen legends throughout the ages have left their imprints in cement in Grauman’s famous forecourt.
Lastly do check out Downtown LA - an area that has undergone an urban re-naissance in recent years. It used to be sketchy (Skid Row anyone?) but now it’s super cool and home to fantastic museums - don’t miss the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (www.moca.org) - and galleries galore, a great food scene (go to the recently renovated Grand Central Market) and South Broadway, an area that’s being touted as LA's next big shopping destination.
Rodeo Drive credit: Kaye Holland
As you would expect for such a celeb studded city, Los Angeles is incredibly image conscious. Want to shop for a new wardrobe with the stars? Go to The Grove - a pretty al fresco shopping centre that’s popular with the likes of Heidi Klum and the Kardashian Klan. (www.thegrovela.com)
When night falls, look to the legendary Sunset Strip - a 1.5 mile stretch of clubs, boutiques and restaurants between Crescent Heights and Doheny Drive. TNT’s tip? Try The Troubadour (www.troubadour.com), Viper Room (www.viperroom.com) where actor River Phoenix famously overdosed in 1993, and the House of Blues (www.houseofblues.com/losangeles) that’s owned by actor Dan Aykroyd.
Another suggestion is to schlepp to South Park (www.southpark.la) - a huge complex that houses the dining and entertainment hub that is LA Live, the Nokia Theatre (where the MTV Music Awards finals take place) and the Staples Center, aka the home of the LA Lakers baseball team. The saucer shaped Staples Center is also the place to see artists like Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars in action.
TV Audience credit: Kaye Holland
Best kept secret
Every Los Angeles itinerary has to include a bit of Hollywood show business. Luckily, there are multiple opportunities to see a taping of your favourite television shows live so as to get a sneak peek of the TV magic you see at home. Even better? Tickets to the majority of shows are free - try Audiences Unlimited (www.tvtickets.com). It’s also possible to take tours of all the main studios - think Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Studios. Tours vary from studio to studio but will typically show you around the sets and stages and inside the wardrobe department.
Santa Monica credit: Katye Holland
Venice Beach credit: Kaye Holland
If you really want to tune into the LA vibe, start your day with a spot of yoga on the sand at Santa Monica (www.santamonica.com) or jog along the boardwalk to Venice Beach (www.venicebeach.com). Here you can watch budding basketball players slam dunk on the concrete courts, while greased up body-builders pump iron at Muscle Beach – a legendary al fresco weight lifting centre.
Then make for Malibu - which spans 27 miles of the Pacific Coast Hwy and is home to Hollywood heavyweights such as Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman et al as well as LA’s best beaches. There are over 20 stretches of golden sand to choose from but standouts include Surfrider, Point Dume State Beach and Zuma Beach (you’ll recognise it as the backdrop to Baywatch and I Dream of Jeanie, amongst others.)
City of cars credit: peeterv
“Nobody walks in LA.”
So sang The Missing Persons back in the eighties. Yet while the car is still king in the City of Angels, LA is slowly beginning to put the brakes on on its car-centric roots.
Over 120 miles of new bike ways have been created within the city of Los Angeles in the last five years, while Metro and bus options have been increased giving visitors the tools they need to navigate the city without relying on a car.