Iconic Hollywood glamour, Californian surf lifestyle and world-class beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see – LA is a city that has it all. There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, that it is hard to fit it all in.
From must-see sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the more outdoorsy hike through Griffith Park, you will find something for you. Take a trip to Santa Monica and Venice Beach, and cycle down the boardwalk as buskers compete for your attention. Head Downtown to see Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, before going for kim chi in nearby Koreatown. Or venture south of LA to Orange Country, whose beaches are ideal for surfing. Whether you are film enthusiast, a sun-worshipper or foodie, this diverse and sprawling city will have you enthralled.
Must See Los Angeles
Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with the most popular stars’ names being near to Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. The hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus is great way of seeing the city and stops include Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. Don’t miss Griffiths Park and its observatory, with a spectacular view over the whole of LA. Hike up to Hollywood sign, and then go shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Californians love to exercise, and this can be seen in the range of outdoor pursuits on offer in Los Angeles. From surfing and sailing to cycling and camping, the coastline of LA provides plenty of spots to try it all. Travel along the California Coastal Trail, a 22-mile long course which follows stunning beaches and rocky shorelines. Hire a car and venture further afield, relax in Palm Springs or embark on an adventure to Joshua Tree National Park.
Hollywood & Theme Parks
Catch a glimpse of the real Hollywood on your trip to LA, visit the Paramount Picture Studios to enjoy a behind the scenes tour. Universal Studios Hollywood transports you into the pictures themselves, with fantastic rides and tours of past sets, including the house from Psycho. The La Brea Tar Pits give an insight into California’s pre-historic wonders, including mammoths. And don’t miss a trip to the original Disneyland®, which still entices millions of visitors every year.
Dining in Los Angeles
Dining in LA ranges from cheap and easy fast food to gourmet cuisine from top celebrity chefs. The diversity is staggering and changes with each neighbourhood – try kim chi in Koreatown, sashimi in Little Tokyo and dim sum in Chinatown. Get a prime steak at CUT, Wolfgang Puck’s exclusive Beverly Wilshire steakhouse. Try the ‘crack’ bacon at Grub, a Hollywood brunch hotspot, or for the ultimate sweet-toothed snack head to Diddy Riese in Westwood. Their ice cream cookie sandwich is big hit with local students.
Bars and nightlife
Los Angeles has some of the coolest bars in the US, from upmarket whisky bars to hangouts selling Mexican craft beer and tacos. Plus, because LA is a sprawling city, there are plenty of areas and crowds – so no night will be the same. Try the Polynesian-inspired Tiki-Til cocktail bar in Silver Lake or the student-friendly Biergarten in Koreatown. And don’t be afraid to hang out in hip West Hollywood, where dance clubs stay open after the 1am curfew, which is implemented elsewhere in the city.
Shopping in LA
Design emporiums and vintage flea markets stand on an equal footing in LA, and fashion icons wander the streets. Trendsetters should visit Silver Lake and Echo Park where indie bookshops and record stores can be found next to hip cafés. Don’t miss the spectacle of Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive, to celeb-spot and find haute couture. And the costume shops in Hollywood are a must-see, buy (or rent) clothes fit for the screen and feel like a film star.
Famed for its sand, sun and surf, Santa Monica is a separate town situated to the west of Los Angeles. Visit the 106-year old Santa Monica Pier. Its beautiful and often-photographed Ferris Wheel can be found at the Pacific park, at the tip of the pier. Hire a bike and cycle along the promenade, or head to Montana Avenue to shop in one of many boutiques that line the street. Santa Monica is an affluent neighbourhood, and boasts one of the best and cleanest beaches in California. The contemporary Viceroy Santa Monica, with its award-winning holistic spa, sits right on the beach just steps from the ocean.
Venice is an unconventional and bohemian place, just south of Santa Monica, and where you can find the famous Muscle Beach. From fire-breathing, juggling-with-chainsaws street performers to musicians busking along the Boardwalk, Venice Beach is a cool place to see. Since the 1950s, Venice has been a hangout of the alternative crowd, and this is acknowledged in the murals and architecture. Take a trip to the eponymous canals, whose idyllic presence creates a welcome break from the bustling boardwalk and street entertainers. Venice is typically Californian, with people exercising or playing sport everywhere you look, so grab a basketball and join in.
There are three ‘beach cities’ in Los Angeles, and they’re all popular with locals and tourists alike. Manhattan Beach is famous for being the place where Californian surfing came into its own. The first surf shop was opened here in 1949 and you can still see surfers waiting for waves near the pier. Hermosa Beach is popular as a volleyball beach, and hosts major tournaments each year. You can also find the Lighthouse Café in Hermosa, which is a popular West-coast Jazz hangout. And finally, Redondo Beach has a horseshoe-shaped, ‘endless’ pier - where you can eat freshly-caught seafood at its charming cafés.
Blending big city sophistication with a beach resort atmosphere, Long Beach is a great place to stay in LA. Known for its calming coastline and chic bars, Long Beach also has a blossoming arts scene. The cultural side to this city is evident in the opera house, theatres and museums. Located between the city and Orange County, Long Beach is also host to the Queen Mary – the famous ocean liner. You can take a tour of her historical bows, before heading into the city for dinner and drinks. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach for easy access to the Shoreline Village and stay in luxury waterfront accommodation.
Orange County has some of the most sought-after beaches in California, a fantastic surf culture, and glorious year-round weather. Huntington Beach offers 10 miles of sandy coastline and perfect waves, with a great atmosphere. Newport Beach is calmer, but no less inviting. Known for its waterfront, Newport Beach has the largest recreational harbour on the west coast. You will find some sort of competitive sailing event every weekend and even during the week in the summer months. The beautiful Laguna Beach has secluded coves and pristine beaches, stay at the luxury Surf and Sand Resort for the perfect romantic getaway.
Drive west on the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles Downtown and you will find yourself driving through Malibu. With 21-miles of coastline, including six pristine beaches, Malibu or the ‘Bu’, is an exclusive community. Zuma Beach is known as one of the cleanest in California and the west coast, and the protected Surfrider Beach is ideal for surfing. The surrounding area is parkland, which provides the perfect opportunity to go horse-riding, hiking and biking. Also in Malibu is the stunning Getty Villa, an art gallery dedicated to the arts of Ancient Greece and Rome, well worth a visit.