Los Angeles: the city of angels is a contradiction – inextricably linked with Hollywood and celebrity, LA is actually a surprisingly diverse holiday location. Look beyond the obvious beaches, theme parks and film star mansions – to find a hidden LA that is well worth exploring.
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Why? The sheer diversity of stuff to keep you interested and entertained: great beaches, world class arts and entertainment venues, TV studios and movie back-lots and a great mix of cuisine from roadside stalls to fine restaurants – LA has a lot to offer visitors.
Even if you just want to chill out, LA is a great destination. Forget your pre-conceptions and experience communities like Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes and step a little bit beyond the city to Pasadena or San Juan Capistrano or even take the ferry to Catalina Island.
Stay: Near the ocean is good in summer as the inland heat can be intense. LA has hotels for every budget. Try the Malibu Beach Inn in the north of the Santa Monica bay or the Portofino Yacht Club further south in the bay.
Alternatively, the Holiday Inn chain has 48 hotels dotted around LA. For a less obvious location, try the Westin in charming Pasadena (north east of downtown). The hotel has everything you need and is well located to explore The Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens.
Eat: Anything you want. Fancy Ecuadorian cuisine? No problem. Everything from burgers to fine dining is catered for. Try The Reel Inn or Coogies in Malibu for great food. Excellent Mexican restaurants can be found almost everywhere.
Don’t Miss: Everyone’s heard of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, but try Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach – lovely beach communities with long beachside paths, miles of sand and a great pier. A very much less well known beach is RAT beach – (Redondo and Torrance), just by beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Take a drive round the peninsula including Portuguese Bend – surely one of the wobbliest stretches of roadway anywhere. Try to make time to visit the Getty Centre, high above the 405 Freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains; designed by Richard Meier, it’s part museum, part gallery, part mountain lookout and it has one of the finest collections of art in the world. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits in central LA are also well worth visiting.
In downtown there is the spectacular Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry. The building cost $274 million to build but provides a premier concert venue. For lighter fare, you can book seats to see TV shows being produced (in Burbank) and there are numerous movie and TV themed attractions, including Universal Studios.
Do Miss: Hollywood. Any charm that once existed is long gone. The area is tired and designed to separate tourists from their money – through both fair means and foul!
Top Tip: Plan trips around LA well – the freeways (mostly) work well but you can easily ramp up a lot of miles. Don’t plan on visiting Burbank and San Pedro in the same day unless you have some really good tunes to listen to in your car. Try to avoid morning and afternoon rush hours.
Fly To: Los Angeles International airport (known colloquially by its airport code, LAX), which serves most countries around the globe. John Wayne Airport in Orange County and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (are you seeing a trend yet?) also serve the area. Inland there is LA/Ontario also.
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