Your idea of what to expect from a visit to Los Angeles may be based around what you’ve seen in the movies, but if you plan your trip wisely and take advantage of these tips from personal travel manager Bev Fitzsimons, your visit to the City of Angels will be as just as entertaining as a Hollywood blockbuster.
1. Pick a neighbourhood.
Los Angeles is a vast, sprawling metropolis of close to four million people, but it definitely helps if you think of it as a bunch of smaller districts and plan your time accordingly.
For example, you could easily spend an entire day in Downtown LA, starting with a walking tour to get a feel for its layout and history, followed by lunch at the LA Central Markets and a visit to The Broad: a must-see contemporary museum for which pre-booking is required if you want to make the most of your visit. If you’re lucky with your timing, you may be able to end your day with a show; a Grammy Museum visit or a basketball game at the Staples Center.
Day two might be the Miracle Mile, also known as Museum Row due to its collection of museums including the La Brea Tar Pits, whilst a third day might cover Hollywood and Universal Studios.
By the time you’ve added in a day at the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu and at least a couple of days in theme park heaven in Anaheim, a week has gone by in a flash.
2. Use the transport system
Los Angeles has an amazing road network that will take you wherever you need to get to, which is a great way to get around if you have a good navigator and you’re ok with driving on the right. But the public transport system, and in particular, the Metro train system, is a cheap and user-friendly alternative.
3. Eat like the locals
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options in Los Angeles. Some of the biggest names in world of celebrity chefs have set up shop in the City of Angels, but it can be tricky to get yourself a reservation if your name isn’t in lights. Instead, embrace the local Food Truck revolution by heading to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (aka LACMA) on Miracle Mile. You’ll find a constantly-changing selection of some of the best food trucks in LA parked up here on a nightly basis, offering everything from Korean fusion to really good Mexican.
Another great option is EP & LP: a gorgeous restaurant in West Hollywood that serves amazing, well-priced Pacific Asian fusion food. You will need to book for seated dining, or you can opt for the stunning views and yummy bar snacks at the casual rooftop bar.
4. Get high
The best views of Los Angeles are from above, but that doesn’t mean you need to hire a helicopter to appreciate them.
In downtown LA, the City Hall has a free observation deck with a great view of the city. If you take the Main Street entry and obtain a visitor sticker from the front desk, ascend by lift to the 22nd floor then by another lift to the 26th floor, then climb a flight of stairs to the observation deck, your efforts will be amply rewarded in the form of panoramic views of wider LA. On a clear day you may even see Catalina Island.
Another option that offers a unique and thrilling perspective of the city is the Skyslide, a slide made entirely of 1 ¼ inch thick glass at the top of LA’s tallest building, the US Bank Tower. The observation deck is nearly 1000 feet above the city, and it costs around US$30 for a short but exciting ride with a heart stopping view.
For an equally beautiful view of the city, head to the hills: the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and Mulholland Drive are all iconic locations from which to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and the lights come on across the city, or get yourself a reservation at Yamashiro, an Asian-fusion restaurant in a traditional Japanese tea-house that’s set high in the Hollywood Hills.