LOS ANGELES Holidays 2013/2014:
Los Angeles, City of Angels, Tinseltown, La La Land. Whatever you want to call it, the beaches, mountains, food, culture and sheer pizzazz of LA are undeniably seductive. Los Angeles County is truly vast – made up of 88 separate ‘cities’ with some 75 miles of coastline – though despite what you may have heard, most places of interest are easily accessible.
While there’s no real centre to Los Angeles, a revitalised Downtown serves as the central business district and hub of LA’s freeway system, as well as being home to major cultural institutions, the Mission Revival-style Union Station, historic Mexican marketplace Olvera Street and diverse districts like Chinatown and Little Tokyo. To the northwest sits Hollywood, its hipper neighbour West Hollywood and ever-glitzy Beverly Hills, while over on the Westide, affluent Bel Air and beach towns like Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica and Venice attract visitors in search of the definitive SoCal lifestyle.
Southeast of Downtown are the hugely popular tourist-focused cities of Anaheim and Buena Park in Orange County. Both act as resort centres for their respective theme parks, Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, with a range of high quality hotels, restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
Things to do/Attractions
Attractions in Los Angeles range from the fast-paced and fun-filled to the completely free! Theme park fans will adore the stomach-churning rides at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm, while film buffs can delve into Hollywood history at Universal Studios Hollywood or pre-book a Movie Star Homes & Warner Bros. Studios Tour. Got wheels? Cruise past the Sunset Strip’s fabled clubs for an introduction to LA life or zoom up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu with the wind in your hair. Beach life is best explored on two wheels so hire bikes and ride from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, past a human circus of skaters, artists and street performers. Downtown, it’s all about cutting-edge museums and ethnic culture. Downtown, it’s all about cutting-edge museums and ethnic culture. You can take a guided tour of the awe-inspiring Walt Disney Concert Hall then why not stop by Little Tokyo for first-rate sushi and ramen. To escape the bright lights head to Griffith Park, where hiking trails criss-cross acres of parkland, canyons and forest.
Los Angeles has a phenomenal dining scene, celebrated as much for its great neighbourhood cafes as its see-and-be-seen hotspots. Fanatical foodie? Downtown LA’s 9th Street is the most talked-about restaurant row in town: try the contemporary all-American menu at stylish newcomer Towne, or opt for something more avant garde at critic’s choice Alma. For an A-list setting, it’s hard to beat Santa Monica’s Ivy at the Shore, or head to old favourite Musso & Frank Grill for comfort food and top-notch martinis – they’ve been serving Hollywood’s movers and shakers since 1919. For great, down-to-earth Mexican food (in a city full of great Mexican food) check out any of Barragan’s three locations, or pick up one of Cielito Lindo’s renowned taquitos on Olvera Street.
Los Angeles is home to the hottest clubbing and live music scene on the west coast. For guaranteed celeb sightings head to anything-goes Supperclub or Greystone Manor in West Hollywood. Or just dance the night away at popular Hollywood clubs King King and newly-opened Lure, plus mainstream megaclub Mayan in Downtown LA. For live music, the Viper Room on Sunset still packs in a rock-centric crowd most nights, while indie kids head to The Satellite in Silver Lake. Jazz buff? Seek out the Jazz Bakery in Culver City or Hollywood’s Catalina Bar & Grill. If you just want a drink, some of the best bars in Los Angeles can be found inside hotels – Mondrian’s open-air Skybar is one of the most sought-after spots in town, as is the bar at The London West Hollywood, where $5 happy hour cocktails and tapas always go down a treat.
Not to be missed
Tick off essential Hollywood landmarks like the star-studded Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theater (formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theater), or the fabulous Capitol Records Building and newly-renamed Dolby theatre (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre and home of the Academy Awards). For a great view of the Hollywood sign, head to the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue. Life’s a beach in Los Angeles, so take your pick and kick back. Santa Monica is easily accessible, with wide golden sands, a historic pier, great shopping and a holiday-resort vibe. Just further south, bohemian Venice offers some of the best people-watching in California (and that’s saying something). It’s clear to see why Huntington Beach with its glorious 8 mile stretch of golden sands is also known as ‘Surf City USA’, the neighbouring resort of Laguna Beach with its eucalyptus covered hillsides and 30 different beaches is the perfect spot for an afternoon spent lapping up the waves and California sunshine. To the north, Malibu’s Zuma Beach is an immaculate four-mile stretch of sand dotted with pale blue lifeguard huts, perfect for surfing, swimming and long walks, while Long Beach and Newport Beach are jumping off points for day trips to Catalina Island. For a dose of culture, head straight to the incredible art collection and staggering views of the Getty Center, or to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown LA.
Best for families
It doesn’t get much better than a family holiday in Los Angeles – with theme parks, movie studios and animal attractions, kids will be in heaven. Make things easier with one of our prebookable excursions: try the unforgettable Universal VIP Experience at Universal Studios Hollywood, or Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park – home to over 165 rides plus a brand new rollercoaster set to open in Summer 2013. For Disneyland adventures, save time and money with the Southern California CityPASS, which includes 3-day access to Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure as well as 1-day access to SeaWorld San Diego and Universal Studios Hollywood, home to the next-generation Transformers thrill ride. Beyond the theme parks, don’t miss the Shark Lagoon and Sea Otter Habitat at Aquarium of the Pacific or space shuttle Endeavour at her permanent California Science Center home.
Best for couples
Los Angeles is not short on romantic pastimes. For a water-based excursion for two, take a canopy-covered gondola ride through Marina del Ray or join a Champagne dinner cruise from Newport Beach. Both are fantastic ways to witness a legendary Pacific Coast sunset, though strolling through the surf, picnicking in Griffith Park, or riding the giant ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier are just as fun! The city’s most romantic restaurants include 100 year-old Asian-inspired Yamashiro in the Hollywood Hills – said to have the best view in LA – along with fairylight-bedecked Il Cielo in Beverly Hills and cosy French bistro The Little Door in West Hollywood. And few hotels in Los Angeles beat the Beverly Wilshire for romance, with its brand new spa and Wolfgang Puck restaurant guaranteed to add a touch of luxury to proceedings.
Los Angeles weddings are all about glamour and style. Exchange vows in the swanky rooftop ballroom of ANdAZ West Hollywood, or go for the film star fantasy with a sunset ceremony on the Beverly Wilshire’s twinkly Rodeo Terrace. If it’s good enough for Julia Roberts and Richard Gere… Unusual non-hotel venues include the rose garden at the Huntington Library, the stunning art deco penthouse at the top of the Oviatt Building – LA’s first skyscraper – or the dreamy forest setting of Topanga Canyon’s Inn of the Seventh Ray. Then extend your perfect day into the ultimate honeymoon, with a stay in one of Hollywood Roosevelt or Mondrian’s exquisite rooms or suites.
LA’s alternative attractions range from the hilariously weird – like the truly bizarre Bunny Museum in Pasadena – to seriously cool collections like the Petersen Automotive Museum. The latter is one of the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 150 vehicles on display including until very recently the Batmobile from the 1967 television series, which was sold at auction for $4.2 million to a private collector. If quirky roadside Americana is more your thing, drive out to the Rock Store – a well-known biker’s hangout and diner along the Mulholland Highway – then swing down to fabulous Point Dume beach in Malibu where scenes from the original Planet of the Apes were filmed. And if you love classic movies under the stars, don’t miss Cinespia’s summer season: open-air film screenings in the atmospheric surrounds of Hollywood Forever cemetery.
Weather/Best time to go
Welcome to Southern California, where the sun shines 292 days per year on average! The climate in this part of the Golden State could fairly be described as ‘almost perfect’, with most days sunny and warm. Humidity is low, with little rain, and gentle ocean breezes blow in from the Pacific during the summer. Between November and February, temperatures can drop enough at night to require a jacket, but you’ll invariably be able to strip back to the t-shirt in the daytime. There are simply no unpleasant seasons in Los Angeles, making it the ideal year-round destination!
Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains, forest and canyons, so challenging yourself to a new thrill is easy. Head for heights? Try a tandem-paragliding adventure in Malibu, soaring from 3,000 feet above sea level to your landing spot on the beach below. Prefer to stay closer to the ground? Take a guided horseback trail ride to the top of Mt. Hollywood for the best views in all of LA, or go hiking, fishing or mountain biking in Angeles National Forest. For the quintessential California experience, channel your inner Beach Boy (or girl) and learn to surf at Huntington or Manhattan Beach, or try your hand at beach volleyball or basketball at Venice. For adventures on the water itself, take a whale watching cruise along the Laguna Beach coastline.
Whether you’re window-shopping or have money to burn, Beverly Hills is the aspirational heart of Los Angeles retail. Rodeo Drive dazzles with dozens of luxury brands, but round the corner on Wilshire Boulevard are more down-to-earth options like department stores Neiman Marcus and Barney’s New York. Over in WeHo (that’s West Hollywood to the rest of us) take a stroll through the neighbourhood’s art, design and fashion district otherwise known as ‘The Avenues’, at the intersection of Melrose Avenue, Beverly Boulevard and Robertson Boulevard. For hip independent boutiques and vintage stores, try Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice; Main Street in Santa Monica, or the Studio City section of Ventura Boulevard on the northern side of the Hollywood Hills.
A car is almost a necessity in LA, although the Metro network will take you between Universal Studios HollywoodSM and Pasadena in the north.
Virgin Atlantic flies to LA twice daily from London Heathrow.
Time Difference - GMT -8 hours.
If you don't require car hire, transfers to Buena Park, Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Long Beach hotels are available for £21 per person return.
Private Sedan transfers:
£76 per car each way - max 3 passengers (Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Santa Monica)
£127 per car each way - max 3 passengers (Anaheim and Buena Park).
- Beverly Hills
- Disneyland® Resort California
- Universal Studios HollywoodSM
- Great beaches