America’s second-biggest city is on the wish-list of every globetrotter for many things including Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Sunset Strip, the original Disneyland, the Dodgers and the Lakers. Apart from the sunshine-soaked beach culture, glamour-studded surfing sessions, and of course, the mandatory celeb-spotting.
The palm tree-studded cityscape of Los Angeles oozes glamour and gloss every inch of the way, from the revitalised downtown to the endless coastline. A network of freeways, vibrant neighbourhoods, golden beaches and flower-carpeted hillsides promise blue-sky days, dramatic sunsets and star-spangled nights in La La Land.
You just can't get enough of the magic.
First off, dip into the history of the legendary city at the snazzy downtown. The pedestrian-friendly urban centre is a delight to explore for its noteworthy landmarks, street markets and retail areas, with electric streetcars and cable railroads adding a touch of whimsy. Hit up the classically styled City Hall before venturing to Frank Gehry's 2300-seat acoustic showpiece, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Satisfy gourmet urges at the reinvented Grand Central Market, where you will be spoilt for choice with grass-fed beef burgers, build-your-own ice-cream sandwiches, Mexican tacquería, California tacos and authentic Korean cuisine.
At Hollywood, dive deep into a whirlpool of movie legends and mythology. Expect to discover avant-garde art galleries, iconic rock clubs and acclaimed theatres celebrating the outrageous and inventive. Pagoda styled movie halls to Egyptian tomb lookalike concert venues, the architectural mash-up of the neighbourhood is a dream for the fans of the outlandish.
The extravagance theme continues in nearby West LA, which is home to the celebrity homes of Beverly Hills, the clubbing paradise of Sunset Strip and the elite shopping stretch of Rodeo Drive. Give in to temptation and get on-trend in the fashion department.
This is the perfect place to taste the well-groomed life with a personal stylist. If not here, where else?
For a change of perspective, zoom in to the Art Deco Griffith Observatory poised up in the Hollywood Hills. Pan out at the views of the urban sprawl or consider a late episode of star-gazing into infinity.
Active adventurers can take a guided tour of the ocean-facing Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades. A three-kilometre hiking loop or a session of horse riding in the sprawling ranch come highly recommended on the estate. Weekends are ideal for witnessing a polo match in action.
Lose the hustle-bustle of downtown behind in favour of the sun, sand and surfing of the hip beaches of Venice, Malibu and Santa Monica. People watching, gourmet dining and do-nothing mornings are a norm here. Make the days count by practising beachfront yoga at Santa Monica, spotting pelicans in the Venice canals and yachting the shimmering waters at Malibu.
Rodeo Drive: Splurge to your heart's content in one of the world's most luxurious shopping districts. The finest designer labels on display here include Bottega Veneta, De Beers, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermes, Tiffany & Co., and many more. You will also find department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys.
Melrose Avenue: This area is a mecca for those who prefer independent boutiques and vintage stores. Label lovers can also find stores of Ed Hardy and Alexander McQueen, among others. Keep your eyes peeled for vibrant and creative street murals that give the neighbourhood an artsy persona.
Robertson Boulevard: Close to Melrose Avenue, one can dive into the trendy tree-lined shopping hub frequented by celebrities, tagged the "New Melrose." After stocking up on favourite brands like Kate Spade, Kitson, Madison and Chanel, consider a laid-back lunch at one of the many posh cafes
Hollywood & Highland: Five levels of shopping and entertainment will keep you busy for hours. A wide range of outlets from Louis Vuitton to bebe and Sephora. The convenient location along the Hollywood Walk of Fame gets you close to The Dolby Theater and Grauman's Chinese Theater, both excellent choices for the evening.
Museums & the arts
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: The largest art museum in the western United States boasts of a vast collection of over 135,000 pieces showcasing the city's rich history and cultural diversity. From Asian and Islamic to Latin American and pre-Columbian to modern, the range is mind-boggling.
The Broad: A honeycomb facade holds 120,000-square-feet of contemporary museum space with enough variety to inspire all artistic tastes, including paintings, sculptures, and immersive installations. Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a mirror-lined chamber with surreal LED illumination, is a spectacular experience.
Getty Center Museum: Classic meets modern art and photography at 24-acre campus housing the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Trust. The permanent collection draws visitors for pre-20th century European art and 19th-20th century American, European and Asian photographs.
Hollywood Museum: Trace the entertainment industry's history in this museum located inside the historic Max Factor Building. Hair-colour-themed makeup rooms, movie sets and memorabilia, are a treat for fans of the big screen. Look forward to creeping out at Hannibal Lecter's cell from Silence of the Lambs.
California Science Center: Spread over 400,000 square feet, this fascinating museum has four major exhibit areas: World of Life, Creative World, Ecosystems and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. For a special treat, head to the trio of NASA space capsules in the Air and Space Gallery.
Staples Center: The home of the LA Lakers is an obligatory addition to the list of basketball fans visiting the city. Glam it up with one of the event suites with privileges like a private entrance, early entry and access to concourse level seating. Sporting luxury gets a new meaning with the well-stocked bar and lounge of the San Manuel Club.
Dodger Stadium: Plan a day at the home field of the Los Angeles Dodgers if major league baseball is your addiction. A history of eight World Series, catching a live game here is the opportunity of a lifetime. Grabbing VIP tickets will add an extra punch to the experience. Don't forget to hog on the Dodger Dog or grab a Dodger Sausage.
SoFi Stadium: Home stadium of the Los Angeles Rams has a massive capacity of 100,000. The state-of-the-art $5 billion venue will host the opening ceremony of the 2028 Olympic Games. Book an exclusive VIP experience for private dining and a premium member game experience. Expect luxury finishes, tech-tuned services and ultra-comfortable spaces to enjoy a Rams game.
n/naka: Japanese kaiseki cuisine gets a modernised expression in this 2-Michelin starred establishment. Asian inspirations and local ingredients blend into creative dishes, paired with a selection of exclusive sakés and wines. Order from the 13-course Modern Kaiseki or the 13-course Vegetarian Tasting menu.
Osteria Mozza: This Michelin star restaurant has been a Los Angeles favourite for years. The menu is dressed with paper-thin prosciutto, handmade pasta and all-Italian wines. Recommended dishes include the deep-fried branzino, crispy duck leg and grilled beef tagliata. A mozzarella bar and amaro bar complete the vibe.
Mori Sushi: Book a table at this sophisticated Michelin-star sushi bar combining traditional and contemporary Asian sensibilities. Go on a culinary journey of authentic Japanese cuisine with seasonal omakase. Depending on the seasonal availability, you can expect to sample brilliantly done Hokkaido scallops, mackerels and tunas.
Kato: Warm, lively, creative and quirky, this one Michelin star restaurant serves up surprises in small packages. Some dishes to consider are the kombu-cured kanpachi, ocean trout paired with roe and the monochromatic elderflower frozen yoghurt and granita.
Speed up the thrills by signing up for a private supercar drive experience on Fontana's 1.2-mile professional race track - Auto Club Speedway. There is a choice of the dreamiest and most exotic wheeled toys, including Maserati, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, and Ferrari. Buckle up and zip along the two-mile superspeedway for the real deal, minus instructors on board. Beat your own records, live your moment of glory.
What's a trip to Tinseltown without a silver-screen souvenir? Film aficionados and serious collectors can scrounge for rare artefacts, like a historic script or an iconic prop at the Larry Edmunds bookshop. The store has over 20,000 motion picture and theatre books, over 500,000 movie photographs and 6,000 original posters, lobby cards and scripts. This is movie heaven.
Escape the big city buzz for a day of diving and paddling. The 2.5-acre land-entry dive site of Casino Point Dive Park promises some of the best sea life in California, including lobsters, octopus, moray eels and giant kelp. The Casino Point Dive Park is the first park in the country dedicated to underwater exploration. Beginners can sign up for a dive class and a guided dive. Snorkelling and Scuba are also popular.
Nightlife / Hidden gem
Be seen at The Sayers Club. The stylish Hollywood lounge is done up to look like a recording studio with acoustic tiles, a retractable stage and a Strip-facing outdoor patio. One of the city's most coveted live music venues has the legacy of having hosted stars like Prince and Stevie Wonder. Catch a show, spot celebs, and enjoy inventive cocktails like the Mexican Firing Squad, a potent mix of tequila, lime and pomegranate. Reservations are required.
As one can imagine, La-la Land is filled with superb hotels – catering for the rich & famous –musicians, film stars and celebrity-types – when visiting their agents, on press junkets or just showing-off. Expect to see dark-glass wearing celebrities – even at night-time – in the likes of The Bel-Air or the Beverly Wilshire – Four Seasons Hotel … where world-class spas, guestrooms and restaurants are standard.
Hire a car from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), located about 24 kilometres southwest of downtown. This is the most convenient way to navigate the city on your own. If you prefer not to drive, taxis are available from the airport. Of course, if you wish to live the LA-lifestyle, a stretch-limousine is the only way to travel.
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