Holidays to Los Angeles put the film industry in the spotlight, along with first-class theme parks, golden-sand beaches and an innovative dining scene.
Entertainment capital of the world
Movie locations are at every turn in Los Angeles, so wherever you go, you might find you get a sense of déjà vu. After all, the film industry was born here, back in the early 1900s. During a trip to LA, you can hop on a bus tour to visit the most iconic filming spots, stand alongside the stars on the Walk of Fame, or watch the sets of big-screen legends come to life at Universal Studios HollywoodTM .
The Golden State
Put the screens to one side, and you’ll find LA has plenty on the nature front, too. It’s located in California, AKA the ‘Golden State’. And from the honey-coloured sands to the near-constant sunshine, it earns this nickname in more ways than one. Californian beaches are among the best in the US, and the fertile vineyards make it one of the world’s biggest wine producers.
Cutting-edge creative scene
Whether drawn in by the Hollywood glamour or natural beauty, LA’s long been a magnet for creative types. As such, kooky art spaces and galleries come thick and fast here, along with musical concerts and theatre shows. Even the dining scene dares to be bold – you can eat in a train carriage in a Downtown car park, or trick your taste buds with a white chocolate and black olive lollipop.
Things to See and Do in Los Angeles
The Pacific Ocean borders this sprawling west-coast city, so it’s a great choice if you're looking for a city and beach break in one. Drive for 20 minutes – or take an hour’s bus ride – and you’ll get to family-friendly Santa Monica Beach, along with Venice Beach, which is prime people-watching territory. Or, venture further north, into the city of Malibu, for more of a back-to-nature beach scene.
The big beach
Iconic Santa Monica Beach turns heads with its silky white sands, which roll out for three and a half miles. Its 100-year-old wooden pier’s stocked with all your classic seaside attractions, like an arcade and a big wheel, along with a trapeze school and an aquarium. There’s a clutch of restaurants here, too, including a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. And you can work off the calories on one of the volleyball courts or at the Muscle Beach open-air gym.
The secret beach
If you want a slice of Californian coastline all to yourself, try El Matador State Beach, a 50-minute drive out of the city. This small and secluded stretch of sand is backed by cliffs and peppered with rock formations, which look particularly impressive at sunset.
In between LA’s glitzy designer stores, there are a few outlets where you can snap up a bargain. At the al fresco Citadel outlet – the most accessible, thanks to its central location – you can often find big-name brands with up to 70% off. Calvin Klein, Banana Republic and Gap all feature on the directory. There are restaurants, cafés and a chocolate shop here, too.
Apple gadgets, MAC make-up and American Girl toys are the types of thing you can pick up at The Grove – an open-air shopping village. Even if you’re not looking to exercise your credit card, it’s a popular place to hang out, thanks to the pretty fountain-and-tree-strewn boardwalks. It's home to lots of outdoor restaurants and a cinema, as well.
Rodeo Drive is one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. You’ll recognise it from its starring role in Hollywood blockbusters, like Pretty Woman, and it’s popular with celebrities who pull up in their shiny Lamborghinis to splash the cash. And when we say cash, we mean lots of it. It’s only top-of-the-range labels that stake a claim here, including Fendi, Rolex and Valentino.
Catching a concert's easy in LA, thanks to venues like the futuristic-looking Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Hollywood Bowl – a huge outdoor amphitheatre set against the iconic Hollywood hills. The two have a regularly changing schedule of musical acts, from classic orchestral sets to Mamma Mia! sing-along shows.
Downtown LA has all the ingredients for a great night out, with popular restaurants, cocktail bars and nightclubs all present and correct. The drinking holes come in every form, from the daybed-strewn rooftop at The Standard, to prohibition era-themed speakeasies, like The Edison.
LA’s oceanside location means it’s easy to catch a bite of seafood. Head to the Santa Monica seafront to dine close to the source – just-shucked oysters, shrimp skewers and lobster rolls are all listed on the menus here.
French dip sandwich
You can’t go to LA without tucking into one of their staple French dip sandwiches – which actually have nothing French about them. A soft baguette is dipped in jus and then loaded up with slices of roast beef.
Nearby San Bernardino was the location for the first ever McDonald’s, so fast-food spots and drive-throughs reign supreme in these parts. In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys and Fatburger are just a few places you can head for a fries fix.
The California roll was invented as a way to introduce sushi to this part of the world in the Sixties, and the native Japanese cuisine has sky-rocketed here since. It’s rolled up at both budget-friendly, all-you-can-eat buffets and swanky, fine-dining restaurants throughout the city.
Neighbouring Mexico has had a whole heap of influence over the food in LA – you can get tacos, and wash them down with tequila, on almost every corner. The Chipotle chain is our pick for on-the-go Mexican staples.
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