Los Angeles may be the most famous city in the world, if only because it's so often featured in movies and on TV. It's also one of the best places to visit, whether you want to spend time on the beach, visit the homes of movie stars or take your family to theme parks such as Universal Studios or Disneyland.
Los Angeles is a city that's very spread out.
Among other things, it's known for its vast highway system. Yet, once you get to know it a little, LA is not a difficult city to navigate. Its public transportation system has also improved quite a bit over the last decade. Uber and Lyft also provide a convenient way to get around. However you travel, however, you need to learn the layout of the land and decide what you want to see.
Highlights of LA
West Side -The west side of Los Angeles has always been the most glamorous part, mainly due to the presence of the ocean. Here you can find great beaches such as Venice and Santa Monica. Also on the westside are the high-end shops of Beverly Hills and the boutiques of Melrose Avenue.
Hollywood -Hollywood is one of the most recognizable neighborhoods in the world, with landmarks such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where names of stars are engraved on the sidewalk, Grauman's Chinese Theater (recently renamed TCL Chinese Theaters) and, of course, the iconic Hollywood sign. Hollywood Boulevard is full of fun places to walk and shop and people watch.
Downtown -Downtown Los Angeles, often ignored by tourists, is enjoying something of a renaissance. In addition to being the central business district, it's home to a good selection of restaurants, shops and museums as well as the Staples Center, a major entertainment and sports venue.
If you want to explore some of the many fascinating neighborhoods of Los Angeles, you might also want to venture into Koreatown, Silver Lake, Echo Park or the Arts District, which is close to downtown.
Places to Visit in LA
- Universal Studios Hollywood -An entire theme park dedicated to the movie and entertainment industry. Here you'll find an active movie studio, spectacular rides, shops, restaurants and the latest movies at CityWalk.
- The Getty Center -One of the largest museums on the West Coast, the Getty Center has a vast collection of art, unique architecture, gardens, children's exhibits and more.
- La Brea Tar Pits and Museum -You might not expect to find the world's only genuine Ice Age excavation site right in the middle of LA, but it's here. You can see fossils, the Lake Pit and a large collection of specimens from extinct animals such as saber-toothed tigers.
- Griffith Observatory -This is known as the place to go for the very best views of the entire city and, in particular, the Hollywood sign. It also has a planetarium and a variety of exhibits and special events.
- Venice Beach. In addition to the beach itself, you can observe a wide variety of interesting and eccentric characters who populate this area, including surfers, skateboarders, bodybuilders, performance artists and street musicians.
Dining and Nightlife
As one of the entertainment capitals of the world, it should be no surprise that Los Angeles has almost endless options for dining out and having fun. While you can find restaurants of every type here, the city is especially rich in Mexican and Southwestern, Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and more) and health-oriented cuisine.
A few suggestions include Sotto in Beverly Hills for great Italian food and wine, the Griddle Cafe in Hollywood for breakfast, Sushi a Go Go at the Farmer's Market in mid-Wilshire, Musso and Frank Grill in Hollywood for steaks, burgers, seafood and other traditional fare.
If you appreciate mouth-watering burritos and other Mexican fare, you should sample at least one of the city's food trucks. Guerrilla Tacos is one of the best and can often be found in populated areas.
For entertainment, you can find countless venues for live music and theater productions. You can see first-rate performances at the Greek Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pantages Theatre, to name just a few.
Many of the hippest nightclubs are in Hollywood and West Hollywood, including Zanzibar, The Avalon, Dragonfly and Elevate Lounge. Be warned, however, that lines can be long to get into these clubs, especially on weekends.
Places to Stay
The best place to stay in Los Angeles depends on your preferences, budget and where you want to be situated. If you're a beach lover, you may want to be close to the ocean. Santa Monica has lots of choices, including the Fairmont Miramar Hotels & Bungalows and the Doubletree Suites by Hilton. Venice Beach also offers several options, such as the Inn at Venice Beach and the Venice Beach Suites and Hotel.
If you want to be in Hollywood, you have hundreds, if not thousands of choices in every price range. The most famous and elegant option is probably Chateau Marmont, known as the place where movie stars past and present stay. Other high end options include The Hollywood Roosevelt and Hollywood Orchid Suites. If you're looking for a bargain, you could check out the Saharan Motor Hotel or the Quality Inn Hollywood.
Downtown Los Angeles also offers many options, including the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, The L.A. Hotel Downtown and the Standard Hotel, Downtown LA.