Los Angeles Travel Guide
Tribes: Who likes this place?
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These scores tell you how well-liked a place is in each Tribe. Gogobot Tribes are groups who share a certain travel style, like Family Travelers or History Buffs.
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- 98%Art & Design Lovers
- 97%Family Travelers
- 96%Nightlife Lovers
- 95%Local Culture
- 88%Business Travelers
- 88%Luxury Travelers
Member Reviews (325)
- Los AngelesJan 15, 2014
Loud, brash and glitzy, these are words long associated with the city of big money, big stars and big movies. LA is the kind of place where people mind their own business, where nobody wants to know yours. The city can be difficult to decode. But to those in the know, LA is best interpreted as a collection of satisfyingly small towns, each with its own distinct character. Getting to know LA as a visitor means exploring it bit by bit, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Make sure you have a beachside lunch in Santa Monica, go shopping in Beverly Hills, visit the Getty Center and stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but allow one day to explore each area. Starlit and moonstruck, LA beguiles scores of curious tourists, hopeful starlets and wannabe rock gods every day. But there's a lot more to it than the siren call of fame and fortune. It's a thriving, multilayered city filled with world-class everything: museums, music, food, architecture, gardens. Although often gridlocked by traffic, LA moves to a rhythm all of its own. A vortex of creative energy spawns a never-ending stream of movies, inventions and trends. Trees pop up overnight. The desert - for this is a desert - thrums with greenery. While the ocean and mountains, which should place LA up there with Rio and Cape Town, are invisible from many parts of the city, you can often see a hazy tangerine belt of smog from just about anywhere.
For the newcomer, already driving a rental car the size of a double bed, with butter-smooth automatic transmission and a blue windscreen strip that makes the weather look permanently perfect, the shock can be profound. The European eye has to adjust itself to the horizontal - bungalows, strip malls, parking lots, low fast-food restaurants and wide boulevards - and falls gratefully upon anomalies such as the tall, neo-classical Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel, or the fabulous art deco city halls. Old stories of walking being illegal in LA are true only in spirit; the place is not built on a pedestrian scale and can be exhausting on foot. But parking is cheap and plentiful, the traffic is largely un-aggressive and, thanks to the low-rise buildings, you never feel trapped - there is always a visible landmark. Soon you find yourself doing what Angelenos do: driving from urban centre to urban centre by freeway, dumping your car (even valet parking isn't that expensive) and then walking. Gradually, the different cities begin to emerge as characters, along with amazing, unsung architecture, excellent museums and theme parks, more than 20 miles of Pacific beaches (full of Californians on bikes, skates and surfboards), funky hotels and, every so often, a touch of real glamour. I drove 700 miles in three weeks and never left the city. Or cities! There was too much to do. Someone said to me during this odyssey: "Los Angeles is not a lovable city, but it is fascinating." I think it could be lovable, too. Just give it time.
Beverly Hills - LA incarnate
It has celebrity mansions, a famous high school, maximum shopping and minimal culture. It's also a great base (between Santa Monica and downtown LA, an hour from Disneyland, 15 minutes from Hollywood). Look for the hills and you are facing north. Rodeo Drive, famous for the scene in Pretty Woman in which the Julia Roberts character is snubbed, milks its celebrity connections ("Julia's favourite spa" etc). On wheels North of Wilshire Boulevard the curving avenues are lined with ostentatious cars and houses, while to the south less pretentious bungalows romp from mock-Tudor to adobe. Swing by Beverly Hills High to spot future stars. On foot Park away from Rodeo Drive (where the limit is an hour). Stroll to Fendi-Gucci-Versace-land, where assistants are now nice to all shoppers, however poor they look. The roads flanking the Drive have more character, less glitter and real food.
Nate'n'Al's on Beverly Drive, with a menu about 3ft long serves great steak, kosher bologna, smoked salmon and cream cheese and has feisty waitresses and bottomless coffee.
Pasadena - old money, Old Masters
Started life as a little piece of the Midwest, when rich "snowbirds" came to holiday in the mountains, and soon sprouted a Millionaire's Row and some superb art galleries. Its airy boulevards and period buildings, some of the most filmed in LA, are reached by the narrow Pasadena Freeway, 101, the first in California. It resisted developers' dollars and preserved successfully its old town, which now has more than 200 shops and bars.
On wheels From the Norton Simon Museum (626 449 6840, www.nortonsimon.org) - cool interiors, lovely water gardens and excellent European & South Asian art collections - via Orange Grove Boulevard to the superb Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (626 405 2100, www.huntington.org), where the treasures include the Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales and Gainsborough's The Blue Boy.
The Cheesecake Factory on E Colorado ( HYPERLINK "http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com" www.thecheesecakefactory.com) serves great cheesecake and a book-sized menu. Chill out at the 23-acre Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa (626 568 3900, www.ritzcarlton.com) if you like that old-money feel
Hollywood - worth seeing at last?
Traditionally one of the most disillusioning experiences on the planet. You looked at the concrete handprints, bought tacky souvenirs on Hollywood Boulevard and went home, feeling you had missed . . . what? What is Hollywood? The studios, except Paramount, are elsewhere. Celebrities live in any suburb but this one (Hollywood is not a city in its own right, it's a part of LA). Oscars Night is downtown. Until now, that is - for the new Hollywood & Highland complex (right) should bring back the pizzazz. Not only is it staging the Oscars, but it has cafes, bars, movie memorabilia and a shopping mall. Hollywood is putting on its top hat and brushing off its tails. Make sure you drive down Sunset Boulevard which high-kicks its way to the coast. At sunset, of course. Starline tours (1 800 959 3131, www.starlinetours.com) of celebrity homes, £21, are a great way to assess the local real estate. On foot Check out the classic movies schedule at the refurbished Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard (www.egyptiantheatre.com). Red Line Tours (323 402 1074, www.redlinetours.com) arranges walks around downtown and historic Hollywood - the only way you can get inside some of the art deco buildings. You can have beautifully made cocktails in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, home to the original Oscars.
Santa Monica and Venice Beach - muscles, malls and movies
Everyone loves the coast, especially the Westsiders who live there. Santa Monica used to be the playground for stir-crazy Angelenos out from the city, and for celebrities with "beach shacks" (such as the 54-room mansion belonging to Howard Hughes's girlfriend). These days it is a big city, headquarters to music and movie businesses. Executives and stars live in the foothills and canyons of the Santa Monica mountains. Farther south, it gets scruffier and livelier and turns into the famously laid-back city of Venice. Rent a bike from Blazing Saddles on the pier (310 393 9778), £1.50 an hour, £20 a day, and ride from Malibu to Palos Verdes via Venice & Muscle Beach (where the beautiful bodies flex). On foot For high-street shopping, buskers and watching the locals, visit the hugely successful pedestrian Third Street Promenade at the weekend. Stroll the Venice canals (now a sixth of their original size, but lined with artsy homes) Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan (www.bergamotstation.com), combines the city's art museum and private galleries in the old Inter-Urban rail sheds. A great cafe and, in the summer, open-air movie screenings.
LA has five. From Beverly Hills, it's an hour's drive south-east to Disneyland and its new sister park, California Adventure. Fifteen minutes nearer is Knott's Berry Farm, an excellent all-rounder with some stonking rides. An hour away, on the other side of the San Fernando Valley, is Six Flags Magic Mountain, king of the white-knuckle parks and probably less suitable for children under 10. Universal Studios, 40 minutes' drive this side of the Valley, has no scary rides but all the magic of the movies. Good for all ages.
Getty Centre (310 440 7300, www.getty.edu). The billion-dollar art house perched above Brentwood offers good views. Admire them from the Getty Restaurant (closing time is 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays). The art - from manuscripts to European photography - is obviously worth a look; there are great Information Rooms for adults and children.
Norton Simon Museum
411 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena (00 1 626 449 6840; www.nortonsimon.org). This is the area's finest museum, founded by one of America's greatest collectors who amassed works by artists from Raphael, El Greco and Poussin to Rembrandt, Canaletto and Degas.
Things to do
LA GUN CLUB
1375 East Sixth Street (00 1 213 612 0931). Currently one of the hippest things to do in LA is to visit the Gun Club, an indoor pistol-shooting range used by both the Los Angeles Police Department and members of the public, gangsters and all. Choose from over 100 different handguns and shoot at paper silhouettes of Mexican baddies.
SKIING AND SURFING
Los Angelinos boast that they can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. Rent surf boards at one of the many shops on the Pacific Highway in Malibu and splash around. The best skiing in California is found at Mammoth Mountain. It is a five-hour drive away, but worth it.
The Los Angeles basin, stretching from Downtown to the Pacific Ocean, viewed from Griffith Park.Griffith Park. This is the second largest park within a city in the whole country and is a great place for hikes, picnics or hanging around with friends. The hiking trails lead up to Mulholland Drive, and provide
- Los AngelesOct 19, 2013
I love La La Land. No, really. I do. Only Northern Californians see a rivalry between SF and LA. Rise above the regionalism and learn to love LA's cosmopolitan attitude and global immigrant cultural mix as much as San Francisco's mosaic of neighborhoods and back-to-nature ethos. Downtown LA may be seedy, but it's also got vibrant arts and cultural scenes. Don't skip seeing the awesome museums of Mid-City like LACMA and the hilltop Getty Center in West LA. Hollywood is mostly a tourist trap, but with restored movie palaces and nightclubs worth taking time out for. And of course everyone inevitably ends up at the beach: posh Santa Monica, the historic end of Route 66; funky Venice, which birthed skater culture and its own arts scene; and the bodacious beaches of the South Bay.
- Los AngelesMember ofLocal CultureBudget TravelersBusiness Travelers+ 1Sep 26, 2013
The crazier side of Southern California as opposed to Orange County. Where OC is the innocent, LA is the one with street smarts, interests and a personality. Southern California cool, as they say on 94.7 The WAVE.
- Los Angeles
- Los AngelesAmbassadorMember ofStudentsBackpackersAug 20, 2013
Exciting, exhausting, stressful, overwhelming, rewarding, exhilarating, and overly stimulating, Los Angeles is a whirlwind megalopolis with more to do and see than visitors - or even locals - know what to do with. There are all walks of life here, with subcultures rampant enough to create a second planet. From the downtrodden and poor to the sickeningly rich, from eccentric promenades to glamorous beach resorts, from the nitty gritty high-rise downtown to the tranquil peace of mountain trails or beachside coves, Los Angeles has it all...and more.
- Los AngelesMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 7Aug 11, 2013
This goes out to all you haters. You know the folks that always chant BEAT LA or LA SUCKS. We know you just wish you could be like us. But you aint got chit going for you.
We have a world class city with more to do than just about anywhere else period. During winter you can easily ski/snowboard and surf daily. You can literally pick just about any activity in the world and do it within LA or a reasonable drive of LA. Camping, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Surfing, Car Racing, Archery, Museums, illegal narcotics (some are even legal in LA, just not federally), drive by's, paintballing, Disneyland, Zoos, Aquariums, Deep Sea Fishing, river fishing, Dragonboat Racing, Skydiving, Dancing, Clubbing (yeah they are different).
Let alone I think LA has more professional and collegiate championships than any other two cities just about put together. You have:
Sparks (yeah I laughed too, but so what!)
And the list goes on. None the less LA is the center of the world. At least according to Hollywood, you know the place you dream of becoming an actor at someday and you get to practice lines such as, "would you like fries with that" while auditioning for that breakthrough role!
Pro Tip: Come spend your $$$ here. We love it!
Ohhhh don't forget we have all the great grub... especially our ghetto dogs errr street dogs... you know the bacon wrapped beef wieners with grilled peppers n onions on a roll that was cooked on some converted homeless dudes shopping cart with a cookie tray for a surface and is unlicensed... ohhh yeah you know you jealous since Wolfgang Puck loves the danger dogs too! Hell we are so awesome we don't have a Chinatown with that many Chinese, we have a whole valley with the best Chinese grub this side of the forgotten city... hell it was forgotten since Arcadia, Alhambra, Industry, etc are sooooo spectacular!
Ohhhh and lets just Toss in OC for chits n grins and you start to see why LA isn't being arrogant, we are just better than you!
So put that in your pipe and smoke it, dogg...
- Los AngelesMember ofFamily TravelersFoodiesWellness+ 5Jan 16, 2014
LA...the land of movie stars, the Lakers, horrible traffic 24/7, smoggy weather, plastic surgery, and amazing food! I lived in LA for the last six years, and it has been great. Every part of the city has something interesting to see and do, whether it's high-end shopping in Rodeo Drive (well, Beverly Hills, but it's pretty much LA), a concert or basketball game in Downtown LA, seen-and-be-seen nightlife in Hollywood, or the chill beach scene just a little further west in Santa Monica or Venice. The people are incredibly diverse, from their ethnicity to their day jobs...LA doesn't lack any personality types. I love LA!
- Los AngelesMember ofOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget TravelersBusiness Travelers+ 3Dec 21, 2013
The fast paced lifestyle of LA living isn't for everyone; but for the nearly 4 million people who choose to live here, they would say there is no place better. From the hills, to the city, there is always something new and exciting to explore. The people in general are a little more laid back and care free than most other major cities aside from SF. The only downside which I think everyone will agree with is the traffic.
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