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Destination: Los Angeles, California
You’ll love it if: You enjoy sun, fun, Hollywood glamour, world-class restaurants and shopping.
Although there are several airports in the area, the largest and most convenient is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
While LA does have public transportation, it is unreliable and not a popular way to get around. If you want to experience everything LA has to offer, you need to rent a car. Get ready to experience that traffic LA is so famous for! Tip: Invest in a GPS, as the hands-free driving law is strictly enforced.
LA, lovingly nicknamed the “City of Angels,” is arguably the most alluring and entertaining city in the world. This sprawling metropolis has something to suit every taste. Whether you’re looking for a retreat of peace and relaxation along its sunny beaches, a firsthand glimpse of the movie star lifestyle or a shopping extravaganza, you will surely find something to tickle your fancy!
When to go
Southern California’s peak tourist season is during the summer months from May-August, despite the high prices, temperatures and levels of smog. This is the best time, though, to spend time at the beach even if it’s a bit busy. To avoid overcrowded beaches and occasionally stifling weather, think about scheduling your trip to LA from early fall through late spring. Temperatures during these months are more moderate and hotel rates drop significantly.
Where to stay
Where you stay in LA dictates the type of trip you’re going to have, so choose wisely. If you’re looking for fun in the sun, Santa Monica is probably your best bet. However, if you want to be closer to the many attractions and the real LA “scene,” we recommend staying in Beverly Hills or Hollywood. Choose the area in which to stay based on where you want to spend the most time so you can minimize your time spent sitting in traffic. Los Angeles hotels don’t come cheap if you’re looking for luxury, but their unforgettable style and top-notch service make them worth the splurge.
There is no hotel more iconic than The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows. A visit here is definitely worthy of a bit of credit card debt. Rest your head at this famous pink palace and you’re certain to feel like you’re a part of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The crème de la crème has called this place home for decades — everyone from The Rat Pack to Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor has spent time here. The service is impeccable, the grounds are gorgeous and the beds will make you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.
For a low-key escape, we love The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. This five-star gem is nestled in a tree-lined, residential neighborhood right between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. High hedges and walls ensure privacy and intimacy. Its guest rooms feature French doors that open up to private balconies from which you can admire breathtaking views. If you want the same Four Seasons fabulousness a bit closer to Rodeo Drive, check out The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. This gem, made famous by Pretty Woman, is truly an eternal classic. Darlings, you can’t go wrong.
If you’re looking to rub elbows with the stars, check out Chateau Marmont. You literally can’t turn sideways without bumping into someone famous here. Aside from its chi-chi clientele, it’s absolutely stunning. If you choose to stay in this luxurious hotel modeled after a Loire Valley castle, you’re guaranteed a fairytale ending.
For boutique luxury at a lower price point, check out Maison 140. The furnishings here are to die for.
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Santa Monica hotels
Shutters on the Beach is one of the hottest spots in Santa Monica and it’s known for its New England architecture, wood floors, two-poster beds and white wood. Its laid-back atmosphere is why so many celebrities flock here when they’re in town.
If you’re looking for a whimsical and modernly-styled hotel just steps away from Santa Monica Beach, the Viceroy Santa Monica is the perfect choice. Everything about it is top of the line, from the service to the decor. The attention to detail here is unmatched.
What to do
The city of LA offers an abundance of activities for visitors year-round. From its beaches to its flourishing downtown, there are plenty of wonderful hotspots to be seen. The best way to truly get a taste of Los Angeles is through exploring its various leisure and cultural activities.
For nostalgia lovers
- Head to the hills to take photographs with the “Hollywood” sign.
- You can’t miss a trip to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame to put your hands in the stars’ hand prints. Yes, it’s a little cheesy, but you can’t miss it.
- Hit up Mel’s Drive-In (the one on Ventura Boulevard is the best!) and share a milkshake with two straws!
Photo credit: Kent Kanouse via Flickr
For sun worshipers
- LA is home to many of the best beaches in the world. Visitors can’t miss a trip to Santa Monica Pier. In addition to the gorgeous beach, there is a kitschy amusement park here that’s a blast! There are also loads of fabulous stores for shopping and restaurants for dining just steps away.
- El Matador Beach is arguably the most romantic beach in LA, so newlyweds can’t miss a trip here.
- For an unforgettable and unique experience, visit the lively and eclectic Venice beach. You’ll see people of all sorts: from carnival freak shows on the boardwalk to meat-heads on Muscle Beach.
For outdoorsy types
- When you’re in LA, you simply must enjoy the picturesque views and the lovely weather. Our favorite way to do this is to take a scenic hike. We recommend hiking Runyon Canyon where you can enjoy views of the ocean, downtown LA and even the Hollywood sign.
- Bicycle riders will enjoy a ride along the lively and eclectic Venice Beach boardwalk, which is a unique experience. You’ll be able to check out the fun cast of characters along the way.
- Honeymooners looking to catch some waves should check out Topanga Beach, which is less crowded than most and boasts the city’s best waves.
- If you’re looking for designer brands, look no further than LA’s premiere shopping district, Rodeo Drive. This shopping mecca is one of the world’s largest collections of high-end designer shops from Chanel to Bulgari to Gucci.
- Wilshire Boulevard is another great destination to hit up for fabulous brand name stores and even a few vintage shops.
- If you’re looking for something unique, a trip to Santa Monica’s shopping district is always fun. We personally love Fred Segal.
- Music lovers will enjoy the famous Amoeba Records.
View from the Getty Center
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For culture seekers
- The Getty Center provides interesting architecture, beautiful views and of course, world-class art. The L.A. County Art Museum also has a great collection of artwork.
- Search for signs of prehistoric life at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
- Take in LA’s most notable building, Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.
For day trippers
- Santa Barbara is a great place to visit. It’s one of California’s most charming cities. Enjoy great beaches, dining and even wineries! C’mon, that has romance written all over it!
- Be a kid again together in Disneyland! Need we say more?
- A trip to the Santa Monica Farmers Market is a must for food enthusiasts. Enjoy a wide array of goodies that draw locals and famed chefs alike.
For those looking for romance
- Relax aboard a sunset cruise in Marina del Rey after you peruse waterfront restaurants and shops.
Photo credit: jakerome via Flickr
Where to eat and drink
- Spago is one of LA’s most essential eats for visitors in town. Wolfgang Puck’s classic California cuisine is absolutely mind blowing. Some say he is responsible for starting the foodie revolution!
- Prepare to be greeted by a welcome wagon of paparazzi when you visit Boa, the swankiest steakhouse in town. The menu puts a modern twist on traditional steakhouse fare. It’s no wonder why anyone who is anyone keeps coming back to this trendy celeb favorite. We prefer the Hollywood location.
- For possibly the world’s best sushi, check out Urasawa. This restaurant will set you back about as much as your wedding did, but it’s a once in a lifetime experience that’s definitely honeymoon-worthy.
- For a casual lunch in the city’s classic burger joint, visit In-n-Out Burger.
- Mastro’s Steakhouse is the perfect place to indulge in sinful steaks and decadent desserts. We especially love the piano player and nightlife here.
- Mr. Chow is always a classic go-to that’s guaranteed to deliver delicious Asian cuisine as well as a wild night out. This is also a great locale to spot celebrities!
- Providence takes fine dining to the next level. The dishes here are innovative and the service is impeccable.
What to Watch Out For
LA is home to many seedy characters, and veering too far off the beaten path may land you somewhere you don’t want to be.
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