There’s a lot Los Angeles has to offer. If you are short of time, here’s a low-down of the top ten must dos.
Spread along the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, across hills and valleys, Los Angeles charms the senses at the very first sight. Beaches, palm trees, a slew of restaurants, museums, the glamour of Hollywood, stunningly beautiful homes and plenty of sunshine, shopping and friendly people make ’The City of Angels’ the perfect holiday destination. Its relaxed cosmopolitan ambience makes travellers from all over the world instantly feel at home, ready to savour its offerings as soon as they land!
And while one can never have enough of the city, the 10 places and experiences listed here will certainly give you a lovely flavour of the city!
Put on your walking shoes and get set to explore LA’s Downtown. Make sure you get hold of a map before starting off. The Staples Centre, old theatres along Broadway, the jewellery district, Pueblo de Los Angeles (the old Spanish quarter), the grand City Hall, museums, art galleries, modern theatres along Grand Avenue, Grand Central Market, China Town and Little Tokyo are just some of the gems and architectural marvels you’ll find along the way. Do take a round trip on Angel’s Flight, the shortest train journey in the world!
VENICE BEACH :
Skateboarders, walkers, sun-soakers, shoppers and browsers have the sunshine and the Venice Beach at their service. You needn’t be surprised to find a person with a placard asking for a dollar to buy weed or a shop displaying signage for medical marijuana! There is all this and much more at Venice Beach. From a Native American store with charming artefacts to ‘I love LA’ tees, fast food to cut fruits, footwear to sunglasses, tattoos to massages, street art to outdoor gym, music performances to painters there is plenty on offer. Venice Boardwalk Association (Voice mail: 310-392-4687 ext 6).
SHOPPING AND MORE:
The Grove, bordering the original Farmers Market, is a must visit. It’s a lovely plaza-style district with stylish restaurants, shops, musical fountain, theatre, cobblestoned paths and a trolley running through the main street. Treat yourself to a decadent cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory after you are done with your shopping. You can also enjoy a view of The Grove and the city lights from the roof top of the parking block. Glendale Galleria is yet another good shopping destination.
HUNTINGTON ESTATE :
Set a day aside for Pasadena, about 30 minutes away. Here’s a rare opportunity to soak in old world class: extensive botanical gardens (desert garden, subtropical forest, Japanese garden, rose garden), a stately library full of leather-bound books, exceptional art, elegant interiors and graceful architecture come together to create a majestic country estate. Enjoy a delectable tea service at the Rose Garden with an array of light eats served buffet style with tea.
Perched atop the San Gabriel Mountains is the stately Griffith Observatory. It offers panoramic views of the city and a tryst with heavenly bodies. There’s the fascinating Foucault’s pendulum demonstrating the Earth’s rotation, views from optical telescopes, the engaging show at the planetarium, interactive exhibits, the Zeiss refracting telescope, the Tesla coil sending bolts of electricity when activated by the staff and much more here. You can later relax at The Café at the End of the Universe to watch the sun set on the horizon. Admission is free. www.griffithobservatory.org.
You can’t miss a tour of the Beverly Hills, home to the rich and the famous. An audio bus tour is a good idea. It fills you in on who stays/stayed where—from Lucille Ball to Madonna, Michael Jackson to the Beckhams. The tour bus will invariably pass through Rodeo Drive, sprinkled with designer label and haute couture stores and boutiques. You will also get to see the Bugatti parked outside the House of Bijan, a by-appointmentonly boutique which is credited as being the most expensive store in the world. You’ll also come across the famous Beverly Wilshire hotel. Yes, the one where Pretty Woman and the Entourage series was shot!
The Walk of Fame sidewalks along 18 blocks inlaid with brass and terrazzo stars honouring artists from the entertainment industry; Kodak Theatre that is the new home of the Oscars; Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with its celebrity handprints embedded for posterity; the ornate El Capitan Theatre; Hollywood Museum; Madame Tussauds Hollywood, are just a few of the countless cinematic highlights of the area. A guide will tell you about film premiers and also where the film celebs usually shop and dine! The Hollywood Bowl is the largest outdoor amphitheatre in the US.
SAN ANTONIO WINERY:
A 10-minutes drive from Downtown will take you to the charming San Antonio winery that was established way back in 1917. The winery produces an array of wines with grapes from estates in Napa Valley and Monterey and other viticultural areas of the state. Visitors can enjoy a free wine tour that takes them through the production process and the fascinating history of the winery. There is a lovely restaurant within the winery complex with good food and of course a great choice of wines!
If you are a museum buff, LA is the place to be in. Exposition Park near Downtown with its offering of the Coliseum, museums, rose garden etc is worth a visit. Keep a day aside for LACMA for its rich collection of world art. Oil tycoon J Paul Getty’s love for art can be savoured at the Getty Villa, which houses ancient art, and the Getty Centre, which houses European and American art dating back the Middle Ages. The Grammy Museum explores the history of music and the Grammy awards. Palaeontologists would enjoy visiting the George C Page Museum that has displays of the city’s prehistoric past.
Beach town meets stylish city at Santa Monica. A beach stretching over three miles between Venice and Malibu, shops and restaurants make Santa Monica a popular spot to relax. Women can visit the Dermalogica concept store on Montana Avenue for a personalised consultation. Among other attractions is the Pacific Park, an amusement park by the ocean, with fun rides and the Pacific Wheel, the world’s first and only solar powered Ferris Wheel. From Santa Monica you can also visit Marina del Rey. It has the largest manmade small-craft harbour in the world along with ocean-facing restaurants. There’s Venice too. Originally developed as a pocket of the Italian city, it still retains a few canals and bridges with charming pathways and homes hemming the canals.
By Reema Bhalla