I had the opportunity to stay in Los Angeles for a few months earlier this year and something about Hollywood and its electric beaches just made quite an impression on me. Not only is Los Angeles one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, but it also has a vibrant art scene and a rich cultural heritage – a mix of the two that creates a new flavour altogether. Here is my Los Angeles travel guide for the top things to do, and where to eat, drink and shop in the city.
Venice Beach and Santa Monica, both beaches have an electric atmosphere. Venice Beach Boardwalk is full of activity, with locals and tourists skating, biking, riding electric scooters, running along shops, restaurants, and cafés. Santa Monica beachfront is more upscale with luxe shopping experiences and fine-dining. For a more relaxed experience, visit the breathtakingly beautiful Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach.
Visit High Rooftop Lounge at Venice Beach for unobstructed views of the Pacific coastline. Santa Monica’s Élephante is a seaside Italian restaurant and lounge that’s a must-visit. Downtown Los Angeles also has numerous upscale rooftop bars — check out Perch, a chic, French-inspired eatery. In Hollywood, have a drink at Mama Shelter rooftop bar overlooking the Hollywood sign.
Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney Boulevard
The Venice Beach area in Los Angeles is called so because of its Venice Canals neighbourhood, lined with five charming canals. Go here for the sunset and picturesque landscapes. Venice Beach also has the world-famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a colourful street full of local designers, quirky street art, and lively restaurants and bars.
You cannot visit Los Angles and not visit a Hollywood studio. If you have time and can spend an entire day, visit Universal Studios Hollywood, which is a film studio and a theme park. If you only have a few hours, go for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood. Both are an in-depth experience into how Hollywood movies and TV shows are made.
Walking Tour of Hollywood
While Los Angeles is primarily a driving city, Hollywood is best explored on foot. Start your walking tour at Amoeba Music (world’s biggest independent record store), stop by the iconic Pacific Theatre’s Cinerama Dome (dome-shaped movie theatre) and the TCL Chinese Theatre. Have a poolside drink at Roosevelt Hotel and end at the glitzy Chateau Marmont Hotel.
Visit The Grove, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and Westside Century City mall for a relaxed shopping and dining experience. The year-round pleasant weather in LA allows these spaces to exist outdoors, allowing one to revel in the vistas as they shop.
Hike to Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is one of the most identifiable buildings in Los Angeles. It is a space and science-related observatory, located on Mount Hollywood. Hike here for panoramic views of Downtown LA, the ‘Hollywood’ sign and the Pacific Ocean. You’ll also have access to its magnificent Art Deco architecture, numerous exhibitions, and a planetarium.
The city has some of the most prominent museums in the world. Check out the Broad, the Getty Centre, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The Broad is a contemporary art museum with numerous immersive exhibits, the Getty Centre houses classic art through the ages, and LACMA displays global masterpieces. The Getty Centre also has spectacular landscaped gardens if you’d like to enjoy the weather at leisure, and LACMA comprises a number of museum buildings that can be explored.
Nobu, a fine-dining Japanese eatery in Malibu, is a must-visit. In Venice, check out Venice Ale House (beach-side gastro-pub), Wallflower (Indonesian restaurant) and Gjelina, a trendy American eatery. Visit FIG, in Fairmont Miramar, Santa Monica for food made with the freshest ingredients and a hip ambiance. Badmaash is a modern, Indian-fusion restaurant and Chateau Hanare is a celebrity favourite. Grand Central Market in Downtown LA is an open-air market with stands of popular eateries and grocery stores.
All images: Courtesy Los Angeles Tourism