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A city guide to Los Angeles – bright lights, beaches, sunshine and stars

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Los Angeles is truly a global city that has become famous the world over for its bright lights, big names and a mixing pot of hopes and dreams. Aside from the allure of Hollywood and its thriving film and music industry, Los Angeles is also a mecca for shoppers, foodies, beach-lovers and fitness fans.

Deborah Kriger

My Destination local expert on

Los Angeles

Nicknamed the ‘City of Angels’, the sprawling Californian metropolis has many diverse and ethnic neighborhoods from the converted Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach hangouts to the skyscraper covered Downtown, Hollywood Hills and Sunset Strip on Beverley Hills Boulevard.

 

Beaches

 

Hanging out at the beach is a big part of city life in Los Angeles, so pick your beach well. One of the most favoured haunts of the beach bum community is Santa Monica, with its vintage pier and fabled chess park. Further south, Venice Beach is perhaps the most notorious people-watching hangout on the globe, where palm readers, folk artists, body builders and chainsaw jugglers decorate the Ocean Front Walk. Two more fine stretches can be found at Manhattan Beach – a popular surf spot – and Hermosa Beach, while due south of downtown L.A. lies Long Beach, an upscale resort stuffed with marine attractions.

 

Fame and fortune

 

Home to the twin celebrity-fuelled engines that are Hollywood and Beverley Hills, Los Angeles is the place to come if you want a glimpse of the stars. Watched over by the iconic Hollywood Sign, this area is alive with history and celebrity. Immerse yourself in the L.A. experience – watch paparazzi hunt down the stars on Rodeo Drive or Melrose Avenue, find your idols in the legendary pink marble stars of the Walk of Fame, or rent a Mustang convertible and cruise past the celebrity mansions in Beverley Hills. In the unlikely event you don’t spot anyone famous, you can always head to Warner Bros. Studios and marvel from afar in a talk show audience.

 

Outdoors and wildlife

 

You might not associate outdoor activities with this buzzing global city, but there’s actually plenty to do if you fancy a taste of the great outdoors. In winter, nearby Mt Baldy Ski Resort offers skiers the chance to plough some powder, while the picturesque landscapes of Griffith Park and Franklin Canyon Park are perfect places to stretch your legs while barely outside the city – look out for coyotes, bobcats and mule deer. The Los Angeles coast also offers its fair share of wildlife – Harbor Breeze Cruises in Long Beach runs grey whale, dolphin and sea life tours.

 

Culture and sophistication

 

Los Angeles might have a reputation for fleeting fashions and celebrity-obsession, but that doesn’t mean a shortage of cultured retreats. The Getty Center is a prime example of L.A.’s cultural side; a striking complex that features an impressive art collection in several galleries, an assortment of cutting-edge architecture, and beautifully designed gardens radiating out from a serene pond. For other calming pursuits, check out the Natural History Museum near the center, or take a drive up Antelope Valley, where there are plenty of opportunities for wine tasting at one of the many vineyards.

 

Perfect for kids

 

The city could be described as a paradise for children – at least for any child who loves cartoons and rollercoasters. Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is a major highlight, the original theme park designed and built by Walt Disney himself. Universal Studios Hollywood is another crowd-pleaser, where you can easily while away a day on thrilling rides and vintage exhibits. It’s not all coasters and consumerism; education and enlightenment can be found at the California Science Center – home to Space Shuttle Endeavour – and Zimmer Children’s Museum, a wholesome hands-on experience for children up to age eight.