From Hollywood to Sunset Boulevard and beyond, take in the best of Los Angeles with this one-day layover guide to the City of Angels.
Now, hire a bicycle for a 30-minute ride north along the ocean-side bike path to Santa Monica Pier. It’s an easy scenic cycle there and back. You’ll be sharing the boardwalk with lots of other riders, as well as pumped-up walkers and bikini-clad rollerbladers, so take it easy.
Along the way, stop at Muscle Beach and join in with the super-trim locals, or just watch them with their weights, high rings, and tightropes. Then, take in Californian coastline views from the Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier. If riding the waves is your thing you can hire a surfboard back at Venice Beach, or opt for a one-hour lesson and go home with the bragging rights.
Have lunch and a mid-day craft beer at the Venice Ale House, close to the sand on Venice Beach.
Head to Hollywood this afternoon for a visit to the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and join the tourist throng among the big-name handprints squashed into the concrete. Look out for John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, and other imprints too, like Groucho Marx’s cigar, the legs of Betty Grable, and wands from Harry Potter.
Afterwards, follow the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard, paying attention to famous names etched into thousands of brass stars inlaid on the pavement.
Next it’s Rodeo Drive, LA’s most famous shopping street. Expect mostly haute couture and high-end labels, but even if you can’t afford to shop it’s fun mixing with the glitterati who can.
Perhaps on the to-do-list instead is a visit to Paramount Studios. Two-hour behind-the-scenes tours of this working movie studio take in well-known locations and the prop warehouse too.
Watch the sun set over Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory. The views from up here, stretching across the glittering Los Angeles skyline, are incredible. Get here via the DASH Observatory public bus from the Vermont/Sunset Metro Rail station.
If you are into celebrity spotting then dinner options include Nobu, in West Hollywood, or Matsuhisa, in Beverley Hills. You’ll need to book way in advance to ensure a table at these top-flight Japanese-inspired eateries though. A cheaper option is Cosa Buona, on Sunset Boulevard. It’s good for Italian meatballs, pizza, and gourmet sandwiches. Nearby is The Church Key, which serves Modern American cuisine.
Stay on Sunset Boulevard for a beer or two at Rock & Reilly’s, an Irish pub that also serves cocktails, tacos and burgers. On the same strip is Bar Fifty Three, a dimly-lit cocktail lounge with vintage Playboy magazine art on the walls. Literally upstairs is Pearl’s Rooftop, which is modelled on a 1920’s perfumery and jewellery store. Relax on the open-air deck and take in the famous Boulevard with another cocktail in hand, and maybe a plate of Maine lobster.
Finish the evening and start the next day with cocktails and DJs at Skybar, located on top of the Mondrian Los Angeles hotel. This open-air pavilion with a pool overlooks the city lights of Los Angeles. It’s Hollywood glamour at its most seductive.
Getting around and staying in Los Angeles
The best way to get around Los Angeles is by taxi or public transport. The public transport system includes Metro Buses and Metro Rail trains. You can buy a Transit Access Card Pass (TAP) at various locations across the city. They cost between US$1 and US$2 (depending where you buy them from), and you add credit. You can pay cash on buses, but you need the exact change. The easiest way to get from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to the city is via the LAX Flyaway bus.
Good business hotels include the glamorous Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles and the Omni Los Angeles California Plaza, both in downtown LA; The Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills; and both the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and the Hilton Los Angeles Airport, at LAX.