Los Angeles is a dreamer’s paradise and a mecca for shoppers, starlets and surfers. But there’s much more to Los Angeles than Hollywood. LA is among the world’s most creative cities. It has edgy museums and galleries, exciting chefs and innovative architecture, fashion and graphics. And it also has an economy driven not only by film, television and music but also by international trade, aerospace and technology. LA is one of the largest manufacturing centers in the western U.S., and it’s quickly emerging as a high-tech hub focused on video games, e-commerce and fashion.
Getting to and from the airport
Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of downtown LA. Licensed taxis are available on the arrivals level of all terminals, and it takes 25-50 minutes to get downtown, depending on traffic. The fixed fare is $46.50 plus gratuities.
The LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates Metro buses and trains around the city. Take the free LAX Green Line “G” shuttle to the Aviation Station at the airport. The Metro fare is $1.25 one way, $2.50 round trip.
Getting around Los Angeles
Depending on where you stay, renting a car can be a convenient option. Zipcar rents by the hour or day and is handy if you’re staying around Hollywood, where most pick-up and drop-off locations are.
Alternatively, the transit authority’s public buses and commuter trains cover most of the city. Use MTA’s trip planner to find out which bus and/or train combination gets you closest to your destination.
Where to stay
For luxury accommodation, stay at The Intercontinental Los Angeles Century Center (2151 Avenue of the Stars; Ph: 1-310-284-6500) or the Sofitel Los Angeles (8555 Beverly Blvd.; Ph: 1-310-278-5444. For upscale options, try the Hilton Checkers Los Angeles (535 South Grand Ave.; Ph: 1-213-624-0000) or the Crowne Plaza Beverly Hills (1150 South Beverly Drive; Ph: 1-310-553-6561).
If you’re after midscale accommodation, try the Holiday Inn Express Los Angeles West Downtown (611 South Westlake Ave.; Ph: 1-213-483-6363) or the Best Western Plus Royal Palace Inn & Suites (2528 South Sepulveda Blvd.; Ph: 1-310-477-9066). For a budget option, consider the Rodeway Inn Los Angeles (7721 Beverly Blvd.; Ph: 1-323-692-1777).
Things to see and do
Venice Beach BoardwalkIf you enjoy people-watching, then head to Venice Beach. On the “boardwalk” you’ll find skateboarders, street performers, body builders and many more characters to keep you entertained.
Then head back to Hollywood and wander the Walk of Fame, where more than 2,400 figures from the entertainment world are immortalized in gold lettering on pink terrazzo tiles. If you’re a film buff, check out handprints and footprints of the famous in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
The Getty Center is the place to see spectacular art and a stunning view of LA. It has free entry, too, but parking is $15. The Getty is an architectural showpiece that houses impressive works from the Renaissance era to today. Outside, beautiful gardens and open spaces offer vistas of the city and the ocean. Go late in the day and dine before you leave.
The Getty CenterArt lovers also should check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has three locations, a major collection of current artwork and proclaims a mission to educate the public about “challenging” art and artists. Admission is $12 or free on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.
Leave modernity behind at the Page Museum’s La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s most famous fossil collections, made up of saber-toothed cats, mammoths, Ice Age wolves and many more animals trapped and preserved in natural asphalt deposits that continue to bubble up right in the heart of the city. Not only can you see fossils under glass, you also can watch scientists and volunteers dig for new specimens and clean bones for scientific study. Tickets are $12 for adults, more for special exhibits. Check the website for free days.
Mingle with some serious spenders on Rodeo Drive’s glamorous row of high-end designer boutiques. For more affordable shopping, head to The Grove’s shops, restaurants and bars.
Discover Los Angeles’ urban architectural heritage on a Los Angeles Conservancy walking tour. The non-profit organization aims to preserve and revitalize the city’s historic architectural and cultural resources. Tours cost $10 for the general public. Reservations are recommended.
Where to eat
LA has a dynamic dining scene, offering everything from street food to fine dining, sometimes with oceanfront views. Whether you’re looking for a food-as-art experience, a steak fix or vegan fare, you’ll have plenty of great choices.
Bäco Mercat has grown incredibly popular in a short time. The playful flavor combinations of its signature flatbread sandwich, bäco, pull in the crowds. Chef Josef Centeno spikes fried chicken crust with aromatic Moroccan spices, and his beef sirloin is dusted with ground coffee and paired with a Japanese-inspired chimichurri made with shishito peppers. Try the hot bäzole, a cross between a Mexican pozole and Japanese ramen, with a fried egg on top. You’ll find it at 408 S. Main St.; Ph: 1-213-687-8808.
Try Riviera for a taste of rich modern Latin American cuisine. Owner John Sedlar produces exquisite and artistic plates of food. Dishes include Yucatecan cochinito pibil, spice-rubbed pork wrapped in banana leaves and pit-steamed for hours or banana-leaf tamales with short ribs and exotic mushrooms. It’s located in 1050 S. Flower St., No. 102; Ph: 1-213-749-1460.
If you’re after Italian fare with LA flair, then head for Bestia. You’ll definitely need a reservation at this hip-but-serious restaurant in an industrial part of the city. Chef Ori Menashe serves up creations like beef-heart tartare and carpaccio made from tendon. He also makes delicious charcuterie and pastas. The cocktails and the wine menu are both serious and fun, and desserts are not to be missed. It’s at 2121 7th Place; Ph: 1-213-514-5724.