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Known as La La Land, The Big Orange, Tinseltown or simply LA, there’s no doubt that Los Angeles is a mecca for stardom and entertainment, with something for everyone. Here are our recommendations of what to cover off in a day in the City of Angels, from the moment you arrive at LAX through to nightfall.
LA is the centre of America’s film and television industry, and the stars are everywhere – from the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame, to the movie stars and celebrities browsing the shops of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and the nighttime stars you can view from the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium. One thing is for sure, a trip to Los Angeles will leave you starry-eyed.
Los Angeles’ main airport is Los Angeles International Airport, commonly referred to as LAX, and is the second-busiest airport in the United States. LAX is located around 24 kilometres from the city centre and around 20 kilometres from Santa Monica. Other airports service the area, including Long Beach Airport and Ontario International Airport. Once you’ve jumped in your airport transfer and checked in to your accommodation, why not make the most of what this iconic Californian city has to offer? With so much to do and see, we’ve narrowed down the options for you with this list of the top things to cover off in 24 hours.
Start your day with an incredible bird’s eye view of LA by hitting the hiking trails of Runyon Canyon Park, a 160-acre park conveniently located right by Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a popular workout venue and, given its close proximity to Hollywood Hills, is a great place to people-watch. You might even find yourself working out with some of Hollywood’s celebs! Once you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Hollywood Sign, Sunset Strip and the million dollar mansions dotted across LA.
Another morning hiking option is the Eaton Canyon Trail near Pasadena, just under 30 kilometres from central LA. This six-and-a-half kilometre trail can get pretty busy, so heading out first thing is advised, but it’s worth it for the 40-foot waterfall there. As well as hiking, visitors can enjoy picnic areas, native fauna and flora and the Eaton Canyon Nature Centre in this 190-acre zoological and botanical reserve.
You’ve earnt a scrumptious breakfast, so time to hit up West Hollywood for some fuel. You’re spoilt for choice in this neighbourhood, with dozens of breakfast and brunch spots, whether you’re in the mood for house-made pastries, eggs every which way, brioche donuts, Thai-style omelettes, breakfast burgers or a boozy brunch with mimosas. This is where you’ll find Sunset Strip, which despite being famous for its nightlife, is also home to some great breakfast options.
While you’re here, check out the famed Chateau Marmont hotel, a lavish celebrity hideaway, pop by the West Hollywood Public Library, a free and quirky public space that hosts an art gallery, and if you’re visiting on a Monday or Sunday, hit up the local farmers’ markets for farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers and artisan goods.
Take a ride on the famous Santa Monica Ferris wheel. Photo by Matthew Lejune on Unsplash
Stainless steel curves and a striking exterior make the Walt Disney Concert Hall a must-visit. The Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and hosts an array of classical, contemporary, world and jazz music performances. The state-of-the-art design of the hardwood-panelled main auditorium means the Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world.
Pay a visit to the OUE Skyspace LA, California’s tallest open-air observation deck at the US Bank Tower, to check out the amazing 360-degree views of the city. For thrill-seekers, you can test your courage on Skyslide, where you can take a ride on the 45-foot clear glass slide that juts out between the 69th and 70th floors, giving you a true bird's eye view of the city below.
Downtown Grab some sustenance over at Grand Central Market, an open-air food court in Downtown LA that’s been running since 1917. There’s over 30 high-quality food vendors to choose from, whether you fancy pasta, Japanese bento, wood-fired pizza, tacos and quesadillas, a sandwich from Eggslut (a Grand Central Market favourite), oysters, coffee, juice or even gourmet ice-cream.
You can also check out Angel’s Flight while you’re here; a narrow-gauge funicular railway with two cable cars that run up and down Bunker Hill. If it looks familiar, that’s because you may have spotted it in the recent blockbuster La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
Time to head to the oceanside suburb of Santa Monica, LA’s beachside city. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the iconic Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier (fun fact: this is the only solar powered Ferris wheel in the world!). Enjoy the ocean breeze as you admire views across the Pacific Ocean, wander through all the big American department stores such as Bloomingdale’s along Santa Monica Place, and of course, take a dip along the five-and-a-half kilometre Santa Monica Beach for your dose of the iconic SoCal beach life.
South of the pier you’ll find Muscle Beach, a great place for a spot of beach volleyball, or check out Venice Beach, a major hangout for artists of the Beat Generation in the 50s and 60s, which still holds onto its bohemian roots. Take a walk along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, where you’ll be entertained by any number of street performers, from magicians, tarot card readers, jugglers, mimes, and everything in between.
Head back to Hollywood Boulevard for your ‘Hollywood fix’ at the Walk of Fame. Here you’ll find more than 2,600 brass stars embedded in the public sidewalk stretching along both sides of Hollywood Boulevard. Snap a photo with your favourite celebrity’s star on the world’s most famous sidewalk.
Just before dinner is the perfect time to see one of LA’s great monuments, the Griffith Observatory. As the sun goes down, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the city skyline and the iconic Hollywood Sign as the sky radiates a spectrum of colours before nightfall. Stay a little longer – it’s worth it. When it gets dark, it’s time to look up; the Samuel Oschin Planetarium is located at the Griffith Observatory, where you can admire the night sky through their telescopes.
Watch the sunset from the Griffith Observatory for stunning colours across the sky, and see the LA city skyline light up.
While famous for Hollywood glitz and glamour, LA certainly hosts a vibrant foodie scene as well. Check out Koreatown, just west of Downtown LA, for some authentic Korean food – LA is home to the largest Korean population in the United States. Try some Korean BBQ (raw strips of meat that you cook yourself at your table), sample some homemade pork dumplings, dine on pork belly or slurp on some spicy beef noodle soup.
Meanwhile, Downtown LA will take you to the other side of the culinary world on a foodie trip across Europe, from Italian pasta to French pastries and Spanish fusion. For unique dining, check out Little Ethiopia in Fairfax Boulevard for authentic stews, usually eaten with a traditional spongy bread called injera. For the health-conscious foodies, head over to Sunset Boulevard for yummy vegan and vegetarian fare.
The Los Angeles comedy scene is world-renowned, so for some belly laughs, hit up one of the many comedy clubs around town. Popular spots include The Comedy Store, Laugh Factory and the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club.
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As the sun goes down, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the city skyline and the iconic Hollywood Sign as the sky radiates a spectrum of colours before nightfall.