"In Los Angeles, everyone is a star".Doesn't everyone who comes to LA dream of becoming a star? Even those who come to Tinseltown on a holiday, come here to get as close as they can to living their movie star dream.
Los Angeles is quite literally, the City of Angels. Admit it―you're fascinated with everything that's LA, be it star gazing at Universal Studios, or the actual star gazing at Griffith Observatory. So for all you star-struck travelers, here's how you do LA, replete with all the Hollywood-esque shenanigans.
▶ Making an Entrance
Well, of course you don't just 'come' to LA, you've got to make an entrance! But, jokes apart, Los Angeles, being a major city in the United States, is well-connected by air, rail, sea, and road, so getting here isn't a hassle at all. All you need to consider is your convenience and budget.
Given its location in SoCal, anytime is a good time to visit Los Angeles. From November to May, the city experiences pleasant and relatively smog-free days. It occasionally rains from December to April, but only in brief spells. The summer season, from July to September brings in a lot of tourists here, as a consequence of which, the cost of a vacation here escalates.
If you happen to be in the U.S., a road trip to LA is highly recommended. Interstate highways like US 101, Interstate 10, and Interstate 5 connect the city with the rest of the country.
The Los Angeles International Airport is located in southwestern Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast in the neighborhood of Westchester, 16 miles from downtown. LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) is one of the busiest airports in the world. Four other airports, Bob Hope Airport, John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport, and LA/Ontario International Airport also serve the area.
The point of entry for cruise liners is the World Cruise Terminal in San Pedro, located 20 miles south of downtown.
Amtrak has various train routes that service Los Angeles, with connections to other Californian cities like San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco, along with daily routes to Seattle and Chicago.
▶ Choosing an Abode
Well, let's be modest to begin with, and take a look at a few budget options. The Holiday Inn Express | 10330 W. Olympic Blvd. or the Seaview Hotel | 1760 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica are excellent value options.
But yes, if it is luxury you're seeking, you've got to check out the L'Ermitage Beverly Hills | 9291 Burton Way Beverly Hills. Bespoke, ostentatious, and sinfully luxurious, this hotel is the symbol of vintage Hollywood glamor. And yes, it's right in the middle of Beverly Hills.
Family hotels like the Hilton or the Sheraton at Universal City keep you close to the famed amusement park, whereas the Loews Santa Monica is close to the historic Santa Monica Pier. All in all, there is a long list of hotels to choose from, and yes, you're sure to find one that suits your budget.
▶ Cruising Around, LA-style
Los Angeles does have a public transport system in place. It includes the subway, light rail, and buses. Metro Rail has six lines serving 80 stations across LA County, connecting Downtown LA, Hollywood, Westside, Culver City, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, East LA, the Beach Cities and Long Beach. This is the easiest way to get around if you're using public transport.
The bus service in LA is, well, let's just say that there is a bus service. The red-and-white Metro buses are your best bet―these run on 21 rapid routes, including routes on Wilshire and Vermont boulevards. The Downtown Area Short Hop minibuses cover routes in Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, and the rest of downtown.
However, we highly recommend that you explore this gorgeous city by car. Major routes such as Interstates 405, 10, and 5, along with the iconic Hollywood Boulevard and the equally legendary Sunset Strip are home to many of LA's top attractions. What would make it even better is if you're cruising in a snazzy convertible, complete in LA-style. Ensure that you keep a map handy, as there are quite a few similar-named streets and areas in Los Angeles. The traffic here, at times, can be a nightmare, but it isn't too different from driving in any big city. A definite plus is the relatively abundant parking spaces, which makes things easy when you're sightseeing.
▶ Shop. Surf. Party. Here's how.
For a city like LA, it isn't surprising to find itineraries that are tailor-made for every kind of tourist, be it singles, family, adventure-seekers, or shopaholics.
LA's iconic Beverly Hills is celebrating its centenary this year, and although the actual date has slipped by (it was on January 28th), the celebrations will go on until March 31st, 2014. These will include discounts and offers for shopping, dining, hotel, sightseeing, and spa and salon destinations.
For those who've lived in Los Angeles all their life, or for a while now, vouch for the fact that the real celebrities here aren't found in Hollywood Hills, but at the Staples Center, home to the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Sparks. You can catch a game here, or simply visit the arena to pick up memories and memorabilia.
Surf heads should visit Point Dume Beach, Malibu, for it is, by far, the surfing Mecca of Los Angeles.
Santa Monica is a must-visit not only for families, but possibly every tourist coming to LA. Besides the obvious activities on the pier, you can simply relax on the beach, surf the waves, play beach volleyball, or just do nothing. If you're the enthusiastic type, you can rent a bike near the pier, and then bicycle up to Malibu or down to Venice Beach―the path is very rider-friendly.
Surfing in Malibu
Ferris wheel at Santa Monica
The Griffith Observatory is one of LA's most loved landmarks. Located on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood. It offers panoramic views of the Los Angeles Basin, with downtown LA to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. More importantly, it has an extensive collection displays related to space science.
One can't come to Los Angeles and leave without paying a visit to Venice, a neighborhood in the Westside district. Venice (as the name suggests) is known for its beaches and canals, its quirky-meets-artistic street style, and most importantly, its Ocean Front Walk, a walkway that has the most weird and entertaining performers, fortune tellers, and artists.
Graffiti at Venice Beach
Now to the customary stuff that tourists always give in to when they come to Los Angeles. The first one is a visit to the Universal Studios Theme Park to have your "ultimate Hollywood experience". From King Kong and Shrek to the Transformers and the Simpsons―you'll find the characters from your favorite movies take you on an amazing joyride throughout the park.
Universal Studios Theme Park
Shopping at Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive. The very mention of this street can elicit shrill squeals of delight from aspiring fashionistas and devoted fans of all things Hollywood. You may have the Champs Elysees, Bond Street, and Fifth Avenue on one side, and Rodeo Drive on the other―the street's location in the most glamorous city in the world does put all comparisons to rest. Located in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, Rodeo Drive is a four block stretch of road north of Wilshire Boulevard and south of S. Santa Monica Boulevard, known for its high-end retail stores. The street is home to some of the world's most sought-after brands including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Prada, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, and many more.
Los Angeles will leave you breathless, spent, and yet, utterly besotted. But yes, you need to come here to believe it. Don't waste a minute, and get here soon!