Los Angeles has no seasons, right? Well, not really. This massive U.S. city is actually in the desert. Luckily, it’s also a coastal city so the Pacific sends sea breezes to cool off the land and aqueducts from the region feed the area with fresh water for those green lawns and tall palms. The really nice thing about Los Angeles is low humidity; the not-so-great thing about the city is—you guessed it—smog. Los Angeles covers a large geographic area, and so you will find variation in weather depending on where you are in the city. In the inland valleys you will get much higher temperatures than on the coast. Although it’s a great time to go to L.A. anytime of year, keep in mind that summer brings crowds. With school holidays, families travel to the coastal hotels, and the city’s attractions are mostly packed with visitors. Los Angeles is great in winter because you will be able to enjoy nice weather, often in the 60s, less smog, and fewer crowds. And even though it doesn’t rain that often, you can—especially in winter—find yourself caught in sudden downpours and even flash floods. But with an average of 320 sunny days a year, it’s worth a gamble. It’s also good to be aware of “June Gloom” and the “Santa Anas.” In June (for the most part) days are often overcast through the morning; in October and November the “Santa Anas” bring fire-threatening winds that surfers love.
Los Angeles is one of those cities that exists so firmly in the popular imagination that most people feel like they’ve already been there. It’s constantly the backdrop of television programs and films. But first-time visitors will find that being there is indeed different than the movies: in some ways, underwhelming; and in other, often surprising ways, very beautiful, sad, exciting, and breathtaking. There is so much ground to cover that you will need some time and your wits about you to see just a handful of the best attractions. Don’t miss the new Hollywood Boulevard, which has been renovated in recent years, making for an enjoyable Walk of Fame and visit to Grauman’s Theatre. Kids young and young at heart will love Disneyland and its sidekick Disney’s California Adventure. Take the studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Shop on Rodeo Drive (or just pretend to, it doesn’t really matter!). Roller blade past palms, souvenir shops, and street performers in Venice Beach. Pretend you are going to (or from) your mansion to work at a Hollywood studio on Sunset Boulevard. Definitely visit the area’s many beaches: from Redondo to Manhattan to Hermosa to Santa Monica, the L.A. beach scene is always an experience. In Long Beach visit the majestic Queen Mary. Try berries and amusement park rides at Knott’s Berry Farm. For more ‘amusement’ go to Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Travel with Kids
If you have children, then you most likely already have your tickets for Disneyland, LegoLand, and the San Diego Zoo! But keep in mind that from downtown to Venice Beach, from the Valley to the canyons, Los Angeles has a wealth of kid-friendly activities to offer. Visit downtown’s Natural History Museum where even small children will find something to see or touch in this stroller-friendly venue. You’ll find more hands-on fun at the California Science Center. For some Wild West excitement, check out the Wells Fargo History Museum. Feed the goldfish in Old Chinatown Plaza. Catch a game (or maybe a ball!) at Dodger’s Stadium. See a show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. Kids 3-6 will enjoy the Los Angeles Music Center Pillow Theater so check listings. For some open play visit Echo Park or, bigger yet, Griffith Park. Don’t forget to stop at the Griffith Observatory. On the Westside try Zimmer Children’s Museum. Franklin Canyon has a pond with ducks and paths wide enough for jogging strollers. Save time for the live shows at the Aquarium of the Pacific. If you can, make time for El Dorado Regional Park and Nature Center and Kidspace Children’s Museum.
There is no denying that Los Angeles is a car city. You will see it quickly enough. There are freeways with dozens of lanes and traffic to drive anyone completely nuts. You probably could get away with not renting a car, but to be able to have access to the entire metropolitan region, you will most likely need a car. There is also a city public transportation system—but because Los Angeles is so spread out public transportation can be confusing, indirect, involve lots of transfers, and generally not worth it. Trips to and from the airport are easier on public transport—there is a train and shuttle option to LAX that runs throughout the day. Car rental, taxis, and chauffeur (!) are your best options in the City of Angels.
Hotel Shangri-La is a 71-room, 4-star, luxury boutique hotel in Santa Monica. Situated just steps from the beach and close to Venice Beach, Malibu, and Beverly Hills, Hotel Shangri-La is a newly renovated Art Deco hotel, dating from the 1930s and full of Hollywood allure and local history. The recent $30 million redesign of the Shangri-La provides guests with a stylish contemporary look that is every bit as beautiful and dramatic as some of the Hollywood royalty that have stayed here. Accommodations at Hotel Shangri-La come in Room and Suite options, many with panoramic ocean views, with a variety of configurations up to and including a lavish Penthouse. Some rooms feature verandas, cuisinettes and corner suite bathtubs. The Dining Room is Hotel Shangri-La Santa Monica’s gourmet restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Palisades Park featuring a vibrant menu using fresh, local ingredients. The Poolside Bar offers refreshing specialty cocktails and light entrees. Hotel Shangri-La Santa Monica offers a unique and different meeting and event setting when compared to other venues in the area. It has a rooftop meeting room, featuring state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, panoramic ocean views, and the full array of event planning support and an outdoor terrace, an idyllic setting for sunset receptions with stunning views of downtown Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. For private meetings and banquets, the exquisitely appointed Penthouse Suite offers an impressive calling card when doing business on the road.
W Los Angeles-Westwood
The W Los Angeles-Westwood boasts a star location at the foothills of Beverly Hills/Bel Air between Rodeo Drive and the Santa Monica beaches and surrounded by boutique shops and theaters. Step outside to The Backyard and WET, the perfect escape from the sprawling city. Sip and savor under the sun, take a dip in the pool, or retreat to an airy cabana surrounded by lush botanicals in this ultimate Los Angeles hideaway. Escape to 258 redesigned modern, spacious rooms and suites by Thom Filicia. Enjoy stylish surprises in your own residential retreat. Panoramic views of Beverly Hills and vibrant colors awaken the senses.
Shade is a coastal oasis at one of California’s premier beach communities. This luxury boutique hotel is located just 15 minutes from LAX in Manhattan Beach, a town synonymous with casual California beach culture. With a rich history of surfing, beach volleyball, Strand bicycle cruising, and plain old sun-worshipping, Manhattan Beach has always been an exclusive spot to relax and unwind. In the last decade, development has inspired a coastal renaissance. Manhattan Beach has become the place to dine, shop, and now sleep in style. Condé Nast Traveler listed Shade as the #6 reason to visit LA, and Manhattan Beach as LA’s newest hip corner. Owner and restaurateur Michael Zislis’s visionary take on personal service delivers an experience that is nothing less than stellar. Rooms feature Tempur-Pedic™ beds wrapped in luxurious Mascioni™ linens and goosedown duvets. Slide open the balcony doors and let the outdoors in before soundly falling to sleep and tuning out the rest of the world. After sunset you can color-customize your room with Shade’s state-of-the-art lighting system. Adjust the chromatherapy feature to soothing blue, vibrant red, or any other color from the rainbow to suit–or alter—your mood. Choose a Deluxe Spa Suite where you can relax in a Sanijet™ spa tub for two with color therapy. These corner suites have double balconies and are ideal for families or a guest on business requiring a little more space. Ascend the stairs and discover 365 days of sunlight at Shade’s open-air poolside retreat. The intimate rooftop Skydeck offers a perfect place to unwind. Whether you’re staying in Manhattan Beach for work or play, whether you choose to absorb the energy of the beach or lounge by the dipping pool, enjoy a cocktail in Zinc, or luxuriate in your private Sanijet™ spa tub, Shade is your place. Cool.
Distinguished by its novel physical space, this Beverly Hills luxury boutique hotel is set around a dramatic pool terrace with private cabanas and the recently launched Oliverio restaurant–all just steps from shopping at the finest boutiques, galleries, and restaurants nearby. Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills offers luxurious amenities, stylish accommodations, and creative meeting and event space inspired by the relaxed “patio lifestyle” of mid-20th-century Southern California. Avalon’s 84 rooms, suites, and penthouse studios offer guests comfort and style in the heart of Beverly Hills. Custom-designed and classic furnishings include pieces by such notable designers as George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, and Charles Eames. Pampering Beverly Hills accommodations include custom-designed furnishings and beds with sumptuous Italian designer lines, Neil George amenities, and in-room spa treatments. Business travelers will discover everything they need to make this Beverly Hills business hotel their office in LA. With high-speed Internet access, personal voice mail, 24-hour room service, and comfortable work desks, our fully equipped guestrooms let you take your business on the road without missing a beat. The Avalon Conference Room can accommodate up to 20 people for your Beverly Hills business meeting. Poolside cabanas offer a casual, poolside setting for informal meetings and private celebrations. These intimate and chic nooks make perfect outdoor rendezvous spots.
Shelter Hotel Los Angeles
Set in the heart of Los Angeles, two blocks from Wilshire Boulevard, Shelter Los Angeles is a 48-room boutique hotel filled with spacious, comfortable, and soothing rooms. Designed by Lisa Strong, the hotel features contemporary interiors, luxurious bedding, dark hardwood floors, and stylish bathrooms. Rooms feature hardwood floors, 32” LCD flat screen televisions with over 100 HD channels, complimentary wifi, iPod docking stations, and luxurious pillow top beds.
Other stylish LA hotels include Shutters on the Beach, a cozy and elegant beachfront property in Santa Monica (and member of the Leading Hotels of the World) as well as West Hollywood’s the Farmers Daughter, where you’ll find a whimsical and funky boutique hotel with country-styled rooms and down-home hospitality right in the heart of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has great food in part because the city is a virtual global village. LA has been the destination for immigrants from so many different countries that LA restaurants boast an enormous ethnic variety from Afghan and Argentine to Thai and Vietnamese. And since it’s LA, you always run the risk of sitting next to someone famous(!) In fact many of Los Angeles’s best restaurants are at least part-owned by celebrities. But keep in mind that the best and most unique food and experiences are to be found off the beaten track, in the city’s many small neighborhood restaurants. The Bazaar by José Andrés is an LA favorite where Spanish celebrity chef José Andrés shows off his traditional and contemporary take on tapas. Try Asian fusion at Beacon; shake your booty at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch; for romance head for the Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas. To see celebrities try Katsuya Hollywood, Pizzeria Mozza, or Mastro’s Steakhouse, or Spago Beverly Hills. To taste the best California cuisine go to Michael’s or Josie in Santa Monica, Hatfield’s on Beverly Blvd., or Lou on Vine in Hollywood.
For shopping spectacle go to Rodeo Drive and for more Beverly Hills shopping try Beverly Center Shopping Mall. There is no shortage of malls in Los Angeles. In and near Hollywood you can shop at Universal CityWalk, on Melrose Avenue, and in the Robertson Boulevard Shopping District in West Hollywood. In the downtown area you will find the California Market Center, LA Fashion District, Santee Alley, Cooper Design Space, Grand Central Market, LA Flower District, Little Tokyo District, Olvera Street, and the Citadel Factory Outlet. Santa Monica is fun for the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Place, Montana Avenue, Main Street Santa Monica, Venice Beach Boardwalk, and Malibu Country Mart. Go south to Redondo Beach and environs for Del Amo Fashion Center, Manhattan Village Mall, South Bay Galleria, Plaza El Segundo, and South Bay Pavilion. In Burbank and Pasadena there is Americana at Brand, Burbank Town Center, Downtown Burbank, Glendale Galleria, Old Town Pasadena, Paseo Colorado, Santa Anita Fashion Centre, and Victoria Gardens. And, if you are old enough to remember Valley Girls!, then do stop in San Fernando Valley and the Northridge Fashion Center, Panorama Mall, Sherman Oaks Galleria, Topanga Shopping Center, and Sherman Oaks Fashion Square. Between La Cienega Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue you can browse the Third Street boutiques, design shops and cafés including Sigerson-Morrison, Trina Turk, Blanche, Room Service, Joan’s on 3rd, and Doughboys.
Leading the way on the Los Angeles museum trail is the Getty Center and the J. Paul Getty Trust museum and research institute, which is dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of the highest quality art. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains on a 110-acre campus designed by architect Richard Meier, this is a must-see Los Angeles attraction. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses permanent collections of approximately 100,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. There are many more fine museums in Los Angeles; here is a list of some of the best:
Museum of Contemporary Art
California Science Center
Autry National Center Museum of the American West
Natural History Museum of LA County
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Building
Museum of Tolerance
The City of Angels has no shortage of amazing ways to spend your evenings. From the city’s great restaurants, to theatre and film venues, to world-class comedy clubs, to beach parties and clubbing, LA is the place to be at night. Top venues for theatre, music, and comedy include the Mark Taper Forum, House of Blues, City National Grove of Anaheim, Greek Theatre, Roxy Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, the Comedy Store, and the Laugh Factory. Check the listings at the Staples Center for concerts and sporting events. For clubbing, there are dozens of options. Some have tougher guests lists to get on than others. Avalon Hollywood, Cabana Club, Element, My Studio, Industry, MI6, Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel, Bardot, Circle Bar, Club 740, and the Vanguard are all hip clubs to visit these days in Los Angeles.
January kicks off in LA with the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses in Pasadena (Jan 2, 2012) . A few weeks later Chinese New Year is best in South El Monte. Gray whale watching begins from LA harbor in February. March brings the Marathon… but more exciting is most likely the Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre. Cinco de Mayo festivals in MacArthur Park offer a great taste of LA Chicano culture. If you visit in the summer try to get to Shakespeare by the Sea in San Pedro. Stay for the surfing festival in the South Bay area in August. There are also many neighborhood festivals and a large array of professional and college sporting events throughout the year.