Beneath the iconic “Hollywood” sign, Los Angeles stretches out over an impressive 10,518 square kilometres. Its 80 neighbourhoods spread right up into the mountains, via bustling city blocks that run all the way down to the coast.
Wealthy Bel Air and Beverly Hills both ooze glamour and sophistication, while Venice Beach has a more eccentric vibe. Nestled high in the hills above the City, you’ll find the Getty Center, which has both art and architecture on display. If science and history are your thing, Griffith Observatory is a must-visit, as are the La Brea Tar Pits, where you can see the preserved prehistoric remains of the creatures that became entrapped in the sticky bubbling tar. Alternatively, visit a naval monument at the USS Iowa or enjoy the carnival atmosphere of Santa Monica Pier. For something more peaceful, see the calm life beneath the water at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Universal Studios is a working film and TV studio where you can see stars of stage and screen at work. If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse of a celebrity enjoying a spot of retail therapy in the designer boutiques in Beverly Hills and on Rodeo Drive. Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and gaze down at the marble and brass stars inlaid in the pavement that give eternal life to the stars of stage and screen and mark their achievements.
LA isn’t all red carpets, glitz and glamour. It was once at the heart of the gold and oil rushes of the 1840s and ‘50s. It was only in the early 1900s that major film studios arrived and the once dusty cattle settlement began its transformation to the entertainment capital of the world that we know today.
To get a real feel for LA, plan a mix of studio tours, museum visits, beach trips and fine dining. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get to spot a celebrity. Los Angeles itself is the real star of the show.