Ruggedly good looking, deeply creative, with a sunny disposition to boot…if LA were on Tinder, the app would crash.
Envy is an ugly thing, New York. While your denizens spend their time sniffling and throwing shade in the snow, Angelenos are busy riding waves, tying up their hiking boots and counting their copious blessings. Think about it: in how many megalopolises can you gallop across rugged mountains just nine miles from City Hall? Despite its heaving head count, LA is a city indelibly tied to mighty Mother Nature. Here, dense, vibrant neighborhoods back onto golden beaches, city streets lead up to flower-carpeted hillsides, and huge, deep-blue skies are an IMAX screen for lingering sunsets made to pierce your heart.
Dreams are serious business in La La Land. Home to Hollywood, this is a city where fantastical thoughts are encouraged; a place gleefully wrapped in endless layers of modern legend and mythology. Every year countless small-town dreamers pour onto its streets, itching to share their tales with LA and the world – on screen and stage, in lyrics, or on the whitewashed walls of galleries. The end result is an electrifying whirlpool of creativity: edgy art spaces, cult-status rock venues, acclaimed concert halls and thought-provoking stages, all fueling a city addicted to the weird, the wonderful and the downright scandalous.
LA’s obsession with creative expression extends to its stucco and mortar. After all, this is where movie palaces look like Chinese temples and ancient Egyptian tombs, where concerts halls twist and curve like steely cartoon characters, and where soda bottling plants look like landlocked ocean liners. Indeed, LA celebrates architectural diversity with astounding gusto. From storybook Hollywood abodes and Silver Lake modernist prototypes, to downtown theaters channeling the Palace of Versailles, no other American city delivers such a thrilling mash-up of architectural styles, statements and role models…often on the very same palm-studded street.
Food & Drink
So which really has the better food scene: LA or SF? While the latter may claim more Michelin stars, LA packs one heck of a culinary punch. It’s here that you’ll find California’s best tacos, the country’s most authentic Korean and one of the nation’s biggest concentrations of vegan restaurants. And when it comes to imbibing, SF best take a cable car home. From dirty martinis in a basement power station, to craft brews in a steampunk bowling alley, LA has a knack for turning humble drinking sessions into otherworldly adventures worthy of a toast or three.
Los Angeles is known for…
Getty Center Statement architecture, knockout views and century upon century of glorious art.
Broad A space-age home for the cultural cachet of billionaire philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad.
Frederick R Weisman Art Foundation Book a guided tour of an LA mansion dressed head to toe in blockbuster modern art.
Walt Disney Concert Hall A gravity-defying sculpture of heaving and billowing stainless steel.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Compare body-part sizes with the stars outside Hollywood’s most legendary movie palace.
Santa Monica State Beach Fill your lungs with ocean air at a century-old pleasure pier.
Venice Beach Head south to get beyond the main crowds.
Griffith Park Go easy or work up a sweat hiking through one of the country’s largest urban oases.
Getty Center Spectacular views and especially strong collections of French decorative arts and impressionist and post-impressionist artworks.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art More than 150,000 works of art that span the ages and cross all borders.
Getty Villa A Pompei-inspired gallery where the views compete for attention with the art.
Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens Rare manuscripts, decorative arts and masterful brushstrokes circled by a world’s worth of gardens.
Hollywood Museum Props, costumes and personal items of the stars in the very makeup rooms that made them beautiful.
Autry Museum of the American West Learn the true stories of cowboys, Native Americans and other frontier folk in Griffith Park.
Museum of Latin American Art Savor the richness and depth of contemporary Latino culture in blockbuster exhibits.
Petersen Automotive Museum Learn the history, artistry and industry of motorized transportation at this renovated showpiece in the Miracle Mile.
Aquarium of the Pacific Meet SoCal’s denizens of the deep in Long Beach.
Venice Boardwalk Get your freak on at LA’s most out-there stretch of sand.
Santa Monica Beach Best choice for families, with the famous pier close by for entertainment.
Manhattan Beach Lots of space, lots of waves, lots of class.
Surfrider Beach The name says it all. Bring your board.
Westward Beach Clear water, marine life, wide stretches of sand.
Gamble House Where brothers Charles and Henry Greene created California’s ‘ultimate bungalows’ in the early 20th century.
Walt Disney Concert Hall Globe-trotting maverick Frank Gehry defies gravity with his Downtown music house.
Griffith Observatory A 1930s masterpiece adorned with murals and breathtaking views of the city and stars.
Schindler House Rule-breaking modernist Rudolph Schindler’s home and studio, now a living architectural center.
Broadway Downtown’s most famous thoroughfare is studded with heritage marvels, including the Bradbury Building.
Eames House & Studio One of LA’s mid-century icons, from dynamic duo Charles and Ray Eames.
Broad A lattice-sheathed behemoth from the team behind New York’s iconic High Line.
Neutra VDL House The former home and studio of innovative modernist architect Richard Neutra, now a testament to his ingenuity and vision.
Hollyhock House Not Frank Lloyd Wright’s finest work, but still a singular experience.
Sushi Gen Flawless sushi and sashimi in Downtown LA’s Little Tokyo district.
Ahgassi Gopchang Succulent barbecue cooked at your table in America’s biggest Korean enclave.
Night + Market Sucker-punch Thai street-food flavors in West Hollywood and Silver Lake.
Mariscos 4 Vientos Spectacular fried shrimp tacos in industrial East LA.
Guisados Slow-cooked stews on made-to-order tortillas in Latino-centric Boyle Heights.
Daichan A standout Japanese diner hidden away in Studio City’s Sushi Row.
Carousel Juicy meats and moreish mezzes in the Armenian heartland of Glendale.
Melrose Ave Everyone from the Olsen twins to the Kardashians have their boutiques just east of La Cienega.
Abbot Kinney Blvd An eclectic, artful mix of unique and indie boutiques by the beach in Venice.
Reformation Accessible fashion with an ecological ethos.
Rose Bowl Flea Market The granddaddy of them all; dive in early for the best selection.
It’s a Wrap! Racks of cast offs from real TV shows and movies for sale in the San Fernando Valley.
Mohawk General Store Fashion-forward threads and accessories for men and women, plus beautifully curated gifts from local and international creatives.
Esqueleto Idiosyncratic fine-art jewelry from some of America’s most talented and imaginative artisans.
Retro Row Where Mad Men costume designers go to find mid-century treasures.
Just One Eye A sneaky gallery-cum-showroom where hard-to-find labels sit among heavyweight artworks by names such as Warhol.
Wittmore Casual-chic men’s clothes and accessories from LA and beyond, plus ceramics and Cali-themed photography.
Sunbeam Vintage A cluttered wonderland of mid-century furniture, retro furnishings and custom pieces.
Brentwood Country Mart Is that supermodel Miranda Kerr sipping soup beside you? Probably.
Nobu Malibu The Malibu outpost of chef Nobu Matushisa’s empire is a handy go-to for oceanside stars.
Chateau Marmont Whether nibbling on the patio or sipping in the lounge, expect to spot the odd actor or pop icon.
Hotel Bel-Air A well-known celebrity hideaway; discreetly scan the back tables at its Wolfgang Puck restaurant.
Runyon Canyon Don’t let those baseball caps and shades fool you. Even the stars love hiking the hills.
Melrose Ave & Robertson Blvd Hipper stars head here to buy their skinny jeans, heels and scented candles.
Grove Everyone from Justin Bieber to Demi Lovato and Kylie Jenner shops at this polished outdoor mall.
Autry Museum of the American West An engaging exploration of the myths and truths behind America’s fabled Wild West.
La Brea Tar Pits Where prehistoric mammoths, sloths and saber-toothed cats once roamed in what is now LA.
El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument Mexican-flavored birthplace of the city and home to its oldest surviving buildings.
City Hall Head to level four for fascinating black-and-white photographs of SoCal’s fledgling megalopolis.
Warner Bros Studio Tour History of the showbiz kind lurks around every corner at Burbank’s most famous studio.
Museum of Tolerance Includes a moving exploration of the Holocaust and the short life of Anne Frank.
Wende Museum An off-the-radar repository of Cold War life in the former East Germany.
Battleship Iowa A mid-century battleship with many stories to tell, including presidential ones.
Hollywood Heritage Museum Housed inside the very studio used to shoot Hollywood’s first feature film.
Griffith Park From hiking and cycling to horse riding and golf, this sprawling natural oasis keeps pulses racing.
Runyon Canyon An easy-to-reach loop with spectacular city views and the odd celebrity jogger.
South Bay Bicycle Trail Connecting 22 miles of shoreline from Pacific Palisades to Torrance.
Catalina Island Snorkel, hike, zip line or mountain bike LA’s island playground.
Topanga Canyon State Park Hit breathtaking trails atop the sweeping Santa Monica Mountains.
Echo Park Lake Pedal your cares away on a picture-perfect inner-city lake.
Universal Studios Hollywood Cinematic theme park with a studio back-lot tram tour, tame rides and live-action, special-effects shows.
Six Flags Magic Mountain Hair-raising roller coasters will scare the bejeezus out of speed-crazed teens.
Pacific Park Santa Monica Pier’s vintage-style amusement park is easier on the wallet than its super-sized competitors
Paramount Pictures The only major studio still located in Hollywood, with a back catalogue including Sunset Boulevard and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Vista Theatre A 1923 movie palace with Egyptian-themed interiors and star imprints in the forecourt concrete.
Musso & Frank Grill Red dining booths that have hosted generations of Hollywood stars and moguls.
Hollywood Museum In the very building where Max Factor preened and primped the likes of Marilyn, Judy, Bette and Joan.
Polo Lounge Swill cocktails in the very lounge seen in films such as The Way We Were and American Gigolo.
Whitley Heights Stroll picture-perfect streets once home to early Hollywood greats.
United Artists Theatre A glorious Downtown movie palace designed in large part by early Hollywood icon Mary Pickford.
Hollywood Heritage Museum Early Hollywood cameras and ephemera, plus a re-creation of Cecil B DeMille’s studio office.
Modern & Contemporary Art
Broad Smashing modern and contemporary art in a showstopping, cutting-edge Downtown building.
MOCA Grand From Rothko and Haring to Flavin and Sherman, a subterranean treasure trove of modern-art heavyweights.
Hauser & Wirth Exciting exhibitions of modern and contemporary art in a Downtown former mill.
MOCA Geffen The Little Tokyo site for MOCA’s edgier, more experimental exhibits.
Regen Projects Edgy exhibitions from one of the city’s most visionary gallery spaces.
Kohn Gallery A commercial gallery with museum-standard shows.
Museum of Latin American Art Showcasing contemporary works from across the south-of-the-border spectrum, with a new emphasis on US Latino art.
Bergamot Station Arts Center Santa Monica’s former rail yard now houses super modern galleries.