Los Angeles, California is a sprawling and diverse city, home to a vibrant mix of cultures, iconic landmarks, and world-class attractions. Here’s how to make the most of your time while visiting The City of Angels.
No visit to LA is complete without viewing the iconic Hollywood sign. You can hike up to it in around three and a half hours or take a guided tour to get a closer look and further insights into its history.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Lining both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Hollywood Walk of Fame began in 1958 with the unveiling of eight stars. Today, about 24 new inductees are added to the sidewalks each year in what has become one of LA’s top visitor attractions.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Since its opening in 1965, LACMA has featured rotating exhibitions of art from all over the world: from Islamic artefacts to Impressionist Masters, and contemporary works. Located on Wilshire Boulevard in West LA, LACMA is currently adding a new wing, the David Geffen Galleries, to house its permanent collection (scheduled to open in 2024).
Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
As the largest urban wilderness municipal park in the United States, Griffith Park offers a slice of greenery in the city, and outdoor activities including hiking, pony rides, tennis and picnics. Spanning 1703ha, you’ll also find the Los Angeles Zoo and three city golf courses within the park. The most-visited public observatory in the world, Griffith Observatory, opened here in 1935. Many will recognise it from films such as the 1955 James Dean classic, Rebel Without a Cause.
The public transport system consists of buses, trains and subways. The affordable Los Angeles Metro is easy to use and serves most of LA county and its key attractions. Purchase a reusable TAP Card from machines at the bus or subway stations. The orange G-line Metro Local Buses make frequent stops along major districts and tourist attractions around the city. If you want more freedom, car rental is readily available in Los Angeles; or be chauffeured by one of the numerous luxury limousine companies.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
Film and TV fans won’t want to miss the chance to tour this legendary studio, which has been the site of countless productions. Take a VIP tour and see the sets of shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, and Gilmore Girls.
Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills
More than a mere street (it has its own committee and podcast), the luxury shopping strip of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is home to brand-name stores and artisan shops of premium quality. When you need to ‘drop’ after the ‘shop’, you can dine at several eateries, including those helmed by Michelin-starred chefs.
Arts and culture
The Iconic — The Getty Centre
This museum, located in the Brentwood neighbourhood, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022, and admission to its galleries is free. It features an impressive collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, as well as beautiful gardens and stunning architecture. It was designed to allow visitors to explore art with comfort, and I could have easily spent the whole day here. The Centre also has a school with accommodation for a select group of artistic students.
Hollywood Architecture Tour
The tour includes homes by Frank Lloyd Wright, historic Hollywood Boulevard theatres and many more storied insights. You also learn about the history of Hollywood Hills and the celebrities who lived there.
Petersen Automotive Museum & Vault
Car enthusiasts will love this museum, which showcases the history and art of the automobile. With more than 300 vehicles on display in a 9300m2 exhibition space — ranging from classic cars to modern supercars — there’s something for everyone. Be sure to check out the cars in The Vault.
Wine and dine
Los Angeles is a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse range of culinary experiences to discover. It is also a city that loves its rooftop bars, found in most hotels.
Terrace at The Thompson
The atmosphere of this Hollywood rooftop bar is chic and trendy, with stunning views of the city and a menu of craft cocktails and light bites to eat.
This former recording studio, located in the heart of Hollywood, is a must-visit for music lovers, combining 50 years of musical history into a cocktail lounge, rooftop bar and restaurant. Browse the eclectic collection of vinyl while enjoying creative cocktails.
The studio was home to many legends over the years: David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Blondie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West and many more, until it closed its doors in 2016. Now in the hands of the Botanical Hospitality Group, who reimagined and launched a multifaceted space, discover the 71 Studio bar, a rooftop deck, and an Italian restaurant inspired by Australian Culinary Director, Monty Koludrovic.
Lillie’s at The Culver Hotel
Experience the casual elegance of European café culture through a Californian lens at Lillie’s, which offers seasonal dining, classic cocktails and live music.
Fanny’s at The Academy
Named after Fanny Brice — the legendary movie, vaudeville, theatre and radio star portrayed by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl — the striking two-storey restaurant features a chef-designed open kitchen, elegant bar and retro-style décor, which gives it a nostalgic vibe. Fanny’s offers a variety of comfort food like burgers, sandwiches and hotdogs.
Cocktails at Bar Lis
The crown jewel of the new Thompson Hollywood, this chic rooftop lounge captures the sophisticated mix of classic South of France culture mixed with a modern Californian atmosphere. The light and vibrant atmosphere at Bar Lis, with weekly jazz nights, makes it a perfect destination for a fun evening.
This vegan-friendly Mexican-inspired restaurant offers delicious and healthy options, including flavourful mezze plates and creative salads, based on ancient Yucatan culinary tradition, and made with the freshest ingredients. We happily devoured all the dishes presented to us as we sat in a tropical oasis, while the place buzzed with a DJ and fire dancer.
The Thompson Hollywood has a beautiful Art Deco interior accompanied by elements of contemporary design which gives it the vibe of laidback Californian cool. The foyer is an eclectic mix of old Hollywood glamour combined with a modern bar, providing a winning combination that makes you want to hang out in the lounge.
The Fairmont Century Plaza is a five-star, luxury hotel located in the heart of Century City. Known for its elegant décor, spacious rooms, and luxury amenities, the hotel is within walking distance of popular attractions such as Crypto.com Arena, the Grammy Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. I spent some time at the hotel’s spa, where the subtle colours evoke luxury, and candle-lit treatment rooms and soothing music provide ultimate relaxation. There are multiple therapies available including a salt room, rainforest shower, steam room and sauna.
In Beverly Hills, you’ll find old-world glamour and luxury stays at The Peninsula, Beverly Hills; retro favourite, The Beverly Hills Hotel, established in 1912 and known as the ‘pink palace’; or the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, on the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, featured in the film Pretty Woman.
Enjoy Pacific Ocean sunsets at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel.
United Airlines offers direct flights to Los Angeles from Melbourne and Sydney.
Sit-down restaurants, taxi drivers, tour guides, spa: 15-20% of bill.
Hotels: US$1-2/bag for baggage handlers; US$5-10 for concierge if they arrange tickets/reservations.