Introducing the city
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As the birthplace of the movie industry, Los Angeles is perfect for celeb-spotting and offers miles of beautiful coastline for you to get that sun kissed Malibu glow.
Marilyn Monroe once said: ‘People cut themselves off from their ties of old life when they come to Los Angeles.’ No matter which neighbourhood you find yourself in, L.A. will make you feel miles away from the rest of the world. Whether you're screaming with excitement on a rollercoaster at Universal Studios Hollywood or gawping across the street at your favourite celeb in Beverley Hills, this pocket of Southern California gives you the chance to live like they do in the movies.
As the second largest city in the United States of America, Los Angeles has something for everyone. The 75-mile stretch of coastline, including famous spots such as Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach make it the perfect place to relax and unwind. Or if you prefer to be active and explore the area then grab your trainers and head for a hike around the Solstice Canyon for amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
L.A. is also perfect for food lovers with award-winning restaurants such as Urasawa serving up Michelin star dishes and The Original Farmers Market offering fresh, locally grown produce and yummy sweet treats including cabernet sauvignon sorbet at Bennett's Ice Cream stall. It also boasts some of the best nightlife around with an abundance of live music, comedy clubs, bars and nightclubs that will keep everyone entertained.
Famed as The City of Angels, Los Angeles may just be the gateway to heaven.
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When Should You Visit?
Celebville is naturally a tourist hotspot so avoid visiting in the summer months if you want to miss the crowds. Spring has fewer tourists yet still boasts warm temperatures.
L.A. is lucky enough to have beautiful weather all year round with an estimated average of 320 days of sunshine a year, and temperatures can reach highs of 30 degrees Celsius between June and September. January to April tends to be a little quieter but the first two months of year are the wettest. Be mindful that the heat combined with heavy smog levels in the summer months can be unpleasant inland, meaning coastal neighbourhoods become overcrowded. April to November sees very little rainfall.
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Travioor top tips
- For the best view of the Hollywood sign visit Lake Hollywood Park. It's great for an afternoon stroll and gives you the chance to get that all-important-photo without needing the latest SLR zoom lens.
- Embrace the movie culture of L.A. and visit a drive-in theatre á la Sandy and Danny. Go to Paramount Drive-In Theatre to hear the movie through the radio of your car or Electric Dusk Drive in for a more authentic experience complete with hot dogs and popcorn.
- Vintage fashion has a big presence in Los Angeles with boutiques in almost every neighbourhood. Visit Shareen Vintage in Chinatown, a no-boys-allowed store that has no changing rooms but rails of amazing classic dresses. Pack some pants!
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Food and drink
Expensive, flashy restaurants are top of the L.A. food list with Hollywood royalty demanding the very best in fine dining. Head to The Ivy for an amazing brunch including homemade fig, apricot and pecan brioche French toast. If you're all about presentation then try Patina, a French restaurant on the ground floor of the Walt Disney Concert Hall serving food that looks almost too good to eat.
If you're after a cheaper alternative then head down to one of the many markets that populate the downtown area. Grand Central Market is a great option for an evening stroll having recently extended its opening hours until 10 p.m. You can sample the newly debuted night time menu between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. or head there during the day to try a whole host of interesting food from around the world including Horse Thief BBQ, described as 'traditional smoke meats with modern sides.'
If you need a coffee to start your day then you're in the right place. L.A. is a fast-paced city so coffee is a necessity for most residents. Try Blacktop Coffee in the Downtown Arts District where baristas will quiz you down to the finest detail to make sure they give you the coffee of your dreams.
Los Angeles craft beer culture is growing fast with over 30 craft breweries opening in the last few years so if you're heading out to catch a game at the nearby sports bar be sure to ask what's on tap.
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Los Angeles’s Story
After Spain lost their hold on Mexico in 1821, many Mexican citizens moved to California to seek private land. However, their re-location was short lived with the discovery of gold causing the Mexican-American War between 1846 to 1848 which saw American soldiers conquer Los Angeles.
In 1850 California became the 30th official state of the U.S.A. Since then a series of key events spanning the 1800’s and 1900’s including the discovery of oil in 1892 and birth of the movie industry in the early 1900’s has seen the population of Los Angeles boom. Like most places in North America, L.A. suffered in the Great Depression and was also hit by years of racially charged riots over the course of the 20th century.
Nowadays L.A. is home to Hollywood royalty, the wonderful world of Disney, five-star restaurants and miles of scenic coast that boasts some of the world’s most famous beaches.
English is the mother tongue of most residents; however, as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, Los Angeles is home to a number of languages. Before American soldiers conquered this area in the Mexican-American Civil War, Spanish was in fact the language of most settlers.
Nowadays L.A. is known for its 'surfer slang' with phrases such as 'dude', 'gnarly' and 'sick' heard along every beach on the Californian coastline. Here are a few words/phrases that will help you sound like a local:
- June Gloom: The thick morning fog that spreads across the beaches in the summer disappearing mid-afternoon along with tourists who are fed up of waiting for the sun, e.g. 'Dude, there's no chance of catching any waves this morning while June Gloom is around'.
- Psyched: Excited
- Fresh: To describe something cool/stylish
Need to know
Get The Low-Down
- Avoid the 405 freeway if you plan on driving anywhere as it is frequently gridlocked. Use the Metro Rail for an easier, stress-free alternative.
- If you are big theme park fan, research multi-attraction discount packs to save money on expensive admission fees.
- Be sure to research hotels thoroughly to make sure a cheap deal doesn't mean a dangerous location.
- If you are lucky enough to be over 21 remember to take I.D. The USA is renowned for its strict alcohol policy.
- Jaywalking (crossing the road when you shouldn't, i.e. not at a pedestrian crossing) is against the law and can lead to a hefty fine if you are caught.
- L.A. is relatively safe but be sure to watch out for pickpockets in popular tourist areas. Avoid areas like Skid Row which are known to be very dangerous.
Find out about the visa requirements for the USA here.
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1. Farmers Market
Stop off at the Farmers Market, famous in L.A. for its fresh produce and independent restaurants offering unique flavours from around the world.
2. Hollywood Bowl
Spend an evening at the Hollywood Bowl, the largest outdoor amphitheatre in USA. You can bring your own food and drink along to all manner of performances.
3. Museum of Death
Escape the sunshine and go to the Museum of Death if you're into autopsies, serial murderers and crime scene photos. Beware, this place is not for the faint-hearted.
4. Time Travel
Yes, you heard us right. Time Travel Mart, located in downtown L.A., is a cool, quirky store selling all manner of treasures from times gone by.
5. Abandoned Zoo
If you're a fan of graffiti and old buildings take a visit to the abandoned zoo in Griffith Park. You can even monkey around in the old cages if that's your kind of thing.