The City of Angels is so much more than Hollywood. There’s culture by the barrel full, beach life and a modern food scene rooted in local producers, finds Lizzie Frainier
Why go? Los Angeles is huge. If the county was a state, it would be the seventh-largest in the US, so it’s no surprise that there are many different sides to this city. For beaches, head to Santa Monica, where it’s still 23C in November, while those looking for culture should head downtown. Autumn means thinner crowds and better air quality, so you can kiss the smog goodbye and get to grips with all that La La Land has to offer.
What to do Angelenos love to hike in the hills. Join them on a climb up to Griffith Observatory 00 1 213 473 0800, griffithobservatory.org. You’ll find a giant telescope on the east side of the roof for stargazing but the best views are over the city and famous Hollywood sign. When you’ve descended, swap the well-trodden Walk of Fame for a screening at a unique cinema. You are in Tinseltown, after all. New Beverly Cinema 00 1 323 938 4038, thenewbev.com has a 16mm projector and much of the programming is done by Quentin Tarantino, while the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre 00 1 310 260 1528, americancinemathequecalendar.com is an art deco landmark that regularly hosts director talks. Enjoy the vintage all-American feel of Santa Monica Pier with candyfloss in hand, before taking in a change of scenery at eccentric Venice Beach. Biceps bulge at the outdoor gym on Muscle Beach, sand sculptors craft mermaids and skateboarders whizz past. Hire a tandem from Santa Monica Bike Center 00 1 310 656 8500, smbikecenter.com and cycle between them. Downtown on South Grand Avenue, book tickets to see the LA Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall 00 1 323 850 2000, laphil.com then move next door to marvel at contemporary art museum The Broad 00 1 213 232 6200, thebroad.org and its cheese-grater exterior. Opened last year, it’s home to more than 2,000 works by artists including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons.
Where to stay Ace Hotel 00 1 213 623 3233, acehotel.com channels industrial chic. There’s vinyl on the lobby walls and rooms with concrete ceilings and statement lamps. Farmer’s Daughter Hotel 00 1 323 937 3930, farmersdaughterhotel.com is a tongue-in-cheek yet stylish take on the classic motels of Highway 101. Expect stained wooden accents, plaid throws and a banging brunch. If you want to spend more time relaxing, stay in Long Beach. The Varden 00 1 562 432 8950, thevardenhotel.com has simple, good-value rooms, plus there’s a free wine tasting every evening. Just a couple of miles away on the harbour, Hotel Maya 00 1 562 435 7676, hotelmayalongbeach.com is set in 4ha of tropical gardens. Chill out on one of the floating cabanas at the waterfront pool as you watch the sunset.
Where to eat and drink A country of immigrants, America’s cuisine is as diverse as its people. In LA, everyone claims to know the best taco truck and has a favourite sushi counter. We love Guerrilla Tacos guerrillatacos.com whose dishes change weekly. Find them on Saturday outside hip microroaster Blue Bottle 00 1510 653 3394, bluebottlecoffee.com on Beverly Boulevard and hope the swordfish taco with corn, cherry tomatoes, lime and coriander is on the menu. As for sushi, don’t let the mall location of Asanebo 00 1 818 760 3348, asanebo-restaurant.com fool you. It has some of the freshest fish around. For more typically American stalwarts, spend an afternoon at the Farmers Market 00 1 323 933 9211, farmersmarketla.com which was founded in 1834. There are more than 100 shops, restaurants and local produce stalls. Grab some beef or pork from Bryan’s Pit Barbecue 00 1 323 931 2869 before stopping at Bob’s Coffee and Doughnuts 00 1 323 933 8929. Still want dinner? Try Bestia 00 1 213 514 5724, bestiala.com for modern Italian and order the excellent cacao pasta parcels filled with braised oxtail and pine nuts.
Time running out? Don’t forget there are a lot of vineyards. Try Malibu Wines 00 1 818 865 0605, malibuwines.com for size.
Trip tip If you attempt to squeeze too many areas into one day you will spend most of your time sat in LA’s infamous traffic.
Flight time from Dubai is 16 hours. The cost to carbon-offset is $38.03. For more details visit climatecare.org
Emirates Airline flies from Dubai to LAX twice daily emirates.com
British Airways flies from Dubai to LAX via London daily BA.com
Discover Los Angeles is the local tourist board with an events listings guide and tips for getting around. discoverlosangeles.com
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey (John Murray, $12.25) is a novel following the lives of several people living in Los Angeles, from a celebrity couple, to a maid and a homeless man.