While time constraints and rushing through a location can mess up your idea of a comprehensive sojourn, these tips and tricks will help you travel smarter and be an intelligent traveller. In this version we cover the City of Angels, Los Angeles. By Aanam Chashmawala
I visited Los Angeles for the third time earlier this year, and earmarked 10 things to do if you’re in a rush and looking to do an introductory circuit of the bustling city. Between the beaches, the food, the omnipresent art, and glimpses of Hollywood, you’ll leave a part of your heart behind in LA.
1. Downtown Los Angeles
The most happening area of the city, Downtown LA offers you a confetti of things—from cool cafes and restaurants to high-end brands to workout avenues like Soul Cycle and some really cool movie theatres. You’ll never get bored of exploring this region.
This one’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s the famed Hollywood Boulevard, the iconic Hollywood sign on the hill, or even the neighbourhood streets that host some of the most interesting stores or cafes, this stereotype is something you want to abide by if you’re as obsessed with American TV shows and movies as I am. If you’re headed there with a little planning, make sure you book yourself a table at Black Rabbit Rose, a really cute magic show (for adults) that will leave you in splits!
3. Santa Monica
Spending a weekend in Santa Monica is the perfect way to escape the city if you want to savour some beach time. I spent a night in this beach neighbourhood, a two-hour drive from Downtown LA, and it left me wanting more. Santa Monica is high on rejuvenation and great for beach properties here, and the buzzing Venice Beach is a leisurely stroll away.
With a mix of high-street and luxe brands, this eight-storeyed structure has everything you desire! If you’re a serious shopper, I recommend you set aside one full day for this mall. A side note for luxury shoppers who claim tax refunds while returning: unlike Europe, the American counterparts to luxe brands like Dolce & Gabbana or Gucci will not enable a tax refund against your shopping receipts.
It wouldn’t be a comprehensive list if I didn’t include one of the most popular restaurants from around the world. I suggest you make your reservations around the same time you book your tickets to the US. The Japanese fine dining restaurant, which has outlets in both West Hollywood and Malibu, is one of the most talked about hubs, both online as well as offline. It is known to be a regular haunt of Hollywood stars—the Kardashians deserve special mention for boosting its social media credentials.
Universal Studios is where reel meets real. From elaborate movie sets to the world-renowned theme park, you’ll need a day or two to make the most of this place. My personal favourite area is the Harry Potter zone. I spent the day on Potter-themed rides and strolling through Diagon Alley, sipping on Butter Beer.
I can’t talk about the allure of the Warner Bros. Studio without mentioning the number of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. moments I’ve relived there! From visiting the set (and sitting on the iconic brown couch of Central Perk) to being embedded in an episode of the TV show, the studio offers a trip of nostalgia. Your studio day is likely to be kicked off with a guided tour, which takes you through many a set that you’ve seen over the years in a variety of films and shows. The highlight of my visit was the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The kids are sure to go nuts over this one. Among the ones in Hong Kong, Paris, and LA, this one is probably my favourite. With its signature Disney vibe, ‘the happiest place on Earth’ is something you should experience at least once in a lifetime. Age no bar.
9. History Junction
If you love your museums, Grand Avenue is a necessary pit-stop. It houses The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and also the Wells Fargo Museum. While the first three are a stone’s throw from one another, the last one is a couple of blocks away.
10. SLS Hotel
I stayed at this swanky hotel, which presents a New York loft-meets-LA bohemian chic vibe that was perfect for someone who appreciates minimalism in her room interiors. With its friendly staff, central location, and perfect dose of Hollywood glam, this property is highly recommended in the city.