Top 10 Things to See and DO in LA – The City of Angels
I’m going to just come up and say it, Los Angeles is not everyone’s favourite holiday spot. Many come back with reports of a disgusting cesspool; a big and dirty and dangerous place. The city of angels? The harsh reality, a devillish hell hole, a collection of gluttonous sinners fuelled by greed, craving validation through fame and a youthful outlook preserved via the steady handed slice of a surgeon’s scalpel.
Hollywood Boulevard, the epicentre of the celebrity fascination is dotted with drugged out homeless people you can smell well before seen. Mouth breathing and head down in puzzlement, I rack the deep recesses of my memory searching for just one face to put against the twenty previous names written on the stars laid out before me on the walk of ‘fame’. A far cry from the glamorous scenes from the TV show Beverly Hills 90210 I grew up with. The movie blockbuster billboards and palms rise high above the many tattoo parlours, while gang bangers hustle on their street corners and an odd looking Church of Scientology brings back the cry of Tom Cruise/Jerry Maguire screaming into a phone to,’show me the money!’.
Shattered dreams can be heard in the voice of the barmaid pulling my beer as I lean on the bar and savour a temporary liquid escape from the surreal atmosphere on the other side of the saloon doors. In a southern drawl, the once upon a time attractive barmaid explains in a less than convincing pitch her lifelong ambition of being an actor/singer/model, reeking of desperation. Sucked into a vacuum of obsessive and unrealistic self-destructive dreaming.
LA is not the place to ‘wing it’. Getting lost in the back streets could well lead to a permanent disappearance, mugging or beat down. Take public transport at your peril and getting a taxi from A to B during rush hour often results in a slow crawl as the meter ticks higher and you waste away minute after minute in a never ending gridlock.
You will see the odd Ferrari, paparazzo flashing cameras, fur coats and bling; the flaunting of success overshadowed by the many thousand strong cases of self-annihilation. It is one of the most shallowly superficial places in existence, image conscious to the maximum, where you’re either somebody or a nobody. An extreme class divide, the ultimate yin and yang.
With that massively slanderous negative rant out of the way, there is a lot to like about LA and I am here to help you with a fail-safe plan to make the most out of any LA visit. Splash out a little bit of cash and stick to my top 10 things to see and do and you cannot go wrong. I however still recommend a high pressure shower each day to rid the inevitable filth buried deep within your pores. Organisation is critical in this time poor sprawling maze of a city. Experience a taste of the much showcased glitz and glamour while still ticking off some tragic tourist must do’s in LA with the below list. Set your LA itinerary around my top 10 things to see and do in LA and all your Californian dreams will come true, Leonardo Di Caprio will be your new best mate and Ari Gold will be begging to sign you for a multi-million dollar movie deal…between back and forth limousine rides to the Playboy Mansion*.
10 Stay in a 5 star Hotel in a Central Location
Pay the extra and stay in a good quality, well positioned 5 star hotel. Embrace the image conscious nature of LA and treat yourself to a high end place to rest your head. Go for the cheapest room and then you can take advantage of preferential treatment at the hotel nightclub, bar, pool party, restaurants and so on. Utilise the concierge services at top end hotels. They can offer you all sorts of extras and priority deals from their array of contacts. Restaurant reservations, tickets to sporting events, shows, theme parks, comedy club free passes, tables at nightclubs – to name just a handful. Staying in 5 star accommodation in LA opens many doors. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, you also get the advantage of a luxurious escape when it all gets too much on the mean streets of LA.
9 Hollywood Boulevard
A tacky must do activity on every first time tourists list. Check out the Chinese & Dolby theater’s where the Academy Awards are held and take a few photos with the stars handprints pressed in to the concrete. You will get harassed to take photos with lycra clad, out of shape, wanna-be actors dressed as superheroes, but you will need to tip them. Get in, take a look, snap some pictures and move on.
8 Hire a Sports Car
To get around properly in LA you will need a ride. At a very reasonable price you could be behind the wheel of a brightly coloured European sports car cruising the Pacific Coast Highway and turning heads as you pull up for that rock star entry, throwing the keys at the valet.
7 Go to a Pool Party
Ideally you will be staying at a hotel that has a pool party. A very LA experience as you rub shoulders with a passing celebrity, charge drinks to the room and splash away as DJ’s pump out the beats. Best options – The W , Roosevelt and Standard Hotels.
6 Hollywood Hills Star Homes
Another of the cheesier things on the list is to take a guided tour or grab a copy of star’s homes and drive up Mulholland and down through Beverly Hills to see the big gates and sprawling estates where the rich and famous call home.
Top Attractions – Playboy Mansion, Michael Jackson’s house, set of the Osbourne’s.
5 Drink at a Famous 5 star Hotel
Hang out in the lobby &/or bar areas of some of the historically significant hotels in LA. Drink where the famous, rich and powerful do and discuss the list of famous clientle and scandals that have gone down within the walls.
Top picks – The Mondrian, Chateau Marmont and The Beverly Hills Hotel
4 Celebrity Spotting on Sunset
Alfresco dining on the Sunset strip is the place for a paparazzi friendly cafe style meal where you can point out a B grade celebrity or three and enjoy a well priced lunch taking in the sights and sounds of Hollywood at an easy relaxed pace.
Top Pick – Le Petit Four
3 The Beaches
Head seaside to check out the heroes pumping iron at Muscle Beach at Venice. Walk the famous pier at Santa Monica and for the best pick, head down the coast to re-live your favourite scene out of Baywatch or hire a board and surf the day away at Malibu. Jump in the Lambo, set the Ipod to Red Hot Chilli Peppers and enjoy California’s year round sunshine cruising along the beach front roads.
2 Comedy Clubs
Most 5 star hotels will offer complimentary tickets to the famous comedy clubs where the best in the business ply their trade. Knock back the two drink minimum and laugh your ass off at some of the funniest acts in america. Be sure to check out the famous photos and autographed walls – Big names to note: Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, David Letterman.
Top Pick – The Comedy Store – Hollywood
1 Staples Centre for NBA or NHL
Get a ticket for a game at the famous Staples Centre and enjoy a world class fixture of sports entertainment while spotting the celebrities sitting court-side.