The City of Angels has long been associated with extremes. On one side, there are the beaches, near-perfect weather and a parade of good-looking people who are either famous or—coyly shielded behind their sunglasses and caps—at least look like they could be famous. On the other end, there’s the legendary tangle of freeways, the infamous (but now less noticeable) smog and the epitome of American sprawl. The good news? For the most part, the reality of Los Angeles lies somewhere between those two extremes, with its depth of good museums, vibrant ethnic communities and cutting-edge culture that’s tempered by a sunny sense of fun. Many travelers visit Los Angeles to experience Hollywood, but as the A-listers themselves know, there’s much more to the city once you stray beyond the Walk of Fame. Read on in this Los Angeles travel guide to get your own close-up of this often-underrated city:
Things Not to Miss in Los Angeles
• The J. Paul Getty Museum
• LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
• Universal Studios Hollywood
• Santa Monica Pier and Beach
• Griffith Park
• Venice Beach
When to Go to Los Angeles
Like much of Southern California, the variations among the four seasons in L.A. are small: a forecast of sunny and 70 degrees can happen any time of year. The Los Angeles travel season peaks in summer, both in terms of crowds and prices. June, however, may be an exception: the regular occurrence of fog this time of year (called June Gloom by the locals, and often a surprise to visitors) means some days can be too chilly for swimming. Early fall is an excellent time to travel to Los Angeles instead: prices drop a little, but you often have a better chance of 80-degree-and-above temperatures for beach days. The only weather risk come from the fall’s Santa Ana winds, which can be strong. Winter and early spring carry the highest likelihood of rain and cooler temperatures (sometimes even chilly at night), but the lowest prices.
Grilled cheese night at Campanile: on Thursday evenings, this restaurant—one of the city’s fanciest—gives itself over to comfort cuisine.
Shop therapy in Santee Alley, part of downtown L.A.’s Fashion District.
Renting a convertible and cruising, L.A.-style, down Sunset Boulevard or up the Pacific Coast Highway.