You may think of Los Angeles as a land of Tinseltown dreamers, tight facelifts and tanned bimbos, but delve beyond the celebrity status and you’ll find plenty of relaxing nature escapes and creative urban pleasures. From scenic mountain hiking and sunny beaches to shiny museums and multi-cultural eateries, it’s always a picture perfect day in LA.
Where to Sleep
Traffic in LA is notoriously bad. Change up your hotel depending on your itinerary. Lay downtown to catch a game. Spread out at Santa Monica for some outdoor beach fun. Run up the tab at Westwood for an upmarket shopping spree.
The Shore Hotel oozes a chic sustainable vibe with an enviable beachfront location. Sundowners on the balcony at sunset overlook the Santa Monica Pier. Kids are given cool shades, buckets and spades for afternoon sandcastle building sessions.
The cool crew hang at the Le Meridien Delfina. With indie bands strumming in the lobby and socialites in cabanas by the pool you can mix with the laidback Santa Monica locals whilst enjoying this stylish lodge with a distinct fifties vibe.
Hotel Palomar provides a sleek urban oasis in Westwood, just a hop, step and swipe away from the glam shopping districts of Melrose Avenue, Robertson Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. With complimentary wine in the lobby every evening from 6pm mom and dad can enjoy some well-deserved downtime.
Just steps from the Staples Center, Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. Live plays the ideal downtown digs for sports fans. With spacious double rooms and kitchenettes in many suites this elegant and convenient hotel hits all the family friendly buttons. As others battle the throngs and traffic to escape after a game, you can already have your kids tightly tucked into bed and be toasting your team’s victory.
What to Do
View the city from the hills on a meandering Griffith Park hike. After the trek, catch the sunset at the Griffith Observatory then head to the planetarium show for a spectacular date with the stars.
Ring your bell and power up your peddles along the Marvin Braude bike trail, a 22-mile cruise along the shoreline through Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
While the rollercoasters at Universal Studios are boisterous fun, the backlot tour carries riders away on a not to be missed experience. You will never look at Hollywood movies the same way again.
Catch a basketball or hockey game at Staples Center. Score top tickets to sold out games at stubhub.com
Do you have a soft spot for Dr Phil? Are your kids addicted to Disney Channel? Be in the studio audience for your favourite TV show with free tickets at tvtickets.com
Visit The Getty Museum for European and American Art from medieval times to the present. Drop by the family room in the east pavilion for hands-on educational activities — kids can decorate a giant manuscript or craft an ancient mask.
Spend a morning with the prehistoric animals exploring La Brea Tarpits and the Page Museum. Next door at LACMA, marvel at a mini-version of a fast-paced city with Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, a kinetic sculpture with 100,000 miniature cars speeding through the city at 240 scale miles per hour.
With fairytale productions of The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty both big and little princesses will feel special at a performance of the Los Angeles Ballet Company. For more family fun ideas, see my LA with Kids article.
Where to Eat
Don’t miss an all-time classic at Roscoes House of Chicken and Waffles for crispy, salty, sweet delicious breakfast dinner combinations.
In-N-Out Burger rules as the cult favourite burger joint of the west coast, the place where celebrities stuff their faces after fasting for the Oscars. All their menu items are made fresh in front of your eyes while you wait. With 25 locations across Los Angeles be sure to swing into the drive through and order a double double animal style from the secret menu.
Fancy up and slide into Nobu for a sleek, splurge night out. Wash down the outstanding Japanese fusion cuisine with a chilled tokuri of refreshing sake.
Pizzeria Mozza by celebrity chef Nancy Silverton triumphs as LA’s pie hotspot. The clay wood fired oven churns out delicious creations with squash blossoms and stinging nettles but the plain margarita with a pillowy, slightly charred crust wins people’s choice everytime. Be sure to make a booking as this pizza joint jumps all day, everyday.