24 Hours in Los Angeles

Hollywood Sign

LA is a sprawling, steaming hot Californian metropolis penned in scenically by the Pacific Ocean and the rugged hills and mountains of San Gabriel. Negotiate the freeways and navigate its disconnected neighbourhoods and you'll find the city has multiple centres all worth exploring. Our 24 hours guide to LA will help you find the starlets wielding shopping bags in Hollywood; skaters cruising along Venice Beach; the rich and famous enjoying cocktails in Roosevelt and arty types soaking up the culture...

Uncle Bill's Pancake House

Start the day the American way with a stack of pancakes. Popular with surfers and early morning walkers, Uncle Bill's is busiest, and best, first thing so get there in good time, snag an outdoor table (with a sea view) and order the strawberry pancakes with whipped cream.

  • Address: 1305 Highland Avenue, Manhattan Beach
  • Tel: +1 310 545 5177
  • Website: www.unclebills.net

South Bay Bicycle Trail

Join LA's body beautiful (who are cycling, running, skating, dog walking... you name it!) for a little exercise along the beach. The South Bay Bicycle Trail snakes along more than 20 miles of beach from Wills Rogers to Torrance.

The Huntington

It may be home to the rich, famous and plastic, but Los Angeles isn't a cultural vacuum. The Huntington is a quaint haven of history and art housing a library of rare books and four galleries of 18th and 19th century British and French art as well as American works from the 1950s and 60s. There's also the quaint botanical gardens and Rose Garden and Tea Room.

Getty Center

Make another arty stop at the Getty Center, one of the largest galleries in LA. Western art (American and European) is the focus with five exhibition spaces packed with paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography. The picturesque grounds aren't half bad either.

  • Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Tel: +1 310 440 7300
  • Website: www.getty.edu

Pasadena Farmers' Market

A good excuse to head up to northern district Pasadena, this Saturday farmers' market is a hit with the locals. It's not quite London's Borough Market but you'll find a generous selection of regionally grown, fresh fruit and veg, preserves and homemade cakes and goodies.

Magic Mountain

Not strictly in Los Angeles but only an hour's drive north out of Hollywood, Magic Mountain is worth the effort. The epic theme park is for both thrill seekers and families with a ton of themed rides, strolling entertainers and greasy grub.

Joan's on Third

Photograph: Johnny Rokkit

Expect classic Californian fare at this classy lunchtime spot. The artisan delights of the marketplace (think a mini Whole Foods) translate to the cafe menu which is packed with yummy sounding sandwiches, soups and cakes such as mortadella with goat's milk gouda and Dijon mustard on baguette. Yum.

WeHo Shopping

WeHo (West Hollywood) is famed for its top end boutiques and A-list (Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan et al) shoppers. Dip in and then head to affordable shopping hangout, The Grove. The outdoor mall is busting with everyday American brands (Gap, Nike etc). Make it interesting and hop on the free double decker tram (a 1950s original, apparently) that runs through the mall.

Urth Caffe

It's so cool, it's spelt wrong on purpose! This is a LA celeb haunt if ever there was one with the likes of Courtney Cox popping in for an organic latte or eco tea.

Venice Beach

The glistening Pacific Ocean is the perfect backdrop for LA's weird and wonderful and Venice Beach is where to see them out en force. It's a people watching Mecca so take a stroll and enjoy!

Volley Ball in Manhattan

If Venice gets too much, make for Manhattan - a beach further south along the coast. You'll be greeted with a sea of volley ball nets where the amateurs and pros battle it out.

Nitespa

You can't leave Los Angeles without indulging in the locals' favourite pastime: a manicure and pedicure. Nitespa's laid-back, boutique style decor (complete with sofas and art gallery), DJs in the evening and ability to turn a beauty treatment into a social occasion has made it popular, so get your booking in early.

  • Address: 1301 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (entrance via Santa Clara Ave)
  • Tel: +1 310 396 5122
  • Website: www.nitespa.com

Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Strip

Hollywood Boulevard is where you can stroll along the star-studded (on the ground at least) Walk of Fame. You'll feel the movie moments coming at you fast (it's where Julia Roberts was picked up in Pretty Woman for starters) and where you'll pass Capitol Records Tower and Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. If you're desperate to spot a real star, head to Sunset Strip (part of Sunset Boulevard) where the most exclusive bars, restaurants and boutiques are pitched.

Geisha House

You'll be so sick of passing burger joints that sushi will sound like a divine dinner plan. There's nowhere more famous than Geisha House - likely because it's owned by Ashton Kutcher.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the new Walt Disney Concert Hall is less fluffy than it sounds. It's architecturally impressive too (designed by Frank Gehry), so even if you don't make a concert, make sure you at least wander past.

  • Address: 111 South Grand Avenue
  • Tel: +1 323 850 2000
  • Website: www.laphil.com

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Opened in 1927 with a screening of Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings, Grauman's Chinese Theatre has since hosted premieres and award ceremonies of mega proportions. Its eccentric design (think Ming temple pillars and a dragon carved out of stone) and the venue's courtyard (covered in the hand and footprints of celebs from Marilyn Monroe to Gene Kelly) are worth stopping for even if you don't fancy a film.

Lucky Strike Lanes

This chain of lanes is the ultimate in hip, retro chic bowling. Lucky Strike picked up where the now defunct Hollywood Star Lanes (The Big Lebowski set) left off. Be warned though: its original Hollywood outpost has a 'strictly enforced' dress code that bans even white t-shirts!

  • Address: 800 (West) Olympic Boulevard and 6801 Hollywood Boulevard
  • Tel: +1 213 542 4880 and +1 323 467 7776
  • Website: www.bowlluckystrike.com

Teddy's and Tropicana

These Roosevelt hotel bars are LA's must-be-seen-in. Go for old school, LA glamour in lounge club Teddy's; or a super hot celeb experience (yes, there's a pool) in Tropicana. Expect to see starlets (Keira Knightly, Drew Barrymore) among the A-list elite.

Kogi

If you're all about the latest craze, you'll love the US's most recent obsession: food trucks. They're like an ice-cream or burger van, but dish up anything from a crème brulee to a box of noodles. Go for Kogi - a Korean BBQ-to-go - and keep up to date on its location via Twitter.

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive, one of the city's most famous roads, snakes along the Hollywood Hills and rewards late night drivers (forgoing the cocktails) with glittering urban vistas.

Sweet Love Hangover

This place is so exciting that we're going to include it before it's even open! An all-night eatery where retina-burning retro meets the future. August is the supposed launch proper so check before you travel.

  • Address: 6506 Hollywood Boulevard
  • Tel: +1 323 656 4800
  • Website: slhhollywood

Vanguard

Despite an endless array of celeb frequented clubs (The Viper Room, Villa, My House... ) the Los Angeles party is usually wrapped up by 2am. If you're hardcore, head on to Vanguard where the emphasis is on late-night dancing (to house music in the main) rather than celeb-spotting.

Griffith Park and Observatory

LA's largest (4,210 acres) and most impressive green space opens at 5am. Rugged chaparal-covered terrain mixes with neat picnic areas and activities include hiking, horse riding and cycling. At this time of morning you're best off driving to the hilltop observatory for twinkling city views. The astronomy center itself doesn't open until noon, but coin-operated telescopes can be found around the building.

Hollywood Sign

You can watch the sunrise from the Griffith Observatory which will light up the Hollywood Sign in front, but if you want to get a little closer to LA's icon, try driving up Beachwood Canyon Drive, north of Hollywood Boulevard. The uphill, twisting road offers countless photo opportunities.

Last Updated: July 2009