24 hours in los angeles
Los Angeles, like many cities, is not one that you should plan to visit for only 24 hours. But, if you're traveling on business or have a lay-over on a longer trip you should definitely make the most of the time you have and see what the city of angels has to offer.
There have been those who claim that L.A. or La-La Land as some call it is a cultural desert, full of movie stars, plastic surgeons and not much else. We're here to tell you that this is not true and Los Angeles has plenty of cultural highlights and fun to offer even the most discriminating traveler.
Here we will provide just a few of the things you won't want to miss the next time you visit.
Hollywood, Glitz and Glam
No visit to L.A. is complete without at least a drive or walk in Beverly Hills - Rodeo Drive as featured in the movie Pretty Woman boasts more than 100 high-end retail stores from Bulgari to Versace that attract thousands of shoppers everyday. If you're a shopper you'll have discovered paradise in this posh shoppers' haven.
When you're done shopping in the land of luxury you may want to check out high-tea at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel. Known as the "Pink Palace" the Beverly Hills staple is still a place to see and be seen. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sipping tea with some of Hollywood's latest stars or the left coast's movers and shakers in this 5-star luscious hotel setting.
High tea at the Polo Lounge is as elegant an experience as you would imagine. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to linger in the beautiful tropical gardens and truly relax. There is a fine selection of teas that is accompanied by tasty classic finger sandwiches and sweets. Of course, the classic scones and clotted cream are also included. Indulge yourself even further and add a glass of bubbly to enhance the experience. The service is outstanding. Many reviewers have mentioned the pretentiousness of the staff, but we found none of that during our visit. We were treated as if we were celebrities and enjoyed every minute. We brought along Mom to celebrate her birthday and they simply couldn't have made us all feel more special (and you know we love that).
Want to see more Hollywood highlights? Then you won't want to miss Grauman's Chinese Theater. Still a popular venue for star-studded premiere's this famous theater played host to many first time showings. Spend some time looking at the footprints and hand prints of the stars. The first film premiered there in 1927 was Cecil B. DeMille's epic "The King of Kings."
A Bit More Cultural
While in L.A. don't forget to sample some of the world class museums. We had the chance to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum which not only has a terrific art collection and beautiful sculpture gardens but provides scenic panoramic views of the city. The collection includes Van Gogh, Monet, Man Ray and many other artists.
You'll want to leave time to explore the inside and outside of this breathtaking museum and grounds. The architecture and landscaping alone are worth the visit. We also enjoyed the special exhibitions and ended up spending much longer than we planned on the illuminated manuscripts presented - they were simply stunning.
If you have time, travel just outside of L.A. to Pasadena where you'll find the Norton Simon Museum which is about a half hour drive away. Its exquisite collection is easily navigated in a few hours. Complete with works from Raphael, Botticelli, El Greco, Ingres, van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Goya, Vuillard, Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Calder, Warhol and many others.
Vincent Van Gogh - Portrait of a Peasant, 1888
Pablo Picasso -Head of a Woman, 1927
You'll also see sculptures in the museum and throughout the garden by Rodin, Maillot, Brancusi, Henry Moor and Noguchi. Lunch or a light snack in the Garden Cafe provides a tranquil spot to in the sculpture garden.
Norton Simon's Sculpture Garden
Just about ten minutes from the Norton Simon Museum is The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. If you find yourself in L.A. on a beautiful sunny day this is a place not to miss. The only difficulty will be deciding how long to stay and what to view. When we there we were a little short on time so we spent about an hour and half and really got a good dose of the highlights.
Thomas Lawerence's - Pinky 1794
Thomas Gainsborough's - Blue Boy 1770
We strolled through the gardens to the art gallery. The collection is magnificent but exploring the 55,000 square feet of former home of railroad and real estate magnate Henry E. Huntington is an undertaking itself. Some 1,200 paintings, sculptures and decorative art pieces from the 15th to the early 20th century are on display.
The views in the sculpture garden are also well worth exploring. The panoramic view of the mountains and the gardens let your imagination run wild with what it must have been like to live in this palatial setting. There are also Japanese, Jungle, Desert, Chinese, Australian, Rose, Palm and Subtropical gardens throughout the property.
Looking for something other than museums? There's always
DisneyLand and Universal Studios. While both of these could easily take a full day or more on their own, one could opt to spend a half a day and hit their favorite sites and rides within the parks. If you make it out Universal Studios you can stop at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal CityWalk and pick up a t-shirt or pin. There's also one in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd. right next to the world-famous Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards broadcast and and annual Oscar ceremonies.
Another unique attraction is the La Brea Tar Pits. This museum takes you back 25,000 years ago when huge mammoths and saber-toothed cats were the celebrities that roamed the Los Angeles scene. Many of these animals became trapped in the asphalt that has been oozing out of the ground for the past 40,000 years. Home to over three million fossils from the last Ice Age, the Tar Pits have exhibits that show how scientists examine the fossils and discover the prehistoric world of Los Angeles.
There are plenty of fine dining experiences in Los Angeles - but to truly live like a local you need to try some of the neighborhood hang-outs. For breakfast you might try The Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles. There's always a line outside, but once you're in the service is quick and food is delicious at this home grown classic owned by former L.A. Mayor Riordan. Known for their homestyle cooking and generous portions, this diner is a gem of tradition. The food is served up hot and fast and tables are turned very quickly, so even if there's a line outside - and there pretty much always is - you'll be sure to get a seat in a reasonable amount of time. And, once inside, you'll realize why it's worth the wait.
Omelette's as big as your head.
For the spud lovers among us (and really, aren't we all?) it's good to note that just about everything comes with a side of hash browns and they are delish!
The Original Tommy's Famous Hamburgers is another local favorite. Since 1946, Tommy's has been serving up their special chili-topped burger to hungry patrons at all hours of the day and night. All entrees at Tommy's are served with Tommy's famous chili unless otherwise requested. Often imitated remember to, "Look for the shack" on the Tommy's logo to make sure you're getting the Original Tommy's Famous Hamburgers. With many options for burgers in L.A., Tommy's chili-laden masterpieces are memorable and uniquely tasty. They also have chili fries, so if you're a chili fan you can get a double dose.
In-N-Out Burger Another place that inevitably always has a line but is well worth the wait is In-N-Out Burger. California's first drive-thru hamburger stand serves fresh made hamburgers, fries and shakes. You will find no microwaves or freezers at these fast-food spots. There's a special secret menu with items you won't see on the very simple menu at the drive-through or inside. Items like "animal style" burgers (with a mustard cooked patty), animal style fries (drenched in cheese, grilled onions and special sauce) and Neapolitan Shake (a swirled shake of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry together) are just the tip of the secret iceberg.
Recently made even more famous by the ubiquitous Betty White, who claims to have one every day, is Pink's Hot Dogs. Since 1939, Pink's has served their famous all-beef hot dog and chili to movie stars, wanna-be stars and everyone in between. Just look for the line at the corner of Melrose and La Brea and you know you've found the spot. Pink's has many different kinds of dogs, including several named after the celebrities that like them served that way, such as the Ozzy Spicy Dog (a Polish sausage, nacho cheese, American cheese, grilled onions, guacamole and chopped tomatoes) named for Ozzy Osbourne, the Martha Stewart Dog (with mustard, relish, onions, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, bacon and sour cream) and many others. For those interested, Betty White says she eats her Pink's plain.
Looking for a classic California coffee shop? And we don't mean Starbucks. Try Du-par's Restaurant & Bakery with several locations serving up hot steamy coffee, famous breakfasts and fresh fruit pites. Since 1938, Du-par's has been dishing up favorites like chicken pot-pie, meatloaf, Blue Plate specials, burgers and salads. The waitresses have often been there forever, and they know how to take care of the weary as well as the wild.
There's so much more to the L.A. local dining scene - amazing delis, authentic Chinese, delectable French, marvelous Italian, and more outstanding Latin cuisine than you ever knew existed - you'll need to schedule at least a week to dive in deeper to all the culinary and cultural delights. There are music venues, nightclubs, live theater, the beach scene, historical sites, the mountains, desert, sea and just about anything you could want to enjoy whether natural beauty or man-made creations. In the meantime we hope we've given you at least a few ideas on how to explore a little bit of Los Angeles in 24 hours.