When I think of Emirates destinations like Dubai, London and Sydney are the first to spring to mind. But with more than 3,000 flights out of Dubai every week the airline does of course go to quite a few other places around the world, including one city I keep going back to, Los Angeles.
You can check out Emirates’ deals to Los Angeles on their website and when the time comes for you to make your own journey to La La Land, there’s a lot to see and do.
I’ll confess my relationship with the city of angels didn’t start off all that well. At first I found her a bit of a strange city and truth be told, I wondered what all the fuss was all about. But then I went back to visit friends who live in LA and she started to work her charms.
Then I went back again and our relationship built. I’ve now lost track of just how many times I’ve landed in LAX and stepped out into the warm air after a long haul flight but I can tell you that now it’s with a big smile on my face. So here’s my guide to falling in love with Los Angeles…
Embrace the Hollywood History
This may be the most obvious one to start with, but for some odd reason it wasn’t until my fifth or sixth visit to Los Angeles that I actually made it to one of the studio tours. Which is silly. Because they’re a great thing to do.
One of the best is the Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour, which loads you into little carts and then zips around behind the scenes of some of the world’s most popular movies and television shows. It only takes up to a dozen people at a time, and there are lots of stops along the way, including sound stages, prop rooms and costume departments.
The tour goes for just over two hours and costs $52 per person, or you can go for the five-hour deluxe tour option, which costs $250pp.
Another option, which won’t cost you a cent, is to head to Hollywood Boulevard to see the celebrity handprints and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to find your favourite celebrity stars in the footpath.
And of course no first visit to Los Angeles is complete without trying to spot that famous sign.
The Hollywood sign celebrates its 90th birthday this year and while you can’t actually drive or walk up to the sign itself as it’s fenced off, you can head up Beachwood Canyon Drive to get close enough for it to feature in a happy snap or two.
Soak up the Museums
Los Angeles is home to more culture than you’ll find on a big or small screen.
The LACMA, or Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a must for art lovers, and is right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits where you can see fossils of saber toothed cats, mammoths and other creatures that have been found in the oily goop.
Whether you’re visiting for the art or the architecture, the Getty Centre is another great way to spend an afternoon.
And even if you don’t feel like going to hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic, make sure you pay a visit to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The stunning Frank Gehry creation really is a sight to behold and is nice and close to the Museum of Contemporary Art if you’re in the mood for a Rothko hit and seeing some other pieces that will stimulate the senses.
One of the best shopping scenes in a movie just has to be that Pretty Woman one. While I’ve not been shamed into leaving a store because I was wearing the wrong thing, nor have I been able to buy half a boutique with someone else’s credit card, I’ve definitely shared that Pretty Woman moment when you come back to your hotel room with arms full of bags after hitting the LA shops.
The Pretty Woman scene was of course set on Rodeo Drive, which if you’re on a budget is more a fun place to window shop and people watch than it is to whip out the plastic. But there are lots of other great places to get your retail fix.
Two of my favourites include Melrose Avenue where you can go from Alexander McQueen to a funky vintage store, and The Grove, which you will recognize from its appearance in a number of TV shows, and quite a few paparazzi pics. The Grove is also home to one of the shortest trolley rides in the world, a mini fountain that moves to the music, Vegas-style, and is right next door to the Farmer’s Market where you can fill up on all sorts of delicious foods.
Go silly in the Theme Parks
Just outside of Los Angeles you’ll find two of the world’s best-known theme parks – Disneyland and Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Tap into your childhood fantasies of visiting the happiest place on earth by heading down to Anaheim to Disneyland, or scare yourself witless with some of the fastest rides on the planet by travelling north to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Either way you’ll experience an adrenalin rush and a half.
Get to know WeHo
West Hollywood, or WeHo as it’s known, is a 1.9 square mile pocket of great entertainment, design, shopping and fab places to stay. WeHo is home to some of the best nightlife in Los Angeles, and also happens to be home to one of the biggest gay communities in the city. I don’t think I’ve visited LA without popping into The Abbey on Santa Monica Boulevard at least once.
The Sunset Strip is where you’ll find everything from the Comedy Store to the House of Blues and Saddle Ranch Chop House (that will be where Miranda rode the bull in Sex and the City). It’s home to the beautiful Mondrian Hotel and Sky Bar, and if you love Halloween, you have to do WeHo’s Costume Carnaval at least once in your life.
Explore LA’s Beach Communities
What better way to embrace California’s endless summer than by visiting some of LA’s beach neighbourhoods.
Head down to Venice Beach and after taking in the interesting sights and sounds on the beach strip (including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old gym, Muscle Beach) take the time to explore the canals. Yes, this Venice also has canals which were built over 100 years ago by Abbot Kinney.
Wander along Santa Monica Pier, cruise down to Malibu, or find your own favourite part of LA’s 72 miles of coastline. There’s quite a bit to choose from.
So those are some of the elements that won me over in Los Angeles. How about you? Do you already have a favourite LA tip that I missed, or are you still dreaming about your first city of angels experience?
This post was brought to you by Emirates. The opinions and thoughts in the blog remain my own.
If you love planes and luxury travel, you may also want to check out my piece about champagne and showers in the sky on Emirates A380s.