Drinking In LA

20/07/2017 12:16

Los Angeles can be an intimidating beast to tackle when you first visit, but its gems can be easily uncovered if you know where to look.

The regeneration of Downtown has brought a surge of new energy and blood to LA's centre, and tourists are rightly making time to explore it. If you don't have a car, it's still accessible by Metro, bus or Uber. Head to Pershing Square and walk from there.

A concentration of some of the finest Art Deco buildings in America can be found here, invoking the spirit of Old Hollywood and the Jazz Age. Some lie in disrepair, some renovated, and it's now possible to take a walking tour of them with the LA Conservancy.

Downtown is a very different scene from Hollywood and the beaches. The Ace Hotel, housed in the 1927 United Artists Building, is well worth a visit, if only to catch sunset from its rooftop bar. So is the LA Public Library and the stunning Biltmore, where the Academy Awards used to be held. Try and sneak a peek into the stunning ballroom.

Alongside Art Deco are some more modern, avant-garde creations. The futuristic-looking Broad museum showcases contemporary art from famous names such as Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman, and, unlike many galleries in America, is free (though go early to avoid queuing).

Next to that is the silver wave-form, Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall - home to the LA Philharmonic. And across the road from that, the MACMA. All very accessible from Grand Central Market, open since 1917 and serving everything from vegan ramen to craft ales. It also contains one of my favourite coffee shops in the city - G&B. The market's open until 10pm, so you can easily tag it on to your day.

LA's Fashion District is around the corner from the Ace hotel, and a visit to FIDM museum is a great way to get up close to some of the incredible costumes worn movies including La La Land, Captain Fantastic, Batman and Zoolander.

Fans of good food and cocktails should book tables at Cecconi's in West Hollywood, Gjelina's on Abbot Kinney, SmokeHouse near Warner Bros Studios, and the Chateau Marmont - all of which are must-visits. I also rate Farmshop in Santa Monica for Sunday brunch.

Old Hollywood glamour abounds in LA's famous hotels. One of my favourites is the Hollywood Roosevelt, which saw the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe grace its doors. But also the Bel-Air, whose hillside setting makes for a great base, almost like a retreat.

And as LA's traffic is famously terrible, a great way of seeing everything is to book a helicopter tour. There are a few operators, but I went with Group 3 Aviation, based out of Van Nues airport. They'll take you on an unforgettable ride, flying over Topanga Canyon, along Santa Monica and Venice, then over Downtown, the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, which look even more impressive from the sky. It's a truly memorable experience.

To visit the Observatory on foot, I recommend using the Dash bus (which costs 50 cents) or hiking up from the Greek Theatre. You can also take a guided tour from Bikes & Hikes, who will tell you all about the history of the park and Griffith J. Griffith, after whom the park is named. And if you go late afternoon, you can then catch sunset from one of the Observatory's balconies - a classic end to a day in LA.

For more LA tips, visit www.DiscoverLosAngeles.com. Or visit Katie's blog, FoodieWeekender.

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