Along for the ride
The theme-park capital of California boasts four major parks, including Disneyland. If you are a roller-coaster fanatic like I am, Six Flags has 19 of them. Built in the 1920s, Knott’s Berry Farm has 40 rides.
In April, Universal Studios Hollywood opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I highly recommend visiting even if you’re not a fan of the fantasy series. The Butterbeer sold from big red carts in Hogsmeade is a must-try. It’s a yummy combination of frozen cream soda topped with butterscotch foam.
For fashion shoppers, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is a must-see, with roughly 3km of high-end luxury boutiques such as Bottega Veneta, Bulgari, Fendi and many more. It is not uncommon for people to spend more than US$10,000 on a single day’s shopping spree here.
For something more affordable, many outlet malls have the same retailers you would find at regular shopping centres. Goods at Citadel Outlets and Camarillo Premium Outlets are sold at great discounts – sometimes 30 per cent or more. Another beautiful shopping area is The Grove (below). After nightfall, the area is lit up. The lights are especially spectacular around the holiday season when the whole place is decorated for Christmas and New Year, and make a pleasant outdoor shopping experience.
Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most famous comedy clubs. One of my favourites is Laugh Factory (below) in west Hollywood, which was the training ground for comedians such as Tim Allen, Chris Rock and Jim Carrey. The branch in nearby Long Beach is usually less crowded.
Another great club is The Comedy & Magic Club in the city of Hermosa Beach. Jay Leno has been a regular performer here since his retirement from The Tonight Show.
Pier to pier
The city is home to several beautiful piers. My favourite place to visit is Redondo Beach Pier (below) in South Bay, about a 40-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles. There’s shopping, dining and even a great old arcade, Redondo Fun Factory, which was featured in episodes of the TV series Dexter.
After sunset, when the pier is less busy, it’s a wonderful place to relax and watch the surf. In the distance, you can hear the faint chime of bell buoys ringing at sea. On most evenings, when the spotlights are switched on after nightfall, sea lions are visible under the pier, where they hunt for fish.
Santa Monica Pier is much larger and busier, and has its own mini theme park.
The quick and the fed
Los Angeles is home to some iconic fast-food outlets. In-N-Out, scattered all around the city, is widely hailed as one of southern California’s best burger joints, despite being a fast-food restaurant. There are also a few secret menu items, including a grilled cheese sandwich.
Another iconic venue is Pink’s. It started in 1939 as a hot-dog stand on a street corner at La Brea and Melrose, and has now expanded to more than 10 outlets.
If you prefer to dine at a restaurant, I highly recommend El Torito, which serves some of the best Mexican food I have tasted.
The unique geography of Los Angeles provides many awesome natural outlooks. My favourite view is from Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve, which overlooks Bluff Cove. You can see part of distant Catalina Island from here.
A more well-known spot north of Hollywood is Griffith Observatory, which provides a better view of the Hollywood sign.
View other useful insider’s guides.
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.