Sunset. Manhattan Beach, CAWhen people think of Los Angeles, they often think of all things "Hollywood"-movie stars, expensive cars, and shopping on "Rodeo Drive, baby." But that's just one side of the city. I've been exploring the sunny So-Cal beaches and burger joints since arriving as an East Coast transplant nine years ago. And I'm still discovering new gems. To help Prince William and his new bride Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, fully absorb La-La Land in just three-days, I decided to take on the role of their virtual tour guide.
Biking on Venice Beach
Venice beach has long been known as one of the most eclectic and colorful areas of Southern California. Rent a bike and drive along the boardwalk, the canals, and the pedestrian promenade that features an array of street performers, artists, and shops. On Friday mornings, Venice hosts one of the best Farmer's Markets in the city offering locally grown produce, handmade art, and fresh flowers and plants.
Southern California is home to tons of fantastic hiking trails. Among my favorites are The Hollywood Sign Hike at Mount Lee in Griffith Park which ends at the historic Hollywood sign and Runyon Canyon Park. Personally, I love packing a picnic to enjoy at the top of the hike while taking in the craziness of the city below the calm trail.
Swimming or surfing at the beaches
People from all over the world come to California to experience the coastal beach culture. You should too. The beaches in Malibu are some of the nicest and least crowded on the coast. My favorites are Zuma Beach or Paradise Cove where it is not uncommon to see dolphins in the surf. Surfrider beach is home to L.A.'s best waves.
Get a dose of culture while marveling at Western art that spans the Middle Ages to the present at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The collections include paintings by such artists as Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rubens, and Van Gogh. Make sure to check out one my favorites: "Waiting" by Degas. Set atop a hill, the museum is also well-known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant gardens, and stunning views overlooking Los Angeles. Truly a treat in my book.
Downtown Los Angeles Walking ToursDowntown Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Conservancy's Walking Tour Program explores the heart of historic downtown Los Angeles through fuel-efficient walking tours. The highly-knowledgeable docents focus on the unique architecture and allow you to take in the city's top sights, including funky old theaters and Art Deco buildings, popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
Food/ Drink finds:
With the help of Yahoo's food editor, Sarah Fuss: "The best burger in L.A. since the Apple Pan is found at Father's Office. If you want to count on a seat you'll have to hit up their Culver City location, which has a great outdoor section. One of my favorite bars is Bar Marmont, owned by the Chateau Marmont, a casual, relaxed place despite its location on the Sunset Strip. For a nice meal, try Pizzeria Mozza. I recommend the tricolore salad, as well as the fennel sausage and scallion pizza, in particular."
California visitors: What's your perfect west coast weekend?