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Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles may be known for its beach living and celebrity-infused backdrop, but it was once a farm town. The hillsides were covered in citrus orchards and dairy farms, and agriculture was a major industry. These days, although L.A. is urbanized, the city's culinary landscape has re-embraced a local, sustainable, and seasonal philosophy at many levels—from fine dining to street snacks. With a growing interest in farm-to-fork, the city's farmers' market scene has exploded, becoming popular at big-name restaurants and small eateries alike. In Hollywood and Santa Monica you can often find high-profile chefs scouring farm stands for fresh produce. Yet the status of the celebrity chef continues to carry weight around this town. People follow the culinary zeitgeist with the same fervor as celebrity gossip. You can queue up with the hungry hordes at Mozza or try and snag a reservation to the ever-popular Trois Mec that’s much like getting a golden ticket these days. Elsewhere, the seasonally driven bakery and insanely popular Huckleberry in Santa Monica has been given a Brentwood counterpart with the rustically sweet Milo & Olive created by the same owners. In Culver City, a run-down International House of Pancakes has been turned into a ski chalet-inspired A-Frame Tavern. And in Downtown Los Angeles, the stylish Ace Hotel has opened LA Chapter and created a haven for local designers and artists to bring their laptops and get inspired by food and design. Ethnic eats continue to be a backbone to the L.A. dining scene. People head to the San Gabriel Valley for dim sum, ramen, and unassuming taco lounges, Koreatown for epic Korean cooking and late night coffeehouses and West L.A. and "the Valley" for phenomenal sushi. Latin food is well represented in the city, making it tough to choose between Guatemalan eateries, Peruvian restaurants, nouveau Mexican bistros, and Tijuana-style taco trucks. With so many dining options, sometimes the best strategy is simply to drive and explore. Just don't mind the traffic.

Hotels

When it comes to finding a place to stay, travelers have never been more spoiled for choice in today’s Los Angeles. From luxurious digs in Beverly Hills and along the coast, to budget boutiques in Hollywood, hotels are stepping up service, upgrading amenities, and throwing in perks like free Wi-Fi, in-room espresso makers, and spa-quality bath products.

The ambitious revitalization of the city’s Downtown has upped the game for hoteliers in one of L.A.’s most walkable neighborhoods. Around the L.A. Live complex, there’s a 54- floor-tower that holds both a Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott, together offering a set of grand hotel restaurants and services close to the convention center. Other new Downtown hotels, the Line and Ace Hotels have been erected near California Plaza and in Koreatown to cater to the hipsters who flock to this area to drink and eat on weekends.

Over in Hollywood, it seems every hotel has been getting some work done: most notably Loews Hollywood, Farmer’s Daughter, and the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which all had massive renovations.

This edition brings a dozen new listings, including some under-the-radar L.A. favorites like Culver Hotel, Sirtaj Beverly Hills, Moment Hotel, W Westwood, and Garden Cottage Bed and Breakfast—all of which offer a reasonably priced L.A. experience. On the design side the Palihouse empire has constructed three new properties in town to help anchor West Hollywood, Hollywood, and Santa Monica in cool.

Those emblematic luxury resorts popular with celebrities are not to be overlooked either, and this edition does not scrimp on ways to get your bling on. Seems almost every major upscale hotel has a new look, with Peninsula Beverly Hills, Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica, Sunset Marquis, and Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows leading the pack. For beachfront escapes, Terranea and Shutters still remain at the top of Angelenos’ lists as a choice getaway for staycations.

Nightlife

Lines down the block, strict dress codes, impossible traffic, endless parking tickets.... The list of complaints people have about Los Angeles nightlife is not short. The fact that they fan out across the city in search of the latest hot spot is a testament to the excitement that's available in Los Angeles.

The reward for being determined, however, can be a night that can simultaneously surprise and impress. That unscheduled set by an A-list comedian at the standup comedy club, being talked into singing karaoke at the diviest place you've ever seen, dancing at a bar with no dance floor because, well, the DJ is just too good at his job—going out isn't always what you expect, but it certainly is never boring.

The focus of nightlife once centered on the Sunset Strip, with its multitude of bars, rock clubs, and dance spots, but more neighborhoods are competing with each other and forcing the nightlife scene to evolve. Although the Strip can be a worthwhile trip, other areas of the city are catching people’s attention. Downtown Los Angeles, for instance, is becoming a destination in its own right, drawing cocktail connoisseurs at Seven Grand and rooftop revelers at the Standard.

Other areas are fostering more of a neighborhood vibe. Silver Lake and Los Feliz have both cultivated a fun environment where you can be drinking in a tiki bar so small you wind up talking with the person at the next stool over (Tiki-Ti) or bringing in a 45 to play on an old-fashioned record player (El Prado).

The point is this: If you find yourself disappointed with a rude bouncer, or drinks that are too watery, or a cover charge that just isn't worth it, try again. Eventually you'll find that perfect place where each time is the best time. That, or at least you'll have a very good story to tell.

Shopping

Los Angeles is known as the City of Angels, and it really is heaven for shopping. The scene is incredibly varied: up-and-coming local designers, the highest of high-end boutiques, and plenty of flea markets combine to cement the city’s relaxed yet stylish reputation. Thanks to the notorious L.A. sprawl, far-flung neighborhoods offer different duds for different tastes. Residents generally split the city in two—by Eastside (the Hollywood side) and Westside (the beach side)—but many enclaves between are peppered with shops you won't want to miss.

The sun-and-sand beach culture and Hollywood stars provide big influences on the shopping scene. Stylists are always on the lookout for the newest trends and looks for the pretty young things they dress, and emerging designers take inspiration from what's being worn on the street.

Paparazzi are right there to capture the looks of the stylish starlets the second they're worn, whether they're parading on a red carpet or seen emerging from a hot spot. Together the style makers set the cutting-edge pace—what you see here on the racks will be big back home but maybe not for another six months.

"Sunny and 70" is the weather forecast for a good part of the year, and the climate means that most shopping centers are open-air, to allow you to park your car and walk from shop to shop. This foot traffic also means that good eateries open near good shops, and you can always find somewhere delicious to dine and covertly star-watch.

Those new to Los Angeles usually start at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, not far from Hollywood. This tourist hot spot is a destination for window-shopping along the cluster of blocks and can provide a few hours of entertainment—or, if you're looking for a designer logo bag or red-carpet wear, get ready to do some serious spending.

Then you can hop in your car and absorb the city’s artsier side, exploring eclectic boutiques and scouring for deals in the numerous neighborhoods: finding down-and-dirty bargains in Downtown, hitting funky West Hollywood, kicking back with the laid-back beach vibe of Santa Monica and Venice, or going edgy in Silver Lake, Echo Park, or Los Feliz. Let the games begin.

Arts/Entertainment

To think of Los Angeles as simply a place where movies and television shows are made is to ignore a city that is teeming with culture beyond the cinema. With the arts, Los Angeles is both a place of innovation and history: venturing forward with new works in dance and theater—REDCAT Theater in Downtown Los Angeles is a prime example of a space working toward pushing the boundaries of art, media, and performance—but still holding a healthy respect for tradition with its restored theaters and classic plays.

This diverse city attracts a heavily artistic bunch and that’s evident from the wide range of theaters, plays, and events available to the public. There’s a play for any group or budget; East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theatre focuses on Asian-American themed plays, for instance. If an opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion seems out of your budget, the Actors’ Gang in Culver City offers a free Shakespeare play (with a twist on the classic story) in Media Park in summer.

And, speaking of summer: the gorgeous weather offers an extended season of outdoor shows and that’s where Los Angeles can truly shine. Whether it’s enjoying a classic summer picnic listening to the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl or watching a play outdoors with your family at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, it’s a glorious way to celebrate the warmth and beauty Southern California has to offer.

Last but not least, let’s not forget our moneymaker: movies. Although we’re known for our blockbusters—those blow-’em-up, shoot-’em-down $500 million action films—in town there’s still a love for the classic film that turns up where you least expect it. Cinefamily at the Silent Film Theatre is one of the few places that still plays silent films, but they’ve also gone beyond that with its unabashed love for all things movies: campy films, indie films, even podcasts about film all happen here. American Cinemathèque operates out of the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, as well as the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, with its old-school Egyptian-themed courtyard, and gets away with showing Hitchcock one night and a triple-feature of Back to the Future the next.

Los Angeles offers more than one might expect, and that’s okay: it’s one city that’s always looking to prove the naysayers wrong.



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Los Angeles, California

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