The sprawling metropolitan city of Los Angeles is completely unique, its relaxed West Coast lifestyle offering so much diversity and so many things to do. To make the most of your time in LA, we always bunch our itinerary into neighbourhoods, so we’ve broken our city guide down too. Read on for our favourite Arts District hotspots, stores and eateries, and check out Downtown, West Hollywood, Arts District and Venice in the rest of the guide.
Bergamot Station Arts Centre (above)
Housed in an old railroad station, the Bergamot Station Arts Centre opened its own doors in 1994. The campus-like complex is home to 35 galleries – including the Santa Monica Museum of Art (pictured) – meaning visitors can find everything from traditional or modern art, to photography and sculpture. Scheduled to open in 2015, a stop on the new Expo Line light rail between Los Angeles and Santa Monica will serve the centre too.
2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404
An absolute must for anyone with even a passing interest in architecture or design, the Eames House is a National Historic Landmark of mid-20th century architecture. Constructed in 1949 by husband-and-wife design pioneers, Charles and Ray Eames, the building served as their real-life home and studio. Your visit includes a tour of the building’s exterior – the interior is off-limits though doors are left open and curtains pulled so you can peer in – and wider plot by the on-hand Eames Foundation experts. Though it’s a good couple of miles, the walk from Santa Monica through the Palisades is well worth it for the stunning palm tree-lined residential streets. The stepped path down to Adelaide Drive will also make you laugh for the endless stream of local fitness junkies. Be sure to make a reservation at least 48 hours before your visit as visitor numbers are restricted within hourly slots.
203 Chautauqua Boulevard, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Home to a number of rolling featured exhibitions as well as more than 120,000 objects in the gallery’s private collection – highlights include Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’, Henri Matisse’s ‘La Gerbe’ and David Hockney’s ‘Mulholland Drive’ – the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum on the West Coast. For the more popular exhibitions, book in advance to avoid disappointment on the day.
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Frank Gehry’s striking Walt Disney Concert Hall draws comparisons to the Sydney Opera House and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic – for whom John Adams acts as Creative Chair – as well as visiting artists and orchestras from around the world. If you are unable to get tickets to a performance, the impressive complex is well worth the visit alone, just to take in Gehry’s remarkable stainless steel structure.
111 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Film studio tours
Giving guests a behind-the-scenes tour of a working studio lot, the Paramount, Warner Bros. (pictured) and Sony studio tours might be a big tourist cliché but they’re still a thrilling couple of hours for any film or TV fan. Exploring day-to-day working sets, you’ll see filming from afar and even spot a few stars on the lot. Deciding which tour to take might depend on your own personal preference or where you’re staying in LA, but taking just the one is probably enough as they all cover much of the same ground. To get a taster, the Sony tour includes the ‘Breaking Bad’ RV and ‘Ghostbusters’ car, sit on the the ‘Forest Gump’ bench and explore faux “New York” streets are on the Paramount lot, and the Warner Bros. tour now includes a Batman exhibit and the original Central Perk ‘Friends’ set.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour, 3400 W Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA. 91505
Paramount Pictures Studio Tour, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Sony Pictures Studio Tour, 10202 W Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
N.B. The Studio Tour at Universal Studios theme park isn’t a studio tour per-se, more a theme park ride, though if you are visiting the park it is included in the admission ticket and so makes for a good supplementary experience.
Sitting high up the Santa Monica Mountains with breathtaking views out over Downtown LA, the Getty Centre is one of the most iconic attractions in Los Angeles. Home to the J. Paul Getty Museum and Robert Irwin’s Central Garden and sculpture park, the Centre exhibits some spectacular pieces of art including ‘Irises’ by Vincent van Gogh, ‘The Portal of Rouen Cathedral in Morning Light’ by Claude Monet and ‘Christ’s Entry into Brussels’ by James Ensor.
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Monday night music residencies
Monday is free residency night in LA, with the Satellite, the Echo and other venues in and around Silverlake inviting bands to takeover their Monday line-ups for a month. With a different support band each week and no cover charge, it’s a great chance to experience the local music scene.
Check out the weekly line-ups on: www.buzzbands.la