In Los Angeles, you can surf in the morning and then head inland to Big Bear to go skiing in the afternoon. Here’s our guide to making the most of your trip to L.A.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Where else can you bring a picnic and a bottle of wine to watch a movie amidst the graves of the stars? Outdoor movie screenings are held every summer on Fairbanks Lawn inside this unique L.A. cemetery. Once you have set up your blankets or lawn chairs, you can listen to DJs both before and after the movie, or even take pictures at the themed photo booth present at every screening. If you haven’t got a picnic then the nearby Stella Barra Pizzeria’s to-go counter is a great dinner option.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Arguably one of the best lookout points in L.A., the Observatory itself also offers hosts of activities once inside. Not only does the Observatory provide free public telescope usage almost every clear-skied evening, it also holds public star parties once a month where visitors can look through a variety of telescopes with well-informed amateur astronomers. Leading from Griffith Park to the Observatory is a bevy of hikes, from the well-known Firebreak trail to the lesser-known Western Canyon loop. The Berendo Stairs, located at the intersection of Berendo Street and Cromwell Avenue, also offer an alternate route up to the Observatory (there are even benches at either end and the midway point of the 181 stairs).
Just north of Malibu, Zuma is one of the most easily accessible, least developed beaches in Southern California. With street parking readily available along the Pacific Coast Highway (check parking signs nonetheless), it’s a stone’s throw from your car to the water. Point Dume, Leo Carrillo, and Point Mugu are also must-sees if you have the time. Head back towards L.A. along the PCH and you will come across Nobu, featuring Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s first-rate sushi, or Moonshadows, with a wide variety of seafood options and an unparalleled ocean perch. For a more budget-friendly option, check out Lily’s for their breakfast burrito (to skip the line, call ahead, and don’t forget to ask for crispy bacon).
Located behind Brentwood in the hills of Rustic Canyon Park lies what is thought to have been a Nazi-sympathizer compound. Strewn with rusting steel structures and the now graffiti-covered remains of a diesel powerhouse, water tank, barn and bomb shelter, the eerily secluded canyon floor property can be accessed by a combination of trails and winding staircases. This unusual glimpse into L.A.’s hidden history is most easily accessed from Sullivan fire road at about the first mile mark, by a small break in the chain-link fence at the top of the first staircase. A 3.8-mile loop hike in all, you leave the property via the ranch’s original wrought iron gate at the 2.3-mile mark by heading back down the fire road.
First Fridays at Abbot Kinney
L.A.’s best food trucks gather here on the first Friday of every month. The trucks start serving food at around 6PM and stay until midnight or so. The earlier you get there, the better. At night it’s often fun to eat your fill and then go to one of the nearby bars, such as the Brig. If you’ve already tried Kogi’s famous short-rib tacos, stand in line again for one of their rich blackjack quesadillas. Maybe the Grilled Cheese truck will strike your fancy, or alternatively you can try the Lobsta truck. No matter your preferences, there will be a truck (or ten) to suit your mood. Businesses tend to stay open late on Abbot Kinney as well, with every shop offering up something different. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, head over to the Venice Canals, just over a half-mile away.
An L.A. fixture since the 1920s, the Bowl has hosted nearly every major artist to come through the City of Angels. Seating 18,000 people, the Bowl, the USA’s largest outdoor amphitheater, may be an obvious choice, but it is well worth a visit. The theater is the summer home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and tickets to Tuesday/Thursday classical shows start at around $1 for the back bench seats (at these shows you can usually move closer to the stage). Bring a picnic to eat before you watch or try the Bistro Burger and garlic fries from Patina. Be sure to check if the concert you are attending is a Bowl event or a “lease” event, because the rules vary between the two types of concerts with regard to what you are permitted to bring inside the theater.
Grand Central Market
What used to be a market where you could buy produce and tacos on the cheap is now Goldilocks’ foodie dream: not too refined, not too gritty, but just right. Packed with gourmet fusion stands squeezed between the produce stalls of yesteryear, Grand Central is the place to go for a veritable culinary adventure. From pupusas at Surita’s to Gai Yang at Sticky Rice, or an egg sandwich at Eggslut to brisket at Horse Thief BBQ, GCM runs the gamut of global cuisine. Occasionally, Grand Central Market pairs up with the Million Dollar Theater, the first movie palace created by Sid Grauman (after whom Grauman’s Chinese Theater was named), with select vendors staying open late before screening old movies at the theater.
Though Angelenos have grown used to Frank Gehry’s once-radical addition to the L.A. skyline, Disney Hall’s dazzling stainless steel facade never fails to impress. Home to the L.A. Philharmonic during its regular season, this 2,265-seat concert space offers student rush tickets to most of its concerts. It’s worth going just to see Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra’s charismatic conductor, who draws crowds from all walks of life from all over the world. If you feel like splurging on a delicious gourmet meal before a concert, dine at Patina, located downstairs inside the hall (be sure to make a reservation before you go). Other excellent, budget-friendly dining options close by are Guisado’s (try the 6-taco sampler and the horchata), Würstkuche (which serves exotic sausages like rattlesnake or duck and bacon, Belgian fries with dipping sauces like chipotle aioli and curry ketchup, and a wide selection of Belgian beers), or Roy Choi’s Chego (order the Beefy T bowl or the Pork Belly bowl, and the Ooey Gooey fries).
First Fridays at the Natural History Museum
Head over to the Natural History Museum for a night of discussions (the theme for 2015 is “do-it-yourself-science”), live music, and DJs including KCRW DJ Raul Campos. The museum stays open late and offers guided after-hours tours to guests. Purchase tickets ahead of time, as access to the concert in the 500-seat North American Mammal Hall is based on a first-come, first-served policy.
Norton Simon Museum
A hidden treasure of Pasadena, the Norton Simon houses everything from Rubens to Van Gogh to Diego Rivera to Klee, as well as an extensive collection of art from South and Southeast Asia. Like a smaller-scale French museum, it is open every day of the week but Tuesday. The museum, also home to a serene sculpture garden, offers free admission to students with valid I.D. Down the street is the famous Gamble House, a traditional Arts and Crafts National Historic Landmark. In the opposite direction is the Tournament of Roses house, Wrigley Mansion, home of the Rose Parade. For a superbly “Pasadena” meal, look no further than the Little Flower Candy Company, which, though famous for its sea salt caramels, serves topnotch breakfast and lunch food, and delicious mocha or chai tea lattes. Head east on Colorado Blvd. and you will find Old Town Pasadena, at the tail end of which is Euro Pane bakery, another spot with reliably tasty fare. For a typical “L.A.” meal, continue down Colorado Blvd. to Urth Cafe.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.