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Los Angeles
 
  To Airline   Fare  
  Los Angeles British Airways fr £239
  Los Angeles United Airlines fr £249
  Los Angeles Continental Airlines fr £289
  Los Angeles British Midland fr £249
 
Is LA a figment of its own imagination?

Starlit and moonstruck, LA beguiles scores of curious tourists, hopeful starlets and wannabe rock gods every day. But there's a lot more to it than the siren call of fame and fortune. It's a thriving, multilayered city filled with world-class everything: museums, music, food, architecture, gardens.

Although often gridlocked by traffic, LA moves to a rhythm all of its own. A vortex of creative energy spawns a never-ending stream of movies, inventions and trends. Hollywood and Disneyland are givens, but LA's hidden enclaves have a surprising subtlety and flavour which flout the stereotypes.

Weather

Los Angeles enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is protected from extremes of temperature and humidity by the mountain ranges to its north and east. August and September are the hottest months, January and February the coolest and wettest. Offshore breezes keep the beach communities cooler in summer and warmer in winter than those further inland, particularly the San Fernando Valley, which is the hottest area in summer and the coldest in winter. The average LA temperature is around 70°F (21°C), though smog-shrouded summer days can get well over 90°F (32°C), while winter temperatures around 55°F (12°C) are not uncommon.

The peak season in LA is July/August, when every day is sunny and hot; reservations and a fat wallet to match soaring prices are highly recommended. If you prefer smaller crowds and lower prices, the shoulder seasons (March to May and September to November) are a good bet, but remember that June often brings heavy coastal fog. Chances of rain are greatest in winter, but less smog and congestion make up for the occasional sprinkle. The city gets busy around major holidays, especially Thanksgiving.

A Top Day in Los Angeles

For an action-packed day in LA, I've got to rouse myself and get out of bed early. I start off stuffing myself silly with sugary pancakes at the Griddle Cafe in West Hollywood or I have a power breakfast at the classic Polo Lounge inside the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. Then I cruise east into the heart of Hollywood, paying my respects to the stars along the Walk of Fame and outside Mann's Chinese Theater. I stop and snap a photo of the famous Hollywood sign inside the Babylon Court at glitzy Hollywood & Highland mall, then grab a fresh lemonade and french fries at punk Skooby's hot-dog stand. The afternoon is for browsing the unique boutiques and vintage shops in bohemian Los Feliz, at Silver Lake's Sunset Junction or along famous Melrose Ave. Cruising back west down Sunset Blvd, I can't resist detouring to the hilltop Getty Center for an infusion of arts and culture in a postmodernist architectural setting.

Timing it just right, I arrive at Santa Monica Pier as the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean while I take a breezy walk along the beach or a solar-powered Ferris wheel ride. Then I grab dinner with friends on Santa Monica's eclectic Main St or at funky Venice Beach. After dark, we all line up for a comedy or live-music show on the Sunset Strip and afterwards groove at the Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor dance clubs till the wee hours of the morning. Finally, we finish up at the Standard hotel's late-night lounge or maybe 24-hour Canter's Delicatessen, open since the 1930s in Mid-City's Fairfax District.

 
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