Nonstop Adventure: Los Angeles


By B.C. Rausch


Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Duration: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Airline: Breeze

It’s impossible to really explore Los Angeles in a week, let alone during a long weekend. Similar to many large cities, LA is an interwoven fabric of neighborhoods, each with its own character, flavors, sights and sounds. They’re all sure to give you much to do and many great memories.

We’ll concentrate on the Los Feliz area, one of the most sought-after parts of Los Angeles, thanks to stunning views, beautiful homes and relative affordability. With Hollywood to the west, Silver Lake to the south, and Atwater village to the east, this area is home to some of the most outstanding architecture in Los Angeles County and also is the birthplace of film and TV studios.

Start by renting a car, as driving is the best way to get around LA, even though it means spending time on freeways and highways, local streets and by-ways — from the famed Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Rodeo Drive.

From LAX head north on the 405 (driving is a numbers game). To keep it simple, stay in this quadrant along the 405 corridor: north of Interstate 10, west of Interstate 5 and south of “the 101” that cuts across the Valley. Look at a map, and you’ll quickly understand.

Scattered across the hills are architectural gems evoking the “Old Hollywood” built by architects such as Leland Bryant, Frank Lloyd Wright and Paul Williams. Wright’s Hollyhock House on Olive Hill is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s not open to the public but worth a drive-by look. Check online for architecture tours of many houses in this area.

The Griffith Observatory is a must-see for the science exhibits inside and the amazing views of the City of Angels out to the Pacific Ocean. Hike up to Mt. Hollywood for even higher views. Gawk at the Hollywood sign along the hilly trails, but beware of poor signage and homeless people living in the park.

Note: There are numerous Hollywood sign walking tours. Read the reviews before booking.

After the hike, grab a bite at Yuca’s Hut or the trendy Little Dom’s, both on nearby Hillhurst Avenue. If the waits are too long, try Trails Cafe in Griffith Park.

You’re not far from the Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl, both iconic outdoor venues. Check their calendars well in advance, as a live performance at either is a real treat.

Dinner options nearby include Cafe Stella in Silver Lake or the classic Musso & Frank Grill (where you’ll likely see a famous face or two). End the day with a toast at Gelson’s Wine and Craft Beer Bar at 2725 Hyperion Ave. in what used to be the Walt Disney Studios. While a bar at a grocery store might not sound like fun, it’s a go-to hot spot for this star-studded neighborhood.

You need days, if not months, to really get to know LA, but here are a few highlights:

AT THE BEACH: Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica. Eat at Back on Beach Café, tour the Marion Davies Guest House and swim in the pool, both designed by Julia Morgan. Or take a dip in the ocean.

DOWNTOWN: Each Saturday the LA Conservancy offers walking tours of Union Station, an architectural masterpiece with an incredible history. Opened in 1939, this beloved Art-Deco/Spanish Colonial Revival-style landmark was the last great railway station built in America. It’s loaded with railroad, Los Angeles and Tinsel Town history. Walt Disney Concert Hall, also downtown, is home to the LA Philharmonic. The Frank Gehry-designed masterpiece is noted to have among the finest acoustics in the world.

HOLLYWOOD: Movie fans shouldn’t miss the TCL Chinese Theatre — better known as Grauman’s Chinese — and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Not far away is Compartès, which has been at the forefront of the chocolate world for decades. Its 6,000-square-foot La Brea flagship store (not far from Hollywood) includes public tours, tastings and a magical environment combining whimsy, antiques and deliciousness.

In the words of Humphrey Bogart, “It’s the stuff dreams are made of.” LL

Even though we live in paradise, the occasional out-of-town excursion is a treat. From Hilton Head and Savannah, we’re fortunate to have nonstop flight options that afford exploration of many popular North American destinations rich in abundant sights, sounds and flavors. LOCAL Life brings these nonstop cities to you through the eyes and recommendations of local foodies, shopaholics, sports fans and cultural aficionados who will ensure that your next out-of-town adventure is just that — nonstop.

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