Once inhabited by the Tongva people and the Chumash tribes, the Spanish settlers who travelled to California in 1700s named Los Angeles after ‘The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels’. Spending a brief period as part of Mexico from 1821, the city became part of the United States in 1848 and rapid growth ensued following the discovery of oil in the 1890s.
Fast forward to today and Los Angeles has transformed into a sprawling metropolis and is the largest, most populated city in California. With all the glitz and glam you would expect from the City of Angels, look beneath the surface and you will find a whole different world waiting to be discovered. Must-see iconic neighbourhoods include West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice Beach – where people watching, shopping and soaking up the year-round sunshine are popular pastimes. For those wanting busy days full of adventure, you can pay a visit to the famous Disneyland in Anaheim, explore the heart of the movie industry and take a tour of the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank or head to the fantastic Universal Studios.
A lesser-known gem is Manhattan Beach, which has a far more laid-back vibe. Here you can find smooth golden sand, an aquarium on the pier and a 22-mile scenic walkway called the Strand (although watch out for cyclists at the busy weekends). Foodies can head to the hipster area of Silver Lake and for world-class museums, check out the Getty Centre, a dramatic array of buildings in the hills above West Los Angeles with art galleries, kids activities, picnic areas and even music concerts. A shuttle bus is provided to visit the higher elevations of Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States. Here you can visit the great observatory, open in the evening for amazing views of the city and the iconic Hollywood sign.
Of course, no visit to Los Angeles is complete without a walk along the famous Hollywood Boulevard, sneaking a peak at the enormous houses of Beverly Hills or experiencing your very own ‘Pretty Woman’ moment on Rodeo Drive!