Not all roads lead to Hollywood. Escape the schmaltz, the sleaze and the smog, and you’ll discover the real Californian dream.
In LA there are two types of visitors: the ones who head straight for the malls and the movie tours, and the ones who run in the opposite direction. No one’s going to begrudge you a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, but once you’ve ticked off Tinseltown you’ll find there’s an achingly cool city to explore.
First-time visitors may be flummoxed by the city’s sprawl, but once you’ve got your bearings you’ll soon realise that it’s all about the neighbourhoods. Silverlake - a.k.a Hipster Central - is the place to go for food trucks and farmers’ markets, while verdant Los Feliz is great for coffee shops and stretching your legs in gorgeous Griffin Park.
In fact, for a city famed for its freeways, Los Angeles turns out to be quite the adventure playground. If you want to hike with the cool kids, head to Runyon Canyon Park, where the views are as stunning as the locals. Zuma is where the beautiful people go to catch some waves, away from the bulging deltoids of Muscle Beach. For a shadier option, try the botanic gardens of the Huntingdon Library, where the elegant vistas make it hard to remember that you’re still in brash old LA.
For a visceral reminder of how tough the City of Angels can be, go cheer on the LA Derby Dolls at one of their regular bouts. This is roller skating like you’ve never seen it before – with ripped fishnet tights and blocks so violent they’ll make you choke on your local craft beer.
But whether you’re baying on the Roller Derby team, dancing swing at one of the Rat Pack’s old haunts or spotting celebs on Robertson Avenue, one thing’s for certain: you’ll be buzzing with the energy of this crowded, sprawling, glorious city.