LA skyline and Griffith observatory
Griffith Observatory
Los Angeles

From the hills of Hollywood to the sun-drenched streets of Santa Monica, and the sprawl of suburbs in between, Los Angeles is America’s beauty queen. But with a sophisticated food scene, breathtaking hikes, superior shopping and an array of interesting and amusing attractions, discover beneath the shiny surface of this city with our LA travel guide.

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Places to stay

When it comes to picking a place to stay in L.A., there are so many stars to choose from. With each neighbourhood bringing its own celebrity status to the mix, why not tackle the sheer size of L.A. by splitting your trip between a couple of different spots? To be in the heart of Tinseltown, head to the icons that line Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevard. Hotels like the Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Tower Hotel are famed institutions and still favourites on the celebrity scene.

Looking to shop your heart out? The ritzy hotels along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills will make it easy for you to drop your bags off in between hauls. If you prefer one-off finds to high-end designers, base yourself in Silverlake which is an eclectic, non-touristy district known for its offbeat stores and cool Airbnbs.

To be amongst all the buzz and boutique hotels, Downtown L.A. is an exceptionally cool neighbourhood that’s borrowed the best bits from both of the areas it borders - the Arts District and Chinatown. After somewhere with high energy that comes with a stunning beachside backdrop? Venice, Santa Monica or Malibu have a great mixture of ocean views, lively nightlife and laid back or luxurious places to stay.

Things to do

Jampack your days in L.A. with as much shopping, site seeing and roller coaster rides as you can handle or take it slow at the many art galleries, wellness centres and natural escapes. Just hire a car or order an Uber and get on your way to enjoying a blissfully sunny day out.

Disneyland is a classic L.A. experience but if you prefer classical music to children’s pay a visit to the majestic Walt Disney Concert Hall. There is also plenty of magic to be made at Universal Studios Hollywood where tours of movie backlots are combined with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other movie-themed rides and attractions. Theme parks not your family’s idea of fun? Visit the La Brea Tar Pits &Museum where you can watch the bubbling tar pits and see fossils of the animals preserved in them.

Surrounded by a diverse array of natural wonders and wilderness, L.A. is also a wealth of outdoor activities. Take the easy hike up to The Kenneth Hahn Park in the middle of West L.A. or challenge yourself at Runyon Canyon where you’re sure to see the Hollywood sign and maybe some celebs. After enduring the city’s traffic, treat yourself to some self-care by heading to The NOW for a massage, Erewhon Health Food Market for a restorative treat or recenter yourself with a class at Love Yoga.

Sunsets are also a spectator sport in L.A. and should be spent either up high overlooking the whole city at Griffith Observatory or at sea level by the Venice Beach Skate Bowl. L.A. is full of iconic buildings, shopping, restaurants, nightlife and wellness hubs, waiting for you to explore.

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See hot dining spots in LA Plate of tacos and a soda

Food and drink

Markets come in two famous forms in L.A. - farmers or flea. On Sundays hunt through the treasure trove of vintage that is The Rose Bowl Flea markets or visit The Original Farmers Market for organic produce, small batch hot dogs and delicious tacos to fill up on before hitting The Grove shopping centre. Worked up an appetite? Take your pick from the legendary Chopped Salad at La Scala, the Prime Rib from Lawry’s or the tastiest tacos you can track down at food trucks like Guerilla Tacos.

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Discover more about Palm Springs Palm Spring mansion against the dessert

Palm Springs

In just over two hours, you can drive out into the desert to find the peculiar rock formations and crazy cacti of the Joshua Tree National Park. The desert is also filled with playgrounds for the young and old alike, just take your pick of which oasis suits you. Feel glamorous amongst the retro architecture, pool clubs and diners of Palm Springs, pack your cowboy boots to reenact your favourite spaghetti westerns in Pioneertown or get your glitter on at the Coachella Music Festival in April.

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Car hire information Ladies riding a bike in LA

Getting around

From the airport: Uber and popular ride share services are available on the upper departures level at the designated ride service pick up. Regular taxies operate from each terminal, as well as shared shuttle vans that can be organised to all Southern California counties.

In and around the city: most people hire a car to explore LA’s vast urban metropolis, but if you don't want to drive yourself around you can organise transfers or a tour. There's also the Metro Rail, Metro bus lines and DASH, which provide inexpensive and convenient transport across LA. If you're staying at one of LA’s world-famous beaches you could even hire a bike.

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Important information

Disclaimer: ^ You must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program to earn and redeem Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions.

Disclaimer: ** Prices are per room, per night and vary depending on date of check in, length of stay and room type. Conditions apply.

Disclaimer: ~ Qantas activities are provided by Viator. Conditions apply.