Morning: Not too long ago I spent a few years living in Los Angeles. In my spare time there I’d attempted to surf in Laguna Niguel, rubbed shoulders with celebrities and found incredible deals on car repairs in fairly shady parts of Inglewood, all of which were surprisingly less intimidating than they sound. I felt like I’d seen it all. However, Los Angeles is an ever changing city and anything deemed cool one minute could be so far out the next. Having left in 2006 it seemed about time to head back and explore again. In this 24-hour nostalgic return I would start with the surf and refrain from spending any time in less than savoury locales. I head to Manhattan Beach early in the AM and grab breakfast at The Local Yolk, a favourite of locals for decades. This breakfast spot boasts a ton of character, a laid back California vibe and a great simple menu; try the Huevos Rancheros. Just a few blocks away is El Porto Surfboards surf shop. Call ahead to reserve a board and an instructor and head down to the beach for some tasty waves. This is an area known for sandy bottoms and good waves; it is ideal for all skill levels.
Not into Surfing? Take advantage of the mild morning weather and either people watch on the beachfront or head to the canyons and hike Runyon for an incredible panoramic view and photo-op.
Afternoon: I absolutely recommend you spend the afternoon shopping your way through West Hollywood. It was not that long ago that Melrose Ave. lost its cachet to uber-trendy paparazzi-swarmed Robertson Blvd. and super hipster Venice locale Abbot Kinney Blvd (both awesome and worth a trip), but in recent months Melrose is returning to the spotlight. Most notable in this triumphant return is the much-hyped opening of the Isabel Marant boutique on Melrose place. Located just blocks from “it” designer emporium Fred Segal, this area is glittered with fabulous shops and is a MUST for both men and women shopping in the city. Now, after a few hours of serious bank account damage, I realize that this day would be incomplete without an afternoon bite at my favourite spot, The Chateau Marmont garden terrace. Often seen on the celebrity blogs as the place to be for nighttime action, The Chateau Marmont is actually the ideal location for lunch (the chopped salad is delish); the vibe transports you to a different era and you can easily forget that you are just a few metres off of Sunset Drive.
Not into shopping? Los Angeles has a divine art culture. Spend the afternoon cruising the many small galleries featuring local artists that dot Gallery Row and, while you’re in the area, stop into The Varnish, a cosy speakeasy hidden in the back of Coles restaurant, for a handcrafted cocktail.
Night: My ideal dinner in LA involves a drive thru and an “animal style” order, but there are thousands of other places to dine in the city if the In-n-Out burger joint doesn’t suit your needs. Three restaurants that are well-known and timeless palate pleasers are Mr. Chows, Madeo, and Dan Tanas. They have been LA staples for decades and seldom disappoint with quality cuisine and even better people watching. While good food rarely goes out of style, most of LA’s nightlife venues are passing trends – they come on the radar hot and fizzle out fast. If after dinner you desire to hit the scene, two “of the moment” spots to see and be seen are Vignette, a hot lounge located on Santa Monica blvd., and Greystone Manor, a lavish new SBE entertainment nightclub with what SBE refers to as a pop aristocratic vibe. Dress to impress and keep in mind that many LA hotspots don’t have signage, so look out for the velvet ropes and understand that you may have to grease a few palms to skip the lines. Although, if you’re like me and are less into Hollywood stars and more into real stars, skip the clubs and head up to the recently renovated and reopened Griffith observatory. Little known to tourists are the free nightly star parties hosted on the grounds of this iconic landmark. Pop a coin into one of the many telescopes on the property and gaze over the wall at the sprawling city you just conquered in 24 hours.
Looking for a small but happening bar to end the night? The Dime is right up your alley, have a tequila shot for me.
Where to stay: The funky Redbury Boutique hotel, the luxurious Mondrian or the classic Roosevelt hotel put you up right in the heart of glamorous Hollywood. If staying by the beach is your cup of tea, Manhattan Beach offers the retro Belamar and Santa Monica the elegant Viceroy.
How to get there: Direct flights leaving most major Canadian hubs on Air Canada daily. Be forewarned that the $1.5 billion LAX Tom Bradley airport terminal renovation might have you so enthralled that you don’t even make it past the arrivals gate.