With a thriving art, beach and food scene, Los Angeles is about much more than Hollywood star power and the palm-lined streets of Sunset Boulevard. In the downtown Arts District, laid back Malibu and quirky Venice Beach, a new breed of resident is taking the city to new heights and making it the place to be.
The Art District: See
Recent years have seen downtown LA reborn as one of the city’s most exciting neighbourhoods, with the Arts District leading the way. What in the 1970s was a colony of artists is now a walkable destination dotted with restored heritage buildings, galleries and restaurants.
More than 20 art galleries have opened last year, with the mack daddy being Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. Its 100,000 square feet of space is housed in a former our mill complex and includes a bookstore, public garden, open-air courtyard and the restaurant Manuela.
Lovers of street art should make for Bloom Square to see works by Shepard Fairey, JR and How and Mosm. Need more guidance? Opt for guided art tours with Cartwheel, or visit Art Share LA’s 28,000sqft space.
The Art District: See
The DTLA Art Walk offers a blend of art, community, culture and food on the second Thursday of every month. At EightyTwo, the city’s first barcade, old-school gamers can enjoy more than 40 restored pinball and arcade games from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s while a DJ spins.
Feeling fit? LA Boulders allows climbers to experience a bouldering gym, but it’s not for the fainthearted—there are no ropes or harnesses, though it’s lined with foam.
Most of the 1950s beach shacks have gone, while the hippie surfers of the ’70s got pushed out in the ’80s by Hollywood hotshots who bought up miles of coastline. Locals may bemoan the glitzy changes, but Malibu’s mystique endures thanks to hillside horse rides, farm-to- table dining and wine tours.
It isn’t all beaches and hikes. The Getty Villa houses a glorious museum on a clifftop overlooking the Pacific where budding historians can explore the cultures of Greece, Rome and Etruria. For something smaller, head up the coast to theAdamson House, a Spanish colonial revival- style home furnished as it would have been in the early 1900s.
Long before Point Break made everyone want to be a surfer, Joel Schultz was riding with icons and racking up screen surfing credits. Lessons with him include geography, stories from back in the day and a guarantee you’ll be standing up and riding.
Malibu Riders offers some of the best horseback riding in LA, including treks through Paramount Ranch, an active set used for films such as American Sniper.
Malibu Wine Safaris allows you to explore the 400-hectare Saddlerock Ranch from an open-air vehicle. The ranch hosts numerous rescue animals, from llamas to Stanley, the giraffe in The Hangover Part III. Stops along the way involve wine tasting.
Venice Beach: See
Designed as a beach resort in 1905 by the developer and conservationist Abbot Kinney, Venice has always been bohemian and alternative despite a slew of A-list celebrities moving in. While the eccentricity that drew Charles Bukowski and Basquiat to the area remains, “Dogtown” has reinvented itself as something eclectic yet far slicker than its previous incarnations.
It doesn’t get much more Venice than on the boardwalk. This is people-watching at its best, from the street performers to the bodybuilders at workout mecca Muscle Beach. But for some serious, high- octane energy, head to Venice Skate Park, where the current Lords of Dogtown show off their skills. The US$2 million facility evokes the empty swimming pools where the legendary Z-Boys revolutionised skateboarding in the 1970s.
Venice Beach: Do
A walk with Vintage Venice Reel to Real Tours is one of the most innovative ways to see the area. Watch movie snippets on an iPad as your guide shows you the very spots where they were filmed.
If you are in town on the first Friday of the month, nothing beats the neighbourhood block party that is First Fridays, where live music plays, stores and art galleries stay open late and the best of LA’s food trucks park up.