With American Airlines launching its new direct service from Auckland to Los Angeles this weekend, there's never been a better time to jet off and soak up some of that famous Californian sunshine.

With miles and miles of golden beaches, picturesque mountains that you can hike, a range of diverse neighbourhoods to explore, a blossoming art and cultural scene, plus shopping, nightlife and entertainment, this city can easily keep you occupied for days.

Challenge your perception of Los Angeles as simply a thoroughfare and discover the depth and edge this city offers on your next stopover. Whether you have just a few hours, a few days, a week or more, you'll always find something to keep you entertained.

You've landed at LAX. Now what?

LAX is currently undergoing a multi billion-dollar upgrade to modernise and streamline its operations, which is making it easier and much more convenient to travel through this airport.


As part of its refurb, LAX has made some major improvements to its shopping and dining scene, with popular L.A. restaurants such as Slapfish, Umami Burger and Loteria!! Grill now serving travellers. There are also works of art and sculptures scattered around the terminals which you can view before your next flight.

If you have more than a few hours to spare, a personalised tour is your best option to get out and explore the city.

We Love L.A. allows you and your family to choose the places YOU want to see, such as the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Pier or Hollywood Sign. You can pick up to five locations, and the driver will even make a stop at the infamous In-n-Out Burger joint if you ask them to.

L.A. Insider Tours offers short tours scheduled to the exact amount of time you have available. Choose from all the hotspots including Hollywood, Beverley Hills and Bel Air, Venice Beach, Malibu, Downtown and Olvera St, the Farmers Market, plus quirky locations like the It's A Wrap shopping stop, which offers you the chance to shop for clothes that were used in actual film and TV productions.

Hit Venice Beach

There's many stunning beaches along the Pacific coast. Venice is one of the easiest to access if you're on a short time frame, and has lots to keep you occupied.

You could hire a bike and ride along the boardwalk to Santa Monica, try your hand at surfing or paddle boarding, or head to Muscle Beach for a quick workout. Abbot Kinney Boulevard offers up some pretty decent local shopping too.

If you're here in the evening, check out Hotel Erwin's rooftop bar, which offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the urban Venice Beach landscape - simply perfect at sunset.

Explore Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles has undergone a revitalisation over the past decade which has seen old buildings transformed into hip hotels (The Ace), trendy restaurants (places like The Factory Kitchen, Broken Spanish and Faith & Flower) and breweries (Angel City Brewery) moving into the area, as well as street art including Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Colette Miller all within the arts district.

The area is also home to many museum and art galleries, including the newest gallery, The Broad. Celebrities such as Katy Perry, Vera Wang, Brooklyn Beckham and Kate Hudson have visited The Broad since it opened.


L.A. is the home of the food truck trend.

Thanks to L.A.'s multicultural roots, the vast array of food trucks demand cult followings with consumers following them on social media to track them down. Check out Miracle Mile food trucks (opposite LACMA on Grand Avenue).

Travellers to L.A. often have a foodie bucket list, which includes donuts, burgers, hot dogs and tacos.

• For a good donut: try California Donuts
• Best burger: Try In N Out, Fatburger and /or GD Bro Burger
• A French dipped sandwich at Cole's
• Chili Dog at Pink's
• For the best Tacos, try Mas Malo

Go out in Koreatown

Koreatown has become a bustling mecca for hip inner city dwellers.

The Korean influence remains intact and must see places include hotels (The Line and Hotel Normandie), restaurants (Pot and The Commissary) and bars (Break Room 86).

A must-do is karaoke, if you find yourself here at night.

Hike the Hollywood Hills

Acquainting yourself with L.A.'s hiking trails such as the Hollywood Hike, Mt Hollywood Hiking trail or the Runyon Canyon. All offer incredible views of the Hollywood sign, the Sunset Strip and L.A. Basin.

These hiking trails are the perfect way to get outdoors, discover the natural beauty of L.A. and a great way to spot celebrities.

- nzherald.co.nz