Glitzy, shiny, sunny Los Angeles is a city of preconceptions, but forget what you think you know; there is literally something for everyone in this city of juxtapositions. Los Angeles is a mash-up of cultural and physical diversity with an eclectic history, corporate skyscrapers, artsy villages, and stunning beaches. Wander down Rodeo Drive for big-name designers or spot celebrities while dining at Chateau Marmont. Los Angeles is as unique as the people who arrive here.
Tinseltown, Hollywood, call it what you will. This is the centre of the movie industry, where ideas are formed and stars are made. While Hollywood doesn't have the glitz and glamour of places like Beverly Hills, the area is filled with interesting restaurants, clubs, and shops. It's also home to famous landmarks such as the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Walk of Fame. In West Hollywood, the world-famous Sunset Strip is the place to be seen at a sleek nightclub, eat at a fancy restaurant, or sip champagne at the latest gallery opening.
Made famous in movies and TV shows like Pretty Woman and 90210, Beverly Hills shows the cinematic scale of wealth and success in Los Angeles. The palm-fringed walkways are lined with designer names, expensive boutiques, luxury spas, and famous restaurants.
The historic centre of Los Angeles is Olvera Street, a quaint area packed with Mexican culture. The street forms part of the El Pueblo Historical Monument, which marks the old pueblo settlement that became Los Angeles. Stop at stalls selling Mexican crafts, eat at mouth-watering Mexican restaurants, or buy a caramel-filled churro. Venture out from El Pueblo de Los Angeles to wander the ethnic enclaves of Chinatown and Little Tokyo. Downtown is also home to the Nokia Theater, the Staples Center, the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Los Angeles' beaches are celebrities themselves, having starred in Baywatch, The OC, and Jerry Maguire just for starters. Each stretch of sand has its own unique identity, from uber-rich to more laid-back. Head to Venice Beach for the art galleries and boardwalk, check out the beautiful people (and rolling film cameras) at Manhattan Beach, surf the waves in upscale Malibu, or ride the Ferris wheel on the pier at Santa Monica Beach.
Made famous by the movie of the same name, this road is worth a drive just for the views. You will pass the walled and gated mansions of numerous celebrities as you head up into the hills. From the ridgeline you can see down into the valley where Los Angeles and the coast spread below you.
Los Angeles has enough theme parks to keep every thrill-seeker happy. At the world-famous Universal Studios Hollywood® you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the movies, as well as enjoy all the rides, tours, attractions, and restaurants you can handle. Disneyland is located in nearby Anaheim, with rides, themed worlds, a parade and fireworks. If you like roller coasters, head to Magic Mountain for some extreme thrills, or to Knott's Berry Farm for a mix of scary and slower rides with animated characters.
I have always loved travel and feel very privileged to be in a job that allows me to see so much and pass on my passion and knowledge to others. I have been lucky enough to see a lot of America from New Orleans, California, Chicago and Boston and Las Vegas to name a few. Each time I go, I experience something completely different which is why to this day I still find it mind boggling because within one country you can be taken on so many different journeys and experiences.
I did a multi centre driving the California Coast covering Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I hadn’t done an itinerary like this before and it’s the best holiday I have done. I will do this again and there a few other areas I would add into the holiday such as Yosemite and Pismo Beach.
Pack light – you will be bringing a lot back and don’t forget your ESTA!
Chicago, I didn’t really know what to expect. It ended up being an amazing alternative to the hustle and bustle of New York; so much history and architecture. The Chicago skyline is breathtaking especially when you’re sharing cocktails with the locals up the Hancock tower 1000ft above the city looking out to see the skyline in lights.
You can’t visit Chicago without experiencing true Chicago town pizza – very filling but amazing.
I would happily take a flight to any area of the 50 states of America, I want to see them all. (I know you are thinking there are 52 states - common mistake people make!)
No one famous, but the tour guide for our Grand Canyon excursion was unbelievably knowledgeable and had so many stories to share with us.
My favourite experience in the USA would be the first time I went. I visited New York and Las Vegas, the two most iconic cities in one multi-centre. It was an exciting experience and one I will never forget.
Doing most of the rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando in one day! It was very exhilarating and tiring but definitely one to remember.
Explore each place as much as you can, always try something different and take lots of pictures.
Miami – I didn’t realise the massive South American culture in this city! Loved it.
Chilli Dog – very messy but very tasty.
I would go back to Miami, relax on the beautiful white sandy beaches while sipping a cocktail, and listening to the lively South American influence of music.
Mr John Fitzpatrick – he is the owner of the two Fitzpatrick hotels in New York and owns Killiney Castle in Ireland. He hosted a dinner for us while in New York and we spent all night listening to the stories of an Irish American millionaire living the dream in the USA.
I’d highly recommend driving around New England in the fall. Boston, the Berkshires and Cape Cod are all stunning, especially when the autumn colours start appearing.
A helicopter tour in New York. It was an amazing way to see the city from a whole new perspective.
Plan your trip before you go, research the area and pre book any excursions to maximise your time away.
I can honestly say that they all have. Every place has their own hidden gems and surprises to keep you guessing.
Lobster, barbeque pulled pork and peanut butter M&Ms.
Chicago – it is somewhere I haven’t visited yet but from what I know, it is a really interesting and exciting city.
A former Mayor of Miami, a really charismatic man and bon viveur.
I’ll always be thankful that someone told me about the Alcatraz Tour in San Francisco, it really is a must do. The history of the prison is fascinating but also eerie. The audio experience sets the scene and really gives you a clear picture of how the prison was operated including real life events from the past.
My favourite travel experience within America has to be Sky Combat Ace. Flying over the deserts of Las Vegas in a 360hp aerobatic plane whilst enduring barrel rolls, loop the loops and much more. An experience that will never be forgotten.
If you’re going to the USA for the first time, I’d recommend New York because it’s such a vibrant and exciting city. Pick a central hotel and you will have everything on your door step.
Orlando, the Gulf Coast, Miami and the Florida Keys. There is so much variety within Florida to cater for everyone, from thrill seekers to beach lovers. I loved all the stunning small coves with sandy beaches hidden within Florida’s coast line and to top it off it’s the Sunshine state of the USA.
Pinks Famous Dog – The Famous Pinks Diner located in the heart of Hollywood where they have over 100 different mouth watering Hot Dogs, tasted by all the Hollywood celebrities who just can’t resist their amazing taste.
It would be to California which is my favourite area that I have visited so far. It would include Los Angeles and San Francisco. I would definitely recommend driving between these two cities as there are some beautiful areas that can be missed along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Vancouver is a fantastic city, it is the only city in Canada you can stand on a beach and be surrounded by mountains. It is also your gateway to your rocky adventure.
Western Explorer Rail & Coach Tour. It offered everything from helicopter flights, gondola rides to national park visits and Glacier tours. Whilst seeing the Rockies in the most stylish way possible on the Rocky Mountaineer.
If you’re going to Canada, you have to visit Niagara Falls, I could watch the falls in awe for hours on end. They are amazing and should be considered a natural wonder.
I would have to say walking on a glacier at the Icefields Parkway would have to rank top. Taking you in an Ice Explorer right up to the Athabasca Glacier where you can walk on ice as thick as the Eiffel Tower.
Surrounded by deep waters, you can find everything from fresh water Salmon and Trout to all kinds of seafood on offer. Try a local dish called Poutine, this is a common Canadian dish made with French fries topped with a light brown gravy sauce and cheese curds.
Vancouver, to start with a city stay, then to follow with a self drive to explore the Rockies, not forgetting to hop over to Victoria for some exciting whale watching, famed afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress or visiting the Buchart Gardens.
Mike Vincent. This guy knows everything about bears and wildlife. He has seen 77 bears just last summer alone, and knows the best places to spot them at the best times. Mike can be found at the Fairmont Lake Louise as their best and most informative hiking guide.
I have been very lucky to have travelled to many countries but have always been very impressed with Canada. It is such a vast country with many activities, beautiful scenery and the Canadian people are very friendly. I will definitely be visiting Canada again and highly recommend it.
The Via Rail journey was great between Montreal and Quebec, as I was lucky enough to be upgraded and enjoyed the food, wine and chocolates whilst enjoying the scenery.
Pack adaptors and phone chargers at the top of the case, you will likely need them upon arrival.
Lake Louise as the pictures do not do it justice, the scenery is beautiful.
The Banana Pancakes at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver were delicious. The Quebec locals are crazy over Poutine which is essentially Chips, Gravy and Cheese! Be sure to bring home a souvenir bottle of Maple Syrup.
I would probably go on a short shopping trip to Montreal. There is an underground city network stretching twenty miles of shopping centres and the flight direct from London is just over 7 hours!
I met a lovely couple in Ile d’ Orleans who own a vineyard producing ice wine, they explained the process and I even got some free tastings!