advertisement

On your second day, you'll continue seeing L.A.'s biggest attractions: Universal Studios Hollywood (one of the most popular attractions in L.A.), the massive gazillion-dollar Getty Center, and the rockin' Sunset Strip's House of Blues. It's another full day on your feet, so wear comfortable shoes and make that coffee drink a double. Also, you'll want to make advance reservations: Buy tickets online for Universal Studios, and reserve a table at the House of Blues.

Start: Universal Studios.

1. Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk
A visit to Universal Studios Hollywood will accomplish three classic L.A. experiences in one swoop: taking a studio tour, visiting an amusement park, and strolling through an outdoor megamall. Start with the 1-hour guided tram ride around the studio's 420 acres of actual movie sets, then hit the movie-themed thrill rides and shows including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and end with an amble through Universal CityWalk, a 3-block-long, Disney-like promenade crammed with flashy name-brand stores and restaurants (but don't have lunch yet—save that for the Getty Center). Even with an early start, this should take you at least half a day. Also, be sure to splurge on a Front of Line Pass, which could save you hours of standing in lines.

2. Take a Break: Zen Zone
I'm supposed to recommend a dining option here, but I have something you'll like a whole lot better. Along the CityWalk is a place called the Zen Zone, where you can get an inexpensive 20-minute water massage." You lay down fully clothed in what looks like a tanning bed, and strong rotating jets of water massage your backside from neck to toe (a blue rubber sheet keeps you dry). The sensation is a bit weird at first, but after it's over, you'll feel incredibly refreshed. Universal City. 818/487-7889.

Hop in the convertible, cross over the 101 freeway, turn left on Cahuenga Boulevard, then right onto the famous:

3. Mulholland Drive
This winding, scenic road follows the peaks and canyons of Hollywood Hills (all festooned with seriously huge homes of people who make way too much money). Not only does it offer amazing views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley—you'll find several scenic viewing areas along the drive—it eventually takes you directly to I-405 and our next stop.

Head south on the 405, and just a few miles down the freeway on your right side is the exit for the:

4. J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
Perched on a hillside in the Santa Monica Mountains and swathed in Italian travertine marble, the Getty Center is stunning in both design and construction cost (roughly $1 billion). Everything about this postmodernist complex elicits oohs and aahs, from Paul Getty's enormous collection of art (including van Gogh's Irises) and gorgeous landscaped gardens to the postcard views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. What's more, entrance to the Getty Center is free, but parking will set you back $15 per car. If you're like me and don't remember a thing from your college art-appreciation class, spend a few bucks for a self-guided audio tour that gives a brief overview of the 250-plus works in the collection.

5. Take a Break: Getty Center Garden Terrace Cafe
Dining options at the Getty Center range from a self-service cafe to the elegant (though fairly informal) Restaurant, but my favorite place to take a break is the Garden Terrace Cafe, which serves lunch in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the Central Garden. You can also pick up a picnic lunch on the Plaza Level and head down to the flower-filled picnic area. 1200 Getty Center Dr. 310/440-7300.

Head south again on the 405 (it's rush hour now, so you'll have plenty of time to give your feet and brain a rest), and about a mile down the freeway take the Sunset Boulevard exit east. Head east on Sunset until you reach the Sunset Strip and the:

6. Sunset Tower Hotel
Built in 1929 on a crest of a hill now famous for the Sunset Strip, the Sunset Tower Hotel is an Art Deco landmark. The Sunset Tower is famous for many things, including its appearances in Hollywood lore (John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Errol Flynn all lived here) and the pictures themselves (including The Player and Farewell, My Lovely), but today it's known as one of the city's best spots for a sunset cocktail. Sit on its pool terrace as the setting sun bathes the L.A. basin and the skyscrapers of Downtown in that famous California evening glow. When you get hungry, the bistros, laid-back burrito stands, and burger joints of the Sunset Strip are right out the front door.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.