Los Angeles proper is smaller than you think. If you stick to Sunset Boulevard, you can rifle from town to the beach and pass by all the Hollywood folklore, the music clubs, Beverly Hills, U.C.L.A., the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and finally hit the beaches at the Pacific Coast Highway. It may take some time, given the Los Angeles traffic situation, but Sunset Boulevard is a scenic route that quickly acquaints you with life in and around the city's main artery. With television season starting up and Oscar season approaching, a fall trip to Los Angeles will put you in Tinseltown just in time for November sweeps.
To get to Los Angeles, JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583; www.jetblue.com) has flights into two Los Angeles-vicinity airports -- Long Beach and Burbank. Round-trip from Washington, D.C. to Long Beach costs $198. From New York into Burbank, expect to pay approximately $238. From Buffalo, Burlington, Vermont, Rochester, or Syracuse, you'll pay approximately $258. In most cases travel is good through December 14, 2005 with a seven-day advance purchase required. Blackout dates will apply around the Thanksgiving holiday season. Long Beach to and from Ft. Lauderdale will run you $178 round-trip but travel is only good through September 30, 2005, so go soon, as in before two days.
To get that Sunset Boulevard Hollywood down and out experience, the Vagabond Inn Executive Hollywood (tel. 800/522-1555; www.vagabondinn-hollywood-hotel.com) has an Internet special starting at $66 per night. The 54-room hotel is located within a half mile of the Walk of Fame and the Grauman Chinese Theater. Rooms are spacious and the hotel has an in-ground outdoor pool. The hotel offers free local calls, a continental breakfast and even free faxes.
For an all-inclusive trip to the Los Angeles area, Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356; www.travelocity.com) has last minute deals from an airport most likely near you. A two-night trip from Chicago leaving Friday, October 7 and returning Sunday, October 9, starts at approximately $335 per person with double occupancy travel. Accommodations are in and around the LAX Airport and Century City. To stay in a West Hollywood boutique hotel, expect to pay around $109 extra.
For film lovers, the Hollywood Film Festival (tel. 310/288-1882; www.hollywoodfestival.com) kicks off on October 18. 2005. The weeklong festival opens with Warner Brothers Kiss Kiss Bang Bang starring Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr. and draws an A-list crowd of the year's top stars on a nightly basis. This year, Jake Gyllenhaal will be honored for "Hollywood's Breakthrough Actor," with other awards to be announced at the Gala award dinner. This filmmaker-friendly festival sets the pace for March's Oscar races. For it's ninth year, the festival's film program has over 100 short and feature length films. Last year's event drew Leonardo DiCaprio, Mel Gibson, Annette Bening and gads of paparazzi.
For breakfast and assured star sightings, try Nate n' Als (tel. 310/274-0101; www.natenal.com) in the Beverly Hills' shopping district. The large delicatessen draws Beverly Hills' residents such as Larry King and a host of Hollywood stars on a daily basis such as Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other heavy hitters. Breakfast, or from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., is the time to go. The lox, eggs and onions are the house specialty. For dinner, and more big-time star sightings, try Dan Tanas (tel. 310/275-9444; www.dantanasrestaurant.com). In West Hollywood, the Italian eatery has been a favorite of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon for its tasty steaks, fried onions, casual atmosphere and table service. The wait staff at both Nate n' Als and Dan Tanas are known for their outgoing and vivacious personalities. Both restaurants are Los Angeles institutions. The Martini's at Dan Tana's are Dean Martin old school in size and taste. Ask for a Dirty Sue, a dirty martini mixed with bottled olive juice invented by two seasoned barmen who got tired of dishing customers olive jar residue with bar spoons. They're yummy.
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