Los Angeles didn't invent the word hip, but it certainly holds the patent on it. L.A. has some of the most cutting-edge clubs and bars in the world and is the polestar for the best and brightest in the music scene. Entertainment of all types -- from Hollywood Bowl picnic performances to cool jazz venues, retro chic bars, and rock-'n'-roll clubs -- can be found in the following pages.

First you need to find out who's performing while you're in town. Check L.A. Weekly (www.laweekly.com), a free weekly paper available at sidewalk stands, shops, and restaurants. It has all the most up-to-date news on what's happening in Los Angeles's playhouses, cinemas, museums, and live-music venues. The Sunday "Calendar" and Thursday "Weekend" sections of the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com/theguide) are also a good source of information for what's going on throughout the city.

To purchase tickets in advance, first try buying them directly from the venue to avoid paying a surcharge. If that doesn't work, log on to Prestige Tickets' website at www.prestigetickets.com or call tel. 888/595-6260. Based in Hollywood for more than 20 years (now relocated to Encino and merged with an East Coast company), it specializes in selling tickets to sporting, theater, concerts, and other entertainment events throughout Los Angeles -- at a markup, of course. If all else fails, call Ticketmaster (tel. 800/745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com), but beware of their absurdly high processing fees.

A Note on Smoking -- In 1998 California enacted legislation that banned smoking in all restaurants and bars. Despite repeated efforts by opponents to repeal the law -- and willful disregard by some proprietors -- it's more widely enforced every year. If you're looking to light up in clubs, lounges, and other nightspots, better check to see what the locals are doing first, and this goes for outdoor venues as well. And just because other people are doing it doesn't mean you won't face a heavy fine if you are caught.

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.