Baywatch glossed over the often grim water quality of LA’s beaches – with the one at Malibu Pier having consistently gross bacteria counts. Most beaches are particularly bad after rain – check brc.healthebay.org before swimming or surfing.
The city likes to downplay its car-centric reputation – and public transport does cover much of the sprawl. But very, very slowly – it’s an hour by bus from Santa Monica to Hollywood. Stay close to the Red Metro line to reduce taxi dependence.
Beverly Hills is billed as the shopping hotspot, but it’s a giant outdoor mall of globally ubiquitous high end designers. Try strolling Montana Avenue in Santa Monica for classy individuality.
Don’t expect to see too many stars in Hollywood – none of the studios are actually there. Try Burbank or Culver City instead – that’s where the mid-filming grazing goes on.
LA’s frequent smogfests reduce the much-vaunted city views from Runyon Canyon and the Hollywood Hills to disappointing greyness. Check the weather and save the hike for a clear day.
This was originally written for the Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
All content copyright David Whitley.