This is part two in a six part series where we highlight the cities the Cougs will be traveling to during the 2013 football season. Up next: Berkeley, California
Los Angeles, California is a few things. Consistently sunny, warm and with a bevy of entertainment options, there's always something to do. But Los Angeles is also miles upon miles of concrete, asininely expensive everything and, I can say this categorically after living here for about a year, home to the worst drivers in the western hemisphere.
With so many things demanding the attention of nearly 18 million people in the Los Angeles metro area, it's amazing college football isn't a long way down the sports totem pole (KOBE RAN ON A ZERO GRAVITY TREADMILL! NO ACHILLES TEAR IS KEEPIN' HIM OFF THE COURT! BLACK MAMMMMMMBA!!!!). Without an NFL team to bandwagon for, Los Angeles focuses on their college teams when it comes to football and the rivalry between USC and UCLA has become rather vicious over the years. To be fair to both Trojans and Bruins fans though, they're both insufferable.
The Coliseum may be neck deep in financial issues but there will still be 90,000-plus Trojan fans screaming their heads off after a day of tailgating. There's plenty to do in Los Angeles and we can't highlight it all but we can certainly give you the best of the best.
Los Angeles, CA Fast Facts
Population: 3,857,799 city, 17,786,418 metropolitan area
Nearest Airport: Los Angeles International Airport (14 miles)
Random Fact: Los Angeles County is the 21st largest economy in the world.
LAX may be the closest airport to the Coliseum but if you can fly into Bob Hope in Burbank, do it. You'd think the airport for such a large city would be better but you'd be wrong. To prepare yourself for the walk from the gate to baggage claim and the curb, I recommend a work out regimen similar to Michael Phelps' as he prepares for an Olympiad. By the time you make it from the plane to the bus that will shuttle you about 30 leagues to the rental car facilities, your joints will remind you of your grandfather's.
Places To Stay:
(Note: Average Nightly Rate assumes a Friday and Saturday night stay)
Omni Los Angeles (Distance to Stadium: 4 miles):
The Omni is conveniently located in downtown Los Angeles and it's a quick cab ride to the Metro Blue Line which will drop you off right at USC. There's not much in the way of entertainment options downtown after hours but there's a heated outdoor pool and you can order room service at any time, day or night. In addition, the bar downstairs means you don't have to go far to drown your sorrows. They do charge for wireless internet which is a big minus but the location is a big plus.
Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $143/night
Mr. C Beverly Hills (Distance to Stadium: 11 miles)
If you want all the glitz, glamor and equally Hollywood-esque adjectives in your hotel stay, this is a good place. Just blocks from Rodeo Drive, you can take that brand new American Express without the credit limit for a serious jog. Room service is provided all day round, the pool has a bar along with a pool table. Continuing with our lap of luxury theme, the hotel will provide free transportation anywhere within three miles and the hotel provides free use of their iPads and Macbooks. Although they charge for wireless internet. NICE BAIT AND SWITCH WITH THE FREE IPADS!
Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $279/night
Loews Hotel Hollywood (Distance to Stadium: 11 miles)
It's only half a block north of the most iconic intersection in town, Hollywood and Highland. The hotel is surrounded by every last tourist trap in Hollywood so if you're looking for the best parts of the Walk of Fame, bars, restaurants and countless other things to do, this is the place. Although the room service isn't a 24 hour deal, they do have one thing the others on this list don't: free Wi-Fi. The hotel includes an outdoor pool and a multilingual staff but I'm not sure any of them speak 'drunk idiot stumbling through a hotel lobby' so try not to get too inebriated.
Expedia Average Nightly Rate: $223/night
Places To Eat:
Original Tommy's Hamburgers
Original Tommy's has been an LA institution for almost seven decades and there's a good reason: their chili burgers are second to none. There are 30 of them throughout the Southland so there are plenty of locations where you can stuff your face full of spicy chili burgers, milkshakes and even better chili fries. Some will disparage Tommy's for the grease and the inability to eat there without making a total mess but that only endures it to me even more.
Masa of Echo Park
Neighborhood bias warning: this place is right down the street from my apartment. But Masa has something most places in LA don't: great food at reasonable prices. The wife and I regularly go there, order a Caesar salad, a large four meat deep dish pizza (more on this in a moment) and two glasses of house wine and we get out of there for $40 before tip. That pizza, by the by, is made with the best pepperoni and sausage I've ever had plus whole cherry tomatoes that have been cooked down for hours in the sauce. The large pizza is enough for dinner then lunch and dinner the next day. You certainly won't go hungry here.
All About The Bread
This sandwich shop next to Paramount Studios, as the name implies, makes some of the best bread I've ever had. It's also the only place in Los Angeles I've found that carries Tim's Cascade chips which bumps it up about 20 spots in my book just by that virtue. The Godfather, their version of an Italian sandwich, is second to none and big enough to provide you with lunch and dinner.
Things To Do:
The Griffith Observatory
Before the turn to the 20th century, Colonial Griffith J. Griffith (nope, not kidding on the name) donated about 3,500 acres of land to the city and in his will, he stipulated an observatory be build. Thusly, the Griffith Observatory was born. Perhaps the best part about it: admission to the grounds and the building itself is zero dollars and zero cents. Shows within the observatory do cost, but you can still go to one of the most beautiful buildings in the city with a stunning view for the price of nothing at all.
Yes, it's the typical touristy thing to do. But Los Angeles is home to the finest beaches on the Best Coast where you don't have too many opportunities to spend time next to an ocean in 80 degree whether anywhere else. Santa Monica Beach is a good beach with plenty of places to eat and things to do. If you have a car available to you, I recommend the less crowded and, in my opinion, much better Hermosa Beach.
Los Angeles, California: tons of stuff to do but get ready to sit in traffic. Seriously, I've been in stop and go traffic for no reason at all at 11 p.m. on a Saturday. No accident, no construction. Just ... traffic.