One of my favorite things about traveling is that each destination you visit takes on its own identity. What I mean by this is that every city has such a unique personality that you get to explore different sides of yourself with every trip you take. For me the trip begins long before I actually travel. What restaurants do I want to try? What sights are we going to see? What do I need to pack? Visiting Los Angeles has been one of my favorite trips and that’s because Lala land does not disappoint. From food and shopping to iconic sights and late nights there is a reason this city has drawn so many people looking to make it big. Los Angeles is so different from living in Chicago or visiting other big cities like New York, because everyone drives everywhere. I would highly suggest renting a car, so that you can get around easily and explore the city and the surrounding towns and neighborhoods. And if you live in Chicago you’ll have no problem with the Los Angeles traffic. Upgrade to a convertible and enjoy that California sunshine. After arriving at LAX and picking up our rental car we headed to Beverly Hills, where we would be staying for the weekend. The Beverly Hilton is an iconic location known for its star-studded events like the Golden Globe awards and many Hollywood scandals. This hotel is truly transformative. When you arrive, you feel like you are stepping back in time to the golden age of film. The Beverly Hilton is also very centrally located if you are looking to get around Beverly Hills easily. Although this city is full of drivers, it is an easy walk to many restaurants and of course Rodeo Drive. Whether you are shopping for high end designer goods or simply people watching Rodeo drive does not disappoint. It is a magical place where you’ll have a hard time deciding whether the people, stores or cars are more beautiful. If you’ve read any of my past blogs, you know that when I’m traveling a big part of the to do list is trying restaurants. And if you are a foodie like me then you know the food scene is LA is one of the best in the world. From excellent Mexican and Asian cuisines to Instagram famous food trucks this city is a food lover’s dream. Because I had never been to California before, many places that I chose were inspired by TV shows and movies, as well as my favorite celebrity’s Instagram accounts. If you are a fan of the shows Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or Vanderpump rules, then checking out one of Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd’s restaurants is a must. In LA you can find Villa Blanca, Sur as well as Pump. These fun and funky establishments will tantalize your taste buds with their perfectly curated menu as well as fabulous selection of cocktails. For something simply try the Vanderpump rosé or if you want to turn up the heat ask for their spicy margarita. If you are looking for something a little higher end where you may bump into some of Hollywood’s elite then I would encourage you to make a reservation at Beverly Hill’s famous Chinese restaurant—Mr. Chow. Here the wait staff will dazzle you as they effortlessly move around this tiny restaurant just a block off of Rodeo drive. The food is delicious and if you are going with a group, order the duck, they are famous for it. And don’t forget to sample a glass of champagne as they wheel around the champagne trolley. As the sun sets in Tinsel town, the city truly comes alive. If you want to be where all the action is stick around West Hollywood, where you will find tons of options for late night excitement. If you want to do something low key, but still completely fabulous then make a reservation at the Polo Lounge inside the Beverly Hills Hotel or at the restaurant/bar inside Chateau Marmot. Even if you are just going for drinks a reservation is still required. Both of these locations are as transformative as the Beverly Hilton. Both completely iconic and perfect for a night cap on date night. After eating and drinking your way through all of LA’s best neighborhoods you may feel like you need to get out and do something active. Luckily even within the city you can find excellent outdoor options. Hike Runyon Canyon for a great work out that will provide you with excellent views of Beverly Hills and the Hollywood sign. Go early to avoid the crowds. Or head down to Santa Monica Pier or Venice beach and enjoy a run in the sand or a dip in the Pacific Ocean. The best part about a city with excellent weather is that it provides endless options for getting outdoors. LA is a fabulous town full of unlimited possibilities. Whether you want to do something touristy like visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Dolby Theatre or you are looking to blend in like a local at the dozens of vegan cafes, this city is perfect for a weekend getaway. No matter if you are active, love to shop, want to relax on the beach or take in a concert, this town has something for everyone.

Amber Zakem

Amber Zakem has worked in the travel industry since 2014. Although, her love of travel began far before that. Amber grew up visiting cousins stationed throughout Europe and worked as an Au Pair in Germany for a year between High School and College. She started working at a local travel agency in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, after graduating from Central Michigan University. Amber began working for MAST Travel Network in 2016 and is the Social Media Specialist. She runs the MAST Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat and she teaches twice monthly webinars to travel agents on using social media to promote travel. Amber has continued her passion for travel and social media by also teaching a course at Moraine Valley Community College in their Hospitality program.