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Insider's Los Angeles

4. Drift over to Santa Catalina
"My family has vacationed on Catalina Island since I was a child, and my grandfather lives there now," says film-industry executive Lindsey Dold. "Take the ferry from San Pedro or Long Beach; the trip takes about an hour and a half. On the island, rent a sea kayak, bike, or golf cart to get around [+1 310 510 1520]. A lot of people go scuba diving or snorkeling. Another favorite activity is a flying fish tour—you zoom along in a motorboat at night, and the flying fish fly next to you. I recommend staying overnight on the island. There are plenty of hotels and campgrounds. A favorite: the Wrigley mansion, now called the Inn on Mount Ada [398 Wrigley Rd.; +1 310 510 2030]."

5. Blossom among the blooms
"I discovered the flower market after I'd lived here for a year," says bloom lover Patricia Lewis. "As soon as you walk into the market, you are mesmerized by the rows and rows of flowers—roses, tuberoses, hydrangea, lilies, and lots more. There is a coffee shop inside the market, perfect for a momentary break. And then you can head into the other building, and keep hunting for the best prices and best looking flowers. Bring $20, cash of course, and leave with an armful of roses. Congratulate yourself on being so savvy for having gotten loads of fresh flowers at such a good price for your hotel room."

6. Spa the day away
"I love the One spa at Shutters on the Beach, the hotel in Santa Monica [1 Pico Blvd.; +1 310 458 0030]," says Beverly Hills jeweler Marcia Caden. "It's like taking a trip without the traffic. The spa is beautifully done to look like a ship—there's even a room with shells on the wall. I had the all natural 'Nature Baby' treatment—nearly an hour and a half of blissful pampering. I was slathered with a mix of cucumber, honey, and milk, and then massaged. Afterward, with skin soft as silk and a newly refreshed psyche, I drifted over to 1 Pico, Shutter's best restaurant, overlooking the beach, thinking, Yes, life is good."

7. Line up for a big tasty dog
"Hankering for an informal taste of Hollywood? Make your way to Pink's [709 N. La Brea Ave.; +1 323 931 4223] for the best hot dogs in all of Los Angeles," says Robert Strauss, who doubles as Spider-Man to delight tourists at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. "I recommend the bacon-chili-cheese-burrito dog. It's $4 and weighs about half a pound." Adds his sidekick Wonder Woman, aka Dana Weiss, "Pink's is a very easygoing place. People patiently stand in line here for 30 minutes to get a hot dog. Oh, and Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink's."

8. Find your fabulousness at Fred's
"Fred Segal's in West Hollywood [8100 Melrose Ave.; +1 323 655 3734] is a little slice of [retailing] heaven in L.A.," says film executive Susan Lewis. "There are excellent celebrity sightings, up-to-the-moment style, free parking, good food, and you just might find that perfect pair of jeans. Even if you're not successful shopping, you'll end up with stories to tell your friends about who you saw while checking out the clothes or eating at the store's Mauro's Cafe."

9. Dress for TV success
"If you arrive in L.A. without having preordered favorite TV show tickets from an online site [such as tvtickets.com], there's still hope," says Lori Petitti, a producer for Hip Line Media. "For the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, go to the ticket office in Burbank [3000 W. Alameda; +1 818 840 3537]. There's always a line, so it's important to get there at 8 a.m. You'll also find a ticket kiosk at Universal Studios Hollywood . For the taping, bring a jacket or sweater. The stages are kept very cold. And if you come dressed decently—no shorts!—you improve your chance of getting a good seat. Staffers like to have well-groomed, nicely dressed people sitting in the front row for shows where the audience might be on TV."

10. Roam the asphalt jungle
"Visiting the Page Museum, La Brea Tar Pits [5801 Wilshire Blvd.; +1 323 857 6300] is like taking a taxi back to the Ice Age," says paleontologist John Harris. "The tar-stained skeletons of more than 30 species testify to the diversity of life in Los Angeles."

11. Gallery hop in Chinatown
"In 1999, Chung King Road was a dilapidated pedestrian alleyway off Hill Street. Then a few galleries opened, showing experimental art," says Michelle Deziel, a curator at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. "More came. Now the galleries have attracted more galleries, set within a destination dotted with Chinese-American shops and restaurants that have been here since the '50s. The galleries have group openings that are made magical by scores of Chinese lanterns. It's a cultural and sensual experience of art, wine, Chinese food, and music. And one of our new subway lines gets you there."

12. Rest in peace at a Hollywood drive-in movie
"They don't make movies like they used to—or cemeteries, for that matter," says producer Alison Engel. "If you want a unique blend of old-school Hollywood glamour and nouveau cinema obsession, check out an outdoor screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery [6000 Santa Monica Blvd.; +1 323 469 1181], the resting place of such fabulous stars as Rudolph Valentino. People bring picnic dinners to eat on the lawn while watching classic movies projected against a wall. If they're not showing movies, you can tour the cemetery—Tyrone Power, Jayne Mansfield, and Douglas Fairbanks also repose here."


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