West Hollywood is the home of the famous Sunset Strip: a two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of rock 'n' roll history and a treasure trove of activity.
Just north of Melrose district, La Cienega Design Quarter has a burgeoning reputation as home to the best galleries and boutiques. Then there's Sunset Plaza, a two-block strip of designer boutiques. From the Roxy theatre to the Viper Room, Sunset has plenty of legendary venues for live music.
Visitors seeking a more sedate stay in the City of Angels will be charmed by L'Ermitage Beverly Hills hotel, in one of the most expensive residential neighbourhoods in the United States. A stroll to the end of the block is a sight-seeing trip in itself.
Over in the eclectic east-side neighbourhood of Los Feliz is Griffith Park, a great place to hike the trails, rent a bicycle or catch live music. More distinctively, home-grown entertainment lies on North Vermont Avenue at The Dresden Room. This intimate club full of local characters has the power to make you feel at home.
Exploring Santa Barbara on foot is the best way to take in the warm sun, gentle breezes and Spanish colonial architecture that have earned the city the title of "the American Riviera."
Stroll along the waterfront to the end of Stearns Wharf, California's oldest working pier, where you can take in the essence of the city: boats bobbing on the sea; golden beaches; and the Santa Ynez Mountains rising above picturesque rooftops. From downtown, take an uphill stroll to one of the city's oldest landmarks, the Old Mission. Founded by Spanish Franciscans in 1786, it was severely damaged during the 1925 earthquake and has been beautifully restored.
The Santa Barbara area is home to some of the country's best wineries, but you don't have to make a trip outside the city. The Urban Wine Trail, established by like-minded vineyards, brings wine bars and tasting rooms to downtown Santa Barbara. Art lovers should turn up on the first Thursday of the month, when locals and tourists stroll from gallery to gallery on State Street, sampling live music and local wine.
One place not to miss on your State Street excursion is Joe's Café. A local fixture since 1928, it is famous for its steaks, hospitality – and for serving the stiffest drinks in town.