Hike to Mount Hollywood
It's not all about Runyon Canyon. In fact, the best hikes in Hollywood are those with the fewest people on them - and one of these is the hike to Mount Hollywood, which offers views of the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and, on a good day, the Pacific coast. It's tough enough to feel like you've worked off a few of last night's cocktails, but not enough to work up too much of a sweat. Bikes and Hikes can escort you there.
Get lost at Lost Spirits Distillery
Get lost: Lost Spirits Distillery, LA.
Vodka haters, whisky enthusiasts and thrill seekers, apply here. Likely to be the most fun you've had with your clothes on in ages, this distillery is the mastermind of a former amusement park designer and booze enthusiast. That means you're in for the ride of your life as you get lost in a forest maze with quirky creatures, take a boat ride in the jungle of Downtown LA and ride a submarine under the LA river. I'd tell you more, but I don't want to ruin the surprise(s). See lostspirits.net
Play golf in Koreatown
Discover newfound skills at Aroma. Photo: Aroma Spa and Sports
You don't need golfing experience or even to like the game at this offbeat venue where, it turns out, beating things with a stick is very therapeutic - possibly more so than spending time at the adjoining Korean (no clothes required) spa. Aroma is not a golf course in the city, but rather a place where golf enthusiasts (and the golf indifferent) can practise their swing. Aroma is spread across several levels and overlooks a carpark covered by a net, so you can power swing to your heart's content. As soon as you hit one ball, another pops up magically in its place. And if you hit this oddly wonderful operation at dusk, you can watch the sun set over Los Angeles. See www.aromaresort.com
Bowl at The Spare Room
Have a salt and vinegar martini at The Spare Room.
The Roosevelt Hotel takes the speakeasy bar concept one step further with The Spare Room, housing two beautiful old timber bowling lanes that date back to the 1800s and stretch the length of the parlour, where you can take a seat on one of the mismatched velvet lounges or a turn on the old Western piano. The cocktails here are taken very seriously and err towards the whimsical; think salt and vinegar martini - a classic with a twist - served with a side of potato chips. It's also renowned for another kind of bowl - the ubiquitous punch bowl - for those who like to live dangerously. Dress to impress. See spareroomhollywood.com
Ride a bike in Downtown LA
Until recently, riding a bike in Los Angeles was a somewhat ludicrous and even breathtakingly dangerous activity, involving dodging heavy traffic, with no bike lanes, and footpaths that have seen some serious earthquake action. But much progress has been made with the advent of bike lanes and, coming soon, Copenhagen lanes (low kerbs that separate bike lanes from cars) to DTLA. While cycling will still raise brows, DTLA is expansive and flat, and fast becoming the best place to tackle the roads on two wheels. Let Handlebar Tours show you the sights. See handlebarbiketours.com
Locating the secret staircases of Silver Lake
The Micheltorena Stairs in Silver Lake, LA.
There are 52 hidden staircases around Los Angeles, which were built at a time when tramcars were the only mode of transport to help people access the steep hills. Artistic neighbourhood Silver Lake commandeered artists to paint the eye-catching Micheltorena stairs, visible from Sunset Boulevard, and an Instagram favourite. But there are many others in the same area, including the Laurel and Hardy Music Box Steps, named after the 1932 comedy in which the duo infamously lugged a music box. But there's also the piano steps (painted to look like piano keys). I won't tell you where they are because the best part is trying to find them.
Aussie nostalgia at Roo Coffee
Fairy bread and milo milkshake at Roo. Photo: Kylie McLaughlin
Come for the fairy bread, stay for the excellent coffee. The ubiquitous Aussie childhood party food was initially sold here as a joke, but it's now Roo's go-to dish, made with a very grown up charcoal sourdough and marscapone. They also do a very Instagrammable milo milkshake. It's served in a glass rimmed with hundreds-and-thousands which create a cascade of colour as they start to dissolve. While this is fun, Aussie creatives and Tartine alumni are behind the scenes making simple but inventive dishes such as the excellent banana toast with almond butter, honey and rosemary. Ingredients such as eucalyptus seeds and lemon myrtle give everyday granola and dukka Aussie flair. See roouniverse.com
United Airlines flies to Los Angeles daily from Sydney and from Melbourne three days a week. See United.com
Loews Hollywood has large suites in the heart of Hollywood and direct access to Hollywood & Highland mall. See loewshotels.com
The writer was a guest of Discover LA and United Airlines