Going to Los Angeles this month? Better skip that Universal Studios tour. (Does anyone really want to be stuck in the Mummy's Tomb during a rolling blackout?) Fortunately, there are other low-maintenance diversions that will feel authentically artificial enough to say "LA."
What's the point of being in Hollywood if you can't rack up a few celebrity sightings? Belly up to the tapas bar at Belly, a new club that is drawing the likes of Whitney Houston, Chris Tucker, and Carmen Electra. And since the smart owners have dispensed with those nasty velvet ropes and VIP lists, even out-of-towners in khakis can get in without a passport. 7929 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood; 323-692-1068
Ditch the convention center
The trouble with the Los Angeles Convention Center is that it's centrally located right in the middle of nowhere. And searching the general vicinity for a good restaurant is like cruising the interstate for, well, a good restaurant. Head for R-23, a hidden gem of a sushi restaurant located in the nearby loft district, right next to Little Tokyo. Reservations are necessary for dinner. 932 E. 3rd Street; 213-687-7178
Escape the airport
So it isn't the beach that made Baywatch famous. But Playa Del Rey is only a 15-minute drive from LAX. If you have some airport lag time, stash that wheelie bag in a locker and tell the cab driver to go to the south side of Marina Del Rey Harbor Channel, near Playa Del Rey Lagoon. Locals swear it's a great place for boat watching. Whatever — at least you can get away from those televisons in the flight-gate waiting area, incessantly playing CNN.