For Chinese travelers, Los Angeles continues to be the most popular destination in the United States. That’s expected to be particularly true during Golden Week on October 1-7, a holiday period in China that includes National Day on October 1, when the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 is celebrated through flag-raising ceremonies, fireworks and music. LA is particularly welcoming to Chinese visitors, with numerous hotels and attractions for everyone interested in exploring the city known all over the world for its beaches with luminous sunsets and palm tree landscapes.
Glimpse into Chinese immigrants' lives in historic Chinatown, which is now a segment of one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Asia. Founded in 1938, the Central Plaza by day is a gathering place for the elderly, whether it’s for a game of chess or a sweet bun and tea from the Chinese-style Phoenix Bakery. By night, the statue of martial arts legend Bruce Lee watches over the retro floating red lanterns and curvaceous rooftops. Galleries host openings of avant-garde art and restaurants helmed by cutting-edge chefs serve sophisticated diners.
Take a guided walking tour of Chinatown on Saturday, October 5 to better understand the architecture and history, and explore a temple, a herbal shop, art galleries and antique stores, while winding your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls and classical courtyards.
Chinese American Museum
At the nearby El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, visit the Chinese American Museum (CAM) for a history lesson on Chinese heritage in LA. CAM is symbolically housed in the red-bricked Garnier Building, the oldest and last surviving structure of LA's original Chinatown. The 7,200 square-foot museum transports visitors back in time, featuring an authentic recreation of the Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop, an actual store that was housed in the building from 1891-1948.
After a recent $500-million renovation, the internationally renowned Beverly Center feels fresh and bright with a collection of more than 100 high-end boutiques that can rival those in Milan, London and New York. Shop the latest fashions, from Burberry and Versace to Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Saint Laurent, while being bathed by a stream of Southern California light pouring in from the glass ceiling above.
This fashion-forward shopping destination is offering a 30-day October Golden Week promotion with a popular Chinese mobile digital wallet provider. Shoppers who spend at least $500 will receive a red packet reward instantly during the promotion period. Redeem the red packet at the concierge desk located at the Grand Court on Level 6.
If you're hungry after shopping, slurp on noodles where chefs greet you in Japanese at Marugame Udon on the first floor. If you like Latin American flavors, try chef-driven, locally sourced Mexican fare served to the tune of modern lounge music at Tocaya Organica. For sustainable seafood cooked over an open fire, take a dive into Angler, helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Joshua Skenes.
Shop at the crown jewel of luxury at world-famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Deep-pocketed mainland Chinese tourists account for 60 percent of sales at Rodeo Drive, one of the world's premier luxury shopping districts on par with Bond Street in London, Fifth Avenue in New York and the Ginza in Tokyo. Luxury boutiques include Hermès, Gucci and Chanel, each of which has Mandarin-speaking sales clerks to cater to the jet-setting, WeChat-wielding and fashion-obsessed millennial clientele.
Westfield Topanga & The Village
Enjoy shopping with free parking at Westfield Topanga, the only center in the United States with a Neiman Marcus and flagship Nordstrom alongside a Target. This destination is a power shopping paradise with a luxury lineup including Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Montblanc, Saint Laurent and David Yurman. Now open alongside the Canoga Park property is an outdoor oasis called The Village, providing trendy local fashion and lifestyle brands and sensational restaurants offering al fresco patio dining, all under a canopy of native trees and vegetation.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Plan a trip for Golden Week to Universal Studios Hollywood, a world-famous, cinematic-focused theme park full of action-packed rides like the new Jurassic World – The Ride and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. Enjoy Mandarin studio tours daily when exploring the largest and busiest motion picture and TV studio in the world. Come face to face with King Kong 360 3-D created by Peter Jackson and zoom through a super exciting Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Also, join Master Po in a multi-sensory attraction at DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda.
Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City
Located just steps from Universal Studios Hollywood, the Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City is one of the few hotels in Los Angeles that offers authentic Chinese cuisine made from scratch such as congee, noodles and dim sum at Cafe Sierra. The hotel ensures Chinese guests feel at home from the moment they arrive with Mandarin-speaking staff as well as providing hot water kettles with tea bags; robes, slippers, toothbrushes and toothpaste; and bottled water.
The landmark Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles in Downtown LA has been a favorite hotel for generations of celebrities, presidents and dignitaries, as well as the scene for countless movies and TV shows. Hong Kong singer-actress Gillian Chung, one-half of the Cantopop duo Twins, hosted her wedding ceremony at the property in 2018.
Hotel guests can celebrate Golden Week by taking a complimentary 30-minute tour in Mandarin of the historic Biltmore from October 1-7. Tours gather in front of the concierge desk at 2 p.m., giving a glimpse into elegant grand ballrooms and hallways.
Enjoy Mediterranean-Italian delights such as handmade pizzas and pastas at Smeraldi's, or go back in time and sip classic cocktails at the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room, where carved angels grace the elegant granite bar surrounded by memorabilia-filled cabinets.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood
Hollywood is known all over the world for celebrity culture and the film industry. Madame Tussauds Hollywood is a star-studded museum featuring more than 125 incredibly lifelike wax figures from contemporary superstars like Zoe Saldana, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner to legends like Bruce Lee, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
As an extra bonus, the museum is offering a Golden Week promo, which takes $10 off standard tickets, valid from September 30 to October 7. The promo code is “GOLDEN10,” which is valid to mention at the walk-up ticket booth and when purchasing online.
Petersen Automotive Museum
The automobile is integral to Los Angeles culture, with interlacing freeways weaving together far-flung parts of the city. There's no better place to understand this influence firsthand than at the spectacular Petersen Automotive Museum, which is wrapped with a stainless-steel ribbon assembly. The extensive collection of cars in this museum is part of the largest public automotive tour in the world, featuring everything from the first Ferrari and King George the Fifth’s 1910 Daimler to the Batmobile and a 1981 DeLorean Time Machine in Back to the Future.
For Golden Week, the museum is offering special tours and gifts on October 1-7. Groups of 10 or more save on general admission and on regular merchandise in the museum gift shop. Passes for translators (provided by guests) are complimentary and museum maps are available in Chinese for guests exploring on their own. To book, contact Petersen Museum Guest Services at 323-964-6346 or at email@example.com and mention this Discover Los Angeles Golden Week article.
Step into history at the Battleship IOWA, the only U.S. battleship that's open to the public in the West Coast of the United States. Experience first-hand what it was like to live on this historic ship through authentic images and archival video using an app-based self-guided tour in Mandarin. For decades, the "Battleship of Presidents" traveled all over the world in peace and wartime before retiring as a historic floating museum. The backdrop to Battleship IOWA is the nation's largest port complex, where cargo is whisked in and out by maneuvering cranes.
Perched on a hilltop in Brentwood overlooking the Los Angeles basin and the Pacific, the Richard Meier-designed Getty Center is the world's largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts. Masterpieces on view include Vincent Van Gogh's Irises, Claude Monet's Sunrise and Rembrandt's An Old Man in Military Costume. The museum focuses on European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts and photography. Audio tours in Mandarin and maps in Chinese are available.
Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad is home to 2,000 works of art by more than 200 artists, offering one of the world’s leading collections of postwar and contemporary art. The collection features influential artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol.
The museum is unique because it merges the public exhibition space with the collection's storage, shaping the museum experience from entry to exit. Visitors can get a sense of the collection's depth when they peer into the vault. A honeycomb-like veil filters natural daylight, which helps illuminate the museum experience.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Founded in 1919 and celebrating its centennial this year, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is world-renowned as a cultural, research and educational center. The Botanical Gardens at The Huntington feature more than a dozen specialized gardens spanning 120 acres, including the California Garden, Children's Garden, Desert Garden and Rose Garden.
Opened at The Huntington in February 2008, the 3.5-acre Garden of Flowing Fragrance (Liu Fang Yuan) - with an expansion to 12 acres opening in May 2020 - is one of the largest Chinese-style gardens outside of China, built with the help of Chinese historians, architects and artisans. Featuring a lake, seven pavilions, five stone bridges and sheltered walkways, the garden is set amidst a landscape of plants native to China and California, and is designed to reflect the gardens of Suzhou, the historic city outside of Shanghai with a centuries-old tradition of landscape artistry. White rocks from Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province line the lake’s edge, evoking Chinese mountains and rivers, while the surface of the water reflects patterns of the skies overhead. Intricate lattice and shaped doorways frame various scenes as the garden is revealed during a stroll.
San Gabriel Square
Over the past decades, much of the LA Chinese population has shifted east from the urban core of Chinatown to the suburban fringes of San Gabriel Valley.
The best introduction to this newer Chinese community is the San Gabriel Square, a mega-mall built in the early 1990s. Anchored by the remodeled Chinese supermarket, 99 Ranch Market, this neon-bathed mall feels like modern-day Shanghai, Shenzhen or Beijing rather than the U.S. Staffed with expertly trained Mandarin-speaking clerks, Alipay and WeChat Pay-friendly boutiques like Chong Hing Jewelers sell luxury items such as Rolex watches and BVLGARI necklaces.
The San Gabriel Valley arguably has the greatest concentration and diversity of top Chinese restaurants anywhere in the United States. At San Gabriel Square, you can explore Chinese cuisine from different regions, whether from the north or the south of China. Located on the second floor, Shanghai Restaurant serves mouthwatering authentic Shanghai cuisine in a light-filled interior. The Shanghai noodles are particularly noteworthy - bathed in just the right amount of soy sauce and sugar to give them a nice aroma. The fresh yellow fish, perfectly crisp on the outer skin yet tender inside, is covered in a tomato sauce, which heightens the flavors.
For authentic boba tea, try Wushiland Boba, which is extremely popular in Taiwan. Drinks here are served in a variety of temperatures, from ice cold to steaming hot with varying gradients of sweetness. The contemporary setting, teeming with 20-something Mandarin speakers, has cushy chairs and sofas. Boba Ave 8090 is also worthwhile, serving authentic small bites and freshly made tea until the wee hours of the morning, with buzzing Mandopop playing overhead.
Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel
Opened in 2018 and located just one block from the bustling San Gabriel Square, the Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel is one of several dozen hotels in LA County that have adopted a "China-Ready" policy to serve Chinese guests. For example, the Sheraton has signage in Chinese and offers such in-room amenities as slippers and teakettles, and foods favored by Chinese travelers like congee and dumplings for breakfast. The hotel also is equipped with the latest technology, including robotic butlers at your service 24/7. If you're hungry but don't want to walk too far, dine at one of the property's restaurants like the sleek EST. Prime Steakhouse, a classic American steakhouse with Asian and Latin American influences; or at OPAL Chinese Cuisine, which serves up sophisticated Cantonese cuisine with modern furnishings.
Six Taste Food Tours
If you want a sampling of the best Chinese food in Los Angeles, book a spot with Six Taste Food Tours on September 29, when the group will host its New Chinatown walking food tour of the San Gabriel Valley. During the 3.5-hour tour, an expert guide will walk you through a local Chinese market and plaza, sharing information about the cuisine, traditions, history and culture of China. During the tour, guests will visit five to six different restaurants and enjoy more than 10 unique tastings, from dim sum to delicious barbecue and fresh treats from a world-famous bakery. The tour will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the main courtyard of San Gabriel Square.
Hsi Lai Temple
A bit off the beaten path but worth exploring in Hacienda Heights is the Hsi Lai Temple, one of the largest Chinese monasteries in the U.S. Built in 1988, the temple has a vast white geometric courtyard resembling a rice paddy, while the lushly landscaped gardens are designed in the style of ancient Chinese monasteries. The interiors echo Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture styles and are meant to spread the teachings of Buddha to the Western Hemisphere. Inside the main shrine, a sea of more than 10,000 golden Buddha statues grace the walls.