I got to play tour guide in The City of Angels for the first time when my twin sister Kristina (left) and her friend Amelia stopped over on their way home from Hawaii this week.
Our seven-and-a-half-hour trek took us through the city's most famous neighborhoods, its dense urban core and sparsely populated, picturesque mountains that offer a taste of what much of the rest of Southern California is like.
We started around 8:30 a.m. near LAX. After zooming past the city's high-rise core, we made a beeline for Hollywood and the Walk of Fame in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
These markers caught my eye.
This was the closest we came to spotting celebrities. Britney was nowhere to be found, though we didn't pass any jails or rehab centers.
Next, we headed to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, then we followed Sunset Boulevard west through Bel Air (where we swung through the campus of UCLA) and Brentwood on our way to the coast.
We had lunch at Gladstone's 4 Fish, a noted beach-side seafood restaurant in Pacific Palisades. There was nothing special about the food - and the prices were a bit high - but the view from the outdoor dining deck was unbeatable.
I had this grilled seafood plate for about $25. I warned Kristina and Amelia beforehand that even the best seafood that I've tasted on the West Coast doesn't come close to matching the average fare in south Louisiana. Gladstone's proved the point.
We ended the trip with an afternoon drive through the Santa Monica Mountains and along Mulholland Drive before I dropped off the girls back at their hotel near the airport around 4 p.m.
I mapped out our route on Yahoo! Maps, with "A" marking our start point. (Click on it to view it larger.) Yahoo! says the trip covered 127 miles and would have taken 3 hours, 52 minutes to complete nonstop.