Los Angeles, the largest city in California, is arguably America’s entertainment capital, but it’s also a fashion, beauty and nightlife mecca. Downtown is the most convention-friendly district. But don’t forget that this is a city of interesting enclaves, such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, East Los Angeles, Silver Lake, West Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica and Venice Beach, among others. If you have a small group, these districts offer much in the way of meeting space, themed activities, dining and accommodations. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the city’s largest, but attendees also can fly into Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport (BUR), Long Beach Airport (LGB) or LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT). The city might be a concrete jungle, but just a shuttle ride away are Topanga Canyon State Park, the beach or marinas that offer a chance to enjoy nature (or at least the view while sipping cocktails).
L.A. Live, a multifaceted entertainment development downtown, is home to the Staples Center (home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and the WNBA’s Sparks) and the Nokia Theatre, which has hosted the Emmy Awards and “American Idol” finales. Other on-site venues include Club Nokia and the Conga Room. Outdoor venues include Nokia Plaza, a tented 42,000-sq. ft. event deck, and the Target Terrace, which has 180-degree views from downtown to the Hollywood sign. The massive, eco-friendly Los Angeles Convention Center offers more than 1 million square feet of space and is LEED-EB certified.
Universal Studios Hollywood has more than 45 venues for groups of 100 to 20,000. Meeting space at the Studios at Paramount includes theaters and a Hollywood dining room. Both studios offer group tours. Book an oceanside cabana for a small group or buy out the entire Pacific Park amusement center on the Santa Monica Pier for a gathering of up to 2,000. On nongame days, Dodger Stadium rents its Dugout Club and an indoor event space (capacity: 500). The entire 56,000-seat ballpark can be reserved if you want to do an infield banquet or produce a massive seminar. Madame Tussauds Hollywood, a branch of the famous wax museum, has rooftop space for up to 400 and an indoor capacity of 1,000. If you want something really unexpected, the Magic Castle, a magicians’ club and theater in a restored Victorian mansion, offers food service and magic shows for groups of 125 to 360.
Adjacent to the L.A. Live entertainment district are two hotels in one tower — a 123-room Ritz-Carlton and an 878-room JW Marriott. There’s also a Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. Live, which has 4,500 square feet of meeting space. If you want luxury accommodations, check out the Hotel Bel-Air, where Wolfgang Puck presides over the kitchen, or the Chateau Marmont, which has hosted its share of famous (and infamous) folks.
IFLY Hollywood Indoor Skydiving at Universal Citywalk has meeting space for 24 inside and 100 outside. Attendees can discover their inner Marilyn Monroe or Marlon Brando while participating in corporate team-building workshops at Stella Adler Los Angeles, where many Method actors who redefined cinema in the 1950s studied. Want to incorporate a little sightseeing with your scavenger hunt? Sign your group up for the Amazing L.A. Race.
The classic Palm Restaurant offers private rooms in a traditional American steakhouse. For fine dining, the Chaya Brasserie serves fusion French/Japanese/Italian cuisine. To satisfy Mexicali cravings, try Food Network favorite Border Grill, which has downtown and Santa Monica locations. Tam O’Shanter, in the hip Los Feliz neighborhood, serves Scottish atmosphere and award-winning food. Can’t get close enough to the water? Charter a dinner cruise with Hornblower Cruises & Events. Or, make dinner a DIY experience. Cozymeal offers cooking classes or food-market tours that guide attendees through ingredient selection and food prep, ending with a group meal.