This year’s highly anticipated, invite-only BET Awards will be hosted by none other than Academy-Award-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson. It’s set to be quite an affair, as Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Usher, 2 Chainz and Big Sean are slated to perform, as are comedians Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer.
Whether you’re a regular at the BET Awards or visiting Los Angeles for the first time, there is something for everyone in the City of Angels. Los Angeles is a mix of different cultures and influences, and each neighborhood offers visitors a unique experience. Thrown in is the gorgeous beach weather as an added bonus. If you stay downtown or in Hollywood, two of the more popular tourist destinations, here are some recommendations sure to help you enjoy your time in the LA. area.
If you love breakfast, visit The Griddle, 7916 Sunset Blvd., (323) 874-0377. They are open for breakfast and lunch service until 4 p.m.
Serving breakfast all day long, their plate-size original pancakes with 100 percent maple syrup are great to share or indulge in on your own. If you are a French toast lover, you must try “Mom's French Toast:” specially made bread, egg-dipped, cooked to perfection, then topped with whipped butter and powdered sugar. It is delicious, no matter what time of day.
Looking for the perfect outfit or gift? Visit the Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., (310) 854-0070. As Southern California’s premier fashion destination, 160 distinctive specialty boutiques — including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, D&G and True Religion, Salvatore Ferragamo, Henri Bendel, Traffic, Ben Sherman, Desigual, J. Lindeberg, Tiffany & Co., Prada and Fendi — make the Beverly Center a unique shopping experience for everyone.
For another truly unique L.A. shopping experience, visit the Santee Alley in the Fashion District. It is one of the most popular shopping areas in Los Angeles, boasting more than 150 stores and vendors. The marketplace is located between Santee Street and Maple Avenue, from Olympic Boulevard to 12th Street. It’s open daily, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Make sure you also visit one of L.A’s other downtown hot spots, L.A. Live It’s located at 800 West Olympic Blvd., across from the Staple Center. It is the home of the Grammy Museum, which pays tribute to music's rich cultural history, Lucky Strikes,, a state-of-the-art bowling alley, and the world-famous Conga Room, which features-Latin cuisine and live entertainment ranging from salsa, world-beat, jazz, urban, R&B and pop/rock. Dance until 2 a.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

L.A.Live also features an eclectic variety of restaurants sure to please even your pickiest foodie. My personal recommendations: Katsuya, featuring famed Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi's innovative Japanese cuisine; A Market Restaurant, by “Rock n' Roll Chef” Kerry Simon, captures modern American cooking with California flair; and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, where guests can try Puck's signature comfort foods

Also, check out Yard House at L.A. Live. Yard House is an upscale casual-dining restaurant known for it’s great food and service. With more than 160 ales and lager on tap, speciality drinks and a diverse selection of crowd-pleasing menu items. If you are a burger lover like me, I highly recommend the “SURF & TURF” burger. It’s a perfectly cooked, hand-formed beef patty topped with sweet Maine lobster sautéed in garlic butter, grilled asparagus, spinach, swiss and creamy tomato béarnaise, served on a toasted potato bun. Incredible! It is a must try!

Beach anyone?

Ferris wheel at the pier in Santa Monica (Photo by Necee Regis For The Washington Post). (Necee Regis/FTWP)

Of course, California is known for its sunny weather and beautiful sandy beaches. Santa Monica is the perfect place to get your fun-in-the-sun beach fix. Just a short drive from downtown or Hollywood, Santa Monica offers 3 1/2 m iles of well-maintained beach area. Enjoy shopping and dining at the 3rd Street Promenade. Whether you are working on your tan or want to take a quiet relaxing stroll by the water, Santa Monica is a trip worth taking.

Enjoy! For more information or ideas visit

The BET Awards airs live from the legendary Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Eastern time Sunday on BET.
Chef Huda is creator of the blog A Happy Food Place. She is also a blogger for Hu’s Who? an entertainment blog and xecutive chef and owner of Pretty and Delicious, a private chef company. Follow her on twitter @chefhuda