Los Angeles, above all things, is a place to see and be seen. Socialites, celebrities and ingénues all dash from one hot spot to another with their publicist in tow, trying to become the next toast of Tinseltown. Blink your eyes once and you might just miss the latest and greatest incarnation of cool. However, despite thousands of transplants who arrive in the city every year, there are more than just starry-eyed actors, budding studio executives and cool surfer dudes in LA. There is a city thriving with history, culture and sophistication.

Let’s start with checking in. The Standard is the standard hotel of choice for modern living aficionados. The Hollywood location has a funky lobby and a kitschy diner, but the downtown outpost offers a true star studded experience. The Standard may look instantly familiar because it was featured prominently in television and film hits Entourage and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Plus, the roof top pool offers a killer view, and we’re not just talking about the hard bodies and models draped over the coveted lounge chairs.

Modern homes are a Los Angeles staple, so forget the cheesy star map tours and pick up a guide to urban living in the city.  Looking for a permanent residence? Wannabe Angelonos should check out Madrone, the latest retreat coming to Hollywood and La Brea. John Laing Homes Urban created Madrone as a reinvention of the classic Hollywood courtyard concept. On-site public art displays, loft style décor and a killer view of the Hollywood skyline are all part of the Madrone experience. Real urban living enthusiasts can finally get a taste of actual city life in one of the many live/work projects in downtown Los Angeles. The Market Lofts at 9th and Flower is a brand new, $70 million mixed-use, urban community located in the heart of downtown LA. Six stories of residential lofts sit upon street-level retail and a spacious subterranean garage. The Market Lofts and other similar projects strive to provide a pedestrian lifestyle in an auto-focused Los Angeles.

Unpretentious nightlife can be difficult to find in LA, but it does exist. Many people are pleased to find friendly and funky haunts exist from Burbank all the way to the shore. Minibar is a lounge that claims to be “a style of life and a life of style for the curious epicurean with a taste for all things fine and fun and fancy-free.” This inexpensive yet trendy little gem delivers sophisticated five-star flair.

Foodies who want the surroundings to be as delicious as the dishes will love the atmosphere at Jar. This modern chophouse is reminiscent of a 1940s supper club with warm retro designs and a bustling dining room. Chef Suzanne Tracht’s familiar retro offerings include award winning French fries and perfectly drunk-a-licious martinis.

If you must catch a glimpse of Paris, Lindsey or Britney, Robertson Boulevard is the place. However if you head about one block away from the glitterati of Kitson and tourist traps like The Ivy, you will find a smattering of great furniture stores, precious boutiques and trendy cafes and eateries. Los Angeles is a great place to get into a shopping frenzy. Avoid busy mega-malls and jam-packed parking garages by visiting the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. PDC is considered a top resource for contemporary furniture. With more than 130 showrooms and 2,100 interior product lines it is the Disneyland of sofas, coffee tables and carpets. The 1.2-million-square-foot campus sits on 14 acres and also features an outpost of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), two Wolfgang Puck restaurants, the SilverScreen Theater and the Blue Conference Center.

Paling around with paparazzi can be fun, but for a more cultured look at the city, turn to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Don’t worry, there’s no Mickey and Minnie here. The venue was named for Walt after his widow donated $50 million for the construction. This giant landmark is a mix of flamboyant shapes, shiny materials and total functionality of space, while the acoustics have been regarded among the best in the world. The actual architectural design by Frank Gehry evokes mixed opinions, but whether the review is positive or negative all can agree this landmark is worth a visit.

Headed home? Leave with a good taste in your mouth. At the center of Los Angeles International Airport stands the landmark Theme Building, which is home to the one-of-a-kind Encounter Restaurant and Bar. A series of 135-foot high parabolic arches and futuristic designs make this one of the most intriguing buildings in the west. The Theme Building was part of an overall $50 million Los Angeles Jet Age Terminal Construction project that began in 1960, and the retro inspired décor is still evident in every inch.

Hollywood has glitz and glamour, but there is more to Los Angeles than celebrities. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a more lengthy stay, visitors can get a healthy dose of art, adventure and architecture in this thriving and evolving metropolis.