Sheri Winters

Santa Monica
Sheri Winters

Los Angeles must-do: Rent a bike or a pair of in-line skates and roll your way from Venice to Pacific Palisades. You’ll truly get a feel for what makes living here special.

Off-duty escape: I head to the Westridge trailhead in Brentwood. It’s a 7.5-mile, uphill path with unbelievable views over West Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Mountains. In the cool months you might even see coyotes in the distance.

Best time to visit: February and March is awards season, and it’s the best time to spot celebrities if you know where to look. Of course The Ivy on Robertson Boulevard is perpetually encrusted with paparazzi, but if you want a more insidery spot, head to Malibu Country Mart at Cross Creek — it’s got the same Beverly Hills boutiques that attract A-listers, but it’s more low-key.

Favorite Los Angeleno: Fame actress Debbie Allen, who choreographed the Academy Awards show for 10 years. She has a dance studio that’s brought a new vibe to the city in a remarkably short amount of time. It feels more like New York, more culturally-minded and focused on nurturing the artistic community.

Only in Los Angeles… can you walk into a Starbucks and see a “Real Housewife” next to a Kardashian.

If you could change one thing: I’d make mass transit more comprehensive. Right now, most of West Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles International Airport, is not supported by the metro rail.

Urban myth: That downtown Los Angeles is dead after business hours. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Downtown is really happening now: it’s filled with artists and young people who have migrated there for loft-style living in grand old buildings. There are terrific restaurants, like Roy’s and Dragos, and of course, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Staples Center are right there, too.

One last meal before you die: I’d start at The Lobster in Santa Monica for oysters at sunset (every table has a view to die for); then head to Mr. Chow for their handmade lo mein noodles; and finally to Shutters for the chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream. Oh wait, did you say one meal?

Still dying to: Do the Fern Grotto trail in Malibu Canyon. You follow the trail into a fern-covered grotto, where there are waterfalls and huge, ancient boulders you can climb. It sounds magical.