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Los Angeles

LA entices visitors with golden beaches, world-class museums and Hollywood dreams

With year-round sunshine and miles of popular, sandy beaches, Los Angeles—the second-largest city in the country after New York—is a great introduction to Southern California. Founded at the end of the 18th century by the Spanish as a settlement along the Los Angeles River, the city has grown over the centuries into a seemingly endless patchwork of eclectic neighborhoods and suburbs. In the early 1900s, the film industry took root here, and that legacy flourishes to this day as high-powered studios and high-profile stars continue to produce blockbuster movies and hit TV shows.

Mindful of its history, the so-called “City of Angels” also has some excellent museums and educational centers for all ages. Visitors won’t want to miss trips to the Griffith Observatory and the Getty Center art museum—two hilltop attractions known as much for their views of the surrounding city as their groundbreaking exhibits. The weather here is pleasant throughout most of the year, although summers can get a little hot. A trip to the breezy beaches help visitors and locals alike remedy the heat of the dog days. Make time to catch sunsets over the western horizon.

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Sea, Surf and Sun

Some of the city’s best shores are located in West LA in suburbs like Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The former is a vibrant, artistic beach town with block upon block of great shops and restaurants, a sprawling, sandy span of coastline, and an enormous double-jointed pier—the Santa Monica Pier—that is home to an amusement park with a solar-powered Ferris wheel and thrilling roller coaster. Visitors will discover plenty of shops and restaurants at the pier, and there are frequent events held here in the summer months, from concerts to film screenings.

Just up the coast, Venice Beach is one of the city’s best-known coastal areas and is renowned for its quirkiness, with street performers, skateboarders and all kinds of interesting characters hanging out on the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk. The nearby Abbot Kinney Boulevard is also a popular attraction in the area, with lots of trendy restaurants, food carts, cute boutiques and farmers market stalls.

Other popular shores in the area include the beaches of Malibu, a ritzy coastal community to the north of Los Angeles framed by beautiful hills dotted with celebrity-owned homes. If you don’t have time to get too far from the city, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach offer good beachcombing and people-watching opportunities. After a day on the shore, enjoy a hearty meal at one of the fantastic restaurants found in these charming coastal towns.

Hillside Attractions

While most people associate Los Angeles with its miles of Pacific coastline, some of the most interesting attractions (and greatest views) are in the surrounding hills. Griffith Observatory is one such attraction, featuring a planetarium, sound and light shows, telescopes, a gigantic pendulum, and lots of space-related exhibits. Best of all, it’s completely free! Visitors wanting to get a little exercise can park at the base of Griffith Park and hike up to the hilltop observatory along a dusty trail; just note that there’s not a lot of shade, so it’s a good idea to go early before the sun gets too powerful, particularly if you’re visiting in the summer months.

The Getty Center is another not-to-be-missed attraction. This large campus, inland from the famed beaches of West Los Angeles, sits on 24 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains in an area surrounded by lush greenery, with views of the city in the distance. Many people come for the complex’s design alone. The bright-white center was built in the modernist style by world-famous architect Richard Meier (who was also behind the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art in Spain). It’s characterized by travertine stone structures with unusual curvilinear designs and lots of gardens with fountains, cypress trees and cacti. Inside, visitors will find beautiful, light-filled spaces and an enormous art collection encompassing works from across the globe.

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Fun in Tinseltown

For many visitors, Los Angeles is synonymous with the film industry, and plenty of first-timers to LA make a beeline to Hollywood Boulevard to see the famous 15-block-long Hollywood Walk of Fame. Here, you’ll find long stretches of five-pointed star plaques embedded into the sidewalk, each with the name of a famous actor, director or musician. The list of fictional characters with their own stars includes Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh.

Most visitors also make a point of checking out TCL’s Chinese Theatres (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), a historic movie venue with a Chinese design motif that’s best known for its forecourt full of cement handprints of top-notch celebrities. Many also pay their respects to their favorite stars at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery near Paramount Studios. This historic cemetery—the first in Hollywood—is the final resting place for many important players in the entertainment industry.

Other popular attractions for star-struck visitors include various film industry-themed tours. Some excursions take passengers past celebrity homes; others focus more on famous filming locations. The Hollywood Sign on top of Mount Lee is another popular sight, but visitors are no longer allowed to hike up to the iconic sign; the best views are on the scenic road to the Griffith Observatory.

For More Information

Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board

888-733-6952

www.discoverlosangeles.com

 

California Travel and Tourism Commission

877-225-4367

www.visitcalifornia.com