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Los Angeles

From the extravagant to the eccentric, LA’s got it all

Travelers flock to Los Angeles seeking sights that ring of old Hollywood glamour or wacky, modern-day weirdness. Neither camp leaves disappointed by their visit. Los Angeles has attractions and amusements in spades for guests of all predilections.

Comprising a dense downtown core and a patchwork of suburbs that radiate into the surrounding hills and valleys, the LA area never fails to tantalize and surprise visitors. Go surfing on the beaches off Santa Monica, hike the hills that loom above Tinsel Town or browse shops in one of the area’s many hip districts. It’s a wonderland for locals and visitors alike.

There’s no way to pigeonhole LA into a few neat paragraphs. So here are a few pointers for visitors who want to see the City of Angels with fresh eyes.

Tech, LA style

Bring your inner mad scientist to Los Angeles and check out the Tesla coil inside the Griffith Observatory. The coil, which converts low-voltage AC current to high-voltage electricity, occupies a special alcove and throws out lightning-like discharges in all directions. The coil was pioneered by Nikola Tesla, an early 20th-century inventor who inspired countless designers and engineers. While at the observatory, check out the many exhibits on planets and stars, many of which were featured in the film, “La La Land.”

Closer to downtown, the nation’s space program is celebrated at the California Science Center, where the 122-foot-long Space Shuttle Endeavour is on display. The fifth shuttle in the 30-year-old program, the Endeavour completed 25 missions beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. It was the first shuttle to bring a U.S.-built component to the International Space Station. The science center also features a slew of exhibits designed to engage members of the whole family.

Tourists gathered near Griffith Park Observatory.

California Travel and Tourism Commission/Andreas Hub

Get a Military History Lesson

The city’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean has always made it a strategic site for the military. In 1914, the U.S. Army constructed Fort MacArthur, which guarded the Los Angeles Harbor until 1974. The Fort MacArthur Museum preserves and exhibits military history related to the Army’s role in defending the West Coast.

Historical structures and decommissioned equipment make up the campus of the museum, which is also the site of the West’s largest continually running living history and re-enactment event, Old Fort MacArthur Days.

See the Cars that Made Driving Fun

Lovers of classic automobiles will discover a fleet of dream machines at the famed Petersen Vault. Located inside the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Vault recently began offering limited tours of its collection, which includes a one-of-a-kind Round Door Rolls-Royce Phantom, a rare Jaguar once owned by actor Steve McQueen, and one of the “popemobiles” used by Catholic pontiffs.

Discover another car paradise in the San Fernando Valley town of Sylmar. The Nethercutt Collection and Museum houses well-preserved cars from the 1920s and 1930s along with a large collection of mechanical instruments, such as nickelodeons, cylinder music boxes and a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ.

Take Interstate 5 back into downtown if you’d like lunch or dinner served up with a healthy slice of nostalgia. Clifton’s was originally opened in 1935, and was renovated and reopened in 2015. It has retained many of the quirky traits that have made it famous over the years, including a giant fake redwood tree that towers over the dining areas, reaching up through all five floors of the building. There’s also a stuffed grizzly. Not surprisingly, lines into the restaurant can be quite long.

Hallmarks of Old Hollywood

Ever wanted to see where Batman’s Bat Cave was located? How about those desolate planet landscapes in “Star Trek”? Thanks to the magic of movies and television, you probably didn’t know that these locales and dozens of others are all in one place: Bronson Canyon. The series of caves, created from excavations for crushed rock to be used in road construction, sit at the southwest corner of 4,310-acre Griffith Park, just 11 miles north of downtown. The site is easily accessed from parking lots via a short trail.

Across town, enjoy the early days of moving pictures every second Saturday of the month at the Cinefamily Silent Movie Theatre in West Hollywood. On other days, the nonprofit group that runs the venue showcases lesser-known independent films and classics alongside happy-hour gatherings with live music.

Just 3 miles away, Hollywood Heritage Museum celebrates the history of the motion picture business. Housed in an old barn that once served as one of the industry’s first film studios, the museum strives to preserve original structures, costumes and memorabilia associated with the city’s early history and film industry legacy. Exhibits include archival photos, movie props and historic documents.

Find tributes to your favorite stars on Hollywood Boulevard, home to 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, musician or personality. The list of fictional characters with their own stars includes Mickey Mouse, Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh.

Hollywood history is enshrined at TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly named 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.

More attractions await star-struck visitors in the form of 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.

Artful topiary hedges at Getty Museum

Los Angeles Tourism

Gaze Upon the American West

Few Hollywood entertainers were as beloved as Gene Autry. The singing cowboy defined theatergoers’ image of the Old West on screen, and that legacy continues at the Autry Museum of the American West. Founded in 1988 by Gene and his wife, Jackie, the museum showcases a vast collection of art, artifacts and cultural materials celebrating the heritage of the West as well as the history and culture of Native tribes. Don’t forget to stop at the nearby Los Angeles Zoo, where a gorilla exhibit gives visitors a chance to observe these majestic primates up close.

Chill Out in LA

The urban sprawl of Los Angeles hides more than a handful of peaceful green spaces. On a cool day, wind your way through Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, which is located just 5 miles east of downtown. This attraction is planted with oak-leaf hydrangeas, jacaranda trees and azaleas and accented with a koi pond. The free garden is open to the public and welcomes donations. Guided tours of the main floor of Guasti Villa, a historic mansion on the property, are also available.

For more wide-open spaces close to the city, check out the stellar Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanic Gardens in the suburb of San Marino east of downtown. Peruse timeless art by masters like Thomas Gainsborough and Edward Hopper, then stroll compelling landscapes, including a lily pond garden and Japanese garden.

No trip to the LA area would be complete without a jaunt to the Pacific shore. For family-friendly rides and games, journey to the Santa Monica Pier, where old-time amusement park fun abides over the ocean. To learn about the animals that make the ocean their home, duck into the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

For More Information

Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board

888-733-6952

www.discoverlosangeles.com

California Tourism

877-225-4367

www.visitcalifornia.com