As ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’, Los Angeles combines Hollywood glamour with a laid-back beach lifestyle. Located in the heart of Southern California, lies the second most populated city in the United States. The vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley are about two hours away and Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm amusement parks within an hour’s drive.
Los Angeles has it all with entertainment studios, beaches, Universal Studios Hollywood and six major athletic teams, including the NBA Lakers, WNBA Sparks, NBA Clippers, MLB Dodgers, MLS Galaxy and NHL Kings. The MLB Angels and NHL Ducks also play in nearby Anaheim. Not to be outshone by its professional counterparts, long-time rivals, University of California Los Angeles and University of Southern California, feature NCAA championship football teams. Every New Year’s The Tournament of Roses hosts the Rose Parade followed by the Rose Bowl college football game.
Known for its kitschy neighborhoods, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles are standouts. While its symbolic Ferris wheel has been updated, Santa Monica has retained its popularity with a boardwalk, promenade and waterfront pier theme park. At its 2009 centennial celebration, the Santa Monica Pier was named the official Western Terminus of Route 66. Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are best known for their hit television shows 90210 and Melrose Place, and the upscale shopping on paparazzi lined Rodeo Drive and Melrose.
With the addition of L.A. Live next to the Staples Center, Downtown Los Angeles is entering a renaissance. Ritzy new hotels, a trendy Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley, concert venue and restaurants, L.A. Live is the new one-stop-shop for entertainment. Skyscrapers dot the horizon, the fashion district is bustling and the monthly DTLA Art Walk (every second Thursday of the month) bring the crowds.
For live entertainment, head to the Sunset Strip’s legendary concert venues The Roxy, House of Blues and Whiskey A Go Go, just to name a few. Catch a Broadway play or music concert at the Pantages Theatre, The Greek, Hollywood Bowl and Pauley Pavilion. The Staples Center, the most versatile of venues in Los Angeles, is home to four professional athletics leagues and some of California’s largest concerts.
Hollywood and Highland, the city’s most renowned intersection, echoes the relics of the prominent Hollywood sign. Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the original home of the Academy Awards which are now held at the adjacent Kodak Theatre, is surrounded by the handprints of celebrities past and present at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. El Capitan Theater, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, TV Guide Hollywood Center and the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, home to the Capital Records Building, are nearby.
Museum Row, three blocks along Miracle Mile, features five museums and the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, the largest and most diverse Ice Age fossil collection in the world. Just south are the J. Paul Getty Museums, the Getty Center and the Getty Villa (online reservation required), both offer free admission.
Los Angeles is home to several historical landmarks. Hollyhock House was Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles commission. It now resides in Barnsdall Park along with several art galleries. Watts Towers, a National Historic Landmark and State of California Historic Monument, underwent an artistic transformation by Simon Rodia in the 1920’s-50’s and now has over 20,000 annual visitors. The recently re-opened Angels Flight in Bunker Hill is a funicular railway listed in The National Register of Historic Places.
When to Go
Academy Award season, every January-March, head over to the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and Screen Actor Guild award shows for guaranteed celebrity sightings. Boasting warm weather and sunshine all year long, there is never an off-season for Southern California.
How to Get There
The main air hub is Los Angeles International Airport, which is the sixth-busiest airport in the world. Visitors should also check out Long Beach Airport, Bob Hope Burbank Airport, Orange County John Wayne Airport and Ontario International Airport, which are all under an hour’s drive from major Los Angeles cities. Non-stop flights are available from cities worldwide, including New York, Chicago, London, and more. With five different routes, Amtrak drops passengers from the Midwest and West Coast off in downtown Union Station.
Explore Old Hollywood with a step back in time at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the prints from celebrities past and present at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Score tickets to live shows and backstage studio tours in Burbank and Universal.
See how the locals live, with a walk or drive along the 21 miles of iconic Malibu Beach, home to surfers and multi-million dollar estates. Or take a hike through Griffith Park and partake in nightly star-gazing events at the Griffith Observatory. A sight not to miss is the historic Farmers Market, originally opened in 1934, is now attached to the outdoor Grove shopping mall where the stars often venture.