A point of entry to the United States for some, a path to fame for others, and a marquee travel destination for travelers of all stripes, Los Angeles is as essential to the California experience as San Francisco is.
Home to the juggernaut that is the American film industry, the area is filled with a diverse range of people chasing dreams of various kinds. For those that aren’t here because of show business, the blessed climate of SoCal is usually the reason, as winters here stay confined to the ranges of the east, while temperatures at Venice Beach in January are well into the 60’s (15-20 degrees Celsius).
After the cool misty weather of more northerly parts of the California coast, this delightfully mild environment will make your explorations of Tinseltown a very enjoyable experience.
The first place that people think about when L.A. is mentioned in causal conversation is the neighborhood of Hollywood, which is where countless dreams of fame in the television and film industry have been chased over the years by countless star-eyed dreamers.
The few that made it are honored at the Walk of Fame, where celebrities that have made a dent in the entertainment world have their own star, and at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where the hand and footprints of the famous grace the concrete sidewalk out in front of this hallowed movie house.
Few studios remain in Hollywood proper to this day (Paramount still have a presence, but all others have moved out to places like Burbank [Warner Brothers] and Culver City [Sony Pictures]), but exploring its many museums, taking in an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Bowl and admiring the homes of the rich and famous on Mulholland Drive up in the Hollywood Hills make exploring this part of the city totally worthwhile.
As far as the art scene goes in the Los Angeles area, few institutions are better than the Getty Center in terms of its holdings. Opened to the public in 1997, this portion of the Getty Museum contains European visual art pieces that were created prior to the 20th century, as well as vintage photography from around the world.
In addition to these masterpieces, the courtyard, exterior garden and the modern architecture style of the building itself will please any who decide to visit one of the most popular museums in the USA.
If your appetite for art wasn’t satiated at the Getty, proceed downtown to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where the largest art museum in the West awaits your arrival. With over 120,000 pieces spanning the history of art from ancient civilizations to the present day, the culture enthusiast could end up spending the better part of their day in there.
While the collections contain antiquities from the distant past and a full spectrum of visual art mediums on display here, they also offer a section of the history of film, honoring the area’s most high profile avenue of artistic expression.
With the San Gabriel Mountains soaring into the sky not far to the east of the Central Business District of L.A., there are outdoor recreation opportunities within easy reach of this sprawling city. The easiest place to get in a trail run or a hike is in Griffith Park, which protects the foothills that rise not far from this city’s most hectic neighborhoods.
Once you have finished getting in some badly needed exercise, there are a number of major attractions within the boundaries of the park that are worth checking out before leaving. The first of these is the Griffith Observatory, which is a science museum themed around space and astronomy (be sure to check out their Tesla Coil), and the other is the Los Angeles Zoo, which has a respectable collection of animals from across the world, and is best known for nurturing the California Condor back from the edge of extinction in the 1980’s.
If the story of humanity doesn’t interest you as much as the one surrounding the evolution of geology and other life on Earth, then dropping by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will be of great interest to you. Being the largest natural history museum in the western part of the USA, its collections are robust (35 million pieces), containing specimens from virtually the full history of the planet. Realistically, one could spend a full day here and come back to see more on the following one, especially when its satellite locations at the La Brea Tar Pits and at William Hart Park are taken into consideration.
After criss-crossing the streets of one of America’s most congested cities, a trip to Venice Beach will be your reward for putting up with the stress that L.A. downsides can induce. When the time comes for Los Angelenos to relax and blow off steam, they’ll strap on their sneakers or roller blades and head down to the promenade that runs adjacent to this famous beach.
Some of the area’s most ripped bodybuilders will show off their superior strength at the outdoor gym at Muscle Beach, while surfers will be carving up the swells offshore when the ocean is in a chippy mood. For visitors, it is the perfect way to see the beautiful side of a living in this busy Southern Californian metropolis.