The bright, buzzing metropolis of Los Angeles, California, will always mean something different to everyone. For some, it’s the land of opportunity. For others, it’s the city of broken dreams. The paradoxical element of the city lies hidden somewhere in between the zen-filled yoga studios and the panicked hustle of a movie studio. There are a lot of preconceived notions about L.A., but its mass appeal to over 25 million annual visitors is undeniable. The sprawling City of Angels oozes with endless pursuits of leisure and exhilarating opportunities, making sure your trip to the city is nothing short of entertaining.
For first timers, there are quintessential must-sees. Grauman’s Chinese Theater (Mann’s) on Hollywood Boulevard is an iconic theater where you can literally walk in the cement footsteps of your silver screen heroes. Carved into a hillside overlooking the city, the J. Paul Getty Museum boasts world-famous artwork by such luminaries as Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne. The Venice Beach Boardwalk, which is its own microcosm of the outrageous, is a wonderful mix of L.A. characters, beachside restaurants, boutiques, street performers and psychics. The Griffith Observatory in the Los Feliz section is a city landmark with its planetarium, space exhibits and giant telescope.
When finding a restaurant in Los Angeles, diners have their choice of a smorgasbord of international and fusion options. Whether rubbing elbows with celebs at Mr. Chow, or opting for cheap, classic L.A. with a hot dog at Pink’s, visitors of the city will be hard-pressed to find a bad meal. For a fantastic three-course Italian meal under $30, head to Ca Del Sole just north of Universal Studios in the San Fernando Valley. Some of the best sushi in the city can be found in Westwood Village at Tengu. Try the seared tuna and pineapple sake.
The Los Angeles area is served by six commercial and several dozen smaller private airports. With nine terminals and a constant flow of domestic and international flights, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the largest and most widely used. Though LAX offers the most flight selection, using one of the smaller ones like Long Beach Airport (LGB), Bob Hope Airport (BUR) or Orange County Airport (SNA) may save travelers time and some grief. The public transportation system, consisting of the Metro Rail and the L.A. bus lines (both $1.25 each way or $17 a week) are useful and inexpensive ways to get around. Both systems can be fairly complicated without maps and schedules, so the ideal way to get around the city is by car.
With a semi-arid climate, Los Angeles averages 329 days of sunshine per year. Most of the city’s precipitation comes during the winter months from late-November through January. Summers can get quite hot and fog can linger in many areas of the Los Angeles basin. Autumn is an ideal time of the year to visit, with comfortable temperatures and clear skies.
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Villa Delle Stelle
With the Hollywood sign in full view this "House of the Stars" lives up to its name with extraordinary personal service that begins with a welcome of wine, gourmet cheese, and fresh French baguettes. Choose from a variety of professionally styled suites or treat yourself to the detached bungalow that provides a private side yard and screened porch. Satisfy your desire to live like a star and bask in a smorgasbord of a la carte services like a private chef, massage therapist and hair dresser or see the sights from the tinted windows of your limousine.(more)
Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza
Located in the Cultural District, you'll delight in the views of the California Plaza Watercourt and Bunker Hill from your room in this downtown four diamond hotel. If you're feeling hungry stop into the Noe Restaurant to sample the Japanese infused American cuisine and signature martinis or select one of 16 quality cigars from their humidor and relish the aroma on the cigar-friendly deck. Catch a game at the nearby Staples Center and cheer on the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, Sparks or Avengers at this world-class arena.(more)
Sophisticated tastes abound in luxuriant ultra-private accommodations. Tickle your taste buds in the afternoon with a cup of Jasmine Darjeeling or Passion Fruit tea on The Terrace overlooking Swan Lake as you nibble smoked salmon finger sandwiches or scones with Devonshire cream. Get a lesson in pairing wine with food at a multi-course Winemaker Dinner or discover a truly unique event with Table One, an in-kitchen experience with executive chef Douglas Dodd.(more)
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
Select one of many customized packages and you'll take center stage at this upscale modern-styled LA hotel. Just down Hollywood Boulevard from the Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre you can revel in celebrity style treatment at the on site Spa Luce or dine on California influenced cuisine at Twist Restaurant and Bar. Make your next corporate or social event one to remember in the marvelous Grand Ballroom catered by Wolfgang Puck and delivering a majestic floor to ceiling view of LA.(more)
Magic Castle Hotel
Get ready to see mystifying feats of customer service when you stay at this legendary LA landmark. During the day you can lounge by the pool and watch as attendants appear out of thin air providing popsicles and chilled rosemary and mint infused towels or stay cool in your air conditioned apartment style suite. In the evening, those 21 and over are granted access to the exclusive Magic Castle Club where you can view amazing acts of prestidigitation performed by some of the world's best magicians.(more)
J. Paul Getty Museum
Built into the hills above Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum is a cutting edge art and cultural museum that educates and displays masterpiece works of fine and visual art. It houses European paintings, sculpture, drawings, photography and manuscripts. Highlights of the museum include 18th century French decorative arts, Etruscan antiques and European paintings from the likes of such luminaries as Monet, Cezanne and Van Gogh. The Getty also houses a comprehensive book store and gift shop.(more)
Union Station opened in 1939. It has massive and ornate waiting rooms an adjacent ticket concourse. This station served as the setting for the 1950 film Union Station that starred William Holden and Nancy Olsen. It is located opposite of Olvera Street. This station was partially designed by a father and son team; John and Donald Parkinson. There are enclosed garden patios on either side of the waiting room and passengers are directed through the gardens when leaving their train. The restaurant attached to the station is the last of the “Harvey House” chain.
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
In the midst of downtown LA is where you’ll find the cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The cathedral services as a model church for all parish churches. The design of the cathedral is rich in cultural diversity. Mass is celebrated in 42 different languages. You can purchase a guidebook at the Cathedral store for a small fee and take a self guided tour. The booklet explains the highlights of the Cathedral, the artwork and the grounds, or you may want to take advantage of a free guided tour offered daily Monday through Friday.(more)
Westwood Memorial Park
This is a small cemetery in size but it contains some of the biggest stars in Hollywood including Marilyn Monroe. This cemetery allows you to drive directly in the park to locate celebrity graves and you can download a map from the website that shows the location of the graves. There are no maps available at the cemetery but the staff on duty is very helpful.
Sony Pictures Studio Tour
You can step back in while on the Sony Picture Tour. The studios are located on one of the most famous lots, where the Yellow Brick Road wound through Munchkin land and the Men in Black battled the aliens. Spiderman catapulted from skyscraper to skyscraper here. The tour will inform you about TV and films made at the studio and you can see the sets of hit game shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.(more)