5 Things to Do when Visiting Los Angeles

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1. Visit Hollywood & Highland. It was called Tinseltown for a reason — the main attraction in this movie buff’s paradise is Hollywood and Highland, the famous intersection where nearly everything is designed to glamor visitors. From a towering complex of designer stores to a crowd of costumed street performers, to a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex poking its head through the roof of the Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not museum, this area can provide a busy afternoon. Especially if you venture further south and west to check out the area’s vintage stores (like Wasteland), cult restaurants (Pink’s Hot Dogs) and historical attractions (the La Brea Tar Pits). The numerous shops and tourist attractions along Hollywood Blvd add to the fun, as do the holiday decorations of you come in December.

2. Go to Universal Studios. Not far from Hollywood, Universal Studios (100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City) is a hive of fun tourist activity that combines amusement park rides and a carnival atmosphere with a movie-studio feel that almost puts you inside your favorite flicks. On the famous Backlot Tour, you can take the Jaws ride to see “Bruce” (the shark’s nickname) charge out of the water at you, see the New York set where Manhattan-based movie scenes are filmed, and see how a heavy rain storm is created. Or you can go on rides designed after your favorite movies, where you can be taken up and swept along with the plot, then probably dropped from a staggering height.

3. Hit the Beach. Santa Monica State Beach offers a nice, tourist-friendly getaway, though it can get crowded and hectic on weekends. The bright side is it’s right next to the Santa Monica Pier, a well-trafficked amusement park area where you will find an abundance of food, entertainment and more costumed performers. This beach can be found along Ocean Avenue in the vicinity of Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. For a more relaxing beach hangout, Manhattan Beach is about 30 minutes south, where a paved walkway makes it good for sightseeing. Or you can go about 40 minutes north to get to El Matador Beach near Malibu for a more secluded, scenic beach.

4. Go to a Dodger game. Catching a baseball game is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, and the local team is there to entertain visitors and rabid fans alike. Baseball fans can find Dodger Stadium at 1000 Elysian Park Ave, and the area’s public transport is an easy way to get there without paying for parking. Ticket prices range from $9 for upper-deck seats to around $70 for most other seats, for full-priced adults. More ticketing information can be found on the Dodgers Web site. Just watch out, because Dodgers fans are fiercely passionate about their team, and they like to drink huge cups of beer.

5. Go to Disneyland. It’s what every major athlete does after scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run. Disneyland (1313 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim) isn’t just for kids (even though it tends to send them into ecstatic spasms), as the park offers the biggest, brightest and most complete amusement park experience you’ll find outside of a dream. The rides last longer, the park-wandering characters are happier, and even the customer service folk are more helpful than any other park, despite the crowds. Explore the park’s many themed “lands,” see the light parade and jump onto the newest rides, as well as the nostalgic classics like Pinocchio and Small World. Of course, Pirates of the Caribbean never ceases to amaze – watch out for Captain Jack Sparrow sightings, which can seem surreally lifelike.

With a weekend to spare and a means of reliable transportation, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Los Angeles, from restaurants, live music and shopping, or just people-watching. Whatever you do, you’ll have plenty to tell your friends back home.

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