Whether you are in LA for the myth, the velocity or the edginess in creative and technological fields you will always find something interesting to do or to watch. In a little more than 200 years, Los Angeles has grown from a dusty outpost into one of the world’s largest and most complex cities offering top venues for everything from archaeology and the arts to food.
1. Sunset Strip
The heady mix of hip restaurants, nightclubs and bars along the city’s entertainment mile attracts legions of the young and the trendy. Gaining entry to the trendiest venues is easiest around 9pm and on weeknights and you should always avoid the traffic on the Strip on Friday and Saturday nights if possible.
2. Historic Hollywood Boulevard
The boulevard that gave birth to the movie industry is still associated with the stars, even if the only ones around today are those embedded in the sidewalk. For addictive cream puffs, head for Beard Papa, inside the Hollywood and Highland complex and also know that red signs along the boulevard indicate places the stars used to hang out in.
3. The Getty Center
One of the best grains in town, this striking hilltop complex is a marvel of modern architecture and a Mecca for fans of European art. And unlike most art museums, the Getty welcomes kids with special children-oriented audio guides and a staffed Family Room filled with games and various hands-on activities.
4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
One of the largest art museums in the US, LACMA offers a survey of artistic achievement in the world from prehistoric times to the present. If you are into Jazz music don’t miss the free jazz concerts on Friday nights (5.30pm-8.30pm) from April to December. The free Sunday chamber music series is also quite popular.
5. El Pueblo de Los Angeles
This historic district preserves LA’s oldest buildings, celebrating its Spanish, Mexican past with stores, eateries, and festivals. Mexican food should not be missed in this area and Olivera Street is a great place for an authentic Mexican meal. Another thing to look at for is volunteer docents who offer free guided tours of El Pueblo at 10am, 11am, and noon Tuesday to Saturday. Check in for this tour is at 130 Paseo de la Plaza.
6. Huntington Library, Art Collections, & Botanical Gardens
One of LA’s great cultural treasures invites visitors to experience its fine paintings, rare manuscripts, and gorgeous gardens. Picnics are not allowed but there is a self service restaurant that serves light meals and refreshments. Or better yet you can make reservations for English tea served in the Rose Garden Room, a time-honored Huntington tradition.
7. Universal Studios Hollywood (www.universalstudioshollywood.com)
A day at Universal involves high-tech thrill rides, live actions shows, and special effects extravaganzas. The Studio Tour takes visitors to the backlot of this actual working movie studio. Beat the crowds with the Front-of-the-Line Ticket or the guided VIP Experience, which includes an expanded Studio Tour.
8. Griffith Park
The largest city park in the nation offers a unique combination of rugged wilderness and such diversions as museums, a zoo, and an observatory. The landmark Hollywood Sign is located here as well. Picnics in this park are allowed or alternatively, the Golden Spur Café at the Museum of the American West serves breakfast and lunch.
9. Disneyland Resort
As timeless and ageless as Mickey Mouse himself, the original Disney Park has not lost its magic nearly half a century after it first opened. If you are staying in LA and want to be first through the gate when the parks open at 8am or 9am, leave at least 90 minutes early to avoid traffic.
10. Catalina Island
Catalina Island is a quick and easy getaway whose considerable charms include crystal clear waters, miles of undeveloped backcountry, and a sense of being far away from the bustle of big city LA. Catalina is at its most pleasant in the evening after the last ferry has whisked off the day-trippers, so consider an overnight stay.