Center of Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles has spectacular modern architecture in the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the austere Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art make downtown Los Angeles the closest thing to an arts center. Business people flood the cluster of downtown skyscrapers and offices. Young adventurers, artists, immigrants, and a concentrated population of the homeless live in Los Angeles. It’s worth getting out of the car to explore, even if you don’t believe it at first glance.
Bright and tarnished, good and bad, funny and sad: Hollywood is like the entertainment business itself. But they don’t make many movies here anymore. The neighborhood has slowly improved over the last decade. This brand of urban renewal mixes the new with the old: restorations of old movie palaces plus muddy new developments like the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex. And you can enjoy reminders of the area’s romantic past, like the Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Bowl.
An area for urban indulgences (shopping, dining, nightspots) rather than tourism. Its main arteries are the Sunset Strip (Sunset Boulevard), short for longtime clubbing and boffo billboards, and Melrose Avenue, lined with punk, gorgeous, and postmodern shops.
Beverly Hills, Century City and the Westside
Go for the glamour, the restaurants and the scene. This is the LA that gives coastal dwellers this fodder for naughty pranks: plastic surgery, sushi places galore, and a parade of custom cars inching down Westwood’s congested corridor along legendary streets. such as Sunset, Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevard. Beverly Hills is particularly good for peeking into paltry or glitzy excess; Rodeo Drive is the best known of its fabulous outdoor shopping areas. But don’t overlook the Westside’s cultural attractions, especially the dazzling Getty Center.
Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu
Santa Monica is not Los Angeles and is governed by a different set of rules. The atmosphere here sets this city apart from Los Angeles proper. Stereotypical beach scenes play out almost every day, with roller skaters, screaming kids on the pier, and bikini-clad girls on the sand. The Community is quite liberal and supports a large homeless population. Venice, just south of Santa Monica along the coast, is a more tacky mix of artists, beach bums, and yuppies, most of whom you’ll see on the Venice boardwalk. If you’re not into shopping or “the scene,” take a leisurely drive down Pacific Coast Highway with the Eagles blaring on the stereo. Life is good in Malibu, where the beach is king. The rich and famous hide out in their residential ‘Colonia’, but the rocky coves and incredible waves are open to all. And you can take a look at an extravagant residence of a different kind at Getty Villa Malibu.
San Fernando Valley
Known simply as ‘The Valley’, the San Fernando Valley is the undisputed center of film and television production. It also has a hard-to-beat reputation for vulgarity and soulless sprawl. Entertainment types don’t want to admit they live here, but they do. The main tourist draws are tied to the industry: Universal Studios Hollywood, studio tours at Warner Bros., and TV listening at NBC.
Like Santa Monica, Pasadena feels like it’s part of Los Angeles, but it’s a separate city. It’s a quiet and peaceful area to visit, with excellent Arts and Crafts houses and a couple of exceptional museums: the Norton Simon and the Huntington Estate in San Marino.
Long Beach, San Pedro and Palos Verdes
You’re likely to come here only if you’re interested in specific places, like the aquariums or the art deco Queen Mary ship.
Orange County and Catalina Island
For decades, Orange County was compared to Disneyland—that is, if visitors didn’t assume Disneyland was in Los Angeles. TV. Coastal spots like Huntington Beach, Newport Harbor and the Balboa Peninsula are perfect for relaxing in a beachfront hotel. Laguna Beach is wonderfully complete, with art festivals and nature reserves, as well as its beach. A short drive away is Cataline Island, with its small town and large nature reserve.
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