Home to a number of world famous attractions concentrated in a relatively small area, there are so many options available, it’s hard to decide where to begin. To help you decide, first consider your preferences. What do you like to do? Lay around on the beach? Go shopping? Soak up a wee bit o’ culture at a museum? Get your heart pumping with the vertical plunge of an amusement park ride? All this and more can be found in LA, where the sun often comes out to play, and every star is just waiting to be born. Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Los Angeles.
LA is synonymous with Hollywood. The white letters that stand out on the hillside of Mount Lee are like white pillars of dying dreams, a mocking reminder of fame and fortune for every failed actor still waiting for their big break. Even so, tourists are looking to glimpse their favorite star or starlet in this celebrity saturated city, and to feel closer to celebrity, the Hollywood Walk of Fame offers a place to stroll where 2,400 celebrities strolled before. Emblazoned on pink terrazzo, Hollywood stars’ names are literally written in the stars...and in gold script too. And not too far away, you can place your hands and feet into the famous hand and footprints that line the pavement of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Ever wanted to be Julia Roberts? No, not Julia in Pretty Woman – actual Julia...the one who can afford to shop on Rodeo Drive? Well, click your heels on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and that just might happen. If not, go window-shopping at the high-end stores and gasp audibly at the price tags. That’ll be sure to get you a Pretty Woman once-over from the sales clerks. When you grow sick of “the look,” you might want to take a gander instead at Anderson Court, a shopping mall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which is only a short ways away.
California’s quirky nerve center has long ago made its home in Venice Beach. Tourists are drawn to the area’s offbeat whimsy, quite visible in the freak shows that frequent the boardwalk. From body builders to skateboarders, street mimes to hacky-sackers, the Venice Beach boardwalk is a stage show for any talent scout, if the talent they’re scouting is blast-from-the-past rollerblading. If you’re looking to run, walk or just chill, Venice Beach is the place to be.
Become one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys and stay a child forever at Disneyland. Spread across seven lands, this epic theme park is an explosion of Disney princesses and legendary Disney mascots, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto. The list is never-ending. You can take a walk down Main Street USA to flip the pages of history, back to the turn-of-the 19th century, strait through to Frontierland and New Orleans square. Don’t forget Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger too! You can visit Pooh’s home in Critter County. Or, for the more adventurous thrill-seeker, take a plunge down Splash Mountain or a flight through Space Mountain, some of the more stomach-churning roller coasters in the park.
Make an afternoon of it – gaze glassy-eyed at the galleries of Getty Center. Although Getty Center is in no way comparable to the Louvre, the Vatican Museum or the Met, it certainly has an impressive range of pieces, dating from the Renaissance to contemporary artwork. Sculptures by Miró and Moore, paintings by Rubens, Gainsborough, and the Impressionists – Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, and Renoir –, they can all be found at the Getty. There is also an extensive photography collection, as well as a collection of the French decorative arts, both worth a look.
It’s often said that no one walks in LA. Well, now you can. Walking tours are a growing tourist attraction in Los Angeles, so reserve a spot ahead of time, as they fill up fast. One great touring company is the Los Angeles Conservancy walking tour, which highlights the city’s top sights. On a weekly basis, Downtown’s art deco architecture and historic theaters are explored, while on a bi-monthly basis, you might attend the modern skyline tour.
Though this is Hollywood, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park has nothing to do with this museum, which marvels at the scientific wonders of the world, including such things as teeny tiny artistic sculptures, dogs from the Soviet space program, the decaying dice of Ricky Jay, and the Napoleon library, to name a few. Fact and fiction intertwine in this museum until you don’t know up from down.
Despite its namesake, the Walt Disney Concert Hall doesn’t simply play soundtracks from Disney movies (although that would be cool, wouldn’t it?). Rather, the hall is the number one LA Music Center. The auditorium was designed by Frank Gehry and, with an open platform stage, the acoustics are phenomenal. Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the renowned LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale, but also offers a comprehensive program of concerts year-round.
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