A sprawling city of mountains and beaches, mansions and dingbats, global celebrities and aspiring screenwriters, Los Angeles offers a tourist experience with a difference. Too big to easily walk around, too spread out to be covered on public transport, Los Angeles is a city best appreciated by car. With over 527 miles of freeway, wide roads and cheap car rentals available it is fairly easy to begin driving around this vast city. If you absolutely must travel on foot, try to stick to a couple of areas with a more traditional lay-out, such as Santa Monica, old town Pasadena, Hollywood Boulevard or Downtown L.A.
We have visited Los Angeles more than ten times, and know the city extremely well, but for those visiting the City of Angels for the first time it can be a disorientating experience. Due to the size of the city, and the fact that many tourist attractions are often dozens of miles away from each other, if you don’t know exactly where you want to go, you will spend half your time just trying to navigate. One of the most famous sights in the conurbation is Disneyland, an 85 acre theme park located in Anaheim. Far smaller, and more humble in scale, than its more famous neighbours in Paris and Florida, this Disney extravaganza is still worth a visit, especially if you have children in tow.
Yet no visitor to the city can leave without sampling the delights of Hollywood, where tourists can watch a movie at Grauman’s, take a stroll down the Walk of Fame and tour the homes of the rich and famous. Travellers can even sample a bit of movie glamour by visiting Universal Studios, getting behind the scenes access to active filming lots, and take thrilling rides through the ever-popular theme park. Nearby art galleries and museums such as LACMA, Armand Hammer and the Getty Center offer great cultural offerings, while incredible views of the whole city can be taken in from stunning, high altitude viewpoints such as Mulholland Drive and the Griffith Observatory.
As the worldwide centre of the music and movie industries, L.A. is also great for catching gigs, or obtaining tickets to watch television shows as they are filmed. Check before you travel to find out about availability, though we have been able to attend filmings at short notice.
A visit to the beach is another must-do in this sun-blessed corner of California, and the Southland offers seaside retreats for almost every possible niche; bodybuilding and alternative lifestyles at Venice, skating and sunbathing in Santa Monica, upscale and smart down in Newport Beach, or quiet and windswept up at Malibu. Surfers, however, should pay a visit to Huntington Beach, where watersports competitions are held frequently. For a unique take on beach culture, try hiring a yacht for the day and venture out into the Pacific towards Catalina, where you will be able to see L.A. from afar, and, if you are lucky, view marine wildlife such as dolphins up close. Marina Del Rey and Newport Beach for the best harbours for this activity.
It seems the 12.8 million resident in the greater L.A. region just love to eat, as the city is packed full of restaurants catering to every taste, from street-corner taco trucks serving spicy Mexican cuisine, to upscale vegan restaurants in trendy neighbourhoods like Silverlake and Los Feliz. With a multicultural population, Los Angeles can offer hundreds of different ethnic cuisines, as well as old school American favourites such as Burgers and Hot Dogs. To try the former, grab a double-double at In-and-Out, the city’s favourite burger joint, while to get your hands on the latter, make sure to queue up at Pink’s Hot Dogs, an Angeleno institution serving chili dogs to the public since 1939.
Ultimately, such is the size of Los Angeles that each visitor will have a unique experience of the city. In fact on each of our trips to the city it has seemed as if we were enjoying an entirely new place each time. While Los Angeles may not be filled with the traditional tourist districts of other big cities around the world, the sheer variety on offer is incredible. The best advice when visiting this city is to try and live like a local, enjoy the beautiful climate and stunning surroundings, and, instead of rushing around to a million different places, live the slower, chilled-out pace of life that marks the city out as unique. And don’t worry about the traffic; you get used to it.Write a Review
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