Los Angeles -- those
two words invariably get people thinking. Perhaps of the thousands of movies
that have come out of the city, perhaps of the designer names scattered
throughout Beverley Hills, that famous Hollywood sign, or maybe the smog and
the traffic congestion.
Whatever it is you think of, Los Angeles certainly makes its mark on people,
whether they've visited the city or not, and with good reason. It's the
second largest city in America with a population of more than four million
people, spread over something like 500 square miles -- and that's just in
the city! It's reckoned the Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to another
13 million people. If you're heading to California, it's one of those places
you have to visit -- and of course it's easy to get to for anyone visiting
But where to start? Nearly every tourist heads for Hollywood Boulevard and
it's easy to see why. The sight of Mann's Chinese
is one that's immediately familiar to any Disney fan that's seen it's
likeness at the Disney-MGM Studios. When you see the real thing for the
first time though, you're immediately struck by how much vision and
showmanship Sid Graumann had. This place really is unique and certainly
doesn't blend in with anything around it, but that's one of its attractions!
And of course another attraction is the handprints in front of the
It's worth arriving early to get any photos, as this place gets mobbed later
in the day.
Hollywood Boulevard is also home to the Walk of Fame, and while not as
prestigious as getting your handprint done, it's really fun to find your
be sure to print off a list before you leave home. The Walk of Fame
literally goes on for miles and you do need to have an idea of where to find
the star that you’re looking for. A couple that Disney fans should keep an
eye out for include Walt Disney at 7201 Hollywood Boulevard, Roy O. Disney
at 6833, Mickey Mouse at 6925, Donald Duck at 6840 and Snow White at 6910.
This area is also home to the Kodak
Theater, which hosts
the Oscars. Part of the Hollywood and Highland complex, it's fascinating to
walk down the stairs and see the names of the movies which have taken the
Best Picture Oscar each year. If you want to see more of the
theater, guided tours
run daily and can be purchased at the box office. This complex is also home
to shops and restaurants and a very reasonably priced car park, where
parking will cost you up to a maximum of $10 per day -- a good bargain for a
Let's be honest -- we're all fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous,
otherwise the press wouldn't cover their every move with such detail. That
could explain why Beverley Hills is such a huge attraction for visitors to
Los Angeles. Packed with world famous designer names, this area of the city
just drips with money and of course, there's always a chance you could spot
a star out doing their shopping. It really is worth seeing, just to see how
the other half live! If stars are what you've come to Los Angeles to spot,
then this is also the area to find their homes. As well as taking a guided
tour, you can also do it yourself with guides to where celebrities live. One
guide that's particularly comprehensive is
Celebrity and Movie Star Addresses.
Although movies may have made LA famous, they're only half the story for
visitors. The city also has a lot of history that many never see. That
history really started with La Brea Tar Pits, which were formed around
42,000 years ago, when oil rose to the surface of the earth. Animals became
trapped by that oil and their remains were then fossilized. The Page Museum
here allows visitors to learn about the city during the last Ice Age, when
the city was dominated by sabre toothed tigers, rather than movie stars!
History is just as evident, but a lot more recent at Olveda Street, the
birthplace of Los Angeles. It's also known as El Pueblo Historic Monument,
after the original pueblo that was built by the 44 settlers of Los Angeles
in 1781. Today you can still find many historic buildings here, including
the oldest brick home in the city and there's also a traditional
Mexican-style market to browse. It's an odd area, set right in the middle of
modern downtown, and considering the development in LA over the years, it's
amazing it's survived so well.
A far more modern structure that's also well worth a visit is the
The summer home of the LA Philharmonic since 1922, it's a unique concert
venue and it is worth checking to see if anyone will be playing there during
your trip. Even if there isn't anything that appeals, the museum is open
year round from Tuesdays to Saturdays and is free to
visit. Just remember, if you do get a chance to go to the Bowl, be sure to
hike up high enough to get a photo with the Hollywood sign in the
background. It's not an easy climb, but it's worth it!
And speaking of the Hollywood sign, you'll get some superb views of it from
Griffith Park. Covering 4,210 acres, this park got its name from Colonel
Griffith J. Griffith, who donated the land to the city in 1896. As well as
the wonderful views, the main attraction here is the Griffith Park
Observatory that has recently reopened, following a massive renovation and
expansion. One of its main draws is its superb planetarium and the 12-inch
Zeiss telescope, located in a roof top dome at the east end of the building,
allowing people to view the stars and planets for themselves.
With so much to see, you might be wondering where to grab some good food.
Unsurprisingly, LA is packed with a myriad of places to eat, but some of the
best include the
Farmers' Market which was started during the Great Depression of the
1930's as a place for farmers to sell their produce. Today the food here is
still first class and you'll be hard pressed to find fresher meals. If you
like hot dogs then don't miss
Pink's at 709
La Brea Boulevard. A family owned hog dog stand since 1939, you'll see lines
around the block at almost any time of the day, even the early hours of the
There's so much to see in Los Angeles that ideally you'll either need a car
to get around or you can also join a guided tour. As you'd expect, there are
many to choose from -- we went for
and were very impressed with the tour and the knowledge of our guide. In
recent years, with the creation of a new subway system in the 1990's, public
transport has become another way to get around Los Angeles. The
metro system includes rail
and bus services, which will take you to most of the major sights.
About the Author:
Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to
America. Although they're regular visitors to Walt Disney World, their
travels have also taken them to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, San
Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC in the last year or so!
This article appeared in our January 18, 2007 newsletter --
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