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Los Angeles is the most populous city in California, and the second most populous city in the United States after New York City. Located on a broad basin in Southern California, the city is surrounded by vast mountain ranges, valleys, forests, the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert. The metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the United States and home to over 17 million people who hail from all parts of the globe. The metropolitan area is spread across Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, and parts of San Bernardino County and Riverside County. Los Angeles is an important center of culture, business, media, and international trade, but it is most famous for being a major center of the world's television, motion picture, and recording industry, which forms the base of its status. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Los Angeles
Showbusiness is what has earned L.A. its fame, so it's no surprise that many come for the sights of Hollywood, where you will find such landmarks to film as the world's most famous theater in the world, Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or gaze up at the Hollywood Sign overlooking the area. However, while the entertainment industry is still headquartered here, most of the major studios have moved elsewhere; Universal City is home to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, while nearby Burbank is home to the Warner Brothers Studios and NBC Studios, among others. On the Westside, you will find the historic Culver Studios, home of Sony Pictures, in Culver City, CBS Television City in Fairfax, and the headquarters of 20th Century Fox in Century City.
Of course, many also come in the hopes of seeing celebrities. While your chances of running into one in Hollywood are rather low, you may get lucky in the glamorous neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Malibu, which are home to many celebrity mansions and whose fancy restaurants are sometimes frequented by movie stars.
Olvera Street in Downtown is the historic center of LA; the site of the original pueblo (village) the city derived its name from (Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles - Our Lady the Queen of the Angels). The oldest building in the city is located here and is open to visitors, as are a number of Mexican restaurants and shops. Across the street is another historic site: Union Station, the main railway hub for the city.
Of Los Angeles' museums, the Getty Center (aka the J. Paul Getty Museum) in West LA is perhaps the most renowned, regularly hailed as one of the finest art museums in the country. Located at the top of the Santa Monica mountains, it has a spectacular view of the L.A. basin and the Pacific Ocean, with an extensive arts collection inside. The old museum, the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, is also worth a visit. Another splendid institution is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which has two branches in Downtown. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Wilshire features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a new contemporary museum on its campus.
Exposition Park holds two of LA's best science museums, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Science Center, both of which has an extensive range of exhibits. The Science Center is reputed for its aircraft collection, which includes the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Another excellent museum is the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Wilshire, which preserves the famous tar pits and showcases numerous fossils that have been excavated from the tar.
There are also a number of excellent historical and cultural museums. The Autry Museum in Griffith Park has numerous exhibits on the history of the west. Exposition Park is home to the California African-American Museum while Little Tokyo holds the Japanese American National Museum. In West LA you'll find the Museum of Tolerance, which has a strong focus on the history of the Holocaust.
Griffith Park in Northwest LA is the second largest city park in the whole country and is a great place for hikes or picnics, with great views of the city. Within the park you will also find the L.A. Zoo, the Autry Museum, the Griffith Observatory, and plenty of recreational activities. Also in Northwest LA are Echo Park and MacArthur Park, both of which are popular neighborhood parks with excellent views of downtown. Above nearby Hollywood is Mulholland Drive, a famous road that is the setting for endless movies and first kisses, and provides great views over the city.
Exposition Park in South Central LA is a lovely retreat, with beautiful gardens and a number of cultural institutions including the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, and the L.A. Coliseum. Pan Pacific Park in Wilshire is another popular neighborhood park.
About Los Angeles
The city enjoys a temperate climate for most of the year. Summers are warm, and occasionally hot, and brings the infamous dirty smog, though significantly improved over the years. Between the months of June - September average daytime highs are 82°F (28°C), and nighttime lows average 63°F (17°C). Winters are mild and bring much of the annual rainfall. Between the months of December - March average daytime highs are 68°F (20°C), and nighttime lows are 49°F (9°C). The season of spring is comprised of a mixture of gloomy rainy days and warm sunny days; and fall has the same mixture, typically with more sunny days, however.
Temperatures can also fluctuate wildly depending where you are in the city. For example, it can be 84°F (29°C) in Venice and 93°F (34°C) in Pacoima on the same day in mid-July. The coast tends to stay a bit cooler which helps during summer days, but as such, is chillier at night even in the summer. Bring a sweater and pants if you stay for dinner near the coast.
The Westside is home to the most famous beaches of LA: Venice Beach, with its colorful Boardwalk and Muscle Beach, and the adjacent town of Santa Monica, with its popular pier and amusement park. Further north are the scenic and also popular beaches of Pacific Palisades and Malibu.
South Bay is home to a number of beaches that are also very popular, in particular the Beach Cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach. Also good but less crowded than their counterparts is the beach in Torrance and the very scenic stretch of coastline in Palos Verdes.
Off the coast and enormously popular for people taking a day trip out of LA are the beaches of Catalina Island. Additionally, the Beach Cities of nearby Orange County are very popular with locals.
Los Angeles has great opportunities for seeing live pro sports. The Major League Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most famous teams in baseball and a game at Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park, in the hills north of downtown, is an absolute treat for baseball fans. However, LA's most successful sports franchise has been and remains the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball teams in history. They play in the Staples Center in Downtown along with the less-famous Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, who in recent years have risen from perennial losers to a competitive force. Also playing in the Staples Center are the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. The city's two Major League Soccer teams, Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy, play at the Stubhub Center in Carson.
For the second largest city in the country, Los Angeles has shown an inexplicable inability to hold down a NFL franchise (the San Diego Chargers remain as Southern California's only NFL team), something city leaders have long struggled to address. In the meantime, LA makes do with the local college teams. The USC Trojans football team plays in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park, while the UCLA Bruins football team plays in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which also hosts the annual famous college bowl game the stadium is named after.
In addition, baseball's Los Angeles Angels and hockey's Anaheim Ducks play in nearby Anaheim in Orange County.
Concerts and conventions
While the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood has more ambience, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena offers a chance of seeing concerts with 90,000 of your closest friends, the city of LA has its own concert venues that are worth exploring.
- Nokia Theatre at LA Live. Part of the $2.5 billion LA Live project, the Nokia Theatre is located near the Staples Center. The 7,100 seat venue hosts annual events such as the ESPY awards show and major-name concerts.
- Staples Center. While primarily a sports venue, Staples Center also hosts a large number of major-name concerts with its 19,000 seat capacity.
- LA Convention Center. Within walking distance of the Staples Center, the massive convention center hosts everything from the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) to the adult film industry's Erotica LA convention.
- LA Fair. A taste of rural living just outside of the large metropolis. The LA fair offers fun attractions for the entire family such as a petting zoo and rides.
The Los Angeles area is one of the best places in the country for food - you can find just about anything you can imagine somewhere within its loose borders. From traditional American diner culture (try Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood) to the new wave of organic cafes, to inexpensive taco trucks, and swanky eateries with breath-taking food, there are no shortage of options.
Los Angeles abounds with inexpensive, authentic food that represents the culinary traditions of L.A.'s many immigrant communities. You have to be willing to do a little legwork, go to neighborhoods you might not otherwise go to and often deal with charmless florescent-lit storefronts in strip malls, but your reward is hype-free, authentic cuisine from around the world served up at bargain prices. Food critic Jonathan Gold has been finding and reviewing these gems since the 1980s, mostly in the free paper LA Weekly.
The newest arrival on the L.A. food scene is the gourmet food truck. These are not your average taco trucks and construction-site catering operations (although those exist too), but purveyors of creative and surprisingly high-quality food. Food trucks, particularly taco trucks, can be found in most parts of the city. A few noteworthy food trucks are "Grill Em All," run by 2 metalheads doing outstanding gourmet hamburgers, "Nom Nom," doing Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, "Kogi," doing Korean-inspired tacos and burritos, and "Manila Machine," doing Filipino food, lets not forget "El Burger Luchador" serving up some of the most mouth-watering burgers on the planet. A listing of well known trucks can be found, along with a real-time map showing their locations on any given day online, and many trucks also have their own websites and post their daily schedules and locations on Twitter.
Coverage of regional food from other parts of the U.S. is spotty. Migration into the city has been disproportionately from Texas and Oklahoma, the South, Midwest and greater New York City and food representing these areas is easy enough to find. Food representing New England and other parts of the East Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Intermountain-Rocky Mountain regions can be elusive, along with many ethnic cuisines with central- and east-european origins. However L.A. is birthplace of the drive-thru and numerous fast food chains clog the roadsides. The In 'n Out Burger chain is far above average for hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes. Another famous Los Angeles establishment is Original Tommy's, which specializes in chili burgers.
The cultural diversity of Los Angeles is an evident influence on the local vegetarian food restaurant industry. You can find strictly vegan and vegetarian dining, be it American, Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, and Thai among others. Other dietary restrictions are catered to as well. For example Genghis Cohen in West Hollywood serves Jewish Chinese food and kosher Mexican or Italian is not hard to find along predominantly Jewish parts of Pico Boulevard.
There are several different supermarket chains of varying quality - for something different (and cheap) try Trader Joe's, a reputable grocery store with multiple locations (the original is in Pasadena), selling many organic products with no preservatives. They normally give out great samples to the public and sell their acclaimed Charles Shaw wine, also known as "Two Buck Chuck." Whole Foods is another market with multiple locations and a favorite among the health conscious -- but also a little pricey. Their salad bar is fully stocked, they have huge fresh burritos, sushi, hot dishes ready to go, and a comprehensive selections of pre-made, delicious salads. This is a great place to buy food for a picnic!
The cities of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, El Segundo and Santa Monica also offer numerous dining options.
LA visitors and locals alike have the opportunity to indulge in a selection of specially priced three-course menus from a wide variety of LA’s best restaurants during dineLA Restaurant Week.
The hotel bars are generally considered by Angelenos to be the nicest places to have drinks. Some of the more popular upscale ones include: Chateau Marmont (Sunset Strip), Skybar at The Mondrian (Sunset Strip), Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower (Sunset Strip), and The Rooftop Bar at The Standard (downtown). Hollywood and the Sunset Strip are generally considered the nightlife centers of LA, though neighborhoods such as Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park are home to the dive bars and cafes favored by trendy hipsters. Downtown has recently recaptured some of its former glory with a selection of popular nightlife destinations such as The Golden Gopher, The Edison and the bars/clubs at LA LIVE. Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor (Cahuenga between Selma and Hollywood Boulevard) boasts several popular bars in a row making bar-hopping a possibility in a city where it's not the norm.
Bars close at 2 am with most last calls at 1:30 or 1:45. It is worth noting that some bars and almost all clubs charge cover and some may have VIP lists that are relatively easy to get on. Look up promoters and ask them to add you to their list. This is the easiest way to get into clubs such as Ecco, the Kress, Myhouse and similar popular Hollywood clubs.
Los Angeles has a well-known, diverse and unique shopping traditions and destinations. Shopping malls will dominate your shopping trip as they are nearly inescapable in many of your destinations. For example, the Hollywood & Highland mall is a popular meeting point for those gazing at the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater. Other malls you may bump into are the Grove (next to the Farmer's Market) and the Beverly Center, which is quite unlike other shopping malls as it is multilevel with a nice view of Los Angeles from its food court patio.
Lacking any significant public square, Los Angeles funnels its commercial life onto its streets. Among the most popular street is Larchmont Blvd. which caters to the wealthy elite of Hancock Park with one-of-a-kind boutiques. Melrose Avenue, especially in the West Hollywood portion, one-ups Larchmont Blvd. with celebrity presence.
Broadway in Downtown will take you out of the comforts of manicured shopping centers and drop you onto its chaos. With merchandise geared towards the regions's millions of Latinos, forty dollars would probably get you a brand new wardrobe. You will also find pirated DVD's and CD's. You can find a lot of brand name merchandise at discounted prices. Broadway once was the city's premier boulevard and looking up above the gritty flea markets and you would see the opulent theaters that defined luxury in early 20th-century Los Angeles.
For a similar experience in a less-polished, but also livelier environment, try Alvarado Blvd around Wilshire & 6th. This district gives an insight to how most of working-class Los Angeles shops. Big deals can be found on a wide range of counterfeit goods, but don't stay too long after dark when the neighborhood gets sketchy. Make sure to check out the art deco buildings that exist in between the makeshift warehouses (malls), as well as the Alvarado Terrace Park, surrounded by early century mansions.
Downtown is the destination for some focused retail therapy. Want flowers? Why there's a Flower District in Downtown! Jewelry? Fashion? Seafood? Toys? Yep, there are entire districts in Downtown dedicated to these particular products. You can buy art in Gallery Row up and down Main Street or see artists at work in the Artist District. They are located mostly just east of the towering Financial District. Beware though as they exist along with the notorious Skid Row.
No matter what music you're into, Los Angeles will feature artists to your taste. Visit the Rock Venues on Sunset Blvd. Jazz Clubs in Hollywood. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown. etc. Los Angeles has an abundance of records stores scattered around the area. Also, though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of most regular record stores, there are still plenty of stores that sell new and used vinyl. Amoeba Music in Hollywood is without a doubt the best in the city. An exploration of underground music would be advised to perhaps begin at The Smell in Downtown or listen to KXLU 88.9 Monday-Friday for details on numerous shows.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Los Angeles on Wikivoyage.