Los Angeles might be the big budget capital of cinema, but that is not to say that the Hollywood haute and haughty permeate the city’s cultural mood on its many other levels. Los Angeles is a multilayered and multiethnic urban and suburban sprawl from the waves crashing beneath Santa Monica Pier to the snow capped mountains of San Gabriel.
State of the art entertainment and arts facilities are entangled among the high rises of Downtown, the remaining bohemian hippie culture of Venice Beach and the multitude of 5 a.m. joggers, housekeepers, writers and musicians who call this City of Angels home.
Once you’ve booked your flight to Los Angeles, remember to reserve a rental car! Los Angeles is fairly easy to navigate but is a spread out conglomeration of many smaller cities and enclaves. Buses and taxis run regularly but your wallet and your schedule will be happy to have regular transportation in this auto-powered metropolis.
SoCal Contemporary: Beyond the Beach
Los Angeles has long been a bastion of cultural growth and exploration, even longer than it has had the beach-bum reputation. Downtown is once again creating the trendy and elegant buzz of L.A.’s arts and dining atmosphere, far from it’s strictly business and crime lapse of the 1980s.
The new Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry is now the home of the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra and considered to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls on the planet. If you can’t get tickets to a show, visit for the stunning architecture against Downtown’s skyscrapers. The Music Center is just down the street where you can attend the Los Angeles Opera at the beautiful Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or perhaps catch Al Pacino in a one man play at the Mark Taper Forum.
J. Paul Getty made his mark on the other side of town with the stately Getty Museum presiding over West L.A. from its perch atop the Sepulveda Pass. The fine modern and European collection combined with the crisp marbled lines of the gallery rooms makes for a complete visual arts experience.
Getty’s historic Villa, a collection of Etruscan and Roman antiquities, opened in 2006 and is just a beautiful drive up the coast to Malibu. Make sure to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for its adjacent tar pits (yes, real tar pits!) where bones of mammoths and other prehistoric creatures have been excavated.
For car lovers, the Peterson Automotive Museum is just across the street, boasting a rare and exotic collection of everything from mint condition muscle cars to the latest Lamborghini Diablo.
Get Out of Town When You Travel to Los Angeles
Los Angeles is not only a prime destination for all year weather, but for regional access to all season activities. Ski and snow resorts like Big Bear are only hours away while excellent surf locations are scattered up and down the local coast.
In the heart of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area is the world’s largest urban national park with miles of hiking and cycling trails, climbing areas and horse ranches. It is also home of the Griffith Park Observatory, a romantic mountaintop science center where you can see the real stars of Los Angeles up close!
Whatever draws you to travel to Los Angeles, it will be the incredible eclectic charm of the many different neighborhoods and cultures that keeps you inspired over again, not to mention the serenity of a big city with a visible skyline. A stop at a Mexican taqueria or a day at the Farmers’ Market is essential to capturing the flavor of Los Angeles.