Los Angeles, the USA’s second largest city after New York, sprawls along the Pacific coast of southern California. Its coastline actually stretches 122km from Malibu to Long Beach, while inland, the city spreads out to fill a vast, flat and once arid basin ringed by the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains. However, there is more to LA than Hollywood. Disneyland, America’s famous fun park is the area’s most popular site and well worth a visit. The city is also home to many world-renowned cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the LA Philharmonic (now based in the striking Walt Disney Concert Hall), the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa. Visitors come to see the huge Hollywood sign in Griffith Park and the mansions of the stars in Beverly Hills, but also to experience the nightlife on Sunset Strip, the beach life, the car culture and just to people watch. LA is exuberant – there are few places in the world where the phrase ‘Express Yourself’ is taken so literally. From classic cars to silicone, LA represents people’s dreams – and thousands come seeking fame and fortune or just a new life. Los Angeles is the country’s gateway for immigrants from Asia, the Pacific Rim, Eastern Europe, Mexico and Latin America. People from 160 countries, speaking 96 different languages, make up Los Angeles.
Public Transport – Though LA is one of the most car-oriented cities in the USA, public transport is good and swift. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates one of the largest fleets with a dense network of Metro Bus lines (buses) and Metro Rail lines (subway). Due to the distances, buses can be time-consuming but the subway is a good option and it just takes 12 minutes from Downtown to Hollywood. Downtown Los Angeles also has its own bus system called DASH. In the Metro Rail System, the Blue Line connects Downtown and Long Beach and the Green Line runs along the Century Freeway connecting Norwalk and El Segundo. The Red Line connects Union Station, Downtown LA, Hollywood, Universal City and North Hollywood while the Gold Line runs from Union Station to Pasadena.
Taxis – Although taxis are readily available, the size of Los Angeles makes them expensive and impractical for cross-town journeys. They are more useful for night journeys within one area. Visitors should look for the official Los Angeles Taxicab Seal before getting in. Be aware that if travelling from Beverly Hills and Independent Taxi Company are the only companies allowed traveling from there to Los Angeles. Taxis cannot be hailed on the street but there are ranks at major hotels and they can be telephoned for: All official taxis charge the same rates.
Most synonymous with the movie kingdom, Hollywood comprises of 3 main boulevards: Sunset Boulevard known for its clubs and nightlife, Hollywood Boulevard for its movie history and Melrose Avenue for shopping. Hollywood is most accessible by the Red Line Subway.
Hollywood Boulevard - This where some of the biggest attractions are located. Here you can compare your hand and footprints with the legendary stars like Harrison Ford, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne at Mann’s Chinese Theatre.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – Built by showman Sid Grauman in 1927, this is the most famous of the flamboyant picture palaces along this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard. The ticket booth is where the hand and footprints of Hollywood celebrities are embedded into the cement. This signature parade started quite by accident when, at the grand opening, actress Constance Talmadge tripped and stepped in wet cement. Among the more unusual signatures are Jimmy Durante’s nose and the hoof prints of Roy Roger’s horse Trigger. VIP backstage tours take about 35 minutes and include a short film. The cinema still shows first-run movies, another way to see its lavish interior.
Hollywood Walk of Fame – The Hollywood Walk of Fame passes outside the front of the Chinese Theatre. This trail of bronze stars embedded in the paving stones runs 5.5km along Hollywood Boulevard and along Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard. It honours artists in the film, television and music industries and the first star imbedded in the pavement in 1960 was one for Joanne Woodward. Today, they number well over 2,000.
Hollywood and Highland - Built around the Chinese Theatre, this massive retail and entertainment complex, which opened in 2001, is known as Hollywood and Highland because of its location above the Hollywood and Highland subway station. The open-air, five-storey complex includes shops, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, a hotel, a ballroom and the Hollywood Motion Picture Collection. It is also home to the Kodak Theater, often known as the Academy Awards Theater as it has become the permanent venue for the Oscars ceremony. The complex’s observation tower showcases a panoramic view of the famous Hollywood sign.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – This classic 12-storey 305-room hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Hollywood. The first Oscars ceremony took place here on 19 May 1929. Recently restored to its Spanish colonial splendor, it is one of the key attions on Hollywood Boulevard.
Paramount Pictures – The only major studio here that does the 2 hour guided tour in Hollywood. The tour is both a historical ode to filmmaking and a real-life, behind-the-scenes look at a working movie and television facilities in day-to-day operation and chances of spotting a celebrity are pretty good. Visits typically include a walk-through of the soundstages of TV shows or feature films, though you can’t enter while taping is taking place.
Hollywood Wax Museum – The world-famous Hollywood Wax Museum’s wax artistry and expert craftsmanship bring stars such as Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp together in a mesmerizing display where visitors step inside the scenes of movie blockbusters, including “Castaway” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and classic TV shows.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not – This is a museum devoted to the bizarre, contains more than 300 exhibits, such as a shrunken head, a six-legged cow, a full size portrait of Hollywood cowboy John Wayne fashioned from dryer lint, and a sculpture of Marilyn Monroe made from 264,000 discarded $ 1 dollar bills. To find this place look for the large T-rex on the roof.
Guinness World Records Museum - From the Largest Work of Art to the Lowest Limbo, record-breaking facts and feats are brought to life at the Guinness World Records Museum in Hollywood. The museum vividly showcases records from the great to the gross in a fun up-close look at pop culture, history and science. Visitors also get a feel for racing 240 mph in the world’s fastest Formula One car, speeding across the snow in the world’s longest snowmobile race and more in the Adrenaline Theater.
Kodak Theatre - This half-hour walking tour is your VIP access to the home of the Academy Awards® Ceremonies. Step inside and revel in the elegance of this state of the art facility. See an Oscar® statuette, visit the exclusive George Eastman VIP Room, view 26 Academy Award® images, learn where this year’s nominees sat, and gain an insider’s view of the behind-the-scenes production of many popular events such as the American Idol finals, the AFI Awards, the daytime Emmies, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, live concerts, cultural festivals and musicals. The Kodak Theatre stage has hosted the world’s top performers, including Celine Dion, Prince, Dixie Chicks, American Ballet Theatre and the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet.
Sunset Boulevard - Sunset Boulevard is a street in the western part of Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway at the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades. Approximately 35 km in length, the famous boulevard passes through or near Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades. The best-known section of Sunset Boulevard is probably the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, which is a center for nightlife in the Los Angeles area.
Melrose Avenue – What Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is to the rich, Melrose Avenue of Los Angeles’ Westside is to kitsch. Melrose Avenue caters to a contemporary, off-beat audience — those who are into funky clothes, gaudy jewelry, peculiar artwork, odd furniture, bizarre trinkets and just about anything else that’s kooky, zany or left of center. So it’s no wonder that the boutiques, as well as the people who patronize them, are wonderful sources for window shopping and people watching.
This is an enclaved city in Los Angeles County, surrounded almost entirely by Los Angeles. Since the 1950′s Beverly Hills has marketed itself as a high-end shopping paradise and home of the rich and famous, which still rings true today – its reputation has even been the basis of a few popular TV shows such as The Beverly Hillbillies and Beverly Hills, 90210. Santa Monica Boulevard bisects the city, with most of the businesses to the south, and the north being primarily residential. Most visitors come to shop or dream of shopping, or to try and hunt down their favorite celebrities’ homes.
Rodeo Drive – This place along with the nearby walk-street Two Rodeo is known for its extremely high-end shops and its celebrities.
Greystone Mansion – Greystone manor is the largest mansion that has ever been built (46000 square feet) in the city built by Oil-tycoon Edward Dohen. It has been used for several Hollywood movies including Indecent Proposal, Mafia and The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner & Whitney Houston. Even though the home is now empty and closed for visitors, people wanting to get a closer look are welcome to drive through the wrought iron gates and walk the grounds of this beautiful estate.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
The world’s largest film and television studio brings you a theme park of your favorite movies in thrilling and fun adventures. Go ‘”behind the scenes” as you learn movie industry secrets and how special effects are used to make your favorite movies come to life. Major attractions are the Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic Park rides, virtual 3D adventures of Shrek 4D and the Terminator 2 3D, the terror-filled movie sets of Van Helsing and Fortress Dracula. Take the world-famous Studio Tour and you may see movie stars filming at the working sound stages. The Backlot Tram Tour is a must do. You’ll experience an 8.3 earthquake, have a close encounter with the great white shark –Jaws and swing on the Empire State Building with King Kong. After a day of thrills and laughter, visit Universal City Walk, where you can shop for movie souvenirs, dine at one-of–a-kind restaurants or see the memorabilia at the Hard Rock Café – Hollywood. The Simpsons are the latest stars to get their own ride at Universal Studios HollywoodSM. The ride features all the show’s most popular characters with voices provided by the original actors, as well as thrills, chills and live shows.
Others: Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Mountain, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Marina Del Rey, Petersen Car Museum.