People either love it, or they hate it--but no matter what, Los Angeles makes no excuses and changes itself for no one. Made up of dozens of communities, there is no one single experience that can sum up the life and the heartbeat of this city. But what can be noticed about Los Angeles by both tourists and locals alike is the hustle-and-bustle lifestyle, the vibrant and unique neighbourhoods, and the extreme diversity that sets it apart from any other city. From the eternal sunshine and Hollywood glitz to all the small communities with their own distinct cultural personalities, this City of Angels will forever be many things to many people.
While not exactly in the centre of town geographically due to the sprawling nature of the city, Downtown Los Angeles is still teeming with activity. There are cultural hotbeds like Olvera Street and Chinatown that are just minutes away from Los Angeles landmarks such as the Bank of America Building and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. And if you have a hankering for more art and culture while Downtown, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a definite must-see.
The big sign just about says it all – Hollywood is glitz, glamour and unavoidable. While many people are critical of Hollywood, they still can't help but satiate their curiosity by visiting this busy area. The centre of things is, without a doubt, Hollywood Boulevard, location of world-famous tourist spots including Mann's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are now held annually.
The Miracle Mile/Hancock Park area is another of LA's historical neighbourhoods. Here you will find Wilshire Boulevard's Museum Row. The museums are contained within Hancock Park, a small but peaceful oasis in the centre of hectic urban activity. To venture into the far distant past, stop by the Brea Tar Pits, La, and to immerse yourself in a famous museum, the LACMA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a popular attraction on Miracle Mile.
Ritzy West Hollywood is home to one of the city's most famous (or infamous) attractions: the Sunset Strip. Here you'll find most of the city's hippest clubs frequented by up-and-coming actors and socialites, as well as some of the city's finest hotels and shopping, including the upscale Melrose Avenue Shopping District. West Hollywood is also the centre of the city's gay and lesbian community, and it puts on one of the flashiest and most exhilarating annual Halloween parades in the state.
Beverly Hills & The Westside
This world-famous city with its world-famous zip code is synonymous with wealth, status, and celebrity. The understated elegance and grace of the residential neighbourhoods are balanced out by Rodeo Drive, which offers some of the finest (and most expensive) shopping in the world.
Santa Monica & Bay Cities
Back in the heyday of Route 66, Santa Monica was the end of the line. Today, this beachfront community offers the best in entertainment for all ages on its famous Santa Monica Pier. You can enjoy some carnival-style food and games or take a ride on the ferris wheel for a breathtaking view of the city and shoreline. When you're ready for some shopping, the active 3rd Street Promenade has a diverse directory of stores and eateries.
The motto of the coastal community of Malibu is "27 miles of scenic beauty," and that about describes it best. The main attraction here is the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, which takes you past beach after beach on one side of the road and million-dollar hilltop estates on the other. Make sure you have plenty of film and sunscreen. Even at night, the stars just seem brighter.
Venice, just south of Santa Monica, is the city's home to all things eclectic and many things downright bizarre. This small, artsy beach town offers one of the greatest collections of cafes, bars, galleries, antiques and one-of-a-kind shops around. Weekend afternoons on the boardwalk are definitely a memorable experience for any visitor to the city.
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