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|One of the few points about Los Angeles that just about all
will agree upon is its lack of cohesiveness or "city feel".
While this fact has provided more than a fair share of writers and
comedians the opportunity to poke fun, a more enlightened soul might see
this as the citys greatest positive. For regardless of your origin,
interest or personality, you're just about certain to find an area to
like, or in the case of most, one to love.
As you drive west down Sunset Boulevard, you reach a definite point where the trees become greener, the houses become larger and the cars all become Jags and Bentleys. You're certainly not in Kansas anymore?you've just entered Beverly Hills. This world famous city, with the world famous zip code, is synonymous with wealth, status and celebrity. A quick drive down any given side street will take you past homes worth more than some countries' entire economies. Rodeo Drive offers some of the finest shopping on the entire planet for those who have the means or who simply want a glimpse at how the other half lives.
Its a shame that many people around the world first came to know Brentwood courtesy of the O.J. Simpson hoopla. Angelenos, however have been living, shopping, partying and enjoying this exclusive enclave long before Mr. Simpson ever moved in. Home to a great number of the citys A-list celebrities, this is one of the best spots to sip a latte and watch the world go by.
Similar to downtown, this collection of skyscrapers almost looks out of place as you approach it. Once inside, however, it doesn't take long to realize that this west-side entity is very much a part of the city. The high rise buildings mostly house corporate offices (including those of the ABC television network), but the area also boasts a mammoth shopping mall, a world-famous hotel (Century Plaza) and the Fox studio lot.
This is a great example of how reputations can be deceiving. This neighborhood gained worldwide publicity as the center of the infamous 1992 riots. While that may have been true, the world media has seemed to portray Crenshaw as a war zone to be avoided ever since. Its actually one of the citys best kept secrets. Home to a great number of African Americans, Crenshaw offers wonderful shopping, dining and recreation. A continuing economic boom is helping to bring back more tourists and residents with each passing year.
Dominated by the Sony Studios backlot, Culver City is another one of LAs well-kept secrets. Many locals even remain unaware of the plethora of thrift stores, ethnic restaurants and neighborhood bars hiding within its borders. While the commercial coffeehouse craze has slowly infiltrated the area, there is still a great many old time coffeehouses and latte bars to be found here.
It almost seems as though this very modest collection of skyscrapers was built as an after-thought to the citys infrastructure. While not exactly in the center of things geographically, downtown is still a major center of activity. In addition to housing hundreds of corporate offices, many shops, restaurants, bars and even a few museums are found here. The LA Criminal Courts building is also here'the site of several recent high profile trials.
As indicated by its name, this area forms the eastern edge of the city and is home to a large part of LAs Latino population. Perhaps nowhere else in the city is LAs cultural diversity better represented than here. Ethnic shops, restaurants and even Chinatown is found here. Although East LA doesn't have the greatest reputation for safety, its not as bad as its made out to be and people certainly shouldn't be afraid to experience this culturally enriching area.
This fairly large community was once the transportation gateway to all points north. Nowadays its a bustling center of corporate and shopping activity. Among other shopping attractions, it features the monstrous Glendale Galleria, a shopping mall larger than some small towns. Brand Boulevard offers some of the finest independent bookstores around.
The big sign just about says it all. Once the literal center of the movie business, Hollywood still retains its grand reputation, long after many production companies have vacated to other parts of town. The center of things is without a doubt, Hollywood Boulevard. Here you'll be able to marvel at the Manns Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Pantages Theater, the El Capitan movie house and about a hundred and one souvenir shops. Some lesser-known Hollywood attractions include Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum of Oddities, the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Wax Museum.
This mountainside area, overlooking Hollywood is home to scores of hiking trails, dog parks and million-dollar homes. The centerpiece is Griffith Park, which features the Greek Theater and the Griffith Park Observatory. The network of hiking and biking trails found here is vast enough to provide solitude for those who seek it.
This is a fairly large city in its own right. Aside from a plethora of shopping and dining options, this beach community is perhaps best known for the Queen Mary, a Titanic-esque ocean liner now permanently docked here and open for tours.
One of the citys great nostalgic neighborhoods, this area has been the scene of a recent popularity surge that shows no sign of weakening. Its nestled at the southeast base of the Hollywood Hills and is so small you can literally walk across it in minutes (yes, some places exist where people still walk in LA!). Here, you'll find a great collection of bookstores, non-Starbucks coffee shops, late night diners and the Derby, the hottest swing club in town.
The motto of this coastal community is "27 miles of scenic beauty". That about describes it best. The main attraction here is the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, which is so scenic in places that it borders on sensory overload! You'll pass beach after beach on one side of the road and million-dollar hilltop estates on the other. Make sure you have plenty film?and the top down, of course.
This is the quintessential Southern California beach town. Its located along the Pacific Coast Highway, a few minutes south of LAX airport and offers much in the way of shopping and dining. In this place, politics and world affairs take a major back seat to the all-important matter of how the surf is today.
Marina Del Rey
Known simply as "the Marina" to locals, this is the undisputed center of all sailing and boating activities in the area. The actual marina is one of the largest in the nation and houses vessels of all shapes and sizes. Not to be overlooked, there is also a decent-sized town here thats full of upscale shopping and restaurants.
Before the emergence of the freeway system, this stretch of Wilshire Boulevard was one of the primary links between downtown and the coast. Among the many historic buildings remaining here is the classic Wiltern Theater which still offers big name music acts periodically.
Miracle Mile District/Hancock Park
Another one of LAs historical neighborhoods, this areas main attractions are the LA County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits. Both museums are contained within Hancock Park, a small but peaceful oasis in the center of hectic urban activity.
While Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills are known for their celebrity residents, this large community, just north of Santa Monica might actually contain more. Its quiet and unassuming and the neighbors aim to keep it that way. However there are some great parks and beaches which the celebs willingly share with the general public. This could even be a place to befriend one of your favorite stars.
This is one of the most recognizable land formations in the area. On a clear day, this hilly peninsula can be seen from points all over town. Its mostly residential (and pretty exclusive at that), but there are some great parks and biking trails to be explored here.
This is one of the most prominent communities in the entire state of California. The impressive list of landmarks here includes the Rose Bowl, Cal-Tech, the National Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Mount Wilson Observatory. Thats just part of the story, however. Old Town Pasadena provides one of the greatest clusters of bars, shops, cafes and restaurants in the entire LA area. Every New Years Day, this not-so-sleepy town becomes the focus of the entire world for the annual Tournament of Roses parade.
As you drive south of LA, you seem to get into greener pastures...quite literally. Orange County is a collection of beautifully manicured suburbs and picturesque beach communities. Some great spots include Anaheim (home of Disneyland), Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point.
San Fernando Valley
On the other side of the Hollywood Hills sits "The Valley" as its known to locals. Perhaps best known as the setting of the Brady Bunch (the house is still in there somewhere), the Valley has enjoyed a love-hate relationship of sorts with the rest of LA. The Valley features a seemingly endless sea of houses, strip malls, funky shops and restaurants and a few major movie studios. There are two things you can always count on in the valley: the earthquakes always feel stronger, and the temperature is always ten degrees hotter.
Back in the hey day of Route 66, this was the end of the line. Today, this beachfront community is one of the most popular places to live, work and enjoy. The main shopping attraction is the bustling Third Street Promenade, a three-block stretch of Third Street that is closed off to vehicular traffic but is very much open to shops, bars, dining and more. Other area hot spots include the Santa Monica Pier, Main Street and of course the beach.
This ritzy neighborhood is home to one of the citys most famous (or infamous) attractions: the Sunset Strip. Along this two-mile stretch of Sunset Blvd, you'll find most of the famous clubs (The Roxy, The Viper Room, The House of Blues, etc.), as well as some of the citys finest shopping and hotels. Theres much more than shopping and dancing, however. This is also home to the vast majority of the citys gay and lesbian residents. If you happen to be by around Halloween, look for the annual costume parade down Santa Monica Blvd., which has become one of the citys most popular annual events. Also, be sure to pop into the Hustler Store for a shopping experience thats?well, a little different!
The centerpiece of this charming and upscale neighborhood is UCLA. The world-renown universitys presence is felt in just about every bar, restaurant and corner grocery store in the area. Recently, however the area has become the spot of choice for major studios to have their biggest movie premieres. So if you happen to be by on the right night, don't be surprised to catch a glimpse of your favorite star walking down the red carpet.
This is the citys home to all things eclectic...and many things downright bizarre. Santa Monicas neighbor to the south, Venice offers one of the greatest collections of cafes, bars and one-of-a-kind shops around. Sunday afternoons are hopping with beach-goers, tattooed street-performers, rollerbladers, merchants and representatives from just about every walk of life on the planet. Unbeknownst even to many long time LA residents, theres also an extensive network of canals here...hence the city after which its named.