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Los Angeles

Los Angeles Travel Guide

flights to Los Angeles

In 1781 44 Mexican village settlers moved to a Southern California area and established a town near the Indian village of Yangna. Who could possibly have imagined that in two hundred years this would be the entertainment capital of the World. Needless to say the vast majority of visitors head straight for Central Los Angeles, more specifically Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice. These are the places frequented by the brash and the beautiful, the rich and famous, the hustlers and the wannabes. There are literally thousands of things to do, so plan accordingly!

The biggest attractions are the theme parks, the big three being Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios. Disneyland is, of course, the most famous and the benchmark by which all subsequent theme parks have been judged. It certainly lives up to its reputation and I would challenge anyone not to get a kick out of the place. Basically it’s split into four ‘lands’ Frontierland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland along with several themed areas including New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Main Street USA and Toontown. It really is another world and can take some adjusting to.

Taking its lead from the Mouse Kingdom, Magic Mountain is also split into several areas including Cyclone Bay, Pirates Cove, Gotham City Backlot and Bug’s Bunny World. Where Disneyland promotes entertainment over thrills, Magic Mountain goes for an all out adrenalin rush with the aptly named rides like Colossus, Viper, Psyclone, Batman the Ride and the Riddlers Revenge. But the scariest ride has to be Freefall, a ten storey vertical drop that takes exactly 2 seconds but seems like a lifetime. From the earliest days of movie making Universal Studios has had organised backlot tours but with the advent of ride based theme parks they were quick to update, designing rides around the movies they were making. Although the tram tours still run and the old attractions the Parting of The Red Sea, The Flash Flood, Norman Bates’ House - still exist it is T2: 3D, Jurassic Park the Ride, the Backdraft and Waterworld stunt shows that really pull ‘em in nowadays.

Continuing along the same topic it has to be said that a fair proportion of LA’s visitors are film buffs and, for them, it is very much a religious pilgrimage. After all this is where stars are actually ‘born’. A definite ‘must see’ is Hollywood Boulevard with its famous Walk of Fame featuring handprints of the worlds biggest stars. There too is the legendary Mann’s Chinese theatre, which is a wonder to behold. It’s also a great place to catch the latest movie and get one up on your viewing buddies back home. For film fanatics who really are ill with it there are plenty of companies specialising tours of Movie Stars homes and famous places. The most intriguing of these is Grave Line Tours, which takes you to the darker side of Hollywood history see the house where Bela Lugosi lost his battle with drug addiction, the car port where Sal Mineo was stabbed to death or the Chateau Marmont Hotel bungalow where John Belushi OD’d.

Typical of the scandal that infests LA is the story of gold mining magnate Colonel Griffith J Griffith who shot his wife point blank in the face, was acquitted of murder on a plea of alcoholic insanity and tactically avoided being ostracized by giving over 4000 acres of Parkland as a Christmas gift to the people of Los Angeles. Griffith Park is one of the most popular Parks in the USA and consists of vast indigenous parklands and numerous leisure facilities and attractions. The most famous is probably the Griffith Observatory with its three copper domes, that sits on top of Mount Hollywood and offers visitors splendid views of both the city below and the heavens above.The Autry Western Museum is also extremely popular with fans of the old west and all things cowboy related. There are also no less than 4 golf courses as well as a swimming pool, tennis courts a fully functioning 1920s merry-go-round and an equestrian centre with 700 horses that can be rented for guided or unguided rides along the 54 miles of trails.

Of course the biggest natural attraction in Los Angeles is the 72 miles of beach, the most famous of which are located around Santa Monica and Venice. This is the bona fide Surf City and it really is hard not to be impressed by the incredible bravado of the oversized hunks of bronzed meat that battle the waves. There are abundant facilities for various beach bound activities; especially volleyball and you simply have to check out the open-air gymnasium that is Muscle Beach. Nearby Marina del Rey is the worlds largest small craft harbour with docking slips for up to 5000 recreational craft and rental widely available.

It really goes without saying that the nightlife is phenomenal with countless trendy bars, superb restaurants, and world famous venues such as the notorious and extremely popular Viper Room and the iconic Whisky a Go Go. And whilst you cruise the streets you can pass the time spotting famous landmarks like The Bradbury Building featured in Blade Runner, City Hall workplace of superjournalist Clarke Kent or the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion home of the Academy awards Ceremony. It’s certainly a strange feeling being somewhere you’ve never been that seems so very familiar. But it’s a great feeling too and one that I heartily recommend.

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