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Los Angeles
For much of the globe, the stereotypical perception of Los Angeles is one of a superficial city populated by movie stars, plastic surgeons and towering palms. But Angelenos know the entertainment capital of the world is much more than that. From its glorious natural surroundings and world-class tourist...
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Introduction


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For much of the globe, the stereotypical perception of Los Angeles is one of a superficial city populated by movie stars, plastic surgeons and towering palms. But Angelenos know the entertainment capital of the world is much more than that. From its glorious natural surroundings and world-class tourist attractions to ethnic neighborhoods with their own unique character, L.A. is a wildly stimulating, very real city where fantasy just happens to be the signature export.


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Because L.A. sprawls so vigorously—stretching from the lofty San Gabriel Mountains to the golden shores of the Pacific Ocean—putting together a sightseeing plan is essential. For movie lovers, the Hollywood area should be on the A-list. From the famed TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman's Chinese Theatre) to Universal Studios Hollywood, a close-up encounter with movie myths and magic is a must. Soaking up rays on one of Southern California's beaches is another quintessential L.A. experience, which is best done at vibrant Venice Beach or the ocean bluffs of Malibu. For skeptics who dismiss L.A. as a cultural wasteland, they obviously haven't gawked at the Renaissance art displayed in the Getty Center or heard the Los Angeles Philharmonic at downtown's Walt Disney Concert Hall. Whether it's shopping in Beverly Hills or nightclub-hopping on the storied Sunset Strip, spirits easily soar in the City of Angels.


In Depth
A place where all your fantasies can come true—where there are no rules, the sun shines all day, and it's nothing but fun? Pinocchio and his pals found Pleasure Island too good to be true. They might have fared better in La La Land or the Circus Without a Tent, a similar place that actually exists—or thinks it does—in the southwest corner of America: Los Angeles.

It's a fantasy world to be sure, but there's so much more to this sprawling metropolis than its gaudy reputation as the capital of the entertainment industry. Hiding behind the glamorous facade—like the man behind the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz”—is a real city neatly concealed by illusion. Since California became a state in 1850, L.A. has grown like a tumbleweed into a colossus—the nation's second biggest city, with a population of nearly 4 million.


The Tongva Indians were the area's first known inhabitants. In 1769 the peaceful tribe greeted a party of Spanish explorers led by the first governor of California, Gaspar de Portola. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Mission San Gabriel two years later, Tongva culture fell into rapid decline. The mission was the first outpost of a new settlement, and on September 4, 1781 Portola's successor, Felipe de Neve, established El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (The Town of the Queen of the Angels).

In the early 1800s a band of fur trappers led by Jedediah Smith arrived, signifying the first trickle of another flood: a deluge of Americanos intent on taming the Western frontier. Beset by its own problems, the Mexican government left California to fend for itself, and the United States, espousing a philosophy of Manifest Destiny or “take what you can get,” declared war on Mexico in 1846.

Mexico ceded all land north of the Rio Grande in 1848, within days of carpenter James W. Marshall's momentous discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento. Two years later Los Angeles was incorporated as an American city and designated the county seat. The first federal census in 1850 tallied the town's population as 1,650.

The abundance of gold, both in the earth and in terms of the climate, spurred the rapid development of Los Angeles. The railroad reached Los Angeles from San Francisco in 1876 and by the time the city celebrated its centennial five years later, the population numbered 15,000.


The 1920s were an especially heady time: real estate was booming, with newcomers arriving at the rate of 350 a day and the city quickly surpassing San Francisco as the state's largest. By the end of World War II, the 'burbs boomed as never before, with an unprecedented demand for housing triggered by military personnel returning home, getting married and starting families. By 1950 the city's population numbered 1.9 million.

Dramatic radio, a hugely popular entertainment medium, migrated from Chicago to Los Angeles after the war. In the 1950s Hollywood beat out New York as the center of TV production as well. The recording industry also chose L.A. as a base for much of its activity, firmly cementing the city's status as the entertainment capital of the planet.

Today, despite decades of earthquakes, racial unrest and the problems associated with rapid growth, the grand dame remains a world-class metropolis, combining glitz and grit to create a unique cosmopolitan flavor. Ten million visitors a year attest to the notion that anything—and seemingly everything—is possible in the City of the Angels.


 
About the City


City Population
3,792,621

Elevation
267 ft.

Money


Sales Tax
State and county sales taxes total 9 percent in Los Angeles. A lodging tax called a transient occupancy tax of 12 to 14 percent also is levied along with an 8.25 percent rental car tax.

Whom To Call


Emergency
911

Police (non-emergency)
(877) 275-5273 (within the city of Los Angeles only)

Hospitals
Kaiser Permanente-Los Angeles Medical Center, (323) 783-4011; LAC/USC Medical Center, (323) 409-1000; Providence Little Company of Mary, (310) 832-3311; Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, (310) 825-9111; Valley Presbyterian Hospital, (818) 782-6600.

Where To Look and Listen


Newspapers
The major daily newspapers in Los Angeles are the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News. The free LA Weekly, with its heavy emphasis on arts, entertainment, dining and in-depth features, is widely available around the region.

Radio
KNX (1070 AM) provides a steady stream of news, weather and traffic information all day long; KCRW (89.9 FM) is a member of National Public Radio; KFI (640 AM), KABC (790 AM), KRLA (870 AM) and KFWB (980 AM) are talk radio stations.

Visitor Information

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board Visitor Information Center

6801 Hollywood Blvd. LOS ANGELES, CA 90028. Phone:(213)624-7300 or (800)228-2452


Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

350 S. Bixel St. LOS ANGELES, CA 90017. Phone:(213)580-7500


Transportation


Air Travel
The Los Angeles area is served by several airports including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is about 20 miles southwest of downtown L.A. Several other airports serve the area.

Rental Cars
Most major car rental agencies serve Los Angeles. Hertz, (800) 654-3080, provides discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service
It's almost worth traveling by train just to experience Union Station, the combination Spanish Revival-Art Deco-Streamline Moderne-style terminal at 800 N. Alameda St., near Olvera Street and Chinatown. Amtrak trains, (800) 872-7245, use the station, as well as depots scattered throughout the region.

Buses
Greyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, has a terminal at 1716 E. 7th St., near Alameda Street, about 1.5 miles south of Union Station. Caveat emptor: ticket purchase does not guarantee a seat on the bus.

Taxis
Taxis are plentiful downtown and at major tourist sites. They can be hailed or boarded from stalls found at the airport, Union Station and major hotels. The base rate is $2.85 at flag drop and $2.70 per mile. The fixed fare between the airport and downtown is $46.50 plus a $4 surcharge for fares originating from the airport. Some large companies are Checker, (800) 300-5007; Independent (800) 521-8294; United Independent, (213) 483-7660 or (800) 892-8294; and Yellow Cab, (424) 222-2222 or (800) 200-1085.

Public Transportation
Transportation by bus, minibus shuttle, light-rail and subway is available in Los Angeles.

 
Visitor Information

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board Visitor Information Center

6801 Hollywood Blvd. LOS ANGELES, CA 90028. Phone:(213)624-7300 or (800)228-2452


 
Getting There


By Car
Driving to L.A. is a worthy ambition sometimes easier said than done. The major north-south route, I-5, is a heavily traveled freeway that not only bisects Los Angeles proper but also cuts a diagonal swath through the entire metropolitan area. From the north this largely straightforward ribbon of asphalt approaches stealthily through the San Joaquin Valley, crosses the Tehachapi Mountains and sneaks into the city under the auspices of the Golden State Freeway; from the south at San Diego the route follows the coast to Capistrano Beach, turns inland and slithers through south Orange County, then reinvents itself as the Santa Ana Freeway as it passes through Irvine on its way to central Los Angeles.

The primary alternate route, I-405, is content to call itself the San Diego Freeway for its entire length, joining I-5 at San Fernando in the north and Irvine in the south; it avoids the busy downtown L.A. area and much of the commuter traffic, although the 10-mile stretch leading north from Los Angeles International Airport is as heavily traveled as any section of the central route.

From the north, two additional routes, SR 99 and US 101, roughly parallel I-5 on the east and west respectively. SR 99 takes the back road through the San Joaquin Valley via Fresno, merging with I-5 about 8 miles south of Bakersfield. US 101 follows the Salinas River through John Steinbeck country then offers a highly scenic route for much of the 204-mile stretch from San Luis Obispo, hugging the coast at Santa Barbara; the route terminates at I-5 in the heart of Los Angeles.

SR 1, an even more scenic north-south route, traverses the rugged California coast. Outstanding views of Monterey and Big Sur make the highway a favorite of visitors (despite the traffic in the summer months) and a challenge for drivers to keep their eyes on the road and off the oh-so-tempting scenery. The route can be slow and dangerous when fog sets in or rain increases the possibility of slides. SR 1 joins US 101 at Gaviota north of Santa Barbara, then branches off in Oxnard, hugging the coast southward through Malibu, Santa Monica and the vast Los Angeles-Long Beach harbor complex before continuing south through the beach towns of Orange County.

I-15 links Las Vegas and San Diego, and by extension Los Angeles; passing east of L.A., the route is accessible to the area via SR 91 (at Corona), SR 60 (at Ontario) and I-10 (at Rancho Cucamonga). From the east, L.A. is easily reached via I-10 (by way of Phoenix and El Paso), which becomes the San Bernardino Freeway, and I-40 (by way of Flagstaff and Albuquerque). I-40, a fast route across the desert that ends at I-15 in Barstow, shadows historic Route 66—a road studded with the quirky remnants of a bygone America—for much of its length.

Air Travel
Fly the friendly (albeit smog-ridden) skies of L.A. It’s easy with five major airports serving the region: Los Angeles International Airport, John Wayne Airport, Long Beach Airport, Burbank Bob Hope Airport and LA/Ontario International Airport.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), about 20 miles southwest of downtown L.A. at Century and Sepulveda boulevards near El Segundo and Inglewood, is one of the world’s busiest, served by some 70 domestic and international air carriers. Roads approaching it are among the region's most congested, as might be expected. Also be aware that the airport is undergoing renovations, so check on the status before you go to see if it will impact your visit.

To reach Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley, drive north on Sepulveda Boulevard to Manchester Avenue, east to La Tijera Boulevard, then northeast to I-405; the route traverses west Los Angeles on its way north to the Valley. To get to Beverly Hills and Hollywood, take I-405 north to I-10 east (just east of Santa Monica). To reach downtown L.A. and Pasadena take I-105 east direct from LAX to I-110 north. Take I-405 south to reach Long Beach.

While these routes are the most direct, they can also be the most congested. It may be quicker to continue northeast on La Tijera Boulevard to La Cienega Boulevard then head north; it’s a straight shot up to the Beverly Hills and Hollywood area. La Cienega intersects Olympic, Wilshire and Beverly boulevards, which run east into downtown. Sepulveda Boulevard, which parallels I-405, may be used as an alternate route to reach West L.A., the Valley and Long Beach. These routes, however, are also traveled by commuters during peak hours and may become snarled with traffic.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) buses, (323) 466-3876, provide access from LAX to many communities. Metro Green Line, which runs from Redondo Beach to Norwalk and connects to downtown L.A. and Long Beach via the Blue Line, provides the free “G” Shuttle between the subway line’s Aviation Station and all passenger terminals. FlyAway buses, (818) 994-5554 or (866) 435-9529, operate between the airport and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), adjacent to Westwood Village; and between LAX and the Van Nuys Airport bus terminal in the San Fernando Valley.

FlyAway also provides inexpensive express bus service (45 minutes nonstop) between LAX and downtown Los Angeles’ historic Union Station. Passengers are picked up on the Lower/Arrivals Level in front of each terminal under green signs labeled “FlyAway, Buses, and Long-Distance Vans.” For the return trip, buses depart bus stop 9 at Patsaouras Transit Plaza on the east side of the station (Vignes Street entrance), and drop off passengers at LAX on the Upper/Departures Level in front of each terminal. Buses depart Union Station on the hour and half hour, providing non-stop service every 30 minutes in both directions between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m.; schedules vary by location between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Other LAX bus services picking up passengers under the green signs at each terminal include Mickey’s Space Ship Shuttle, (714) 642-5399; and Shuttle One, (310) 670-6666. All three offer service to Disneyland Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm area hotels. Many hotels offer courtesy airport shuttles.

Prime Time Shuttle, (800) 733-8267, and Super Shuttle, (800) 258-3826, offer door-to-door service in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Both pick up in front of the orange signs marked “Shared Ride Vans.” Eight taxi companies service the airport, picking up passengers curbside under the yellow signs. Taxis charge a flat rate per trip of $46.50 for trips between LAX and downtown L.A. in either direction, with a $4 surcharge and a minimum of $15 for all trips originating at LAX. Limousines and luxury sedans also can be ordered.

John Wayne Airport (SNA), about 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles at I-405 and MacArthur Boulevard in Santa Ana, is Orange County’s primary airport. Sandwiched between Costa Mesa, Irvine and Newport Beach, SNA is served by nine commercial airlines and two commuter lines. To reach Anaheim, take SR 55 north direct from the airport to I-5 northwest; for the most direct route to downtown L.A., continue northwest on the interstate. To reach Long Beach, exit to MacArthur Boulevard by looping around the access road in front of the terminal, and drive northeast to I-405; take the interstate northwest to I-710. For an alternate route to downtown L.A., continue on I-405 to I-110 north. All ground transportation, including buses, shuttles and taxis, will be found on the Lower/Arrivals Level.

Long Beach Airport (LGB), some 22 miles south of downtown L.A. at I-405 and Lakewood Boulevard, is served by four airlines. Airport traffic exits from Donald Douglas Drive east to Lakewood Boulevard. To reach downtown Los Angeles take Lakewood south to I-405, then drive northwest to I-110 north. As an alternative, take Lakewood north to SR 91 or I-105; both routes run west into I-110. Metro Blue Line provides inexpensive transportation to downtown L.A.; the closest subway stop to the airport is Wardlow Station, accessible by taxi.

Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR), 14 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles at I-5 and Hollywood Way, is served by six airlines. Named for the comedian who was a longtime nearby resident, it’s the closest airport to downtown L.A. and Hollywood. To reach downtown, exit the terminal via Thornton Avenue, running east to Hollywood Way; drive north to I-5, then head south on the interstate to I-110 south.

To reach Hollywood, go south on Hollywood Way to Victory Boulevard; head west to SR 170 and take the route south as it joins US 101. Downtown and Hollywood can also be reached by Metro Red Line; the closest subway stop is North Hollywood Station, a short bus ride from the airport. The Amtrak-Metrolink station is walking distance from the main terminal; a shuttle to the station is also available.

LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), about 40 miles east of downtown L.A. at I-10 and Archibald Avenue in San Bernardino County, is served by seven airlines. To reach Los Angeles, take Vineyard or Archibald avenues north from the airport, then drive west on I-10 through the San Gabriel Valley to the route’s junction with US 101, which heads west into downtown.

Rail Service
It’s almost worth traveling by train just to experience Union Station, the combination Spanish Revival-Art Deco-Streamline Moderne-style terminal at 800 N. Alameda St., near Olvera Street and Chinatown. Amtrak trains, (800) 872-7245, use the station, as well as depots throughout the region including Anaheim, Burbank, Chatsworth, Fullerton, Glendale, Irvine, Riverside, San Clemente and Van Nuys.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner trains connect Los Angeles with San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and San Diego; the Coast Starlight links L.A. with Santa Barbara, Oakland, and Sacramento. The Southwest Chief provides connections to Fullerton, Riverside and San Bernardino; California Thruway Motorcoaches offer service to Bakersfield. Passengers must have valid photo ID; those boarding at unstaffed stops can purchase tickets in advance from a ticket agency or the conductor.

Buses
Greyhound Lines Inc., (800) 231-2222, has a terminal at 1716 E. 7th St., near Alameda Street, about 1.5 miles south of Union Station. Caveat emptor: ticket purchase does not guarantee a seat on the bus.

 
Getting Around


Street System
Los Angeles area traffic is not for the faint of heart. Cowardly Lions had best employ public transportation or other means of locomotion. That said, driving is the easiest way—and often the only option—to getting around the metro area. The result is a volume of traffic seldom encountered outside the likes of Beijing; L.A. reportedly has one car for every 1.8 residents. Visitors should try to avoid freeways and major thoroughfares during weekday rush periods, roughly 5:30-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.

Downtown L.A. is laid out largely like a grid, though it is slightly askew from a north-south axis. SR 110, US 101, I-10 and Alameda Street border the downtown core. One-way streets abound with Figueroa and Main streets the major northbound one-ways; Grand Avenue, Flower and Spring streets are the prime southbound one-way routes.

City driving is typically less complicated on the major boulevards, such as Sunset and Wilshire—which run from downtown L.A. all the way to the ocean—Olympic, Santa Monica and La Cienega. Oversized street signs are a big help, easily legible from far enough away to permit decisions before reaching major intersections; however, this is not always the case. In many outlying communities signs carry not only the name of the street but the name of the town as well.

The speed limit on most streets is 35 to 40 mph or as posted; residential areas are limited to 25 mph. Freeway speed limits are generally 65 mph. Motorists may be cited for driving at speeds considered dangerously slow as well as dangerously fast. Right turns on red are permitted unless otherwise posted; U-turns at intersections are similarly permitted. Cellphone usage while driving is unlawful.

Pedestrians crossing the street in a marked crosswalk or at an intersection in an unmarked crosswalk always have the right of way.

The Freeways
Winston Churchill once said democracy was the worst form of government—except for all others. The same might be said of L.A.’s extensive freeway system. Its involved interchanges, myriad access ramps and potentially confusing exit signs can bewilder a motorist unfamiliar with the territory. Without the freeways, however, getting around the metropolitan area would be difficult to nearly impossible. Although traffic flow on the city’s surface streets is generally good outside peak hours, the freeways typically provide faster and safer transportation for the greater distances area residents are accustomed to traveling daily.

Carpool lanes, also known as Diamond lanes or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes, require a minimum of two and occasionally three occupants per vehicle. Southern California’s carpool lanes operate 24 hours a day. It is unlawful to cross the double yellow lines of a carpool lane—you may be ticketed. Unfortunately, entrance and exit points or “windows,” indicated by signs or broken double yellow or white lines, are sometimes few and far between.

The San Diego Freeway (I-405), the Ventura Freeway (US 101/SR 134) and the Foothill Freeway (I-210) are the completed freeway bypasses of downtown Los Angeles. Other routes, usually named for their ultimate destination, pass through or near central L.A. For example, the southbound Harbor Freeway (I-110) leads to San Pedro and the harbor district, while the southeastbound Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) leads to Anaheim and Santa Ana; they are two of the most heavily traveled highways in the country. Note: I-5 is undergoing changes; check current news to see if work will impact your drive.

The cardinal rule for driving L.A. freeways is PLAN AHEAD. If you lack an onboard navigation system, study your map carefully before you start the engine and familiarize yourself with the exact route you plan to take; jot down highway numbers and directions, as well as major interchanges and the exit or two preceding the one you plan to take.

Newbies will want to avoid weekday rush hours whenever possible, roughly 5:30-10 a.m. and 3-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoons can be extremely busy as well, especially I-405 through West Los Angeles, and US 101 between downtown L.A. and Hollywood. On hot summer weekends, beware the westbound I-10 heading into Santa Monica.

If you must, you must, but have an alternate route in mind in case of exceptionally heavy congestion. Use Riverside Drive in place of I-5 and US 101; try Figueroa Street instead of I-110 and Washington Boulevard instead of I-10 west of downtown. Keep your radio tuned to KNX 1070 AM to catch traffic reports and SigAlert bulletins (closure of at least one traffic lane for 30 minutes or more); reports are every 10 minutes on the 5s (8:05, 8:15, etc.). Recorded information on road conditions is available from California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

Parking
Street parking is hard to come by on downtown streets, where not prohibited altogether. Parking regulations are strictly enforced, and meter maids will do whatever it takes to meet their quota; garage and lot parking are the safest bets, and sometimes surprisingly inexpensive.

In downtown L.A., expect to pay $4-$8 per half-hour or $8-$37 per day; Grand Park and the Financial District tend to be the most expensive. Rates outside downtown are not as high, although some parking lots in Hollywood and West Hollywood (especially along the Sunset Strip) can be pricey on weekend nights. Always check to see if the establishment you’re visiting offers free or validated parking.

Taxis
Taxis are plentiful downtown and at major tourist sites. They can be hailed or boarded from stands found at the airport, Union Station and major hotels. The base rate is $2.85 at flag drop and $2.70 per mile. The fixed fare between LAX airport and downtown is $46.50 plus a $4 surcharge for fares originating from the airport.

Some large companies are Checker, (800) 300-5007; Independent (800) 521-8294; United Independent, (213) 483-7660 or (800) 892-8294; and Yellow Cab, (213) 808-1000 or (800) 200-1085.

Public Transportation
Yes, Virginia, L.A. does have a subway, although the municipal padres waited until the 1990s, by which time it was almost prohibitively expensive to build one. Believe it or not, the city actually had a subway in the ‘20s, part of the legendary Red Car trolley system devised by real estate magnate Henry Huntington, whose former estate is now the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens . The Pacific Electric Railroad network he started in 1901 eventually had 600 trains carrying 400,000 passengers a day through a central terminal—until people started moving out to the suburbs and buying cars. (For an entertaining take on the city’s earlier transportation system, see the 1988 comedy “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”)

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) operates nearly 200 bus routes throughout the L.A. area, including many that run to major tourist attractions. Information and maps are available at Metro Customer Centers at Union Station/Gateway Transit Center, East Portal, Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Wilshire Boulevard/La Brea Center, 5301 Wilshire Blvd., Mon.-Sat. 9-5; Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Center, 3650 Martin Luther King Blvd., Suite 189, Tues.-Sat. 10-6; East Los Angeles Center, 4501 “B” Whittier Blvd. (on Ford north of Whittier), Tues.-Sat. 10-6.

Metro also operates the city’s light rail system, which has seven lines running roughly 4 a.m.-1 a.m. Metro Red Line traverses L.A. from downtown’s Union Station (Alameda Street between Caesar E. Chavez Avenue and US 101) to NoHo—North Hollywood’s Arts District—making 14 stops on its 30-minute run. The Red Line zips south on Hill Street to 7th Street (where it connects with the Blue Line) and Wilshire Boulevard, then north on Vermont Avenue to Hollywood Boulevard, then west to Highland Avenue and north through the Cahuenga Pass to Universal Studios, ending at Lankershim and Chandler boulevards.

The eight-station Purple Line follows the path of the Red Line (from which it was split) from Union Station to Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, then continues on its own to Wilshire and Western Avenue; it concludes its 15-minute run across the street from the historic Wiltern theater.

The Blue Line makes 22 stops (including the Los Angeles Convention Center) on its 22-mile run from 7th Street/Metro Center in downtown L.A. to Pacific Avenue in downtown Long Beach, near Grand Park. The 55-minute route roughly parallels the southbound I-110; it links to the Green Line at Imperial Highway and Wilmington Avenue, near Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park .

The 20-mile Green Line follows I-105 as an east-west corridor across southern Los Angeles County. Making 14 stops on its 35-minute run from Redondo Beach to Norwalk, it provides access to Los Angeles International Airport via shuttle bus from its Aviation Station.

The Gold Line roughly parallels westbound I-210 and southwestbound SR 110 on its 50-minute run from eastern Pasadena to Union Station. From there it loops east toward its terminus at Atlantic Boulevard in the heart of East Los Angeles.

The Orange Line makes seven stops on its 40-minute run, picking up where the Red Line leaves off at North Hollywood and traveling west to Warner Center in Canoga Park.

Metro's 10-stop Silver Line begins in El Monte at Santa Anita Avenue, connects with the Gold, Red and Purple lines at Union Station and then parallels the Blue Line ending at Artesia Transit Center. It links to the Green Line at Harbor Freeway.

The basic fare is $1.75 per single ride, with discounts for ages 62 and older and persons with disabilities (the system is fully accessible). Note: A $7 Metro Day Pass is available on all buses and at all train stations. The pass provides virtually unlimited bus and subway travel for the day; minimal zone charges may apply on freeway express buses. A $25 weekly pass and a $100 monthly pass also are available, as are semi-monthly passes. Timetables, route maps and multi-language pocket guides are available free by mail; phone (213) 626-4455.

Metrolink, a regional commuter rail system, operates seven lines serving 56 stations from Union Station/Gateway Transit Center, connecting downtown L.A. with Anaheim, Burbank, Buena Park, Claremont, Irvine, Northridge, Oceanside, Lancaster, Oxnard, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Juan Capistrano and Simi Valley. The Ventura County, Burbank/Bob Hope Airport, Riverside and 91 lines operate Monday through Friday only. The Orange County, Antelope Valley and San Bernardino lines run daily. Metrolink also operates the Inland Empire-Orange County line between San Bernardino and Oceanside that does not go into L.A. For schedule and fare information phone (800) 371-5465.

DASH (Downtown Area Short Hop) is an efficient minibus shuttle system serving downtown L.A. with five weekday routes and two weekend routes. The frequent and inexpensive buses (free with Metrolink ticket stubs) connect points of interest—including museums, retail stores, major hotels and Metro stations—in Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, the Financial District, the Jewelry District, the Fashion District and the Exposition Park neighborhood. DASH runs additional lines in Hollywood/West Hollywood, Van Nuys and many other neighborhoods. Fare is 50c per single ride; 25c for ages 65 and older and persons with disabilities. Phone 808-2273 in the 213, 310, 323 or 818 area codes.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus operates a fleet of state-of-the-art coaches serving West L.A., Beverly Hills, and LAX; Big Blue’s Freeway Express provides transportation between Union Station/Gateway Transit Center and Santa Monica, with additional stops in downtown L.A. Phone (310) 451-5444.

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) rides herd over 79 bus routes that traverse the county from north to south, providing access to tourist attractions, beaches, train depots and shopping centers. Phone (714) 636-7433.

Many Southern California communities operate their own mini-transport networks. Pasadena’s eight-route Area Rapid Transit System (ARTS) bus system links the city’s downtown attractions and the Metro Gold Line; phone (626) 398-8973. The Port of Los Angeles Waterfront Red Car Line connects the port’s waterfront attractions with historic downtown San Pedro, using exact replicas of original Red Cars. Note: As of late September 2015, the Red Car line has been suspended due to the Sampson Way Realignment Project; the San Pedro Waterfront Trolley will increase service during this time.


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Essentials
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• Step aboard an automated tram for a short ride up to the Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr.), a spectacular billion-dollar complex in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains noted for the extensive art collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum and panoramic views (on a clear day) of Los Angeles from its travertine-clad terraces.


• Rehearse your acceptance speech as you prepare to receive the Grammy Award for Best New Artist—well, at least you can pretend to—downtown at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live (800 W. Olympic Blvd.), which not only shows you what it's like backstage at the Grammy Awards, but also gives you the run down on everything to do with the recording industry using three floors full of high-tech video displays and state-of-the-art sound systems.

• Explore the rugged Southern California landscapes via hiking trails within Griffith Park (4730 Crystal Springs Dr.), an urban oasis sprawling across more than 4,200 acres and the setting for dozens of films, including “Back to the Future,” “The Terminator” and the 1955 James Dean classic, “Rebel Without a Cause,” shot at the beautiful Art Deco Griffith Observatory (2800 E. Observatory Rd.).

• Admire the pagoda-style rooflines, rich colors and graceful calligraphy on your way to having dim sum in Los Angeles Chinatown (977 N. Broadway St.).

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• Succumb to the temptations lurking in Farmers Market (6333 W. 3rd St.) food stands or pick up the perfect gift in one of the specialty shops.


• Get a behind-the-scenes look at the sets, sound stages and back lots from your favorite movies and TV shows during any one of several studio tours: The Warner Bros. Studios V.I.P. Tour (3400 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank), Sony Pictures Studios (10000 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City), Paramount Pictures Studio Tour (5555 Melrose Ave., Hollywood) and Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City).

• Compare hands and feet with such “Who's Who of Tinseltown” personalities as Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Nicholson and Samuel L. Jackson in the forecourt of TCL Chinese Theatre (6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood).

• Channel Bogey and Bacall and sip martinis in a classic Hollywood watering hole such as Musso & Frank Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood). Or slip into designer threads and hit a slick Tinseltown nightclub.

• Pack a box dinner and a bottle of wine and picnic in the moonlight during a summer concert at the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood).

• Window-shop along Rodeo Drive (bordered by Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards, Beverly Hills), a stretch of sidewalk anchored by the glamorous Two Rodeo “mall” on one end and the swank Rodeo Collection on the other.

• Lace up a pair of rented skates and roll amid the colorful characters on the Ocean Front Walk (1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice).

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• Soak up the old-fashioned atmosphere of Santa Monica Pier (200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica), which opened in 1909, and browse the curio shops, touch a sea cucumber at the aquarium or muss your hair while plummeting down a roller coaster.


• Immerse yourself in the still-thriving surf culture that was born in Malibu in the 1950s and '60s.

• Wander among historical buildings representing distinct eras in California's history at the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia), including the lovely 1885 Queen Anne Cottage, a coach barn, an 1840 adobe and the 1890 Santa Anita railroad depot. Step even farther back in time with a stroll through The Prehistoric Forest, where you'll find plants and trees from ancient rain forest areas of the Americas.



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Restaurants
Our favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.

Inside The Peninsula Beverly Hills , The Belvedere has a longstanding reputation as the area's best hotel dining restaurant. The see-and-be-seen vibe pulsates most strongly in the morning, when Hollywood's elite gather around for breakfast. Soak up the sunshine on the landscaped patio while perusing the “small bites” menu for smoked salmon pancake and the chef's famed truffle macaroni and cheese. If you're on your way to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, ask about the portable gourmet meals on the Pen-Air menu.


Steak crowns the menu at 555 East, where you'll share the company of Long Beach's movers and shakers in a clubby dining room characterized by plush booths, marble floors and low lighting. Selections from the award-winning wine cellar complement the chicken, seafood and impeccably prepared USDA Prime steak dishes. Although the din of music and chatter may be distracting, you'll nonetheless experience a sumptuous outing here.

Succulent prime rib, served tableside from silver carts, deservedly gets top billing at Lawry's The Prime Rib. The Beverly Hills institution, which operated for many years from a location across the street, complements your food with flavorful sides including seasoned creamed spinach, asparagus with béarnaise and buttered peas. Only half of the tables are reserved, so don't hesitate to stop in on a whim.

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que employs the secrets passed down to Lucille Buchanan from her Granny to kick your salivary glands into overdrive. Although meats smoked slowly over hickory wood merit pride of place on the menu, your tongue also will dance for pan-blackened catfish, center-cut pork chops, jambalaya and blackened chicken pasta. Southern folk art enhances the down-home feel of the busy Long Beach setting. Made-from-scratch desserts—including peach cobbler, bread pudding and Snickers ice cream pie—provide a great reason for you to linger.

Treat your senses to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica's The Lobster, a sophisticated spot for pepper-crusted yellowfin tuna, sesame-roasted black bass, grilled Pacific spiny lobster and jumbo lump crab cakes. If your tastes lean more toward turf than surf, consider New York steak, filet mignon or grilled chicken breast. Inhale the crisp sea air on the inviting patio.

Global influences come into play on the area's multicultural culinary scene. Chef/owner Akira Hirose's impressive curriculum vitae incorporates education in France and experience at a veritable “where's where” of fine California restaurants. The latest entry: the eponymous Maison Akira in Pasadena. Evidence of an Asian influence marks his French creations, including miso-marinated grilled Chilean sea bass and roasted rack of lamb in rosemary sauce. Treat yourself to one of the sublime pastries, which stun in their exquisite visual appeal.

JiRaffe derives its name from the clever combination of the names of Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta, the longtime friends who founded the place. Citrin has since moved on, but Lunetta continues to share his talents as sole executive chef. French influences dominate in such dishes as crispy salmon, Channel Island spiny lobster and caramelized pork chop with wild rice, smoked bacon, apple chutney and cider sauce. With dark wood furnishings and green and brass accents, the dining room achieves an edgy, stylish feel devoid of pretense.

Pasadena's El Cholo Cafe boasts that the number of tortillas it has sold would circumnavigate the globe three times over (and then some) if laid end to end. Don't be surprised if you have to wait at this bustling cafe before you get your chance to slightly extend that distance with your enchilada, taco or chimichanga order. Splurge on a margarita and dig into guacamole as you get caught up in the festivity of the dining room, where affable staffers in traditional Mexican attire punch up the mood.

Family-owned Divina Cucina in Montrose has caught the fancy of locals, which means you'll be shoulder to shoulder with many of them as you eagerly wait for a table in the dining room or on the covered porch. Bruschetta con pomodori whets your appetite for such dishes as linguine al pesto, pollo alla Gorgonzola, filetto con porcini and the signature tortellini Divina. Most of the wines bear a Californian or Italian label.

Walk on water over the in-floor koi aquarium that curves through Crustacean Beverly Hills. Its Vietnamese/French delights include a “secret kitchen” menu of closely guarded family recipes, most notably the specialty garlic noodles and Dungeness crab roasted in pepper-garlic sauce. The luxe design re-creates a French Colonial plantation in Hanoi.

If you're dining downtown, there are several excellent choices, including seafood-centric Water Grill , gourmet Mexican stalwart Border Grill Downtown LA , and AAA 4-Diamond Patina at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Want a healthy side of history to go along with your filet mignon? Lay tracks for a downtown classic, the Pacific Dining Car . Here you'll feast on Prime steaks in the classy, vintage confines of a 1921 replica railroad car. Seeking hipster fusion cuisine and craft cocktails? Look elsewhere. Got a craving for a veal chop and martini at 6 a.m.? This old-school 24/7 steakhouse is your place. And like most high-end restaurants downtown, it offers complimentary shuttle service to the Music Center and Staples Center,

See all the AAA Diamond Rated restaurants for this destination.



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Attractions
In a city with dozens of attractions, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”

Much of the “Action!” in Los Angeles revolves around the filmmaking industry. When big-screen siren Norma Talmadge stepped in wet cement on the sidewalk around TCL Chinese Theatre, a AAA GEM attraction in Hollywood, a tradition was born, even if the landmark has gone through a few name changes along the way. Since that 1927 event, nearly 200 celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope and Arnold Schwarzenegger, have imprinted their palms and soles, while others have left impressions of their trademarks, such as a cigar from Groucho Marx, a fist from John Wayne and braids from Whoopi Goldberg. Tour behind the scenes of a major movie studio at Universal Studios Hollywood, a AAA GEM attraction that also thrills and chills with such hair-raising rides as Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride and Jurassic Park—The Ride, as well as entertaining shows, including Shrek 4-D and WaterWorld.


Six Flags Magic Mountain, a AAA GEM attraction in Valencia, jostles you with plenty of shakes, rattles and rolls of its own. Eighteen roller coasters—including the floorless Scream!, the wooden Apocalypse, the suspended BATMAN the Ride, the stand-up Riddler's Revenge and the fourth dimensional X2—put your stomach to the test. Your little ones will love the Canyon Blaster and Road Runner Express junior coasters; and the rides and attractions in Bugs Bunny World.

Ethnic diversity punches up the city's metropolitan flavor. Olvera Street, one of L.A.'s oldest streets, radiates Hispanic character. Peek inside the AAA GEM attraction's sidewalk shops, teeming with colorful handicrafts, or take a break for Mexican food at one of the festive eateries. If you're interested in a deeper exploration of the history of this area, drop in the visitor center at Sepulveda House. The hub of the city's Japanese-American community is Little Tokyo, a AAA GEM attraction where you'll find the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the Japanese American National Museum. Shopping and dining spots abound in the perimeter defined by First, Alameda, Third and Los Angeles streets.

Trace the state's Catholic heritage at Mission San Fernando Rey de España, a AAA GEM attraction in Mission Hills. Explore the Madonna Room's statues, paintings and plaques inside the 243-foot-long colonnaded convento, said to be the state's largest two-story adobe building. The mission's church was rebuilt after a 1971 earthquake. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, you can hear the peal of the 35-bell carillon.

The arts thrive in the city's museums and galleries. Explore paintings, sculpture, textiles and decorative pieces dating from ancient times to the present at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), a AAA GEM attraction. More than 30 exhibitions rotate through the space annually, and lectures, programs and other events complement the displays.

The striking Getty Center, a AAA GEM attraction, is as known for its exquisite collections as for the graceful feng shui influence of its design. If the creativity of such modern artists as Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning grabs your interest, don't miss the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA Grand Avenue, and its two satellite facilities: Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and West Hollywood's MOCA Pacific Design Center. The Norton Simon Museum, a AAA GEM attraction in Pasadena, lets you ponder paintings by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Edgar Degas, among many others.

Although you can gaze into the eyes of Thomas Gainsborough's “The Blue Boy” at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, a AAA GEM attraction in San Marino, the bigger draw here remains the awe-inspiring collection of more than 4 million library pieces. In addition to one of the world's best collections of early editions from William Shakespeare, the library possesses the handwritten draft of Benjamin Franklin's “Autobiography,” a 1455 Gutenberg Bible, William Blake's “Songs of Innocence and Experience” and the “Ellesmere Chaucer,” an illuminated draft of the “Canterbury Tales.” You won't regret taking the time to tour the botanical gardens, particularly the Desert Garden and Japanese Garden, a Zen-centric (and aesthetically magnificent) haven of rocks and bonsai trees.

From an architectural standpoint, you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive representative of the Arts and Crafts movement than Pasadena's The Gamble House. In designing the winter getaway for David and Mary Gamble, brothers Charles and Henry Greene fretted over every detail in the 1908 bungalow, from the stained-glass front door and exquisite cabinetry to the hand-shaped beams and original furnishings. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus, a AAA GEM attraction, also serves as a testimony to the impact of great design. Many buildings reflect the influence of Italian Romanesque architecture. You'll also feel a tug from the verdant paths, which encourage casual strolls, and the many cultural offerings.

Several spots give you insight into science and history. Learn about physics, space, technology and the environment at California Science Center, a AAA GEM attraction. In addition to kid-friendly, hands-on exhibits and an IMAX theater, the center is the permanent home of retired space shuttle Endeavour.

At the AAA GEM Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, reconstructed skeletons of mammoths, birds of prey and saber-toothed cats give you an idea of how the landscape looked in prehistoric times. Stop to watch the paleontologists busily cleaning, identifying and cataloguing fossils in the paleontology laboratory. This focus continues in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, a AAA GEM attraction that pits replicas of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops against each other in the main foyer. The museum further branches out into exhibits of birds and marine life; collections of minerals and cut gemstones; a hall devoted to Native American culture; the beautifully landscaped Pavilion of Wings, where hundreds of butterflies flutter freely; and the Ralph M. Parsons Insect Zoo, which curbs your appetite with a daunting spread of six-legged “Fear Factor”-esque delicacies on refrigerator shelves.

Wide, open spaces are prized in congested, sprawling Los Angeles. AAA GEM attraction Griffith Park ambles over more than 4,200 acres, with wilderness areas and hiking trails throughout. Educational and cultural institutions, including the Greek Theatre amphitheater and Griffith Observatory, also reside in the park, as do a merry-go-round with nearly 70 elaborately detailed horses and the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad miniature train. In the northeast corner of the park, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a AAA GEM attraction, shelters more than 1,200 mammals, birds and reptiles in such exhibits as Red Ape Rain Forest, Elephants of Asia and the Winnick Family Children's Zoo. L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, a AAA GEM attraction in Arcadia, lets you wander amid 127 acres of greenery in continent-specific arrangements. Bring a picnic meal to enjoy during your self-guiding horticulture lesson.

Marine animals from three Pacific Ocean regions—Southern California/Baja, Tropical Pacific and Northern Pacific—swim at Aquarium of the Pacific, a AAA GEM attraction in Long Beach. Interact with the ocean's ultimate predators in the 10,000-square-foot Shark Lagoon; discover harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters and vaquita, a type of porpoise; or amble through the Lorikeet Forest aviary.

If you don't mind venturing a bit farther afield, you'll have opportunities aplenty to reconnect with your inner child at Disneyland® Resort, a AAA GEM attraction located in Anaheim that encompasses Disneyland® , Disney California Adventure™ Park , Downtown Disney® District and three hotels.

See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.



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Los Angeles in 3 Days
Three days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles and its vicinity includes Pasadena, Long Beach, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and dozens of towns and beach communities. You'll need an automobile to conveniently get around most parts of the city and its environs, but you can use public transportation to reach many of the points of interest highlighted in this itinerary.

If you're starstruck, add a fourth day to your agenda to visit

Hollywood.

If art floats your boat plan a fifth day to take in the city's major art museums: the centrally located Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and its latest addition, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, or the Getty Center on Los Angeles' west side.


Day 1: Morning
Begin near the site where the City of the Angels began at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a celebration of the town's multi-ethnic heritage. Join one of the guided walking tours of the complex, or visit the 1818 Avila Adobe —a replica of the oldest house in the city—along with the Chinese American Museum, the “History of Water” exhibit and other landmarks at your own pace.

Olvera Street, a re-creation of a colorful Mexican marketplace in the midst of El Pueblo, is a perennial favorite with visitors. Here you'll find sidewalk shops and stalls crammed with silver, turquoise and leather handicrafts, sombreros, pottery, candles and piñatas.

Day 1: Afternoon
You can get the whole enchilada on Olvera Street—not to mention burritos and tamales—but for the most authentic fare head for La Golondrina Cafe , a historic restaurant situated in the 1855 Pelanconi House. Or hop the Metro Red Line to Pershing Square and grab a bite in the nearby Grand Central Market, a colorful mosaic of cultures with a wide variety of food choices.

From the indoor market—a great spot for people watching—walk across Broadway to The Bradbury Building, one of the city's architectural gems. Peek inside the lobby for views of the five-story, sky-lit atrium complete with wrought-iron railings, oak paneling and open-cage elevators. Or meander over to Maguire Gardens, the front lawn of the Richard J. Riordan Central Library, at the intersection of 5th and Flower streets. You don't have to be a literary type to enjoy this wonderfully imaginative and inviting greenspace and its eye-catching fountains, pools and sculptures.

There's still time to enjoy another of Downtown's highlights. Hop the DASH minibus, Route F, and zip down to Exposition Park, this city's version of Manhattan's Central Park. Take your pick of three major museums here: the California African American Museum, which offers exhibits in art, culture, and history; the kid-friendly California Science Center, with its wealth of high-tech interactive displays and hands-on labs; and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which houses everything from dinosaur bones and insect specimens to Gold Rush mementos and vintage Hollywood artifacts.

Day 1: Evening
Dine on comfort food in a restored 1912 fire station at the stylish Engine Company No. 28. Or go upscale at Los Angeles' 4 Diamond Rated restaurant, Joachim Splichal's exquisite Patina, at street level in the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall. End the evening with a stroll through the hall's elevated urban garden, or head over to The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites , 404 S. Figueroa St., where you can choose between the Bonaventure Brewing Company and the rotating Bona Vista Lounge atop the hotel.

Day 2: Morning
Today's agenda takes you to the

Pasadena

area. If you know this charming former boomtown only from its annual Tournament of Roses Parade , you'll find an embarrassment of riches in store (keep in mind that many attractions are open only in the afternoon). While an automobile would come in handy, the Metro Gold Line can take you to within a mile or two of almost any desired destination.


You can easily take in the essence of the Pacific Asia Museum in an hour or so, though you may have a hard time tearing yourself away. Then work up an appetite with a stroll down Colorado Boulevard through Old Pasadena's historic district. Keep a grip on your pocketbook (beware of antique shops and bookstores lurking in abundance).

Day 2: Afternoon
For lunch, continue the Asian theme with a pleasant sensory experience at Tibet Nepal House, or go Italian with Mi Piace. Its salads, grilled paninos and pasta dishes will more than satisfy your appetite.

No time to dawdle, however, for the wonders of The Gamble House await you. This gorgeous Craftsman-style mansion features stained-glass windows, custom furniture and sculpted woodwork.

Afterward, there's still time to take in the Norton Simon Museum. If the work of Old Masters and Impressionists—the likes of Rubens, Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso—stirs the soul, there are few places better to view and appreciate it.

An alternative plan for the day would be to visit the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in the neighboring community of San Marino. The stunning collection of rare books, manuscripts and paintings is outshone only by the gardens of railroad pioneer Henry Huntington's 207-acre estate. The Huntington is truly one of the jewels in Southern California's crown, but it would require the better part of your day. (Depending on the date and time of your visit, it might be possible to squeeze in one of the museums afterwards).

Day 2: Evening
Treat yourself to a memorable dining experience at The Raymond Restaurant, a 1901 Craftsman cottage that serves up dishes as distinguished as its surroundings.

Or enjoy a down-to-earth meal at Kathleen's, a local favorite that's also popular for Sunday brunch. Then head over to the famed Pasadena Playhouse for an evening of theater, or perhaps the city's renowned comedy club, The Ice House.

Day 3: Morning
Of the region's many beach cities and towns, Santa Monica is perhaps the best choice for the first-time visitor. Having your own wheels to reach the beach would be optimum. However public transportation is doable. The Metro Expo Line will deliver you as far as Culver City on L.A.'s west side. From there, catch Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus to the downtown/beach area. Note: The Metro Expo line is currently being expanded, and when complete will extend to downtown Santa Monica. Service is scheduled to begin in early 2016.

Your credit card company will send you love letters for kicking off the day shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade. Though many of the pedestrian mall's original independent stores have closed and given way to chains (think Gap, Urban Outfitters and Sephora), it's still a great spot to soak up breezy SoCal vibes and watch street performers, ranging from hip-hop dancers to singer-songwriters.

Have your own car? An alternate late-morning destination could be the world famous freak show that is the Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk, about 4 miles down the coast. Wacky street entertainers (and we do mean wacky), offbeat vendors and artists, funky shops, casual eateries, bars and bikini-clad Rollerbladers populate a roughly 2-1/2-mile-long, palm-lined boardwalk with a carnival-like atmosphere.

Day 3: Afternoon
With a patio overlooking Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, Locanda Del Lago fills the lunchtime bill if you're craving Italian (try the pizza topped with spicy salami). Or instead dive into seafood and coastal views at The Lobster, situated at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.

Satiated, stroll the pier, home to the old-school, fun-in-the-sun amusement rides of Pacific Park. Go for a spin on the solar-powered Ferris wheel. Take in ocean views from the pier-top roller coaster. Try your luck at the midway games and curse the ring-toss booth. Then poke at sea anemones and urchins in the small yet nifty Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

As the sun sinks into the Pacific, behold the gorgeous, pink-streaked sky from the bluff-top park backing Santa Monica State Beach.

Day 3: Evening
It's your last night in L.A., so splurge on dinner at one of two restaurants located south of the Santa Monica Pier. Ocean and Vine (in the Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel) is sure to dazzle with its wonderful views and excellent surf-and-turf menu. Meanwhile, brace yourself for astronomical prices if instead you opt for Capo, a cozy Italian restaurant where Tuscan villa-style decor sets a romantic scene for mains like veal scaloppini and steak Fiorentina.

Too rich for your blood? Head for Santa Monica's Main Street. Along several city blocks (roughly between Ocean Park Blvd. and Rose Ave.), you'll find plenty of casual, wallet-friendly eateries as well as bars and independent shops.

Ready to shake, rattle and roll after dinner? Hop into historic Harvelle's club (opened in 1931) for a nightcap of live blues, soul, jazz or reggae.



close
Los Angeles in 3 Days
Three days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles and its vicinity includes Pasadena, Long Beach, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and dozens of towns and beach communities. You'll need an automobile to conveniently get around most parts of the city and its environs, but you can use public transportation to reach many of the points of interest highlighted in this itinerary.

If you're starstruck, add a fourth day to your agenda to visit

Hollywood.

If art floats your boat plan a fifth day to take in the city's major art museums: the centrally located Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and its latest addition, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, or the Getty Center on Los Angeles' west side.


Day 1: Morning
Begin near the site where the City of the Angels began at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a celebration of the town's multi-ethnic heritage. Join one of the guided walking tours of the complex, or visit the 1818 Avila Adobe —a replica of the oldest house in the city—along with the Chinese American Museum, the “History of Water” exhibit and other landmarks at your own pace.

Olvera Street, a re-creation of a colorful Mexican marketplace in the midst of El Pueblo, is a perennial favorite with visitors. Here you'll find sidewalk shops and stalls crammed with silver, turquoise and leather handicrafts, sombreros, pottery, candles and piñatas.

Day 1: Afternoon
You can get the whole enchilada on Olvera Street—not to mention burritos and tamales—but for the most authentic fare head for La Golondrina Cafe , a historic restaurant situated in the 1855 Pelanconi House. Or hop the Metro Red Line to Pershing Square and grab a bite in the nearby Grand Central Market, a colorful mosaic of cultures with a wide variety of food choices.

From the indoor market—a great spot for people watching—walk across Broadway to The Bradbury Building, one of the city's architectural gems. Peek inside the lobby for views of the five-story, sky-lit atrium complete with wrought-iron railings, oak paneling and open-cage elevators. Or meander over to Maguire Gardens, the front lawn of the Richard J. Riordan Central Library, at the intersection of 5th and Flower streets. You don't have to be a literary type to enjoy this wonderfully imaginative and inviting greenspace and its eye-catching fountains, pools and sculptures.

There's still time to enjoy another of Downtown's highlights. Hop the DASH minibus, Route F, and zip down to Exposition Park, this city's version of Manhattan's Central Park. Take your pick of three major museums here: the California African American Museum, which offers exhibits in art, culture, and history; the kid-friendly California Science Center, with its wealth of high-tech interactive displays and hands-on labs; and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which houses everything from dinosaur bones and insect specimens to Gold Rush mementos and vintage Hollywood artifacts.

Day 1: Evening
Dine on comfort food in a restored 1912 fire station at the stylish Engine Company No. 28. Or go upscale at Los Angeles' 4 Diamond Rated restaurant, Joachim Splichal's exquisite Patina, at street level in the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall. End the evening with a stroll through the hall's elevated urban garden, or head over to The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites , 404 S. Figueroa St., where you can choose between the Bonaventure Brewing Company and the rotating Bona Vista Lounge atop the hotel.

Day 2: Morning
Today's agenda takes you to the

Pasadena

area. If you know this charming former boomtown only from its annual Tournament of Roses Parade , you'll find an embarrassment of riches in store (keep in mind that many attractions are open only in the afternoon). While an automobile would come in handy, the Metro Gold Line can take you to within a mile or two of almost any desired destination.


You can easily take in the essence of the Pacific Asia Museum in an hour or so, though you may have a hard time tearing yourself away. Then work up an appetite with a stroll down Colorado Boulevard through Old Pasadena's historic district. Keep a grip on your pocketbook (beware of antique shops and bookstores lurking in abundance).

Day 2: Afternoon
For lunch, continue the Asian theme with a pleasant sensory experience at Tibet Nepal House, or go Italian with Mi Piace. Its salads, grilled paninos and pasta dishes will more than satisfy your appetite.

No time to dawdle, however, for the wonders of The Gamble House await you. This gorgeous Craftsman-style mansion features stained-glass windows, custom furniture and sculpted woodwork.

Afterward, there's still time to take in the Norton Simon Museum. If the work of Old Masters and Impressionists—the likes of Rubens, Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso—stirs the soul, there are few places better to view and appreciate it.

An alternative plan for the day would be to visit the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in the neighboring community of San Marino. The stunning collection of rare books, manuscripts and paintings is outshone only by the gardens of railroad pioneer Henry Huntington's 207-acre estate. The Huntington is truly one of the jewels in Southern California's crown, but it would require the better part of your day. (Depending on the date and time of your visit, it might be possible to squeeze in one of the museums afterwards).

Day 2: Evening
Treat yourself to a memorable dining experience at The Raymond Restaurant, a 1901 Craftsman cottage that serves up dishes as distinguished as its surroundings.

Or enjoy a down-to-earth meal at Kathleen's, a local favorite that's also popular for Sunday brunch. Then head over to the famed Pasadena Playhouse for an evening of theater, or perhaps the city's renowned comedy club, The Ice House.

Day 3: Morning
Of the region's many beach cities and towns, Santa Monica is perhaps the best choice for the first-time visitor. Having your own wheels to reach the beach would be optimum. However public transportation is doable. The Metro Expo Line will deliver you as far as Culver City on L.A.'s west side. From there, catch Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus to the downtown/beach area. Note: The Metro Expo line is currently being expanded, and when complete will extend to downtown Santa Monica. Service is scheduled to begin in early 2016.

Your credit card company will send you love letters for kicking off the day shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade. Though many of the pedestrian mall's original independent stores have closed and given way to chains (think Gap, Urban Outfitters and Sephora), it's still a great spot to soak up breezy SoCal vibes and watch street performers, ranging from hip-hop dancers to singer-songwriters.

Have your own car? An alternate late-morning destination could be the world famous freak show that is the Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk, about 4 miles down the coast. Wacky street entertainers (and we do mean wacky), offbeat vendors and artists, funky shops, casual eateries, bars and bikini-clad Rollerbladers populate a roughly 2-1/2-mile-long, palm-lined boardwalk with a carnival-like atmosphere.

Day 3: Afternoon
With a patio overlooking Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, Locanda Del Lago fills the lunchtime bill if you're craving Italian (try the pizza topped with spicy salami). Or instead dive into seafood and coastal views at The Lobster, situated at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier.

Satiated, stroll the pier, home to the old-school, fun-in-the-sun amusement rides of Pacific Park. Go for a spin on the solar-powered Ferris wheel. Take in ocean views from the pier-top roller coaster. Try your luck at the midway games and curse the ring-toss booth. Then poke at sea anemones and urchins in the small yet nifty Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.

As the sun sinks into the Pacific, behold the gorgeous, pink-streaked sky from the bluff-top park backing Santa Monica State Beach.

Day 3: Evening
It's your last night in L.A., so splurge on dinner at one of two restaurants located south of the Santa Monica Pier. Ocean and Vine (in the Lowes Santa Monica Beach Hotel) is sure to dazzle with its wonderful views and excellent surf-and-turf menu. Meanwhile, brace yourself for astronomical prices if instead you opt for Capo, a cozy Italian restaurant where Tuscan villa-style decor sets a romantic scene for mains like veal scaloppini and steak Fiorentina.

Too rich for your blood? Head for Santa Monica's Main Street. Along several city blocks (roughly between Ocean Park Blvd. and Rose Ave.), you'll find plenty of casual, wallet-friendly eateries as well as bars and independent shops.

Ready to shake, rattle and roll after dinner? Hop into historic Harvelle's club (opened in 1931) for a nightcap of live blues, soul, jazz or reggae.



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