Things to Do in Los Angeles - page 4
If you’ve ever wanted to skydive, you may have this image of jumping out of a plane with a parachute strapped to your back. iFLY Hollywood takes the experience indoors, allowing for the adrenaline rush and sensation of flying in a controlled, safe environment. The indoor wind tunnel is controlled by professional operators, who create a current of 150 mph using fans at the top of the flight chamber. It is the only wind tunnel in Los Angeles, and no experience is necessary to jump in and enjoy the thrill.
Lasting just over a minute, it is a realistic simulation of the free fall feeling one gets while skydiving. Flyers are horizontal for the duration of the flight, and with additional training can learn to do turns and other maneuvers. Each person is outfitted with a flight suit and helmet and given professional instruction. It’s also fun just to watch as others float suspended in the air current.
The original Hollywood Wax Museum was, as the name suggests, in Hollywood - which is where it still is today. It’s now known as the Hollywood Wax Museum Los Angeles, and has been entertaining visitors on Hollywood Blvd since 1965.
The incredibly lifelike wax reproductions of Hollywood celebrities changes on a regular basis. One of the popular sections of the museum is the “Chamber of Horrors,” with a collection of monsters from various films, both classic and modern.
One of the appeals of the Hollywood Wax Museum is that visitors can get up close to the wax figures, posing for photographs with the life-size models. You can even get into costume yourself before you snap a photo. The exhibits also include bits of trivia about some of the stars on display.
An iconic symbol of the golden age of movies open for business since 1926, Paramount Pictures Studio is the only major film studio still operating in Hollywood's commercial district. Popular for its studio tours, the sprawling 65-acre lot features huge iron-scrollwork gates and Spanish-style architecture, as well as realistic replicas of vintage city streets.
Opened in 2008 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Grammy Awards, the Grammy Museum celebrates all aspects of the music industry. Located in the LA Live entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles, it’s the largest music-themed museum in LA, with four stories and over 30,000 square feet (2,787 square meters) of space.
Universal CityWalk is the 3-block entertainment epicenter of Universal Studios Hollywood—the place to be after a day at the theme park for dining, shopping, and live shows (including Howl and the Moon). Visitors here will find 30 restaurants, a multiscreen movie theater, 30 shops, indoor skydiving, and a live concert venue.
Standing tall in three brightly-colored blue, red, and green modern structures, the Pacific Design Center (PDC) is widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Los Angeles. As an integral part of the design community, it houses premier furniture and decor marketplaces along with the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA.) The latest innovative designs are all on display. At more than one million square feet in size, opportunities for inspiration and collaboration. The space is an interior decorator’s dream.
The main structure at the PDC, designed by Argentinean architect Cesar Pelli, has been nicknamed both ‘Center Blue’ and ‘The Blue Whale’ for its massive size and impressively detailed, blue glass surface. Often large-scale events, screenings, and conferences are held inside as well. There are more than 120 showrooms filled with leading fabrics, furnishings, and architectural styles. Combined with the other two buildings that comprise the center, it is one of the largest gallery districts in Los Angeles.
One of the greatest draws to Los Angeles are its abundant shopping options. Santa Monica Place offers just that (and close to the beach!) The open-air shopping mall is in the heart of Santa Monica and is just two blocks from the beach and pier. You can feel the sun and the ocean breeze as you walk through the shops.
Luxury department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom sit beside brand names such as Jonathan Adler, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, and Kate Spade. The entire area was remodeled and reopened in 2010 complete with modern upgrades. Frequent community events always draw a crowd, as do the many upscale dining options.
A rooftop dining deck offers both ocean and mountain views, allowing for shoppers to take in the scenery of the area while they visit. There is also an ArcLight Cinemas, one of the most favored movie theaters in the Los Angeles area.
The Museum of Death Hollywood is not a misnomer — it is dedicated to showcasing the art and artifacts on the subject of death. In fact, it houses one of the world’s largest collections of serial killer art and relics of famous murders around the world. The shocking museum contains everything from funeral items to photos of Charles Manson crime scenes and information regarding cannibals and suicide.
Though meant to provide education on death rather than simply scare, that doesn’t stop many visitors from fainting when they tour the exhibits. Serial killer exhibits display handwritten letters and other items from the criminals. With videos of autopsies and serial killers, a head severed by a guillotine, items related to the Black Dahila murders, pet taxidermy, body bags and execution devices, it certainly is not for the faint of heart. The founders of the museum hope that the museum “makes people appreciate life.”
Close to Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard is a major shopping destination (and celebrity haven) in Los Angeles. Running between Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Culver City, the thoroughfare’s designer boutiques make it a draw for fashionistas, while its stylish restaurants are A-lister approved.
Tucked into the Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles, with the Hollywood sign in the background, the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater has been a favorite venue for outdoor live music since it opened in 1922. It’s home to the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and it hosts the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the summer months.
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Most locals call this epic ribbon of seaside concrete the Santa Monica Bike Path or The Strand. The skating-, jogging-, biking- and pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare stretches alongside the Pacific Ocean from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades to the far end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in Torrance.
Spread out along a particularly scenic stretch of coastline is Southern California's artsiest resort town, Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach. It has been a popular tourist town since the early 1900s, thanks to seven flawless miles of golden crescent beaches, caressed with a perfect climate in the stunning coastal foothills.
The privileged spot has famously attracted bohemian types since the 1920s, and remains best known for its major arts festival, Pageant of the Masters. Since 1932, locals have used elaborate costumes and settings to "recreate" the world's most famous paintings, remaining perfectly still for 90 minutes while a soaring orchestra plays. Other arts fairs, including the Sawdust Art Festival and Art-a-Fair (also held in July and August, to coincide with the Pageant of the Masters), Plein Air Painting Invitational, Festival of Arts, and other art shows draw crowds. Can't make it? Scores of art galleries, fascinating shops, wineries, and even a couple of art museums should keep you inspired.
Los Angeles is a city that stretches on for miles and miles, an urban sprawl with dozens of unique neighborhoods. One of the best ways to see the city from above is at OUE Skyspace Los Angeles, an observation deck with both indoor and outdoor lookouts. The panoramic views of Los Angeles provide a full 360-degree visual. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the mountains and sea that surround the city, and even the Hollywood sign. It is California’s tallest open-air observation deck.
Because of the expansive views, it’s also a popular spot for photography. Visitors stand almost 1,000 feet above the ground below. There’s also a time lapse and an infinity mirror to experience on your way to the top. For additional adrenaline, it’s also possible to take a ride down an outdoor glass slide that runs on the exterior of the U.S. Bank building (the tallest in Los Angeles.) The Skyslide allows you to experience the views while zipping down from the 70th to the 69th floor.
The OUE Skyspace is included on most architectural tours of the city and has quickly become an essential stop in downtown Los Angeles.
Hancock Park can refer to two areas in Los Angeles, both worth saving time in your schedule for a look.
The Hancock Park neighborhood is an affluent area with a history that dates back to the mid-1800s, while the actual Hancock Park might be better known as the home of the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum. Since 1906, more than one million bones have been recovered and scientists are still excavating. The best fossils pulled from the Tar Pits are on display in the Page Museum.
Hancock Park is also the home of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In addition, the park has plenty of open space, making it a nice spot to wander or have a picnic
Since the early 1970s, the Comedy Store has been famous for launching the careers of some of the biggest stars in stand-up comedy. Mitzi Shore (mother of comedian Pauly) bought the club from her ex-husband Sammy in 1973, turning it into a multi-room venue that includes a 450-seat Main Room for headliners, and the Belly Room, a small upstairs space that was once dedicated to emerging female comics – like Whoopi Goldberg.
Paid regulars at the club include (quite possibly) lesser-known acts like Korean-American comic Bobby Lee, the twin Sklar Brothers, and TV-game-show host Joe Rogan, as well as stars like Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Marc Maron, Russell Brand, Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Handler and Jay Leno.
Show ticket prices tend to be about $10. Admission is free before 7pm, but there is a two-drink minimum for all events and performance; per the club’s liquor license, only people 21 and over can attend shows here. Street parking near and on Sunset Boulevard is extremely limited, but valet parking is available at the club.
This 26.4-acre (1-hectare) park located along Ocean Avenue is perched above sandstone bluffs in Santa Monica. The waterfront Palisades Park offers guests the opportunity to explore the coast in a delightful outdoor setting. Whether it’s meandering along its paved paths, stopping to smell the roses in the rose garden, or admiring the Pacific Ocean from atop the promenade, the park is a welcomed respite.
Set behind The Grove (L.A.’s most popular mall) and the Original Farmer’s Market, this television studio complex in the Fairfax District is often defined by its long lines of tourists and local visitors waiting to snag seats to a show taping. Open since 1952, Television City is now home to eight separate studios, which host shows like American Idol, The Young & the Restless, The Price is Right and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
Built on the site of the former Gilmore Stadium (once part of neighboring Pan Pacific Park), this series of black and white planes mixed with glassy cubes was designed by Pereira & Luckman, the architects behind LAX’s distinctively futuristic “Theme Building,” which now houses the Encounter Restaurant & Bar. Television City is now one of two CBS TV studios in the L.A. area, the other being CBS Television Center in Studio City.
Zuma Beach’s wide, white ribbon of sand and long wave pipeline make it an enormously popular beach on weekends year-round and during school-free summer days. In the early mornings, especially on weekends, this is a great spot to watch both surfers and seabirds; during weekend days, it’s an ideal place to observe L.A. beach culture and fashions.
Zuma features a 2,000-some-odd-space parking lot for $8 a car, but street parking is available for free on Pacific Coast Highway. A lifeguard is on duty during the day, and you’ll find public restrooms, outdoor showers, and volleyball courts here.
A snack bar is often open right on the beach during warm weather. Just north of the beach on Pacific Coast Highway, there’s a Westward Ho Market suitable for stocking a picnic, and next door, a Starbucks. Westward Beach, at the southwest border of Zuma, is a 10-minute walk away and home to The Sunset Restaurant, Kristy’s Wood Oven & Wine Bar, and Lily’s Café & Pastries.
Each year in early September, Zuma hosts the Malibu Nautica Triathlon, a swim-bike-run benefit for Children's Hospital of LA. Competitors always include Hollywood celebrities and retired Olympic medalists, making this both a worthy cause and a fun day out for tourists.
From shrunken heads to the world’s smallest drivable car, this Hollywood museum is a shrine to strange treasures, kitsch, and record-breaking finds. Known as the ‘Odditorium,’ the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum lives up to the name, starting with the giant tyrannosaurus rex that looms out of the red-tile roof.
Architecture fans are in for a treat at the Hollyhock House, the dramatic first Los Angeles project from American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The building's unusual features and curious details are must-sees at the Barnsdall Art Park, a museum and art complex in LA's Los Feliz neighborhood.
Set atop Olive Hill and described as a medieval or Mayan castle, the blocky stone, 17-room mansion is known as one of Wright's more unusual works. The house was designed in 1917 (and completed in 1921) for eccentric oil heiress Aline Barnsdall as a private home and headquarters for her pet project, an avant-garde theater company. It's said Barnsdall lost interest in the house; she never lived in it and donated the space plus 11 surrounding acres to the city of Los Angeles in 1927.
The Barnsdell Art Park, fashioned from the land gift, contains green space; the house-museum (with a visitor's center and gift shop in the garage); the rotating exhibits of the neighboring Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery also housed in Frank Lloyd Wright buildings; and a modest theater.
Los Angeles is one of the cities closely tied to the fashion world, and although the area in the city known as the Fashion District is largely catering to the industry it's also a tourist attraction that's partly open to the public.
The LA Fashion District is a hive of design activity – more than 100 blocks where fabric makers and wholesale clothing distributors occupying huge warehouses. These places don't sell to the general public, but there are some retail businesses in the neighborhood – and even some that are typically only open to the industry have special sale days once each month during which they sell off samples.
Inside the boundaries of the Fashion District are two popular tourist areas. The Los Angeles Flower District, where you'll find hundreds of wholesale flower shops (even if you're not shopping, it's gorgeous scenery); and Santee Alley, a bustling pedestrian street lined with shops that's known for its bargains.
The Melrose Trading Post has almost 250 vendors of vintage clothes, jewelry, housewares and more, attracts as many as 5,000 people in a single day, and benefits programs at its host site, Fairfax High School. This is a place to see, be seen, and snag a tremendous deal on a quirky thing you’d forgotten you can’t live without.
A testing ground for youthful street fashion in Los Angeles, the Trading Post is a magnet for teenagers and early 20-somethings wearing style mash-ups of the 1940s through the 1990s, accented with dashes of the present. You’ll also find some serious antique collectors here, scouting a steal on the occasional overlooked treasure. The Post also features the performances of local musicians and works by local artists, providing a fun and inexpensive way to see what’s percolating on the city’s cultural scene.
Situated in downtown Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the nation’s top universities. With more than 40,000 students and specialty graduate programs, the private school is known for both its academic and athletic excellence. Due to its location in the midst of the film industry, USC has close ties to the film and television industry. Hundreds of accolades have been given to alumni of its film school. Many Hollywood productions have been filmed on campus.
USC also has the largest international student population of any university in the United States, adding to its global appeal. Its football team is particularly well-known for its many championships, and the school has sent more athletes to the Olympics than any other in the world.
The campus is well-maintained in a traditional style, with landscaped gardens and brick-lined buildings. Its many halls, libraries, and squares are beautifully maintained. Visitors will also want to check out the statue of Tommy Trojan, the major symbol of the university.
Built for the vaudeville circuit in 1926, the Orpheum Theatre underwent a major renovation in the early 1990s and is now the best-preserved palace-style theater in LA. With a Beaux Arts exterior and a Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ below its curtained stage, this is a living remnant of the city’s magnificent Broadway Theater District.
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