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Things to Do in Los Angeles - page 5

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Nethercutt Museum
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Hidden in a suburb of Los Angeles, the Nethercutt Museum houses one of the world’s premier collections of classic cars. Ranging from a Ford Model T to custom luxury cars previously owned by rich and famous, there is plenty of variety in the 250+ car collection. Dozens of the cars date back to the 1930s and earlier. There is even the first VW Bug imported into the United States from 1946 on display. Most all of the cars have been restored to their full glory and are kept in pristine condition.

Aside from its impressive classic automobiles, the Nethercutt is also home to a collection of orchestrions, or player pianos and music boxes. The highlight of this for many is the massive theater pipe organ. There is also antique furniture and an old steam locomotive and train car on site, making it easy to step into the past with your visit.

Many have called the Nethercutt one of the top five car museums in the world.

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Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH)
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Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust brings visitors an objective, impactful presentation of one of the darkest chapters of 20th-century history. Find original artifacts, survivor stories, and a carefully-curated architectural space, all befitting the subject matter's gravity. Located along Pan Pacific Park, the museum is free to visit.

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Museum of Tolerance (MOT)
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The Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is a Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum. Since it opened its doors in 1993, more than five million have visited, most middle and high school students. Interactive exhibits and special programs are designed to help visitors develop a better understanding of the Holocaust and inspire tolerance of all people regardless of race or religion.

The museum features an exhibit on Anne Frank. Along with rare artifacts, documents and photographs, you can read a facsimile of her diary. Little known facts about the time she spent in hiding and her arrest are highlighted throughout the exhibit. Admission for the Anne exhibit is not included with MOT general admission and advanced reservations are recommended.

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Watts Towers
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Set in Watts, one of the least touristy areas of Los Angeles, a gritty South Central neighborhood that’s otherwise best known for a series of violent riots in the late 1960s, the Watts Towers are nonetheless one of the most fantastic attractions in the city. Built between 1921 and 1954 by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, this National Historic landmark is a huge fanciful temple of steel spires and found objects, a quirky combination of a ship, a cityscape and a cathedral.

Inspired by a religious vision, Rodia spent more than three decades working on these 17 encrusted towers in his spare time, cobbling together his creation with scrap rebar and cement mortar from construction sites, bits of metal and trash from the nearby Pacific Railway Car tracks, and pottery shards, broken bottles and whole seashells.

Driven away by deeply unappreciative neighbors, Rodia abandoned his towers in 1955, and they stood neglected until 1959, when an actor and a filmmaker brought attention to their plight and got the LA arts community (including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA]) to organize on their behalf. The result was the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, which is now a partnership between the City of Los Angeles and LACMA; the Committee now runs the adjacent Watts Towers Arts Center, which offers art and music classes and stages cultural events.

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Paley Center for Media
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In Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment world, the Paley Center for Media houses a collection of more than 160,000 television and radio programs. The Paley Center works to preserve the artistic and cultural contributions of these programs, operating as a sort of database and forum for continued discussion. Radio programs date back to the 1920s, while television shows go back to 1939.

The archives function almost like a library of media. Most are available to watch or listen to in screening rooms or on individual consoles. In addition to original materials, there are also recorded seminars from prominent television and radio figures ranging from hosts and creators to actors.

The archives serve both as a resource for media professionals and as a catalog for the public to engage with. The center is expanding into emerging media, including Internet video and mobile content. There’s also a branch of the center located in New York City.

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Gamble House
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A 1908 Arts & Crafts treasure that was joinery-built without a single nail showing, this former family home (designed for the co-founder of Procter & Gamble) is the feather in the cap of famed architecture firm Greene & Greene.

The hand-crafted Gamble House mansion graces almost an entire grassy block of Pasadena's upscale Arroyo Seco neighborhood. Sumptuous woodwork (including delicately hand-carved floral-form friezes), leaded art-glass windows and fixtures, hand-glazed tilework and furniture custom-designed to fit each room make the Gamble House look and feel like an enormous work of art. In the 1960s, the home was almost sold to a couple who wanted to lighten up the interior by painting everything white; instead, it was purchased by the University of Southern California and preserved as a tourist attraction and architectural teaching tool.

Guided tours are the only way to see the home's interior; docents provide engaging one-hour introductions, while more in-depth tours last two to three hours and are often led by craftspeople that have made meticulous renovations within the house. Advance reservations are required for in-depth tours, and recommended for one-hour tours.

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Rose Bowl Stadium
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The natural-grass home field of the UCLA Bruins football team, the 90,000-seat Rose Bowl Stadium in sunny Pasadena is approximately 30 miles northeast of Westwood and the UCLA campus. Built in 1922, this National Historic Landmark has hosted the Super Bowl (five times), the FIFA World Cup, Olympic events and various rock concerts; however, it's best known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl college tournament on New Year's Day.

On the second Sunday of each month, the Rose Bowl is also home to the legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market, where over 2,500 collectors and designers of vintage furniture, housewares, jewelry, clothing and memorabilia sprawl around the perimeter of the stadium to hawk their treasures.

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The Americana at Brand
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Glendale's own popular version of mid-town L.A.'s famous Grove is a stylish outdoor mall featuring local high-end restaurant chains and trendy shopping for fashions, home-wares and gadgets. The Americana at Brand is a good eight miles east of Tinseltown's brightest glare, celebrities like Eva Mendes, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber seem to feel more relaxed here, hanging out on patios at restaurants like Frida's Mexican Cuisine and Katsuya Sushi, or combing through the racks and shelves at shops like Gilly Hicks, Sephora and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Product launches and movie promotions are a common occurrence here, attracting stars like Katy Perry, Jennifer Aniston and even director Steven Spielberg. Gigi's Farmers Market attracts a family-friendly crowd with its petting zoo every Saturday (10 a.m.–2 p.m.), and the Brand's evening popularity on Fridays and Saturdays make dinner reservations a must; a dancing, neon-lit fountain, live musicians performing on a grassy knoll, and twinkling lights in the trees make this a great spot for date night.

The mall’s huge, covered parking lot offers 2 hours free with store or restaurant validation.

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Glendale Galleria
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Once one of the largest, most-visited malls in America, the Glendale Galleria was first opened in 1976 and remains popular today, despite the presence of the Americana at Brand, its glitzy neighbor across the street. Home to the second Apple Store ever opened in a U.S. mall, as well as the first three-story Target in America, there’s almost no retail merchandise in existence that you won’t find here.

Here you can find department stores such as Macys, JC Penny, and Bloomingdales, a branch of 90210 Pho (a popular L.A. chain for Vietnamese food) as well as a large international food court. The children’s play area on the upper level emphasizes healthy eating and a sense of adventure, and includes a large model plane.

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Manhattan Beach
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A 10-minute drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), this trendy, hill-sloping beach town spanning two miles worth of Pacific Ocean shoreline bears no resemblance to the Borough of Manhattan; back in 1902, it was named at the flip of a coin for the New York City home of its original real estate developer, Stewart Merrill. What Manhattan Beach does have is a wide ribbon of soft, white sand, tasty waves that attract local surfers, and a trendy commercial village of boutiques and restaurants.

The northernmost of L.A.’s three Beach Cities (along with Hermosa and Redondo), Manhattan was once merely a laid-back residential community, but is now home to some of L.A. County’s priciest real estate. To see some of the town’s loveliest/quirkiest homes, take a stroll along the ocean-side Strand, a pedestrian-friendly bike path that actually stretches 26 miles from Santa Monica to the far end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Manhattan Beach attracts almost 4 million visitors each year. Besides the Strand, it’s most popular for its shoreline, the historic Municipal Pier (which hosts a small aquarium with free admission), and two events held here every August, the Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournament and the International Surf Festival.

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More Things to Do in Los Angeles

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum is home to the eclectic and fabulously expensive art collection of millionaire industrialist Norton Simon (the marketing whiz behind Hunt's Ketchup, Max Factor cosmetics, Canada Dry Ginger Ale and more). This modern castle made of teak and stone features art from around the world and a stunningly-landscaped garden.

While the Simon's treasures include modern and contemporary works, as well as a slew of European paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries (including three of Rembrandt's most famous), it's the comprehensive South and Southeast Asian collections that draw the most attention. Several controversial pieces may or may not have been smuggled into the U.S. by temple-plunderers, including a 10th-century Indian idol called the Shivapuram Nataraja, and the rotating displays of Japanese woodblock prints belong to a collection that Simon purchased from a cash-strapped father of eight, architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The art continues out in the garden, where bold bronzes like Henry Moore's 1966 Draped Reclining Woman highlight fragrant patches of lavender, a eucalyptus grove and 180 species of plants. Be advised, though, that the cafe here has some of the worst and most expensive coffee in town; you’d be better off heading a few blocks west on Colorado Blvd. and finding beverages and a snack in Old Town Pasadena.

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Paradise Cove

Paradise Cove

One of Malibu’s most beloved spots for both a romantic outing and a family day at the beach, since the 1950s this sweet little indoor-outdoor restaurant has been serving three daily meals beside one of Southern California’s prettiest coves. Set below a cliff-top community of swanky mobile homes (a unique-to-Malibu concept), you can park at this family-owned joint for hours, rent some beach chairs, beds or cabanas on the sand, and call this your beach property for the day.

In addition to its popular salad bar and tacos, Paradise Cove has a hopping dive bar where you can dip into a big barrel of shell-on peanuts (try not to think too hard about this) and order a slew of tiki-themed drinks, many of which are made – fittingly – with Malibu Rum. In addition, all the wines served here are made at nearby Malibu wineries like Cielo and Rosenthal Estate.

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Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center

A cultural center and museum dedicated to Jewish history as it pertains to present-day democratic ideals, the Skirball Cultural Center has been an influential educational hub in Los Angeles since its opening in 1996. Known for its striking architecture, the landmark also includes a performing-arts center and hosts regular events.

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Los Angeles Opera (LA Opera)

Los Angeles Opera (LA Opera)

The fourth-largest opera company in the U.S., the Los Angeles Opera (LA Opera) debuted in 1986 -- and remains headquartered -- at the Los Angeles Music Center’s elegant Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Directed by famed tenor Placido Domingo, as well as conductors James Conlon and Grant Gershon, has become known for taking risks in terms of subject matter, as well as set and costume design.

In recent years, the company has put on an innovative stage version of David Cronenberg’s movie The Fly, presented Wagner’s The Ring amidst a tide of anti-Nazi fervor, and staged Don Giovanni with the costumes of local sister-designer team Rodarte. A special series concentrates on operas written by Jews who died in the Holocaust, and in addition to productions of big-name operas like Carmen and Falstaff, LA Opera also stages works by avante garde composers like Philip Glass and one-night concerts by popular singers like Audra McDonald.

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Travel Town Museum

Travel Town Museum

A must-visit for transportation enthusiasts of all ages, the free Travel Town Museum celebrates the history of the western United States’ railroads. Home to numerous historic steam engines and other rare locomotives, trolley cars, and more, the museum, based in Griffith Park, even invites visitors to tour the area via a miniature train.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain

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Reputed to be one of the best roller coaster parks in the United States, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, California, boasts 19 coasters, from white-knuckle rides to more gentle options suited to younger visitors. Food, drink, and entertainment options round out the on-site offerings.

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Los Angeles World Cruise Center

Los Angeles World Cruise Center

The City of Angels, La La Land, Tinseltown – whatever you want to call it, Los Angeles is America’s playland, where tanned sun-worshippers frolic on the beach in Malibu, surfers catch waves down in Huntington, families meet Mickey Mouse in Anaheim, well-dressed ladies shop for designer goods in Beverly Hills, and movie stars (and wannabees) make their fortunes in Hollywood.

The sprawling city offers more than you could ever see in a day (or five), so if your cruise starts or ends at the Los Angeles World Cruise Center, it’s worth your while to extend that vacation by a few days and see what all the fuss is about (who wants to go back to work, anyway?).

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San Pedro

San Pedro

Maritime history runs deep in the waterside community of San Pedro, home to the heavily trafficked Port of Los Angeles. Seafaring is a central attraction theme, from an old battleship and lighthouse to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. With its uptick in shops and restaurants, the area is gaining popularity as a hip waterfront destination.

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Auto Club Speedway

Auto Club Speedway

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to whizz around a racetrack at top speed or drive an exotic sports car worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Auto Club Speedway is the place to go, the only permanent racing facility in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Used for both NASCAR and IndyCar events, the racetrack has a 1.5-mile, low-banked speedway with white-knuckle turns and a long straightaway, set within a 91,200-capacity grandstand, where your friends and family can cheer you on.

Most impressive is the vast fleet of exotic cars, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and the Nissan GT-R. Select your ride and buckle up for an adrenaline-fuelled drive under the supervision of a professional racing instructor, reaching speeds up to 130mph, or leave the steering to the professionals and opt for a ride-along experience in a Corvette Z06 instead.

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Los Angeles Montana Avenue

Los Angeles Montana Avenue

Stretching from Santa Monica Beach all the way up into the neighborhood of Brentwood, palm tree-lined Montana Avenue is a Los Angeles local’s favorite for shopping and strolling. Breezes from the nearby beach lend to its casual yet chic feel. Known for its open-air boutique shopping, both upscale and bohemian clothing and jewelry, as well as furniture and home goods, can be found here. The relaxed vibe combined with a variety of independent stores makes this a unique shopping destination.

The avenue is also home to some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, including Father’s Office — a gastropub famous for its delicious house-made burgers. You can also find coffee shops, bakeries, salons, and a theater. Despite being one of the trendier shopping destinations, the area still maintains its original neighborhood feel.

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Craft Contemporary

Craft Contemporary

Take an interactive tour of the world through innovative, culturally themed arts and crafts at Los Angeles’ Craft Contemporary, formerly known as the Craft & Folk Art Museum. Exhibits constantly change every few months, and they cover a wide range of artistic styles and mediums, from wood sculpture and pottery to tattoos and weaving. The museum also features a number of workshops and classes that welcome visitors of all ages. And don’t forget to stop at the gift shop, which sells an eclectic collection of handcrafts.

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Stahl House

Stahl House

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Built in 1959 and 1960, the iconic Stahl House appears to sit precariously on a cliff-side piece of land, the structure’s architecture both timeless and yet ahead of its time. Walled in on three sides by floor-to-ceiling windows, and surrounded by panoramic city views, the house has been famously featured in many movies, ads, and more, and become symbolic not only of modern LA architecture, but of LA itself.

Visiting it isn’t as simple as just grabbing your car and map, though. Given its location in a residential area, reservations must be made well in advance, and only through the official website. Tour groups allow for just a handful of people, and parking (which, for the public, is forbidden on the street) is restricted to just five spaces; as such, it is mandatory that you and those with whom you’ve purchased your ticket all arrive in one car. The logistics may be precise (and for good reason), but your docent-guided tour, and following free time to enjoy the property, will make the effort more than worth it.

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Hollywood Guinness World Records Museum

Hollywood Guinness World Records Museum

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From the world’s tallest man to the longest jump taken by a human, Guinness has tracked the most significant, interesting, and strange world records year after year. The interactive Hollywood Guinness World Records Museum brings many of those records to life in a way that makes them seem even more real. The facts and figures here range from pop culture and technology to nature, sports, and space. The experience is much like a walk through a fascinating, interactive reference book.

Exhibits are spaced out over two stories and include touchscreen and video, holographs, animation, and other immersive media. There’s a section of the museum dedicated to the records of the entertainment industry, which fittingly includes a theater show. The family-friendly museum even offers visitors the chance to break one of its world records. It is often visited in combination with the Hollywood Wax Museum, which is next door.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’ve ever dreamed of stepping into a Harry Potter book, look no further than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. Explore Hogwarts Castle, stroll around Hogsmeade, and even cast your own spells with a magic wand at this family-friendly attraction perfect for fans of the series.

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