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Things to Do in Los Angeles - page 2

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Venice Canals (Venice Canal Historic District)
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Comprising a series of manmade canals located just steps from Venice Beach, the Venice Canals are one of LA’s loveliest attractions. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1980s, the Venice Canal District dates to 1905 and was built by a local developer seeking to recreate the romantic ambiance of Italy.

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Heal the Bay Aquarium
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The small but impressive Heal the Bay Aquarium is located in the heart of Santa Monica, and is home to plenty of marine life and under water world displays. Travelers will find impressive exhibits that seek to educate visitors on the importance of preservation and local ecology.

Daily events like shark feeding, sea urchin hugs and interactive science experiments make for an engaging and informative visit that’s as entertaining for adults as it is for the younger set.

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California Science Center
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A joint project between the State of California and the California Science Center Foundation, this is the largest interactive science center on the West Coast. Home to an IMAX theater, the Space Shuttle Endeavour and much more, the Center is a comprehensive tour through the world of science.

Permanent exhibits here include explorations of ecosystems and how they work (or don’t); the survival processes of all living things; feats of engineering, technology and other inventions; and air and space exhibits (where you’ll find the Endeavour). Outside, you’ll find an outdoor sculpture garden with several interactive details like mosaic tiles that impart scientific knowledge, and high above the Center’s entrance, visitors can ride a bicycle that’s been carefully balanced on a high wire.

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Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
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Meet the colorful residents of Southern California’s underwater world at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. The Frank Gehry-designed aquarium boasts the largest collection of Southern California marine life anywhere. Opened in 1935, approximately 300,000 people visit the aquarium's exhibits and programs every year.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium runs a variety of programs for individuals and families. Visitors can go on guided walks, whale watching trips and even take art classes, so check the schedule when you are in town.

Cabrillo Coastal Park is also just outside the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. You could spend hours tidepooling, birdwatching, fishing, boating or swimming. With tables, bathrooms and a fishing pier, it’s a nice place for a picnic.

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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (LA Coliseum)
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Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (LA Coliseum) gets its name from the historic coliseum of ancient Rome — and with nearly 100,000 spectator seats it upholds the tradition of mass entertainment. It is the home of the University of Southern California’s Trojan football team, and is the only stadium in the world to have hosted two Olympic games. While football is its main attraction, there are also concerts and special events held at the LA Coliseum. It is also a center of athletics history, having hosted a number of Super Bowl and World Series games.

Until 2015 the Coliseum was only available to visit by holding a ticket to one of its hosted events. It is now open to the public, with many of the medals and trophies won by teams that have played here on display. The stadium is well-maintained and its sheer size is impressive. It is soon also to be the temporary home of the new Los Angeles Rams team.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), set within Hancock Park beside the La Brea Tar Pits, is an exciting place to explore the world of art. Here you can view the latest big-budget show, from Monet to Tim Burton; take a seat in the busy lecture/movie hall; or immerse yourself in rare and varied collections.

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Hollywood & Highland
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One of Los Angeles’ pre-eminent shopping and entertainment complexes, Hollywood & Highland boasts two heritage movie theaters—the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre—and dozens of shops and restaurants. It’s also located steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and hosts the annual Academy Awards,

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Melrose Avenue
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Los Angeles is full of shopping and entertainment diversions, but one of the most famous areas is Melrose Avenue. Even before the popular 1990s showMelrose Place was set in the area, at least part of the avenue was already a shopping and hangout destination for the burgeoning new wave crowd. The neighborhood remains an excellent spot for shopping, with more than 300 boutiques lining the street, as well as trendy restaurants and bars.

Unlike in the TV show, the actual Melrose Place doesn't have apartment buildings – it has yet more shops. In addition to the places to shop and eat, Melrose Avenue is also home to some of LA's best-known street art. Artists whose work you can see along the corridor include Annie Preece, Sebastien Walker, Ivan Preciado, and Jules Muck.

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El Capitan Theatre
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Originally built as a theatrical venue in 1926, the El Capitan Theatre is one of Los Angeles’ most famous cinematic landmarks. Restored to its original splendor, the stately Hollywood theater now hosts Disney movie screenings and premieres, many of which are accompanied by performances, Q&As, and other special events.

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Greystone Mansion and Park
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Once the most expensive residence in California, the stately Greystone Mansion is now owned by the City of Beverly Hills. Though the 55-room home is typically closed to visitors, you can still stroll the well-tended grounds and admire the mansion’s marvelous exterior.

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More Things to Do in Los Angeles

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive

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A drive on at least one portion of this iconic road should be a part of any first-time visit to Los Angeles. Built largely in 1924 as the scenic highway it remains today, Mulholland (as it’s locally known) offers unparalleled views of the L.A. Basin, San Fernando Valley, the Hollywood Sign and more.

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Staples Center

Staples Center

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One of the world’s most recognizable arenas, Staples Center is home to several sports teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Entertainment buffs also flock to the multipurpose stadium for concerts and other events.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

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Founded in 1899, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is Hollywood's oldest cemetery, and serves as a burial ground for some of the city’s most famous citizens, including Rudolph Valentino, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney. Today, it's also a gathering place for community events such as its Dia de los Muertos (the Mexican Day of the Dead) celebration and summer outdoor movie screenings.

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Bradbury Building

Bradbury Building

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One of the oldest still-standing structures in Los Angeles, this National Historic Landmark was built in 1893 for mining millionaire and real estate developer Lewis L. Bradbury, who never saw the finished building; he died shortly before it was completed. While relatively nondescript from its red brick Romanesque Revival exterior and into its dim entrance, the beauty of the Bradbury Building is revealed as you climb its stairs toward a five-story Victorian atrium filled with light.

The interior staircase is inlaid with geometric designs cut from Belgian marble, and its wrought-iron grillwork was considered so ornate at the time of its completion that it was featured in the Chicago World’s Fair before being installed here. The walls are pale glazed brick, the staircases are rimmed with carved-wood edging, and the atrium is capped with a glass skylight, allowing light to fill the building throughout the day.

Always used as an office building for various professionals, businesses and government agencies, the building has also made prominent appearances in several books, music videos, TV shows and movies, including Blade Runner, where it served as Harrison Ford’s character’s apartment.

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Olvera Street

Olvera Street

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A bustling Mexican marketplace since 1930, Olvera Street is part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, a US historic district considered the “birthplace of Los Angeles.” Tucked away in downtown LA, the marketplace is home to small eateries that serve Mexican fare as well as stalls that sell souvenirs, clothing, art, and crafts.

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Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC)

Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC)

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Designed in 1971 by Charles Luckman, architect of Madison Square Garden and LAX’s famous Theme Building (now known as Encounter Restaurant & Bar), the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) sprawls over several blocks’ worth of Downtown and plays host to dozens of industry showcases, genre expos and special events each year. Expanded in the mid-1990s (with a design by Ingo James Freed) and updated in the early 2000s, in 2008 it became the first U.S. convention center (and large building in Los Angeles) to be awarded LEED certification for its energy efficiency.

One of the largest convention centers in America, LACC long seemed marooned in an increasingly-fading swath of Downtown, but in the late 1990s, it received a huge commercial boost from the creation of Staples Center and the adjacent L.A. Live entertainment/dining/hotel complex. The area surrounding LACC is now booming with revitalization efforts which have rippled across the whole of Downtown.

Convention attendees are now spoiled for choice when it comes to lodging, high-end chain restaurants and bars, concert and sports venues, and a multiplex movie theatre. A popular coffee-meeting spot is the lobby of the J.W. Marriott Hotel, which features an Illy coffee café, and a Metro Rail station on the Red Line right beneath L.A. Live means that conventioneers can easily travel to other sections of Downtown, as well as Hollywood and Culver City.

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Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

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Home to the rich and famous, the glamorous city of Beverly Hills is the crown jewel of Los Angeles County: palm tree–lined streets, chic boutiques, palatial homes, and posh restaurants. This glitzy enclave is one of the best places in LA to bask in the glow of luxury, do some considerable damage on your wallet, and, most importantly, spot celebrities in their natural habitat.

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Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Hollywood Pantages Theatre

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Hollywood’s Golden Age still glitters at this historic theater on Hollywood Boulevard. After opening in 1930, the Art Deco landmark went on to host Academy Awards, glittering galas, and other star-studded Tinseltown events. Now it’s a top venue for musicals and theater in Los Angeles, frequently drawing big-name performers and shows.

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Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

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Get your dose of European art and international botany in California at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where you find an impressive display of art, rare books, and plants. The collections, gifted from entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington, contain the most 18th century art from around the world outside of London.

Stroll through the gardens admiring hundreds of species of colorful plants and flowers, or lose yourself in a book or a painting. The art collection houses both European and American pieces in its galleries, with sections dedicated to ceramics and decorative arts. The library holds more than six million items, including historic first edition Shakespeare manuscripts and a Gutenberg Bible, though the main section is available only to researchers. As for the gardens, you’ll find much variety — from Japanese and Chinese gardens, to herbs, roses, a desert garden and a children’s garden.

All in all there are more than 120 acres of garden open to the public to explore. And whether you choose to spend your time in the library, gardens, or galleries, you’ll have no shortage of things to do and see.

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Historic Core

Historic Core

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Centered on Pershing Square, downtown LA's Historic Core is a condensed collection of city blocks that once comprised the most glamorous commercial area in Los Angeles; after a decade’s worth of rejuvenation efforts, it has once again become a desirable destination. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it encompasses the Broadway Theater District, the Old Spring Street Financial District and Bunker Hill.

Crowned by the gilded Art Deco splendor of the Biltmore Hotel, buildings like the Los Angeles Central Library (a columnar fusion of Art Deco and ancient Egypt), Grand Central Market (the oldest food market in the city); and the Bradbury Building (built in 1893 and famed for its Victorian interior) make this one of the most architecturally significant swaths of L.A. Also home to Angels Flight, a funicular billed as the world’s shortest railway, elegant MacGuire Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), you could spend half a day or more exploring the core of downtown.

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The Magic Castle

The Magic Castle

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A kitschy hilltop mansion just a couple of blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Magic Castle is an exclusive nightclub and restaurant for magicians (and their fans), open only to members and the guests they invite -- or to guests of the adjacent Magic Castle Hotel. There is a strict dress code here, and visitors to nighttime performances must be 21 years or over.

A Los Angeles Historic and Cultural Monument, the house was originally built as a private home in 1909, but sold to a collective of magicians in the early 1960s and retrofitted to include various secret rooms and features. The main entrance, for instance, has no discernable door; a secret word must be whispered to an ornamental owl in order to be granted passage. Performances here, held five nights a week in three different theaters, are given by the world’s most skilled magicians and passionate fans, including actors Neil Patrick Harris, Steve Martin and Jason Alexander.

Magic Castle memberships are generally available only to magicians who must go through a thorough application process, but a temporary, non-magician, non-resident Open Sesame membership (available to those who live outside of the California Counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino) can be purchased for $250. Valid for only one month, Open Sesame allows the member and one guest to visit the club Sunday-Thursday and during Saturday brunch, requires both reservations and dining in order to attend shows, and incurs additional admission charges for additional guests.

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Union Station

Union Station

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Opened in L.A.’s Downtown in 1939 and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, this Amtrak hub is known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in America. Serving five major Amtrak trains (running to Seattle, Chicago, San Antonio, New Orleans, San Diego and San Luis Obispo), the station also provides service to Amtrak’s long-distance coach line, as well as L.A.’s local Metro Bus and seven lines of the Metro Rail.

From the outside, the beige stucco, red-roof-tiled building looks like many Spanish-style structures found in the city, but the interior is actually a blend of Dutch Colonial Revival, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne, three of the most popular architectural styles in L.A. The distinctive station has made appearances in several movies over the years, including the noir classic Union Station, To Live & Die in L.A., Speed, The Way We Were, and Batman re-spin The Dark Knight Rises.

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LA Live

LA Live

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LA Live is at the heart of the action in downtown Los Angeles. It is the sports, music, and entertainment hub surrounding venues like the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center. The energetic collection of nightclubs, restaurants, venues, movie theaters, and even museums truly has something for everyone. A few highlights include the iconic Conga Room, the Nokia Theater, and Lucky Strikes and Lounge bowling center. LA Live is also home to the GRAMMY Museum and its decades of music industry history.

With more than twenty restaurants there plenty of dining options. Some of Los Angeles’s best luxury hotels can be in surrounding skyscrapers. Live entertainment and special events are frequent, and award shows and red carpets can also be seen here on a regular basis. The ever-modern structures and lights of LA Live are set to continue to expand, so we can expect much more entertainment to come out of this cultural center in years to come.

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Whisky a Go Go

Whisky a Go Go

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Founded in 1964 as the third outpost of an American chain based on a Paris disco, this Whisky a Go Go was the first U.S. club to popularize the use of go-go dancers in suspended cages. The Doors were briefly the house band in the mid-1960s, and ever since, musical acts have included up-and-coming bands that have gone on to be enormously popular in a variety of genres – hard rock, metal, reggae, New Wave, grunge and more.

The Whisky, as it’s locally known, is easy to spot along the Sunset Strip, as there is always a line of patrons out front waiting to get into a show. Remaining true to its roots, the club continues to feature emerging bands rather than headliners. However, as many famous acts can claim the Whisky’s stage as the site of their first gig, it remains a historical landmark on the L.A. rock’n’roll scene.

An all-ages venue not known for its food, The Whisky offers a limited menu including burgers, fries and bar snacks. Only cash is taken at the on-site box office from Monday-Friday.

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