Archive for February, 2011
In the South Bay, it becomes apparent that L.A. County is utterly spoiled with gorgeous shoreline: Some of the prettiest oceanfront in Southern California is in the picturesque beach towns of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Visitors are drawn to the scenery, laid-back attitude and active lifestyle, which includes swimming, sailing and beach volleyball, plus cycling and in-line skating along the beachfront path called the Strand. This is a major “happening area”, you add this to your Los Angeles tour plans, and you won’t be disappointed. Quaint San Pedro, on the south side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, is Cruise Central. Long Beach is well known for its regal longtime resident: the permanently berthed, historic Queen Mary.
The Manhattan Beach populace seems armed with both discretionary income and a fun-focused life philosophy; stars such as L.A. Laker Luke Walton call this ritzy community home.
Most of the action is downtown, along Manhattan Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Popular restaurants include Café Pierre (317 Manhattan Beach Blvd.). Boutiques reflect the intersection of beach lifestyle and luxury tastes. Manhattan Beach Brewing Co. is steps from the sand.
To the south, Manhattan Avenue jogs west and becomes Hermosa Avenue, leading to lively Hermosa Beach. The intersection of Pier and Hermosa avenues is the dining and entertainment epicenter; west of Hermosa Avenue, Pier Avenue becomes Pier Plaza, a pedestrian promenade.
In the early 20th century, visitors went to Redondo Beach for its offshore gambling aboard ships reached by water taxis and for dancing in big-band ballrooms. The ambience has changed, yet the city—at the southern end of Santa Monica Bay, below the breathtaking cliffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula—is just as visitor-friendly.
Nestled beneath the San Gabriel Mountains, minutes from downtown L.A. on the Metro Gold Line, Pasadena is both charming and cosmopolitan. The Tournament of Roses and institutions such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology make it much more than a typical suburb. Idyllic neighborhoods are filled with Craftsman-style homes. Now It’s actually snowing! It’s unbelievable to experience this, this… Fluffy palmable beauty. Never have I experienced something like this before. Take an LA tour, it’ll get you here fast, in style, and comfortably. Not sure the last time it snowed here, in LA. Nearby are Glendale, Arcadia, Eagle Rock and the San Gabriel Valley.
It is a pleasure to stroll through the 12-block district known as Old Pasadena, bounded roughly by Walnut and Green streets, Arroyo Parkway and Pasadena Avenue. The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many of its charming buildings date to the turn of the 20th century. Today, they house trendy boutiques and eateries; foresighted city planning has integrated parking structures into the old façades. The flamboyantly designed Castle Green apartments (99 S. Raymond Ave.) were built as a grand resort in 1898.
Some of Pasadena’s most magnificent historic homes line Orange Grove Boulevard just west of Old Pasadena, and the immediate vicinity offers a legacy of great architecture from masters such as Wallace Neff and Frank Lloyd Wright. The meticulously restored Gamble House is the crowning achievement of architects Greene & Greene, leaders in the Arts & Crafts movement for which Pasadena is famous. The spectacular Wrigley mansion is now the Tournament House, the offices for the Tournament of Roses.
Arcadia, east of Pasadena, is best known for historic Santa Anita Park, one of the world’s premier thoroughbred racing venues. Adjacent to the track is Westfield Santa Anita, a shopping center with department stores, boutiques and restaurants. The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is known for its free-roaming peafowl. To the north is Sierra Madre, whose cafe- and shop-filled downtown doesn’t have a single stoplight.
The Getty Villa is a reprieve from the fast-paced LA lifestyle, with it’s ever-changing exhibits and serene ocean-views. The museum is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The villa itself is modeled after a first-century Roman country house and quite impressive. Families can take a 45 minute kid-friendly guided tour through the galleries, with engaging activities that help children explore the grounds. Be sure to check out the Family Forum for a unique, hands-on experience. Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but you’ll have to reserve your tickets in advance. This is normally a good place to visit after a Los Angeles sightseeing tour, that way you can witness and enjoy all sides of LA. If you’re planning on visiting during the week, you can enjoy Tea by the Sea, complete with sweet and savory sandwiches and pastries, fruits, cheeses, and a varied selection of teas for an additional charge.
17985 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, California 90272
Hollywood, the center of the filmindustry, is home to the Academy Awards and is white-hot when it comes to nightlife. The locals are colorful, like the tattooed kids in combat boots and the photo-ready Superman and other costumed characters near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. A $1 billion, 30-year revitalization is in full swing, and it’s already translated into beautifully restored movie palaces, upscale eateries and boutiques. Hollywood tours should be up your alley as to be provided with a great overall synopsis of what this place is all about. There hasn’t been a more exciting time to visit Hollywood since its last golden age more than a half-century ago. East of Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park grow more popular with proudly indie restaurants, shops and more.
Hollywood + Highland
The mammoth Hollywood & Highland Center, which is named for its cross streets, is the home of the Kodak Theatre, site of the Academy Awards. You’ll also find boutiques and stores.
Walk of Fame
Sidewalks along the Walk of Fame—on Hollywood Boulevard from La Brea Avenue to Gower Street and on Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard—are embedded with bronze-and-terrazzo stars.
Griffith Park, the largest urban park in America, offers miles of hiking and riding trails, among other attractions. The Mount Hollywood trail, one of the park’s most popular for its panoramic city views, begins at Griffith Observatory.
Although it’s only five square miles, Beverly Hills looms large in pop culture as a posh and picturesque locale that boasts more mansions than any other area of L.A. County, not to mention the world’s most notorious ZIP code. Rodeo Drive, perhaps the world’s most famous shopping street, offers virtually every label worth its logo. Celebrities such as Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes retreat to their tucked-away gated mansions here. With the amount of stars roaming around, a celebrity la tour would really get you energized for some 91210 roamin’. Bel-Air is known for its sprawling estates, and Century City for business and shopping. Westwood, populated mostly by UCLA students, has a youthful vibe.
With its all-star roster of high-fashion designers, it’s no wonder this retail mecca makes so many well-heeled shoppers swoon.
Here reign retail’s grande dames: Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.
Bordered by the UCLA campus, Westwood Village is rife with historic buildings and cultural offerings—and it very well may be the movie premiere capital of the world.