Updated January 4, 2021
Nashville • Los Angeles
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Sunny Los Angeles is a world-famous tourist destination. A person could easily spend a month touring the city sights. But if you visit with limited time, how can you budget your days to fit in all the attractions you want to see? Start by picking a few key sights and setting aside a day for each one. Donít pack too much into your visit or you could wind up feeling stressed and irritated by that other great Los Angeles phenomenon - traffic. Taking things one at a time will leave some extra hours for quiet exploration, popping into coffee shops and wandering down streets lined with flowering trees. That way, youíll get more pleasure out of your visit and youíll take away a richer impression of Californiaís City of Angels.
L.A. is most famous for its theme parks, Hollywood, and Rodeo Drive shopping. But consider these other fascinating opportunities: you could visit the remarkable J. Paul Getty Museum, take in an L.A. Lakers basketball game, dine on the pier in Santa Monica, visit Griffith Park, or watch the Tournament of Roses Parade. If youíre coming from a cooler climate, you may enjoy just strolling through the neighborhoods, taking in the Spanish architecture and elegant flowering trees. Many L.A. gardens are gorgeous examples of dry planting, using cacti, palms, and succulents to create a desert wonderland. Los Angeles also offers surprising natural escapes such as hiking from Malibu Creek to Antelope Valley, whale watching around Santa Cruz Island, and wildflower viewing in Malibu Creek State Park.
Los Angeles is almost synonymous with Disneyland and the areaís other famous theme parks: Knottís Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, and LegoLand California, just to name a few. You can make a splash at Raging Waters, see hundreds of animals at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, or ride the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park. Whether you come with the kids or just with a youthful spirit, youíll find just the right theme park for you. Theme parks are small cities in themselves, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to know yours. If youíre staying in the city, ask about shuttles to and from your park of choice - you may prefer that to driving yourself, especially since most theme parks are well outside the city.
If a trip to Hollywood is your dream come true, your best bet is a narrated bus tour of the area. Tours vary, but yours may take you past the Hollywood Sign, along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, past the 1927 Graumanís Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theater, and the Hollywood Bowl. Keep your eyes open for stars as you go - you just might get lucky!
Shopping enthusiasts gravitate toward L.A.'s ritzy shops and boutiques, but the city holds plenty of bargains, too. Check out the Citadel Factory Outlet, The Block at Orange, The Dock Downtown, and Designersí Bloopers. Youíll find relaxed outdoor shopping at one of the cityís dozens of farmersí markets or at Grand Central Market, the oldest and biggest open-air market in the city. The Grove is an outdoor shopping district with theater and live performances, and the L.A. Flower District is worth a visit just to see the beautiful blooms and to smell their sweet fragrance. If upscale shopping is what youíre after, you wonít want to miss the L.A. Fashion District, the Beverly Center Shopping Mall, Montana Avenue, and Rodeo Drive.
Los Angeles has a number of great walking tours that let you see the city at your own pace, on foot. You can explore Wiltshire Boulevard, one of the cityís most famous streets, or explore the 127-acre city arboretum. Step back into L.A. history on the Bunker Hill/Historic Core Angels Walk or visit the gorgeous Descanso Gardens, a 160-acre public garden set just twenty minutes from downtown.
History buffs wonít want to miss a visit to the kid-friendly LaBrea Tar Pits, where youíll see the skeletons, fossils, and replicas of extinct animals. Thereís also the Movieland Wax Museum, the historic Queen Mary, and Ports Oí Call Village, a living history museum that brings old New England to life.
From golfing and sailing to biking and beach-jogging, L.A. offers plenty of sporting opportunities. Youíll find courses, trails, and miles of coastline with boat, jet-ski, and surf board rentals. For spectator sports, take in one of L.A.ís pro teams - the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Galaxy, and Sparks are just some of the cityís teams - or head to UCLA for collegiate sporting action. In the nearby area, youíll also find NASCAR racing and teams like the Anaheim Angels and Anaheim Ducks.
There are also a number of free activities to enjoy in Los Angeles. If you get your seats in advance, you could attend a live taping of a T.V. show, sitting in the studio audience. Take strolls along the Santa Monica pier, go celebrity watching, or hike in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains. You might also enjoy a dip in the ocean at Venice Beach or a tour of the observatory at Griffith Park.
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