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Top 10 Reasons To Visit Los Angeles

Hit the pavement and tour Los Angeles, California, where you’ll find an intoxicating mix of showbiz, art, culture and a vibrant night life, all rolled into one of the world’s largest, most unique cityscapes.

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1. Disneyland

From 1955 onwards, the landmarks of Disneyland – the Matterhorn, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and New Orleans Square – have been as familiar and as “real” as the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. A second theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, has been added adjacent to the original. Downtown Disney, a further addition, is an outdoor entertainment, restaurant and retail district. Together with the two parks and three Disney hotels, Downtown Disney forms the enormous complex called Disneyland Resort.

(Photo: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

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2. Catalina Island

This island may be only 22 miles across the sea, but it’s a world away from the urban velocity of L.A. Ferries dock in Mediterranean-flavoured Avalon, the island’s commercial hub. Most of the interior is protected nature preserve that may only be explored on foot or bicycle (permit required), or by taking an organized tour. These are excellent ways to learn about the island’s colourful history as a destination for sea otter poachers, smugglers, Union soldiers, mining speculators, and finally, tourists.

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3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The largest encyclopedic art museum in the western US, LACMA was founded in 1910 and moved to its present Miracle Mile home in 1965. Its treasure trove includes paintings by Durer, Monet and Picasso; American and Latin American art; and works from the Middle East and Asia. A lively schedule of concerts, lectures and film screenings makes LACMA a community destination. The Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) opened in 2008; public spaces, gardens, and a building to house special exhibitions have subsequently been added.

(Photo courtesy of Lynn Dombrowski/Flickr)

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4. The Grammy Museum

If you love music you won’t want to miss The Grammy Museum. Opened in 2008 (the Grammy’s 50th anniversary), the museum chronicles decades of popular music from all genres, and features four floors of interactive exhibits, rare collections of historical music artifacts, recording booths and a 200 seat theatre. Past exhibits have focused on legendary musicians like The Beatles, Bob Marley, Barbra Streisand and, of course, Michael Jackson. The pièce de résistance? Live performances from popular musicians, including John Legend, Ben Harper and Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav.

(Photo courtesy of Eric Richardson/Flickr)

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5. Griffith Park

Griffith Park is a 4,000-acre natural playground of rugged hills and gentle valleys, draped with native oak trees, manzanita, and sage and crisscrossed by hiking and horseback trails. The country’s largest urban park owes its existence to the Welsh Griffith Jenkins Griffith (1850-1919). In 1896, Griffith donated a large portion of his estate to the city with the proviso that it become “a place of recreation and rest for the masses.” Today, the park is filled with picnic areas, golf courses and tennis courts.

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6. Sunset Strip

Sunset Strip has been a haven of hedonism since Prohibition days. Wedged between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, this 2.7-km of the Sunset Boulevard is crammed with hot nightclubs, hip rock venues, and fashionable boutiques. During Hollywood’s Glamour Age (1930-50), the stars trysted at the Chateau Marmont, partied at Trocadero, and talked shop at Schwab’s Pharmacy. Today’s hot spots rub shoulders with some historical landmarks.

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7. Universal Studios Hollywood

The world’s largest movie and television studio sprang from the imagination of cinema pioneer Carl Laemmle. In 1915 he bought a former chicken ranch, brought in cameras, lights and actors and started making silent films. The theme park began taking shape in 1964. Today, Universal Studios Hollywood gets more visitors (about five million a year) than any other attraction in LA County. Among the studio’s greatest hits are Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993) and Shrek (2001).

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8. The Getty Center

An exquisite art collection, superb architecture, and lovely gardens combine with a hilltop location to create on of LA’s finest cultural destinations. Designed by Richard Meier, the Getty Center opened in December 1997 after 14 years of planning and construction. It unites the entities of the Getty Trust created by oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (1892-1976), including research and conservation institutes. At its core, however, is the museum with exquisite European art from illuminated manuscripts to Impressionistic paintings, contemporary sculpture, and photography.

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9. Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington is one of those rare places that manages to please the eye, stimulate the mind and nourish the soul all at the same time. The former estate of railroad and real estate baron Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927), it consists of a trio of treasures: the art collections include fine examples of British, French and American art; the Huntington Library has about seven million rare manuscripts and books, including a Gutenberg Bible; and the Botanical Gardens are a fantastic feast of flora in a pleasing parklike setting.

(Photo courtesy of Soraya S./Flickr)

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10. Historic Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard, home of the Walk of Fame, has always been synonymous with the glamour of moviemaking, especially during its heydays in the 1920s and 1930s. But like an aging diva, it eventually fell out of favour, teeming with runaways, drug addicts and prostitutes. Now the heart of Tinseltown is finally cleaning up its act – the old movie palaces have received facelifts, the mega-entertainment complex of Hollywood and Highland is a major draw, and even “Oscar” has found a permanent home here.

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