Los Angeles attractions

Top Los Angeles sights

Thanks to Hollywood, most people on the planet have at least an idea of what Los Angeles is like, though this usually involves lots of palm trees, movie stars and glamour.

  1. See fantastic contemporary art in the Broad
  2. Feel like a glamorous star in Hollywood
  3. Head to glitzy Beverly Hills in LA
  4. Visit the exciting Getty Centre
  5. Explore beautiful Venice Beach and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere

The City of Angels, Tinseltown, or just “La-La Land” is the home of the world’s movie and entertainment industry. The palaces of Beverly Hills, Sunset Strip, the original Disneyland, the Dodgers and the Lakers have all come from California. There is a fantastic beach culture here that has inspired California’s modern surfing boom in the 1950s, plus the Beach Boys, the Doors and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yet, first-time visitors should expect some surprises, beginning with the vast size of the place.

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1. See fantastic contemporary art in the Broad

The Broad houses the fabulous contemporary art collection established by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. It’s already one of LA’s most popular sights, with its distinctive, metallic, perforated exterior (by Diller Scofidio + Renfro) part of the attraction; the first- and third-floor galleries are connected by a 105ft escalator and cylindrical lift that zip through the central storage vaults at the heart of the complex. The first floor features temporary shows (tickets required), and you’ll also need a separate ticket to view the glimmering, otherworldly lights of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room (first floor), which allows for one person at a time to take a look for just one minute (check ahead to see if this is still on display). Note that the museum gets very busy at peak times (weekends in summer and holidays), when it’s worth making advance reservations for special exhibitions (which generally cost $15–18) - your ticket will also allow timed entry to the permanent galleries. Looking for LA holidays? We’ve got a superb selection for you.

Best for: Art

While you’re there: You’re close to the Grand Park for a stroll after.

2. Feel like a glamorous star in Hollywood

Ever since movies and their stars became international symbols of the good life, Hollywood has been a magnet to millions of tourists on celebrity-seeking pilgrimages and an equal number of hopefuls drawn by the prospect of riches and glory. In reality, this is a densely populated area and movie stars actually spent little time here - leaving as soon as they could afford to for the privacy of the hills or coast. Although the area continues to be a secondary centre for the film business, with abundant technical service companies such as prop shops and equipment suppliers, all the big film companies (other than Paramount) relocated long ago to places like Burbank. Things have brightened up in the past few years, however, with the construction of new tourist plazas and shopping malls along the legendary stretch of Hollywood Boulevard. The contrasting qualities of freshly polished nostalgia, corporate hype and deep-set seediness also make Hollywood one of LA’s most diverse areas - and one of its best spots for bar-hopping and clubbing. Hollywood is undoubtedly one of the top LA attractions.

Best for: Feeling like a film star.

While you’re there: The roughly two-mile-long mix of eateries, hotels and clubs on Sunset Boulevard is known as the Sunset Strip.

3. Head to glitzy Beverly Hills in LA

Probably the most famous neighbourhood in the world, Beverly Hills is internationally synonymous with free-spending wealth and rampant luxury, if not necessarily good taste. The town divides into two distinct halves, separated by Santa Monica Boulevard. To the south is the flashy Golden Triangle business district, which fills the wedge between Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards, ground zero for window-shopping and gawking at major and minor celebrities. To the north lies the lavish mansions of popular legend. LA sightseeing doesn’t get much better than this!

Best for: Luxury neighbourhood

While you’re there: For an overview of the shopping scene, take a trip on the free Beverly Hills Trolley.

4. Visit the exciting Getty Centre

In the oth erwise undistinguished Brentwood district, Getty Center Drive leads up to the monumental Getty Center, a gleaming 110-acre complex that towers over the city as oil baron J. Paul Getty (1892-1976) once towered over his competitors. Getty started building his massive collection in the 1930s, storing much of it in his house, now the Getty Villa, until the Getty Museum opened in 1974 on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Designed by arch-Modernist Richard Meier, the Center was built in classical travertine for about $1 billion and was a decade in the making. It plays an elephantine role on the international art scene.

Best for: More fantastic art

While you’re there: If you’re looking for adventure in LA, head to Magic Mountain and make for the mother of all rollercoaster parks.

5. Explore beautiful Venice Beach and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere

Most people are drawn to Venice Beach; nowhere else does LA parade itself quite so openly, colourfully and aggressively as it does along the Venice Boardwalk, a wide pathway also known as Ocean Front Walk. Year-round at weekends and every day in summer it’s packed with jugglers, fire-eaters, Hare Krishnas, rasta guitar players and, of course, teeming masses of tourists. West of Windward is Muscle Beach Venice legendary weightlifting centre where serious hunks of muscle pump serious iron, and high-flying gymnasts swing on the adjacent rings and bars.

Best for: Beach

While you’re there: Venice Pier marks the southern hub of the beach boardwalk at the western end of busy Washington Boulevard.

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