Los Angeles

When you visit Los Angeles, you’ll discover that much of the vibrant life here seems to thrive somewhere between reality and dream. This alluring place is where trends are born. Convertibles. Short skirts. Health food. In-line skates. Even the Internet. Since its beginning, LA has lived on the cusp of a trend, always re-inventing itself – from Mexican outpost to agricultural Mecca to boomtown movie colony to high-tech aerospace hub to the new economy. LA reaches new horizons every day.

Los Angeles first coined the word “tourist.” Because most people arrived here as strangers, LA makes up the richest ethnic mix in the country. Cultures from around the world rub elbows and join hands in fusions of language, fashion and food. Have you tried a Thai taco? We have them. This cultural celebration also means we have more stage theaters (80+) and museums (300) than any U.S. city. With metropolitan LA at more than twice the size of Switzerland, you can be sure there’s plenty to explore.

What does Hollywood mean to you? Old movies from the Golden Age of Tinseltown? An action-filled working film set? Or the famed white letters on a hill that loom in the distance? If you're not sure, begin at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum where you can pilot the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek or keep Norm's stool warm from the Cheers set.

Even after your feet touch every star on the Hollywood Walk Fame, and you've bought an autographed movie poster of your favorite film, you aren't through with Hollywood yet. On the more rustic side, over 53 miles of trails await exploration by foot or by horse in Griffith Park, which also houses the LA Zoo. If you fancy yourself young and hip, shop for an ultra-trendy outfit on Melrose before going club-hopping at places like the retro-chic Dresden Club, featured in the film "Swingers." For a family adventure, tour Universal Studios Hollywood and get wet on Jurassic Park The Ride. And if you're in the mood for romance, nothing compares to a gourmet picnic together with a symphony, under a sea of stars at the Hollywood Bowl.

When you tour the beach cities and see the taut blond surfers and the swarms of beachgoers on blankets or roller-skates, the California cliché comes to life. But you'll soon realize how much "the scene" changes from Malibu to Long Beach and all along the coast.

North of LAX gives us the surf culture of Malibu, where movie stars' estates are tucked in the hills above the ocean. Further south, you can take in the entire bay from atop a spiffy lighted Ferris wheel at the famed Santa Monica Pier, which is only a couple blocks away from the Third Street Promenade, a browsers' heaven of bookstores, boutiques and cafes. Down the road in Venice, where the canals wind their way through a residential neighborhood connected with bridges, the colorful Venice Boardwalk and its flea-market-cum-circus atmosphere will amaze and astound.

South of the airport offers a vast array of different things to explore, such as the retro glamorous Queen Mary and the new, nearby Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. You might lose an afternoon watching the volleyball players in Manhattan Beach; then head down to San Pedro and soak up its Old World charm at a restaurant like Papadakis Taverna, where dancing waiters serve savory Greek specialties.

If that's not enough, there are many more sites to explore in other parts of LA, including downtown, the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and neighboring regions, where such destinations as Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm await.

From the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau

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