Los Angeles: Visitor Information and Photos

 

Los Angeles with pictures
Los Angeles is vast: at the last count (2017) in the metropolitan area of nearly 88 sq km, lived over 12.8 million people; it’s the third most populous city in the US, and you probably couldn’t “do” it all in a lifetime, so it’s no use pretending you can see the whole city by taking a few days holiday. Have a look at the free photos below, and our advice, and plan your days to suit your party’s preferences.
The earliest people known to have called present day Southern California home were the Chumash and Tongva, who had their lands appropriated by Spain in1542. Following the war between the USA and Mexico, the area passed from Mexico to America as part of the settlement treaty.

The best times of year to visit L.A. are generally reckoned to be in Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November). This is when the city is a little less crowded and temperatures are between 10 degrees and 26 degrees Celsius. The infamous Los Angeles smog, caused by traffic pollution, is worst in Summer months and is best avoided. One reason people flock here is the climate, which is Mediterranean, similar to south-eastern Spain, hence the palm trees, which you can see in the pictures. In December you can expect 7 hours a day sunshine on average, with the whole adding up to a fantastic total of 3,000 hours of sun a year.

Getting there by plane
This is California and, as you might expect, you can fly in direct from pretty well all corners of the globe. There are four airports in the LA area which receive international flights: Los Angeles International, San Bernadino International, John Wayne Airport and, somewhat confusingly, Ontario International, this Ontario being a city in California, rather than the one in Canada. American Airlines, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Air New Zealand are just a few of the carriers with scheduled flights into Los Angeles International.

Travelling to Los Angeles by automobile
Los Angeles and Southern California are served by at least 12 ‘freeways’, one of which,
with its 8 lanes, is shown in the pictures. The main North-South road passing the west
side of town is the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405), which starts in that city and
ends in the San Fernando Valley. A lot of residents use the sometimes-bizarre names of
the roads, rather than their number: 405 used to be called ‘Christopher Columbus
Transcontinental Highway’!
If you are coming from the east you can drive Interstate 10 from Florida via New Orleans, through Texas and Phoenix Arizona. The western end of Interstate 10 (‘The Santa Monica Freeway’), links the Los Angeles downtown area to the Pacific Coast.
Those coming from the north east on a kind of diagonal, have the opportunity to drive one of the most iconic roads in the world: Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Chuck Berry reeled off the towns passed through on this 2,000 mile epic journey along ‘The Mother Road’ in his version of the rhythm and blues classic: St Louis, Missouri, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Flagstaff Arizona and Winona were just some of the romantic place names made famous by the song.
NOTE: It is no longer possible to drive the whole route on US 66. After 60 years the interstate highway was decommissioned and has been declining since the 1960s; in places it is in poor condition or by-passed.

What to see and do in Los Angeles
Faced with the task of seeing as much as possible of the city, you will probably want to start in the Downtown area, and a good way to get your bearings is on a walking tour. Themed guided walks cover such topics as old and new Downtown, architecture, film locations and haunted tales. One of the most imposing buildings in LA is the The City Hall, dating from 1928. There is an observation deck (admission free during City Hall business hours, Monday to Friday) for a great view of the city. There are pictures of the city’s fascinating and varied architecture, including city hall, below.

If you only plan to visit one museum or art gallery in LA, you will probably want to make it the The Getty Center on West Side. It’s not just that it has one of the best art collections in the world: there is also beautiful architecture set in fabulous gardens to enjoy. One way of coping with the potential overload of culture is to take one or more guided tours of about an hour, covering the gardens, the architecture or the collection highlights. (Open 10 – 5.30 except Mondays, admission free.)

If you are a fan of cowboy stories or films, the Autry Museum of the American West will interest you: art and history relating to the exploration and settlement of the West is on view, and there are family activities such as panning for gold. (Open 10 – 4, closed Mondays; there is an entry fee.) The historic monument known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles claims to be the site of the village origin of the great city in 1781, when 44 settlers travelled a thousand miles across the desert to establish a farming community. This living museum is owned by the city and kept free to enter as a symbol of the historic heart of Los Angeles. Two million visitors a year take advantage of the city’s generosity.

In this part of California you are seldom far away from all things Disney, and The Walt Disney Concert Hall is to be found at the corner of First Street and Grand Avenue (see photos). This amazing steel-clad building, designed by Frank Gehry and paid for by Disney, is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is renowned for its excellent acoustics. Hour long self-guided tours with audio commentary, as well as guide-led tours, are available. Warning: they do not take place on days when the L.A. Phil is rehearsing, so check first.

Mention of Disney is a reminder that Hollywood is close by, and is well worth a visit. Then there is Universal Studios, which is the subject of a separate Pictures-Newsletter, so is not dealt with here, though in this edition you will find photos of the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard.

One of the attractions you may not want to miss is the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Members of the public can vote for their favourite actors and directors to be added to the
Walk, and ceremonies at which names are added are open to all and are free. Since
1968, the movie theatre ‘Grauman’s Chinese Theatre’ on the Walk of Fame has been the scene of many premieres and award ceremonies. Star Wars was launched here in 1977, and this cinema can now boast one of the largest movie screens in North America.

(Both the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theatre are featured in my photos.)
It was fact, rather than movie fiction, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just after take-off on 28 January 1986, killing all seven astronauts. You can see the impressive memorial to the victims of this space-race disaster in Little Tokyo, at the corner of Ellison S. Onizuka Street, between 1st Street and San Pedro (and in my free pictures). Onizuka was one of the American astronauts killed that day. You have to park in a little shopping centre and walk, or take the subway. (There are also memorials to Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttles in Arlington National Cemetery.)

Permanently moored at Long Beach is the liner Queen Mary. This is not just an attraction for tourists to look round, but in effect a ‘floating hotel’. There are different types of rooms for couples and families, with various views to choose from. As befits a hotel steeped in history, the restaurant and lounge serving American food is called ‘Sir Winston’s’. See the separate Pictures-newsletter on the Queen Mary for more information about this once great ship. (Don’t be confused: Long Beach these days is not just a beach, but a coastal city of nearly half a million people. There is also a beach in Los Angeles itself. (See pictures of both among my free photos.)

Accommodation in Los Angeles
As well as the cruise liner, there is every type of hotel, holiday apartment and camping ground in the Los Angeles area of California, and to start with there are at least 17 hotels with 5-stars. One that comes well recommended is the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, which is part of the Four Seasons hotel group. This hotel is located close to Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Hollywood itself, and is right across the street from the Rodeo Drive shopping area. It has a fitness centre and spa, and guests have a choice of a coast-facing or Rodeo Drive view. Because of its location, this hotel is popular with visitors interested in luxury shopping.
In the 4-star category but still in town is the Hotel Angeleno, with gym and outdoor pool. This hotel is in the Westwood district and is only minutes from the Getty Center. Rooms in this hotel are either city- facing or coast-facing, and some have balconies. Family rooms have two double beds. The staff at the Angeleno are rather unusual in not accepting tips.
If you are prepared to stay out of town in return for a beachfront position, you may well like the ‘Venice Breeze Suites’ on Venice Beach. This apart-hotel is in the 3-star category, and ‘suite’ in this case means that you get a full kitchen. These rooms book up fast because of the great beach location and the barbecue on the roof, to which you take your own food and drink and enjoy the view and conversation while you eat.
Of course, if you are choosing a hostel rather than a hotel, it’s a matter of balancing cheapness against the facilities on offer. Not many hostels have swimming pools, but the 2-star ‘Anderson Estates’ does, and it provides free parking AND a continental breakfast; on the other hand every guest is charged USD 7 for cleaning. The hostel is located on Rochester Circle, in Los Angeles. This is a medium-sized hostel with 30 rooms, and guests can use cookware dishes and utensils, and the microwave and dishwasher. This hostel has in-room safes, which are not all that common, even in higher category hotels.
Finally, if you want to get away from it all and experience nature in peace and quiet, there are more than 20 campgrounds in California, some belonging to the state. Most people will be in RVs (mobile homes or campers), and if you are using a tent you need to check that they are accepted. To the south west of L.A., Wilderness Lakes Resort in Menifee is designated an RV Camp, but they also take tents and rent out cabins. Soledad Canyon RV and Camping Resort nestles under the San Gabriel Mountains in a picturesque setting. This campground has a large swimming pool and15 acres (6 hectares) of picnic areas shaded by trees.

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