A place for dream­ers

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY JACQUE­LINE YAU

124 Re­dondo Beach

Cel­e­brated Whiplash and La La Land writer/di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle once re­marked, “There is some­thing to be said for hav­ing even un­re­al­is­tic dreams. Even if the dreams don’t come true—that to me is what’s beau­ti­ful about Los An­ge­les. It’s full of these peo­ple who have moved there to chase these dreams. A lot of those peo­ple are told by peo­ple around them that they’re crazy, or that they’re liv­ing in la la land.”

The City of An­gels is the land of rein­ven­tion. Los An­ge­les County at­tracts seek­ers, dream­ers, hus­tlers and wannabe ac­tors/screen­writ­ers/di­rec­tors. Most come from some­where else and are look­ing for some­thing bet­ter with per­sis­tent op­ti­mism and self-ex­pres­sive­ness per­me­at­ing the air.

But thanks to the Beach Boys har­mo­niz­ing about Cal­i­for­nia girls, beach party movies of the ’60s and TV shows like Bay­watch, many peo­ple think of Los An­ge­les as palm trees, end­less beaches and bikini­clad women. But LA is far more com­plex. It’s a mix of the old and new, from cui­sine to cul­ture to ideas. The cre­ativ­ity and diver­sity of the re­gion are re­flected in the more than 100 mu­se­ums fo­cused on the odd to the di­vine, the vi­brant global street art com­mu­nity and the con­stant evo­lu­tion of the food scene.

The Na­tion’s Largest County

As the most pop­u­lous county in the na­tion, with more than 10 mil­lion res­i­dents, Los An­ge­les County com­prises 88 cities with more than 100 lan­guages spo­ken within its 4,084 square miles. The county is larger than the states of Rhode Is­land and Delaware—com­bined.

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try is an in­te­gral part of the lo­cal econ­omy, an­nu­ally con­tribut­ing $47 bil­lion to the re­gion. For decades, the name Hol­ly­wood has been syn­ony­mous with the movie busi­ness, but to­day most stu­dios have moved into neigh­bor­ing sub­urbs such as Bur­bank and Cul­ver City.

Some of the bet­ter-known ar­eas in LA County aren’t even cities but rather dis­tricts or neigh­bor­hoods within Los An­ge­les, such as Hol­ly­wood, Sil­ver Lake and Venice. In con­trast, Bev­erly Hills, home to the most ex­pen­sive res­i­dences in the world, and West Hol­ly­wood, a di­verse melange of gays, Rus­sians and mu­si­cians, are cities but com­pletely sur­rounded by the city of Los An­ge­les.

Sev­enty miles of beaches run along Los An­ge­les County’s south­west bor­der. Mal­ibu, an ex­clu­sive sea­side com­mu­nity, has some of the most beau­ti­ful beaches in the area. To the north, hik­ers and moun­tain climbers can ex­plore trails in the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains. To the east, the San Gabriel Moun­tains rise up to more than 10,000 feet above sea level.

City and Town

Los An­ge­les, the sec­ond most pop­u­lous city in the na­tion, dom­i­nates the county. Writer Dorothy Parker once quipped, “Los An­ge­les is 72 sub­urbs in search of a city.” Now, well over 100 neigh­bor­hoods in LA form a rich cul­tural stew. Me­an­der around Chi­na­town, Lit­tle Tokyo, the Art and Fash­ion Dis­tricts, the Latino en­claves around Echo Park, Hol­ly­wood’s Lau­rel Canyon, Lit­tle Ar­me­nia, Thai Town or Mel­rose District where hip­sters shop.

When in LA, do as the celebs do and start the day by stretch­ing at Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga stu­dio in Santa Mon­ica. Go shop­ping at cool in­die shops fea­tur­ing lo­cal la­bels and fash­ion­able im­ports along Venice’s Ab­bot Kinney. Need an out­fit for an awards show? Head over to Decades on Mel­rose Av­enue, a cou­ture vin­tage store where many stylists choose red-car­pet gowns for their star clients.

Hun­gry? Eat at The Grid­dle Cafe, a Sun­set Boule­vard in­sti­tu­tion known for its gi­gan­tic pan­cakes and the steady flow of celebri­ties lunch­ing there. Or chow down on a chili dog at Pink’s fa­mous cor­ner stand at Mel­rose and La Brea av­enues. Watch a Lak­ers bas­ket­ball game at the Sta­ples Cen­ter and see stars on the court and in the stands. End the day sip­ping a cock­tail at Chateau Mar­mont in West Hol­ly­wood, where celebri­ties meet their agents and stu­dio execs.


Con­ceived orig­i­nally as an out­door bill­board pro­mot­ing a hous­ing de­vel­op­ment called Hollywoodland in 1923, the Hol­ly­wood sign sits on the south side of Mount Lee and Grif­fith Park—long a sym­bol that this is a place where dreams can come true.

The first movie stu­dio, the Nestor Mo­tion Pic­ture Com­pany, opened in the fall of 1911 in Hol­ly­wood on the north­west cor­ner of Sun­set Boule­vard and Gower Street. It was ab­sorbed by the Uni-

ver­sal Film Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany, which later be­came Univer­sal Stu­dios. By the 1920s, 80 per­cent of the world’s films were shot in Cal­i­for­nia.

Learn more about Tin­sel Town’s his­tory, and ex­pe­ri­ence its mem­o­ra­bilia at The Hol­ly­wood Mu­seum. Or par­tic­i­pate in the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences events and get swept up in the pre-os­car buzz.

The Great Out­doors

De­spite its car cul­ture rap, LA County of­fers lots of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. Rent a bike along the Santa Mon­ica Pier and ride down the path that par­al­lels the ocean, through Venice and on to Marina del Rey be­fore dou­bling back. Pack a pic­nic lunch and hike Echo Moun­tain in Al­tadena or the Ar­royo Seco trail sys­tem in the San Gabriel Moun­tains. Sign up for rock-climb­ing in­struc­tion, take a surf­ing or stand-up pad­dle board­ing les­son from one of the many surf­ing cen­ters in Santa Mon­ica.

Ex­plore the county’s many and var­ied beaches, from the fa­mous to the lit­tle known, but bring a sweater. In the sum­mer,

moist marine air is pulled in­land and forms a misty cover un­til it burns off by the af­ter­noon. Start in Mal­ibu and show your stuff at the leg­endary Surfrider Beach at Mal­ibu La­goon State Beach and ex­plore tide pools and caves at Leo Car­rillo State Park. Per­haps watch film­ing in progress at Mal­ibu’s Point Dume State Beach, of­ten fea­tured in movies such as the Iron Man se­ries (2008-2013). It also ap­peared in the fi­nal scene of the orig­i­nal Planet of the Apes (1968). Or look out for Cal­i­for­nia gray whales dur­ing their mi­gra­tion from De­cem­ber to mid April. Next, wind your way down through Topanga Beach and stop over for a vol­ley­ball game at Will Rogers State Beach in Pa­cific Pal­isades. Then hop over to Venice and the Strand on Man­hat­tan Beach to peo­ple-watch.

Fam­ily Fun

Check out fos­sils of saber-toothed cats and mam­moths that roamed the LA Basin dur­ing the Ice Age at the Page Mu­seum at the Ran­cho La Brea Tar Pits. Or if the kids are tired of try­ing to spot stars on Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard, take them to Grif­fith Ob­ser­va­tory. Fea­tured in many movies in­clud­ing Rebel With­out a Cause (1955), the ob­ser­va­tory is set on the south­ern slope of Mount Hol­ly­wood in Grif­fith Park, with a view of the Hol­ly­wood sign and greater LA be­low. View ex­hibits and events on Tues­day through Sun­day at the Sa­muel Oschin Plan­e­tar­ium and Leonard Ni­moy Event Hori­zon The­ater, and at­tend free pub­lic star par­ties monthly at the Ob­ser­va­tory from 2 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Bud­ding as­tronomers and their fam­i­lies are en­cour­aged to try out dif­fer­ent tele­scopes and talk to am­a­teur as­tronomers about the sun, moon and plan­ets.

Visit the Cal­i­for­nia Sci­ence Cen­ter that houses the En­deav­our, the fi­nal ship to be built in NASA’S space shut­tle pro­gram, after trav­el­ing al­most 123 mil­lion miles. View ac­tual space cap­sules from the Mer­cury, Gem­ini and Apollo-soyuz mis­sions. Spe­cial ex­hibits in­clude the new Sci­ence Be­hind Pixar, which runs at least un­til April 9, 2017. En­joy the many touch­friendly ex­hibits such as the High-wire Bi­cy­cle, which al­lows the coura­geous to safely bike along a one-inch wire 43 feet above the ground. The grav­i­ta­tional forces on the coun­ter­weight prevent the bi­cy­cle from tip­ping over and il­lus­trate the cen­ter of grav­ity law.

FLY­ING AT THE VENICE BEACH skate park, above; Walk of Fame on Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard in Los An­ge­les, op­po­site top; light rail train in down­town Los An­ge­les, op­po­site be­low.

TAK­ING IT ALL IN at the Hol­ly­wood Hills, right; Getty Cen­ter, be­low.

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