Los Angeles is without any doubt the city of dreams and stars, the city of the rich and famous, a land that will definitely surprise and amaze you in the same time by size, diversity and mystery. Being the city I have seen the most in movies I always told myself I would visited at least once. And YES, it is exactly like in the movies… LA is indeed the city of extremes and contrasts.
The relief, the Mediterranean climate and the development opportunities have attracted more than 4 million people from all over the world, living in the City of Angels or The World Capital of Entertainment, a world business center, entertainment, culture, media, technology and education.
Since its inception on 4 September 1781, Los Angeles has become a dynamic, and full of opportunities metropolis, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.
Today, over 4 million people live in LA, of which non-Hispanic whites account only 28.7%. You can hear everywhere people speaking in Spanish, considering the fact that Hispanics and Latinologists represent almost half of the population (48.5%). Asians represent 11.5%, and blacks and African-Americans 9.4% of the city’s population.
When I think about LA or LaLa Land, the first thought that comes to my mind is about size. Los Angeles is so big that it does not seem to be over, but the infrastructure is very good.
After my first day in Los Angeles, I was surprised to go for an hour on highways with five lanes, across the city to go out for dinner. But to understand better the size of this metropolis, here are some comparative data. With an area of over 1,200 square kilometers, Los Angeles is 1.5 times larger than New York, 7 times larger than Amsterdam, or 11 times larger than Paris.
Los Angeles Transportation
Los Angeles is known for its traffic conditions and its highway network that can become extremely crowded. However, car transport is the easiest way to see the region, the public transport being not very developed. Many car rental companies are located near LAX Airport, where we also rented. I paid $ 800 for a Ford Mustang convertible car from Avis, for 2 weeks with permanent assistance. We have rented the car 3 months ahead, as costs can be doubled if the reservation is not made early. The highway system is complicated, so without GPS navigation it seems impossible to handle it.
Driving a car in LA also involves considerable parking costs. Even hotels have daily exorbitant parking charges. If you plan to rent a car, consider looking for hotels that have free parking. In four days spent exploring Los Angeles by car, I paid $ 350 for parking.
Accommodation in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is so big, that choosing where to stay when you visit it for the first time, can be a challenge. That’s why the decision relates most to the attracions wanted to be seen and the areas they are in, the most popular being: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey.
On my first visit to Los Angeles, I stayed at a hotel in Marina del Rey, quite close to Venice Beach, but now, after exploring several places, I would recommend the West Hollywood area, full of chic restaurants and bars.
Where do You Eat in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a cosmopolitan city where you can eat whatever your heart desires. If you have only four days and you want to see as many attractions as possible, you generally eat in the restaurants of the locations you visit, otherwise you risk losing a lot of time if you deviate from the route.
However, we have introduced to our list of attractions also some restaurants that have been recommended by a friend who lives for two years at L.A. Here are three of the locations with international cuisine with Mediterranean influences and impeccable services where we ate very well:
Fig and Olive
Mediterranean restaurant where you can find the ambiance of the French Riviera and its lifestyle. The location welcomes you with an abundance of natural light, outdoor terraces and rosemary smell, ideal for both lunch and dinner.
- Address: 8490 Melrose Pl, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
- Tel: +1 310-360-9100
Restaurant of the Chateau Marmont Hotel
Chateau Marmont is a legendary boutique hotel that invites you to step into the atmosphere of old Hollywood. The place is suitable for lunch on the restaurant terrace, which is located in an idyllic interior garden.
- Address: 8221 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
- Tel: +1 323-848-5908
Ivory on Sunset Restaurant la Mondrian Hotel
Situated within the Mondrian Hotel, Ivory on Sunset is a place that definitely deserves a visit, both due to the pleasant ambiance and the diversified menu, but especially due to the spectacular view of Los Angeles.
- Address: 8440 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
- Tel: 323 848 6000
When you visit a city for the first time, it is better to have an insider, someone to live there and get to know the most interesting places. We had a Romanian friend who has been living in Los Angeles for two years, and her recommendations have helped us a lot to optimize the list of goals and live an enjoyable experience.
It would take a few lives to experience all the activities the City of Angels offers, but here is a list of attractions that should not be missed and can be seen in 4 days.
1 Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame, a boulevard with more than 2600 stars paved in the sidewalk, is undoubtedly one of the most successful marketing ideas ever, attracting over 10 million tourists annually.
The man who started the idea of creating a celebrity boulevard is E.M. Stuart, who in 1953 proposed Walk Of Fame as a means of preserving the glory of a community whose name means brilliance and enthusiasm in the four corners of the world.
It is not sure where did the original idea come from. However, it is known that the ceiling of the Hollywood hotel restaurant once had stars printed with names of celebrities and could have been a precursor of the idea of placing stars in the sidewalks.
On August 15, 1958, eight stars from Hollywood Boulevard, at the intersection of LA Highland Avenue, were revealed to create excitement and demonstrate how the Walk of Fame would look.
Today, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce continues to add stars to the Walk of Fame as Los Angeles representative. An average of two stars are added monthly. Each star is a tribute to all who have worked so hard to develop the concept and to maintain this world-class tourist attraction.
2 The Getty Center and Getty Villa
Designed by the renowned architect Richard Meier to reflect the natural light of the sun, the museum is located in the upper part of the Santa Monica Mountains, overlooking the L.A. and the Pacific Ocean.
Getty Center hosts a vast collection of art and is widely regarded as one of the finest art museums in the US.
The center also has a superb garden, created by the artist Robert Irwin, a space of 12,000 m2, ideal for walking and relaxation. Considered by the artist ” a garden-shaped sculpture ”, the space has several fountains blending harmoniously with the 500 types of plants, playing an important role in the design of the garden.
- Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive. Tuesday – Friday and Sunday 10:00 – 17:30, Saturday 10:00 – 21:00. Months: CLOSED.
- Entrance is free, but parking costs 15 USD.
The Getty Villa
The Getty Villa, the original museum of J. Paul Getty (before the Getty Center was built), houses Getty’s vast collection of antiquities. Together with the Greek, Roman and Etruscan artifacts, the villa is set on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
An outdoor Greek theater offers evening shows and gardens were recreated to reflect the ancient Roman design, with reflection pools, fountains and Mediterranean plants.
- Entrance is free of charge and parking costs 15 USD per day or 10 USD after 17:00. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.
- Address: 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, . Wednesday – Monday 10:00. – 17:00, Tuesday: CLOSED
3 Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is one of the largest cultural attractions in LA, but also a favorite meeting place for visitors and locals, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, the city center, the famous Hollywood sign and the Griffith Park.
- Address: 2800 E. Observatory Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
- Program: Tuesday to Friday 12: 00-22: 00 Saturday – Sunday 10:00 – 22:00, Monday – CLOSED
4 Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios offer a memorable experience for any visitor, regardless of age, and should be allocated a day to enjoy the multitude of activities.
Opened in 1964, studios are home to many American films and shows, but it also has its own amusement park.
The studio tour, The World Famous Studio Tour, was the most interesting tour I ever made in a fun park, so I understood what the work behind the many American films meant. For an hour we had an amazing experience.
I walked with a bus through through all sorts of halls where I felt I was part of different scenes in the movies. The special effects are sensational, you are shaken by the earthquake, sprinkled with water, wake up with flames in front of you, you have the impression that the water is coming over you, that you are shot, or that you are in a drift with a train.
A commercial aircraft Boeing 747 was cut into pieces and transported to Universal for filming War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg. The whole set has been preserved just like filming and can be seen, like many other scenes in the movies.
This tour, which has attracted over 125 million visitors so far, has actually left me speachless. But besides, you should not miss either: Jurassic Park – The Ride or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Address: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608, USA
- Friday – Sunday 09:00 – 22:00
- Monday 09:00 – 20:00
- Tuesday – Thursday 09:00 -19: 00
- General entrance ticket – about $ 110 can be bought from here.
5 The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
It is an educational and research institution founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927), a businessman who built a financial empire, but also a man with a vision and a special interest in culture, art and nature. During his life, he created one of the best research libraries in the world and set up a splendid art collection.
Within the institution there are 120 acres of specialized botanical gardens with plants from a diverse geographic range, such as the Japanese Garden, Desert Garden and Chinese Garden. The entrance ticket for an adult is $ 25 during the week and $ 29 on Saturdays and Sundays. Consider spending at least 3 hours here.
- Address: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108 626.405.2100
- Program: Monday-Sunday 10:00 to 17:00, Tuesday closed
6 Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The museum has over 100,000 Asian, Latin American, European and American art works. It also has a stunning open-air installation, made up of 200 cast iron lamps that illuminate Wilshire Boulevard at night.
- Address: 5905 Wilshire Bulevard
- Program: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 12 – 8 p.m. Friday: 12 – 9 p.m., Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 – 20:00 Wednesday: CLOSE.
- General entrance ticket – $ 15, students and seniors – $ 10, children (under 18 years) free after 17:00.
7 Beverly Hills
You can not visit Los Angeles without taking a walk in the famous Beverly Hills, as famous as the stars living there. Indeed, like in movies, wealth is felt in the air and can be seen everywhere, especially in the grandeur of villas that rise beyond the 3 meters high hedges.
One of the emblematic spots to see is Beverly Hills Hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard, a 5-star hotel surrounded by five hectares of lush tropical gardens. Over the past century, Hollywood stars enjoyed the timeless glow of this hotel, which continues to be a reference to Hollywood luxury.
- Address: 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90210
- Tel: +1 310 276 2251
If you’re still in the area, it’s worth a shopping session on Rodeo Drive, one of the most famous streets in the world.
8 Santa Monica Pier
You know you’ve arrived in Santa Monica, California, when you see the symbolic wheel on the pier going deep into the Pacific Ocean. Located at the most western point of the city, Santa Monica Pier is a landmark for the local community.
Opened in 1909, the pier is a popular destination, hosting the Pacific Park amusement park, the Heal the Bay Aquarium and a 1922 carousel.
There are many car parks in the area, but the closest to the beach is at 1600 Appian Way, Santa Monica, CA 90401, USA.
9 Venice Beach
The famous Venice Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles, and a promenade area stretching 2 kilometers along the Pacific Ocean. It is full of sellers and street artists, which makes it truly unique.
You can see from painters, musicians, dancers, tattoos, to people who go on broken glass, or jugglers. Paintings, photos, sculptures, stones of various shapes or all kinds of other items can be original souvenirs to remind you of Venice Beach.
10 Downtown Los Angeles
The center of Los Angeles, or Downtown, has been considered a business center over the past decades. The rise of cars and motorways has led to the slow decline of the neighborhood, but has been booming in recent years, by the new buildings where you can find museums, hotels, bars, shops and restaurants.
The main area attractions are Disney Concert Hall, Music Center, Grand Central Market, Contemporary Art Museum (MOCA), Olvera Street, Chinatown, Little Tokyo.
Los Angeles is a metropolis that impressed me and amazed me by its size and diversity. It does not look like anything I’ve seen before, and before I got there, I did not imagine it could be that big.
As big as it is, it is green due to the Mediterranean climate, which gives it an exotic note, perfectly blended with the tumult and dynamics of a metropolis.
The entertainment industry plays a very important role in the development of the city and feels like it is in the air or at any corner. I met various people who were involved in this field, whether they were making music for movies, drawing or were lawyers.
After four days in Los Angeles, I went to the next destination, Las Vegas, about which I will write soon a new article.