Los Angeles Holidays
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, may be connected exclusively in your mind with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but it's really about so much more than this. It's one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world, and is full of surprises at every turn. Los Angeles holidays offer an intoxicating mix of spectacular cityscapes, world-class culture, fantastic fun, and celebrity dreams come true.
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Several Cities in One
Los Angeles is unique in so many ways, one of which is that it isn't strictly speaking a single city, but a vast collection of neighbourhoods and mini-cities, all linked together by its well-known network of busy freeways. These neighbourhoods include illustrious names like Hollywood and Beverly Hills, as well as places like Pasadena, Santa Monica, Malibu, Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley, all evoking over a century of magic, mystique and romance. There's more than enough here to keep you occupied for days on end.
Even if you're not a film buff, or particularly starstruck, you can't spend time in LA without at least taking a look at Hollywood, if only because it's so iconic. In Hollywood Boulevard you can see the old movie palaces, where the stars have left their mark, and on the corner with Vine Street you can stroll along the Walk of Fame, with over 2,000 stars embedded in pink terrazzo, set with brass on black backgrounds.
Between Hollywood and Beverly Hills is the legendary Sunset Boulevard, a stately palm-lined street that has been the setting for many famous films, including "Sunset Boulevard" itself. The most famous section of the Boulevard is Sunset Strip, evoking Hollywood's Glamour Age of the 1930s and 1940s. Mingling with the historical landmarks, it still boasts hot nightspots and rock venues, as well as fashionable boutiques.
However, the true heart of the shopping district is close by in renowned Rodeo Drive, which is well worth visiting for its own sake, whether or not you intend to purchase any of the very upmarket merchandise on display -- in fact, some stores aren't even open to tourists. But you never know what A-list celebrities and fashion icons you might spot as you wander up and down, and it's worth watching some of the amazingly opulent vehicles on the road as well. A block or two away on Wilshire Boulevard you find some of the top department stores.
One of Hollywood's most popular attractions is Universal Studios Hollywood, which takes you behind the scenes of the real film studios. You can take the famous studio tram ride, encountering the creepy Bates Motel, meeting the shark from Jaws, and riding a bike with ET. Exciting rides for children include The Simpsons, and the famous Jurassic Park roller-coaster ride.
Away from the star-studded glitter, there are still plenty of attractions to make Los Angeles holidays memorable. For a start, the 75 miles of coastline include dazzling white beaches and breathtaking cliffs, and a drive down the spectacular Pacific Coast Highway will take you to Santa Monica Bay and the billionaires' haunt of Malibu, made famous by countless films. Famous beaches include Zuma Beach, of Baywatch fame, and the beautiful Surfrider Beach, and you can drive along any of the surrounding canyon roads to enjoy stunning mountain and ocean scenery.
For an abundance of more family-friendly beaches, there is the Orange County coastline, running south from Long Beach. Besides golden sands for sunbathing, there are nature reserves to explore, and many fascinating aquariums, displaying the amazing marine life around the coast. You can also take a boat trip to the beautiful Catalina Island, and explore the unspoiled beauty of its interior and its pristine coastline.
Disney is a Must
Of course, if you are in fact travelling with a family, a visit to the Disneyland Resort, not far away in Anaheim, is a must -- and it's not just for kids. Called "the happiest place on earth", it takes in four parks and three hotels, as well as California Adventure next door. It's packed with fantastic things to do, including amazing rides like the Indiana Jones Adventure and the stomach-churning Space Mountain.
Los Angeles is famously based on the car culture, and one option is to hire a car yourself, as the distances are so large -- this will enable you to enjoy scenic drives like the spectacular curvy Mulholland Drive, over the Santa Monica mountains, with breathtaking city, ocean and valley views. However, Los Angeles holidays are perfectly possible without having to get behind the wheel -- there are subway trains, light railways and buses, so you can relax without worrying about the traffic. Whatever your means of transport, just relax and enjoy all that this incredible city has in store -- and don't even try to see everything in one go; plan a second visit instead.