From sunny beaches to Hollywood stars, Los Angeles is a city that immediately evokes a sense of glamour and optimism. Surfing, shopping, and sunbathing are just a few of the most popular pursuits in this spread-out, laid-back city.
Los Angeles is home to dreamers from around the world hoping to catch their big break, lending the city an eternally youthful buzz and a high concentration of beautiful people. Yet there's more to LA than the film industry, with a diverse population and a thriving arts and culture scene. It's a massive city, with over 17 million residents spread out across the full metropolitan area. Nearly half of its population was born outside of the United States, bringing a wide range of international cultures to the city's melting pot. The city is nestled into a shallow basin in Southern California, bordered by sandy beaches the bright blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains on the other. This makes it ideal for outdoor recreation and residents take pride in keeping fit, which you can tell by the prevalence of macrobiotic cafes and juice bars.
There are five major airports in the Los Angeles region, including ones in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Ontario, Burbank, and Santa Ana. However, the majority of international visitors will fly into the main Los Angeles International Airport. With nine terminals, this airport handles incoming flights from most major carriers. These include Air New Zealand, Virgin Air, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific, among others. New Zealand citizens and other residents of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program can enter for up to 90 days without a visa.
Any tour of Los Angeles will most likely start out with its best known sights, including the Universal Studios theme park and the celebrity handprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Take a bus tour of Beverly Hills with a map of the stars' homes in hand, or take a photo of the Hollywood Sign. Gawk at the luxury shops on Rodeo Drive, made famous in Pretty Woman, or visit the indie boutiques in hipster Silverlake. Yet there are also plenty of opportunities to soak up high culture in Los Angeles, such as the Huntington Library downtown. This elegant building is home to fine art and original copies of Shakespeare, and is set amidst 120 acres of botanical gardens. The J. Paul Getty Museum is a must-see for fans of modern architecture. This building was designed by Richard Meier, with a cool, Zen sensibility. To reach the museum, you can take a tram up the hill and enjoy the views of the city below.
Explore the great ideas in Griffith Park, which sits on a former ostrich farm now features a network of hiking trails leading to Mulholland Drive at the top. The LA Zoo and Space Observatory are also located here. Naturally, a trip to Los Angeles wouldn't be complete with spending time on the beach, whether it's the bohemian vibe of Venice Beach or the surfer's paradise in Malibu.
Did You Know?
•Disneyland is located in nearby Anaheim, drawing approximately 40,000 visitors a day. Its monorail was the first working monorail in the Western hemisphere.
•You can visit the famous Chateau Marmont hotel to spot celebrities on any given night. This hotel has also managed to survive every earthquake since its construction.
•Mexican food is sublime in Los Angeles, and can be sampled in neighbourhoods like Highland Park and Boyle Heights.