Los Angeles is the second-most populated city in the United States – only New York City has more people. Unlike the inhabitants of New York City, Angelinos pride themselves on their “car culture.” While the city’s public transportation system is growing, with subways continuing to be installed around the city proper, hiring a car is still the best way for visitors to see the sights of L.A. Car insurance of course is still recommended, so pick up some cheap car insurance before visiting!
Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis consisting of over 80 districts and neighborhoods. Originally inhabited by the Tongva and Chumash Native Americans, Europeans first arrived in 1542, when explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the area for Spain. The area would not be developed until Franciscan friar Junípero Serra built the Mission San Gabriel In 1771. 1980’s railroad lines helped to expand development. The city attained worldwide recognition in the 1920’s, when Los Angeles became a center for cinema.
Hollywood continues to draw tourists, many hoping catch glimpses of celebrities. Tour buses take visitors to popular hot spots for celebrities, as well as drive past many celebrity homes. Many television shows are taped in Los Angeles, and while advance tickets are required for most, it is possible to gain admission without them. Families will enjoy the Universal Studios theme park, which features rides and attractions centered around the movies, as well as tours of popular sets for both television and film.
Visit Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard to see cement footprints and handprints from some of history’s most celebrated stars, such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Cable and John Wayne. Walking tours of the theater are available for a nominal fee. Over 2,000 stars have been added to the Walk of Fame, sections of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street that feature stars embedded into the sidewalk, each commemorating a celebrity of film, television or music.
Nearby Griffith Park is the city’s largest park in Los Angeles, and features the LA Zoo, the Greek Theatre and the Griffith Park Observatory. The famous Hollywood sign is perched on Mount Lee in Griffith Park. The recently-renovated Observatory is as famous for its Art Deco architecture – used as backdrops for many movies, including Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean – as it is famous for its telescope, featured exhibits and laser light shows.
Los Angeles has many fine museums, including the Getty Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the county museums of art and natural history. The Page Museum at La Brea Discoveries features an on-going archeological dig – the La Brea tar pits has one of the world’s largest collections of extinct Ice Age animals in the world.