Paris, Milan, Sydney, Tokyo, London, New York City. When asking your friends and family members where to spend a culturally and intellectually stimulating vacation, those are just a few of the cities that your loved ones will mention. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is better known to many as a “tourist trap” or “cultural wasteland” instead of a venue for the state’s top painters and classical musicians. If this is your narrow view of the city, then it’s time to adjust your attitude before you miss out on the many sophisticated, refined and whimsical attractions the City of Angels has to offer.
Here are just a few of the plethora available:
The Hollywood Bowl
From former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and entertainer Mickey Rooney to the music legends Beatles and Elton John, several important historical figures, actors and musicians from the last century have appeared at the Hollywood Bowl. You’ve probably seen this enduring Los Angeles landmark featured on television and in several films, but nothing compares to packing a picnic and taking in a show while you lounge under the stars with your significant other.
The Getty Center
Located in Brentwood, this $1.6 billion museum opened its doors in 1997 and quickly became a destination of choice for several thousand visitors each year. The museum itself houses an impressive collection of pre-20th century European and American drawings, illustrated manuscripts, paintings and sculpture along with several photographs from the 19th and 20th-centuries. Of note in the collection are Vincent Van Gogh’s “Irises” and “Arii Matamoe “by Paul Gauguin. There are also restaurants, shops and an impressive central garden on the grounds, as well.
The Huntington Library and Gardens
The Huntington Library and Gardens was established in the mid-20th century by Henry E. Huntington, one of the heirs of railroad tycoon Collis P. Huntington. The library itself houses several rare texts and manuscripts, including the Gutenberg Bible, the initial drafts of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” and several letters by Abraham Lincoln. The 120-acre botanical garden adjacent to the library is divided into several botanical themes, each one representing a different geographical location or variety of flora. If you can tear yourself away from the library, and the impressive works of 19th and 20th century art is also contains, be sure to take in the Huntington Desert Garden, which boasts the country’s earliest known collection of succulents and cacti, many of which were personally procured by Henry Hunting and the museum’s curator throughout portions of South America.
Now that you’ve satisfied your need for cultural enrichment, it’s time to sit back and enjoy a few well-earned laughs at one of Los Angeles’ many comedy clubs. If you’ve seen a comedian in films and on television, chances are they’ve passed through one or many of these establishments. Amongst them is the Groundlings Theater, which has featured several well-known comedian and actors, including Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell and Kathy Griffin. Speaking of Saturday Night Live Stars, Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz were both featured members of the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational sketch comedy group with a popular theater in the heart of Los Angeles.
Saving Money on Your Trip
In a perfect world, everyone would stay at the finest hotels and dine in four star restaurants and purchase a round of drinks for everyone at a hip Los Angeles bar. Unfortunately monetary restrictions might cause you to plan your trip on a smaller scale. Here are a few ways to see Los Angeles without spending a small fortune:
- Try lunch: You will probably have troubling securing dinner reservations at many of Los Angeles’ finest restaurants, so save yourself the trouble and sample their lunch menu instead. Not only will you secure a great table, the prices are more reasonable during the daytime hours as well.
- Look for the word “free!”: Believe it or not, several of Los Angeles’ most sought-after attractions and distractions are completely free. This includes being a member of the Dr. Phil’s studio audience, watching the Rose Bowl parade in person or even catching the morning rehearsals at the Hollywood Bowl.
- Skip the unnecessary perks: If you can’t live without high-speed internet or that free “continental breakfast”, than expect to pay a premium for these little hotel perks. Otherwise, keep an eye out for lodging that offers cheaper packages without all the unnecessary frills.
Travel through Los Angeles is another issue; if you aren’t accustomed to crazy traffic, don’t even consider renting a car and jumping onto the city’s notoriously congested freeways. If you truly want to save money, the best way to see this vibrant city is with your own two feet.
This article was written by Leah Robins a freelance writer who recently had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles for the first time with her husband and 2 children. Image by Dawn Zarimba