Los Angeles is a city with a purpose; it is built to entertain. With an estimated one in six residents of LA working in creative industries, the overwhelming feeling is of an industrious city of art. LA is clearly made by and for people with a strong work ethic and high cultural capital. LA contains more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world. LA is made to entertain, and in this respect is at the pinnacle of human evolution; society is at a point where one of the most populous cities in the world is based on simply creating entertainment for itself.
This is an oversimplification, of course. There are a great number of industries in LA and the surrounding area, from cutting edge IT and robotics to traditional agriculture, and it has a long history of hardship and an ethos built on proud working class roots. All this helps to create a feeling that the city has risen through hope and labour to become the hub of culture and of human creativity that it is now. Los Angeles is, more than anywhere else, the culmination of the American dream.
LA is the subject of innumerable songs, and the home of some of the most important music of the last hundred years, segueing through an eclectic mix-tape from the smooth sounds of early and golden age Hollywood through a legendary jazz scene, classic 60s Cali-pop, West Coast rock and hardcore punk to politically charged gansta rap, rave culture, and indie sounds.
LA is happily situated along a dramatic curved stretch of coastline, where silver sands, turquoise seas and palm trees make it feel like a tropical paradise. It’s not hard to remember where you are, though, with the city bustling behind you and surfers catching the waves wherever you look. Leave the city to the East, and you’ll soon find yourself in countryside you’ll recognise from every Western you watched as a kid. Southern California is a land of microclimates, and here you can be among lush and verdant orchards, trees heavy with citrus fruit and almonds, while only a few minutes down the road you’ll feel the dry heat of the arid California desert. This natural biodiversity means that there’s a huge variety of local seasonal produce available and it’s easier than ever to enjoy the sunshine flavours of SoCal when you’re in LA. And then there’s the wine, of course. Only a short drive out of the city and you’ll have your choice of vineyards for tours and tastings. There are several companies offering wine tours out of the city to take in the scenery and vineyards – these are clearly the choice to take if you’d like to take in a glass, or a bottle, of fine Californian wine in the countryside where the grape is grown, and not have to worry about driving home. Some prefer choosing a company like Van Rental Los Angeles to see the sites in a group setting.
Los Angeles is a fantastically multicultural city, with a diverse and fluid population. There are several historic immigrant enclaves enriching the cultural environment; these historically defined areas are now eclectic, vibrant places to visit and soak in the ambience. Visit the ingeniously named Tehrangeles, as well as Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo and more. These are the places to go to if you want great street food, amazing variety and value, and to sample authentic ethnic cuisine surrounded by bustling and tight-knit communities.
Farmers’ Markets like The Grove are also great places for grabbing a bite from a huge selection of great, reasonably priced food. It’s a great place to feel part of the city, to watch people, and to enjoy the locally farmed food and cottage industries output.
Though a sprawling metropolis, parts of Los Angeles have the feel of a college town, thanks to the three world-class universities in the city limits. There are also numerous specialist colleges and vocational education centers, and myriad public and private libraries. With such a high population comes a highly competitive jobs market, so LA is a city where education is of high value and so are thriving los angeles based businesses. Visit the Griffith Observatory, high up Mount Hollywood. Envisioned and funded by Welsh philanthropist (and all-round interesting guy) Griffith J. Griffith specifically to try and make astronomy accessible to everyone; it’s free to get in, it’s in an incredibly impressive building with a huge dome, and it contains an enormous wealth of educational scientific exhibits pitched to appeal to all levels of understanding. Located high up Mount Hollywood, whether you’re looking at the stars above, or the stars below, it’s a place to get some perspective.
Los Angeles has some astounding pieces of architecture; take a walk into the Bradbury Building and marvel at the detail, design and workmanship. The Getty Museum(s) house an impressive collection of thousands of years of largely European classical art across two very different and very beautiful buildings. The sculpturally modern Walt Disney Concert Hall at the Los Angeles Music Center is a must-see, even if you don’t get tickets to one of the many spectacular shows held there every day, you should go and marvel at the scale and style of the place. Don’t miss the remarkable Ennis House, a Mayan-inspired design classic by Frank Lloyd Wright. And, hey, there’s always the Hollywood Bowl!
One of the main criticisms you’ll hear about visiting Los Angeles is that you can’t walk anywhere. This depends where you are, of course, and local government and developers are aware of the issues so great campaigns are afoot to improve walking and promote cycling in the city. It can’t be avoided even when eulogizing about the place; LA comes with all the inherent problems of a densely-populated, motor-reliant major city. There’s an upside to the volume of traffic, though… LA has great roads!
Los Angeles is a city for people who like to be among people, even if only for the anonymity that can give. It’s a city for the people-watchers, the artists, writers, the students of human behaviour. There’s never a dull moment. If you want to be in a place where there’s always something happening, that’s LA.