Los Angeles has a lot to offer, even if you are only visiting for a short week. Driving is the best option to be able to get to as many of its attractions. If you are not in the mood to drive in traffic, then try carpooling. Similar to Las Vegas, Los Angeles has multiple lanes on the highway. Traffic is horrendous even on weekdays, during non-rush hours. Surprisingly, the carpool lane barely has any vehicles. This certainly sheds some light as to why it may be so polluted there, with the majority of drivers choosing not to carpool. Prepare for the motorcycles whizzing past you as these drivers bravely weave between cars. Thankfully, most of the time when we were on the road, traffic was actually moving steadily, whether in the day or night. This allowed us to get from place to place more or less on time.
James Irvine Japanese Garden
If you’re looking for some peace and quietness, then take a stroll in the James Irvine Japanese Garden. You can walk through Little Tokyo to get a bite first and see its numerous restaurant options before heading over. It’s a nice transition from the busy city noise to the calm of the trickling water stream in the garden. There are metered parking around the area, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time hunting around for a space. There are hilly parts of town that reminded me of San Francisco, so prepare for those as you navigate around. You will also notice homeless shelter camp sites right in the middle of downtown and on the beach. I suppose the weather year round is suitable enough.
Muscle Beach in Santa Monica Pier
Muscle Beach in Santa Monica Pier was another one of those places that whisks you to la-la land. Perhaps the scene in the film, “La La Land”, with Ryan Gosling whistling and dancing on a pier is the best way to paint the picture. Once you make your way into the sandy beach, you’ll see the beachfront gym with fitness enthusiasts and the amusement park. Watch out for the seagulls above though as they seem to have impeccable aim.
Natural History Museum, California Science Center
As you make your way to the Natural History Museum, make sure to plan ample time, as you will probably be surprised to find an amazingly extensive and comprehensive exhibit on dinosaurs. This museum is very thorough in the way it organizes information that is conducive to learning. The step-by-step instructions provided guide visitors through the exhibits and show many different angles of learning about a particular subject matter. With the time and effort clearly spent in preparing each exhibit, I felt I also needed to put in that level of thoroughness in seeing the details of each specimen.
The spider pavilion was a temporary special exhibit, which was a big hit. If you happen to go there on a day of school field trips as I did, try not to trip over any
students huddled around the floors of the Natural History Museum as they work on their assignments. Actually, it brought back fond memories of my days in elementary school when I also went on field trips.
Just steps away is the California Science Center. Don’t miss out on its Shuttle Endeavor exhibit. You will need to go outdoors to see the enormity of the fuel tank and enter into an adjacent building to see the full Shuttle display.
Broad Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Our evening was spent touring the contemporary art museums, specifically the Broad Museum and MOCA. There were restaurants all around with diverse cuisines. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Founders of a biomedical and genomic research center organization I worked at in the past, also built this extensive contemporary art collection at the Broad Museum. Then, to my surprise, I also discovered that one of my previous employers also contributed material for the construction of this museum. Exploring “The Veil and The Vault” of the Broad Museum was certainly worth the time.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Griffith Observatory
The sunset view from atop of the Walt Disney Concert Hall was magical. You can see the Los Angeles city skyline, framed by the silver curved walls of the concert hall. Getting around the peripheral part of the rooftop was a maze, but each opening offered a different view of the city. The spotlights in the concert hall rooftop made shooting photos ever more enjoyable.
Finishing up the evening, we drove to the Griffith Observatory to find it was a hot spot for locals and tourists. We were lucky to find a parking space along the street leading up to the observatory as all spots were already taken in its main parking lot. Outdoors at the parking area was a mess, but once you view the stars and celestial objects either through the telescopes, or planetarium show, your worries should melt away. You will be lifted off your feet to another la-la land moment.
Getty Villa – Greek, Roman, Etruscan Antiquities
Plan and book well in advance for your visit to the Getty Villa. Be once again transported to another place, in this case, to first century A.D. in Herculaneum, Italy. This charming villa, a replica of an ancient Roman country house close to the city of Pompeii, contains four gardens with the same types of fruits grown in those earlier days. The architectural design closely resembles that of an excavation site, displaying what appear to be the layers of sediment as you look at the walls from the ground floor of the villa. Walking and audio tours are provided. You can meet your tour guide at the base of the amphitheater near the gift shop. The scent of the flowers are pungent and sweet. There is an expansive Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities collection including mummies and mosaics upstairs. The exhibit includes multimedia channels to facilitate learning.
Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles
If you are into automobiles and its history (including the impact of film on specific car designs), this place will be a knockout for you. Having worked in the automotive industry through the lens of a marketer, I was interested in the evolution of tools and the unique features that were pertinent at their time. I find the interplay between innovation and imagination intriguing. There are three floors of this exhibit, and we were short on time already as the museum held a holiday venue for a client that evening, featuring Bugatti’s work. We were fortunate enough to see Bugatti’s art on display, not just cars, but also his furniture and musical instrument designs.
If you loved the movies, “Cars”, “Batman” and “Back to the Future”, search for the originals here at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. You will be astonished to find other interesting car designs, including one built with Lego.
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