Los Angeles, CA
||Tropical... warm! Warmer than home!
Seeing Los Angeles requires covering a lot of territory -- the city sprawls across 467 square mi. Add in the surrounding five-county metropolitan area, and you've got an area of more than 34,000 square mi. Contrary to popular myth, however, that doesn't mean you have to spend all your time in a car. In fact, getting out of your car is the only way to really get to know Los Angeles. We've divided the major sight-seeing areas of Los Angeles into 10 driving and walking tours that take you through the various hip, entertainment-industry centered, financial, beachfront, wealthy, and fringe neighborhoods and minicities that make up the vast L.A. area.
Looking at a map of sprawling Los Angeles, first-time visitors are sometimes overwhelmed. Where to begin? What to see first? And what about all those freeways? Here's some advice: relax. Begin by setting your priorities -- movie and television fans should first head to Hollywood, Universal Studios, and a taping of a television show. Beach lovers and outdoorsy types might start out in Santa Monica or Venice or Malibu, or spend an afternoon in Griffith Park, one of the largest city parks in the country. Those with a cultural bent will probably make a beeline for the Getty Center in Brentwood, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), or the Norton Simon Museum. And urban explorers might begin with downtown Los Angeles.
As for the freeways -- well, they're really not so bad. For one thing, they're well marked and for non-rush hour travel still the best route from one end of the city to the other. But here are a couple of tips: most freeways are known by a name and a number; for example, the San Diego Freeway (I-405), the Hollywood (U.S. 101) or Ventura (a different stretch of U.S. 101) freeways, the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10), and the Harbor Freeway (I-110).
It helps, too, to know which direction you're traveling; say, west toward Santa Monica, or east toward downtown Los Angeles. Distance in miles doesn't mean much, depending on the time of day you're traveling: the short 10-mi distance between the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles might take an hour to travel during rush hour, but only 20 minutes at other times.