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Essential Los Angeles

The new City of Angels gets cultural.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  In a groundswell of appreciation for historic buildings, revitalized neighborhoods, and seasoned practitioners of modest arts, the... more »

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Points of Interest

Located on legendary Sunset Boulevard, Amoeba Music is a proverbial mecca for stereophiles in Los Angeles. The store is a monument to vinyl, with over 250,000 titles in LP and EP formats and a similarly breathtaking inventory of CDs, DVDs, BluRay discs, and even cassettes (remember those?). Titles range from every genre and era imaginable, so no... More

Built around the 1960’s Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, the legendary ArcLight cinemas returns the glitz and glamour to the movie-going experience with 15 state-of-the-art screens, top-quality sound systems, assigned armchair-like seating with plenty of leg room, and spoken movie introductions that are occasionally given by the movie’s director.... More

Bob Baker carves marionettes and trains apprentices to animate them. With its houselights on, the theater is nothing: squirming kids and cheesy, dusty Christmas decorations. With the lights down, it’s unforgettable—part Ice Capades, part Muppets, part Chinese opera, part Bolshoi Ballet. And you see the puppeteers, a rainbow of ethinicities,... More

4. Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria

For more than half a century, this old-school cafeteria has been serving hearty comfort foods inside a space with redwood forest décor. Clifford Clifton, who established the restaurant in 1935, was inspired by the Santa Cruz Mountains and a desire to bring cheer to Depression-weary downtown. The result was this woodsy dining room with a 20-foot... More

One of four theatres comprising the downtown Music Center, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened in 1964 thanks to a $20 million fundraising effort from Dorothy Buffum Chandler, wife of Los Angeles Times publisher Norman Chandler. Designed by renowned local architect Welton Becket (also responsible for the Capitol Records Building and Cinerama Dome... More

6. dosa818

On the top floor of the Wurlitzer Building in downtown, the shop’s loft-like space features the ever-evolving works of Korean-American clothing designer Christina Kim. A wall of window allows sunlight to shine on Kim’s sheer garments, vibrant art installations, and wares discovered by Kim on her travels across the globe. Simple and eco-friendly,... More

7. Downtown Art Walk

The Downtown Art Walk draws about 4,000 people, ranging from artists to West L.A. collectors.

Gallery Row, Between Spring and Main Sts.
Los Angeles, California
United States

(714) 883-3502

Designed to resemble a 1970’s 7-Eleven, the store sells dinosaur eggs, robot milk, and "leeches—nature’s tiny doctors." It may take a minute, but then the visitor gets it. This is a put-on—an art installation: a convenience store stocked for a road trip through time. But the merchandise sells, and almost as soon as the store opened last spirng, it... More

9. Family

David Kramer, co-owner of Family, bills it as "a curated bookstore." This means that the emphasis, at least where the book selection is concerned, is on quality over quantity. This one-of-a-kind shop is a hipster’s dream on prime Fairfax real estate. The bookstore’s back wall is papered with a blown-up black-and-white photo of a gun-toting Eastern... More

Los Angeles institution, the Griffith Observatory opened in 1935 with the mission of “inspiring everyone to observe, ponder, and understand the sky.” The highlight of the observatory is the spectacular Samuel Oschin Planetarium, a 300-seat facility that offers a number of programs complete with a lecturer who is an expert in his or her field, a... More

11. Helios House

The swankiest gas station you will ever see.

8770 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
United States

(310) 855-9346

This historic cemetery is the final resting place of many Hollywood founders, Golden Age movie stars, and even punk musicians. Established in 1899, it contains the graves of such celebrities as Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Jayne Mansfield, and Johnny Ramone. The site is also home to Rudolph Valentino’s crypt, which is stained with the ... More

The London West Hollywood, formerly the Bel Age hotel, received an ever-so-grand makeover from Irish architect David Collins. The all-suite hotel even features a Gordon Ramsay dining room. Room to Book: Second-floor London Veranda suites have huge terraces with chaise lounges and a breakfast table. Doubles From $229.

1020 N. San Vincente... More

One of America’s premier art museums, with an inventory of more than 100,000 works, LACMA is unsung compared with its crosstown rival, the Getty Center. But a multiyear transformation, planned by architect Renzo Piano, is currently under way; when the Broad Contemporary Art Museum opens in late 2008, the hype may finally arrive. In the meantime,... More

15. Mayan Theater

The restored theater is known for its triannual cult spectacle Lucha Vavoom, a chaotic mingling of burlesque dancers, masked lucha libre Mexican wrestlers, and lowrider cars. The Mayan is also one of the historic movie houses that host the Last Remaining Seats, a Conservancy program screening vintage movies to support such ongoing projects as the ... More

Philippe Starck’s signature look has recentrly been updated by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz.

8440 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
United States

(323) 650-8999

17. Orpheum Theatre, L.A.

One of the most renowned landmarks on downtown’s row of Broadway theatres, the Orpheum dates to 1926 and originally hosted vaudeville shows, legendary comedians like Jack Benny, and musical greats such as Duke Ellington and Aretha Franklin. Today, the theatre still presents a wide variety of events, from concerts and movie premiers to plays and... More

18. R23

The exceptional Japanese food has drawn locals and adventurous West Siders since 1991.

923 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, California
United States

(213) 687-7178

19. Silent Movie Theater

A monument to film’s silent era, West Hollywood’s Silent Movie Theater was originally opened by John Hampton in 1942. For many years, the theater exposed the public to some of Hollywood’s greatest silent films. Today, the theater is home to the Cinefamily project, which shows films from around the world, including independent and lesser-known... More

Once home to downtown L.A.’s first power plant, this cavernous two-story speakeasy still has plenty of buzz (and not just because of the electrical relics and vintage lightbulb chandeliers hanging around the bar). Here, guests lounge on overstuffed leather chaises, sipping single-malt Lowland scotch and waiting for the cutesy aerial acrobat... More

21. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Part of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Geffen Contemporary was first founded as the Temporary Contemporary in 1983 before becoming a permanent gallery and shop. The space, a renovated former warehouse in Little Tokyo, is now a multi-room canvas used to display the contemporary tours de force. For instance, the 2011 “Art in the... More

Hip digs, reasonable prices, and a too-cool night scene are the draws at this André Balazs outpost. The trendy, whimsical interiors here are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously: both George Jetson and Austin Powers would feel at home hobnobbing over cocktails in the canary-yellow restaurant, or lounging on the shocking-pink sectional in... More