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Marquesas Islands Cruises

Los Angeles, California

About Los Angeles, California

Though the Los Angeles Basin was claimed by Europeans in 1542, it wasn’t established as a Mexican settlement until late in the 1700s. At the end of the Mexican-American War, in 1848, the United States claimed it with the rest of California and welcomed the state into the union just two years later. With the discovery of oil and the completion of railroads from the north and the east, the area prospered. Today, the entirety of the Los Angeles metropolitan area comprises the third largest city in the world, after Tokyo and New York.

Filmmakers were drawn to the city’s Mediterranean climate and year-round warmth. Ten movie companies were operating here as early as 1910 and by 1921, 80% of the world’s moviemakers had functioning studios. The financial advantage that this brought insulated the city from the Great Depression of the 1930s. After a wartime stint as a major aircraft manufacturer, Los Angeles sprawled throughout the basin at a record pace, expanding its cultural diversity and arts offerings in the process.

Los Angeles Lifestyle and Culture

Though celebrity culture dominates the scenes and dreams of Los Angeles, known as the “Creative Capital of the World,” it is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills plays out alongside the relaxed air of Venice Beach and rich and thriving cultures of Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, Little Tokyo, Thai Town and other neighborhoods. Various religions, too, are represented here in temples, houses of worship and festive holidays, including Hinduism, Islam, Sufism and many others. Remarkably, Los Angeles is home to the greatest variety of Buddhist congregations in the world. South Los Angeles boasts a vibrant African American community, the largest in the western United States.

Such is the character of Los Angeles. Its lifestyles and cultures are many and ever present, whether along the chic shops of Sunset Boulevard or among the fragrant food stalls at the open air Farmers’ Market in the Fairfax District. At once laid-back and highly driven, buttoned up and dressed down, highly American and uniquely international, it is a city whose cultural identity lies in its endless variety.

Los Angeles Sights and Landmarks

Perhaps the most iconic landmark of Los Angeles is the Hollywood Sign, perched high on the hillside of Mt. Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains. Equally recognizable is Los Angeles City Hall, its singular tower marked by supporting columns and a pyramidal peak. The cylindrical Capitol Records Building, said to resemble a stack of records on a turntable, is home to studios where Frank Sinatra and Paul McCartney recorded. A more modern yet no less impressive landmark is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. This fascinating house of worship was a dramatic departure from traditional cathedrals; its postmodern style with straight lines garnered much controversy when it was completed in 2002.

Perhaps Los Angeles’s most majestic sight is its setting. The city sits in a vast basin ringed by dramatic and often snowcapped mountains, sweeping valleys and the coastal splendor of the Pacific Ocean.

Los Angeles Entertainment and Activities

Los Angeles is renowned as the world’s leading center of film and television. Along the palm-lined streets of Beverly Hills, grand celebrity mansions hide behind iron gates. The chic shops of Rodeo Drive invite endless browsing. The Roosevelt Hotel, an icon built in the 1920s that once served as the residence of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, oversees the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the renowned Chinese Theater.

Beyond the film industry, Los Angeles is home to an endless array of museums, concert venues and other cultural institutions. The stunning Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall hosts world-class musicians, orchestras and operas. Look skyward at the fascinating science exhibits at the Griffith Observatory, whose grounds offer sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin. Admire the largest art collection in the western United States at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and by some accounts the finest collection at the Getty Center.

Los Angeles Restaurants and Shopping

Dining in Los Angeles is unrivaled, thanks to a diverse immigrant community, creative celebrity chefs who treat each dish as a work of art, and every type of dining in between. Savor the local cuisine of food trucks, organic eateries and New York style delis.

Even the entertainment titans head to the bustling Farmers’ Market in the Fairfax District, the city’s open air dining emporium, where the aromas of every style of food waft in the air. You can also follow the locals to some of the city’s many gourmet food trucks clustered throughout the city. These chefs take their Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Korean-inspired tacos and Filipino specialties very seriously and have received rave reviews from the city’s food critics.

Many retail choices are at your feet, too. Pause along the Hollywood Walk of Fame near the Chinese Theater to browse the shops at the Hollywood & Highland Center mall. Or stroll the city’s famous shopping streets, from the high-end boutiques on Larchmont Boulevard to the fashion stores of Rodeo Drive and celebrity haunts of Melrose Avenue.