Los Angeles Feature
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"The Happiest Place on Earth" continues to delight children and all but the most cynical adults. A visit here can be enchanting, exciting, romantic, or nostalgic, depending on your age and experience. Disneyland, the original vision of Walt Disney, is now paired with Disney's California Adventure, showcasing more recent Disney characters and Hollywood-oriented attractions. Outside the theme parks, Downtown Disney supports a wide range of restaurants, bars, and clubs.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Designed by Frank Gehry, the voluptuous curves of this stainless steel-clad masterpiece located Downtown is a signature of the modern metropolis. One of several venues of the Music Center, the 2,265-seat Disney Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It features unrivaled acoustics and a stunning pipe organ, which is as much a work of art as a musical instrument. For a truly opulent evening, pair a concert with dinner at Patina, located inside the building.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame
An iconic metaphor for Hollywood, this elaborate Chinese-theme theater opened in 1927 with the premier of Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings. That's when the tradition of stars imprinting their hands or feet into the cement began with an "accidental" footprint by Norma Talmadge. More than 160 stars have contributed, and among the more unique prints are the nose of Jimmy Durante and hoofs of Trigger. The theater is adjacent to the Hollywood & Highland center. Then of course there's the Walk of Fame that runs a mile along Hollywood Boulevard, with the handprints of more than 1,600 stars.
The Getty Center
On a hillside above Brentwood, the $1-billion-plus Getty Center is not only a museum, but a statement that L.A. has taken its place in the art world. The Richard Meier-designed complex has a skin of travertine marble and natural light floods the galleries filled with impressionist masterpieces, Greek antiquities, and jaw-dropping exhibits of furniture and decorative arts from French monarchy. Pedestrian plazas and gardens abound, and a sunset dinner at the restaurant, with its panoramic views, is the stuff of scrapbook memories.
Dominated by the exclusive names of Gucci, Versace, and Cartier, Rodeo Drive is a shoppers' paradise. Along the cobblestoned, Mediterranean-inspired Via Rodeo, you can drop a thousand dollars on python pumps or nosh on a $500 sushi dinner. Fortunately, Rodeo Drive doesn't cater exclusively to the rich and famous, and more moderate shops and restaurants are interspersed with the iconic boutiques.
The Santa Monica Pier
Spend a sunny day oceanside riding the Ferris wheel, eating cotton candy, and playing dozens of games for prizes at this popular family destination.
The Venice Boardwalk
The bohemian lifestyle of this famous boardwalk is constantly threatened by the rapid gentrification of Venice. Still, the magicians, fortune-tellers, and Muscle Beach weight lifters still survive. Struggling artists sell their paintings, infiltrated by tackier purveyors of cheap watches and sunglasses. Rent a bicycle or in-line skates, grab a hot dog, and enjoy the sights and the sunset.
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