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Wanderlust

12 Can’t-Miss Hits To Enjoy In The City Of Angels

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Los Angeles is the city where the word bored really doesn’t come up. From the crashing of waves at the popular beaches to the twinkling lights of Hollywood, there’s never enough time to soak it all in. While the debauchery of nightlife on Santa Monica Boulevard might pop first to mind, it’s really just one option at the end of the day.

To get started on your LA dreams, we’ve rounded up blend of nature, nightlife and nirvana…

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1. Griffith Observatory

James Dean fanatics flock to the Griffith Observatory to relive the iconic moments from Rebel Without A Cause. The Observatory is a great place to see the stars and twinkling lights. Over 75 million people have passed through the Observatory building, and it’s easy to see why. The newly renovated planetarium boasts state-of-the-art star projections onto one of the world’s largest planetarium domes. Free admission to the Observatory includes sweeping views, exhibitions, and quality selfie moments where James Dean, Sal Mineo & Natalie Wood flocked for their refuge from teenage angst.

Chinese Theater

2. Chinese Theater

The Chinese Theater is a must stop on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The original Chinese Theatre was a commission by Sid Grauman and launched with Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings. Today the TCL Chinese Theatre is the largest IMAX auditorium in the world. And the there are, of course, roughly 200 handprints, footprints, and autographs in the front courtyard of the theater: Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Natalie Wood.

Will Rogers State Beach by Mike Fabio on Flickr

3. Will Rogers Beach

Will Rogers State Beach sprawls just under two miles along the Pacific Coast Highway near Temescal Canyon Road. Summer parking ranges from $4-$12 and features swimming, surfing, fishing, diving, volleyball courts, showers–and plenty of boys on the beach. SoCal men affectionately refer to the beach as the “Ginger Rogers” because of gay gaggles that flock there for sun and fun in the surf.

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4. Getty Villa

Located on the Pacific Coast Highway, Getty Villa offers a view of the Pacific Ocean and an unbelievable collection of Greco-Roman art and antiquities ranging from 6,500 BC to AD 400. Check out 1,200 works from J. Paul Getty’s collection in and around 23 galleries. Getty Villa is modeled after Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, buried by Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Current exhibitions include Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections and Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity.

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5. Micky’s Showgirls

Showgirls at Micky’s made headlines last year when Shangela and Courtney Act joined Lady Gaga for a special performance of “Applause.” David Petruschin–better known as “Raven” from RuPaul‘s Drag Race, Drag U, and RuPaul‘s All Stars Drag Race–has been hosting Showgirls for years. Call to reserve a seat for the weekly performances including drag stars like Morgan McMichaels, Raja, Laganja Estranja, Ongina. Stick around after the show for cocktails with the performers, go-go boys, late-night dancing.

LACMA Credit Aitor Aguirregabiria

6. LACMA

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been devoted to collecting great works of art since inception in 1965, growing into the largest art museum in the western United States with over 120,000 objects and artifacts. The rotating and special exhibitions draw huge crowds. Nearby, the La Brea Tar Pits are definitely worth a side excursion.

Hollywood Bowl rendering

7. Hollywood Bowl

The Bowl is poised to once again be Los Angeles’ premier summer entertainment choice. This world-famous outdoor amphitheater, located in the heart of Hollywood, is the perfect place to gather friends, picnic and enjoy outstanding music under the stars. Featuring indie rock, jazz, classical, Broadway, the Bowl is also summer home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. This year’s calendar features performances by Kristin Chenoweth, Robyn, Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock.

Franklin Lake Image by Jeffrey James Keyes

8. Canyon Hiking

There are plenty to choose from: The Runyon Canyon loop is three miles and studded with views of the Hollywood Sign, Sunset Strip, and the LA Basin. Bronson Canyon offers the backdrop for popular films like Star Trek VI and Army of Darkness and includes the “Bronson Cave,” a 50-foot long tunnel made famous by the 1960s Batman television series. Franklin Canyon Park extends some 605 acres with over five miles of hiking trails. Franklin Lake is the fishing hole in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show.

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9. The Grove/Original Farmer’s Market

The Grove itself is an enormous outdoor marketplace that includes a movie theater, oodles of stores, and adorable courtyards with a variety of vendors. Opened in 1934, it has lured stars like Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Alton Brown and Jimmy Kimmel. The Summer Music Series (Thursdays and Fridays from 7-9) runs through August 29 offering free concert performances showcasing L.A.’s best jazz and eclectic musicians.  Upcoming performances include Steve Tyrell, Sara Evans, and Backstreet Boys. 

Celebration Theatre Image by Jeffrey James Keyes

10. Celebration Theatre

The theater recently celebrated its 31st birthday with Bette White and her “Hot in Cleveland” co-stars reading a “Golden Girls” episode with Sean Hayes. Betty White and Sean Hayes? What could be a better combo? Chuck Rowland, co-founder of the Mattachine Society, founded Celebration Theatre in 1982 in a storefront in Silver Lake. The organization has moved to West Hollywood where it continues its mission of producing gay-themed plays and musicals including shows like The Ballad of Little Mikey, Revolver, and Naked Boys Singing!

Getty Center 4 - Los Angeles

11. The Getty Center

The art museum features expansive gardens, open spaces, architecture by Richard Meier, and sprawling vistas. The Getty’s collection of European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts is spread over four separate pavilions. The collection features European and American art from medieval times to the present. Current exhibitions include The Scandalous Art of James EnsorIn Focus: Ansel Adams, and vonne Rainer: Dances and Films. The Getty Center is Closed on Mondays. Wander in and out of some of the world’s best curated displays while enjoying lush gardens and lunch overlooking the city.

Drag Race Alaska credit Jeffrey James Keyes

12. The Abbey Food & Bar

The Abbey Food & Bar is the perfect end to a glorious day in Los Angeles. Chef Danny Elmaleh sets the scene with a food menu that keeps the boys coming back. Locals, visitors, and celebrities alike flock to this popular West Hollywood institution. Things get especially wild towards the weekend with Hustler Thursdays, Sinful Fridays, Confession Saturdays, and Sunday Fun Day. Go-Go boys and flawless drag queens come in when the sun goes down and the drinks flow till 2am.

By:           JJ Keyes
On:           Jul 23, 2014
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 9 Comments
    • jwrappaport
      jwrappaport

      Pretensions of substance aside, nothing will make LA charming or appealing to me. I mean, brunches with Channing and a mansion in Brentwood wouldn’t hurt, but there’s something about being turned away from a bar for want of sufficiently expensive shoes that rubs me the wrong way. In the words of a likely forgotten extra in a great movie: “I love my Skechers.” But alas, like her, I have no Prada backpack.

      Jul 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      I have spent 1 night and 1 day in LA and honestly was not that incredibly impressed. Definitely not enough to actually want to spend more time. We blitzed through the whole area, and none of it made me want more. Pretty much, I can say the exact same thing for San Francisco (except that San Francisco even costs more than LA for no real reason).

      All I can say is… Do you know the way to San Jose?

      San Jose was an amazing town, and had a very nice atmosphere. It was also filled with really nice people. If I’m going to Cali its either for San Diego, Palm Springs or San Jose.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 7:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • QJ201
      QJ201

      LA is NJ with Palm Trees and Glitter.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 7:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vive
      vive

      I wish items paid for by advertising money would be labeled as such.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 8:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RIGay
      RIGay

      I have to concur with these comments; I went to LA a few years back, and when I ventured off the tourist trail, I knew I was not from there, and THEY (the locals) knew I was not from there.

      Funny story – I was in town for a conference. My hotel was miles from the venue, but the conference arranged shuttle buses to get us around. On the way back to my room one evening, the bus driver had to go through a park due to construction. He came over the PA systems and (the first time) calmly asked that we all look down the center aisle of the bus. We all just sorta groaned and went back to what ever we were doing. Then he shouted, “CENTER AISLE, NOW!!!” and the bus rapidly accelerated. I thought “WTF is going on!?!” and looked out the window. There were [youth] with assault rifles in a shoot out with [undetermined] objects. After we sped through the scene, he came back on the PA and said “That wasn’t too bad tonight”.

      I have NO interest, WHATSOEVER in EVER stepping foot back in that cesspool of a city.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 8:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • zaneymcbanes
      zaneymcbanes

      Excellent list! The Celebration Theatre does such solid work. I’d also add:

      -See a movie at the Arclight
      -Check out Amoeba Records
      -Get ramen in Little Tokyo
      -Check out some of the AMAZING local breweries that have been popping up all over Southern California.
      -And in my opinion Eleven >>> The Abbey, but The Abbey does have more history (the food’s not bad either).

      Jul 24, 2014 at 11:36 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben Dover
      Ben Dover

      @RIGay: Agree – Chicago is safer and more fun, the north side anyway.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 11:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • frshmn
      frshmn

      LA is far safer than Chicago in every way measurable. San Jose is alright, if you like a suburb with nice weather. Cities aren’t for everyone , but portraying LA as a crime ridden cesspool, or vapid, tactless, nouveau rich wasteland is simply passé.

      Jul 24, 2014 at 11:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Merv
      Merv

      I did a whirlwind tour of LA a few months ago. The two Getty museums really are amazing. If you go to LA, do not miss either one.

      Jul 25, 2014 at 3:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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