Whether you're staring up at the Hollywood sign or burning plastic at Fred Segal, or posing next to legendary figures at the new Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, or watching the surfers at Pacific Palisades,
delivers a visitor experience uniquely its own. It's camera-ready and gorgeous, with a flip-flops dress code and just a hint of "Hey, tourist, mind your p's and q's." At the Santa Monica Pier, the surprisingly quaint boardwalk and Ferris wheel are just moments away from über-luxury hotels like Shutters on the Beach. In Hollywood, homeless people and teenage hustlers mingle with throngs of tourists and a few locals catching a show at Grauman's Chinese Theater or shopping Hollywood & Highland. Venice Beach is sunny, sandy, sceney, and seedy all at the same timesurfers fight over waves while Boardwalk shop owners purvey cheap T-shirts and skimpy bikinis.
L.A. is huge, and you can't really navigate it on foot, which is why tour buses are huge business here. They'll take you down Hollywood and Sunset boulevards to see the legendary party spots (the Standard, the revamped Mondrian, the Viper Room) before turning up the hill for the obligatory "Homes of the Stars" tour. You won't see any stars that way, thoughyou'll have better luck just strolling Abbot Kinney in Venice, shopping on Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills, or at the Farmers' Market in the Grove.
Photo Credit: Entrance to Universal Studios, Los Angeles (Robert Landau/Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau)