Art finds expression, culture finds a solid canvas, and entertainment blooms at Venice Beach, a charming beachfront neighborhood. Stretching two and a half miles along the edge of Los Angeles, Venice Beach is one of the city’s most recognizable strips of seaside real estate. Modeled on the romantic Venice in Italy, this waterfront town is quirky and charismatic, teamed with a thriving music scene. Its boulevards are lined with Californian palm trees, which deeply contrast the cottages resting under charming pastel facades. The neighborhood's expanse is stippled with an array of beachfront hotels, restaurants and open volleyball courts. Its many vibrant murals lend a vibrant hue, and the neighborhood boasts some iconic landmarks like Muscle Beach and the ultra-bohemian Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is a shopping wonderland. A jewel of the West Coast, 'Venice' is a splendid locus of aesthetics, creativity and an indelible Californian spirit.
Burbank’s answer to the Hollywood Bowl, this marvel is a much-loved and frequented concert venue near Stough Park. A wide variety of concerts, from classical to pop, are held in this stunning setting throughout the summer. This beautiful natural bowl offers ample seating, both on benches and in the grass, where guests may enjoy their favorite performers and amazing acoustics to the transporting views of sunsets gradually superceded by starry skies. Visitors are invited to pack a picnic, including drinks of their choosing with no express restrictions imposed, other than non-interference with other patrons’ enjoyment of the event. Pricing is very affordable, enabling music buffs to get their fill during the summer months, after rationing their patronage of rather more expensive concert halls and arenas during the rest of the year.
This observatory, built in Art Deco style, was built in the early 1930s and is a highlight among landmarks in Southern California. See incredible light shows at the Oschin Planetarium, which puts to use the latest technology. Outside the observatory, you'll find sweeping views of the area that are breathtaking during the day and at night as well. Exhibits and planetarium shows will fascinate visitors. Some visitors might recognize the observatory as the site where the climax of Rebel Without a Cause was filmed. On clear nights take advantage of the free public telescopes to see the stars up close.
The Huntington, the former home of a railroad tycoon, is many things—an extensive library filled with rare books, a large art collection containing numerous European prints and paintings, botanical gardens of almost unmatched splendor and a forum for regular lectures and other activities. You will also find a fine bookstore, cafe and tea room on the grounds. Come and wander through the 150 acres of colorful gardens, lily ponds and beautiful sculptures. The rare books and manuscripts in the library include some of the earliest editions of Shakespeare's works, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible on vellum and the Ellesmere manuscript of one or more of Chaucer's greatest works. Please note reservations are required in order to visit and prices vary depending on the day of the week.
Santa Monica's most prized possession, this Southern Californian waterfront state park is the closest landmark to the iconic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade. Equipped with modern amenities such as volleyball courts, serene picnic spots and scenic swimming zones, this golden-sand landscape houses something that sets it apart from everything else in the vicinity: Muscle Beach, the mecca for bodybuilding exhibitions and gymnastic presentations. A sunbather's heaven, the beach also seems to be a magnet for themed special events like the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, which transforms the place into a dynamo of energy, music and vivid colors. The Santa Monica Ferris Wheel is by far the state park's most noticeable attraction.
If you're an out-of-towner and miss riding the plains, you can cure your equestrian nostalgia by renting a horse and riding through the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park. There are plenty of options here, including one and two hour rides during the day for anyone over the age of seven. A very popular option is the Friday night moonlight ride. Just arrive for a three-hour round-trip ride, which culminates with dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant.
No visit to the City of Angels would be complete without a visit to San Antonio Winery, located just 5 minutes from the Civic Center. Designated by the city as a cultural landmark, this family-owned winery has been operating since 1917. The last of more than 100 wineries that once flourished near the Los Angeles River, San Antonio is legendary for its large variety of fine wines. The winery offers tastings and have a wine store where you can buy your favorite award wining wine. Go on a wine tour if you're interested in the history of the vineyard or how wine is made.
This stunning Italian villa near McArthur Park and Westlake Village is a sight to behold in modern Los Angeles, with its timeless facade and striking elegance that hold the reins of a forgotten era. Dating back to 1928, the Carondelet House is the perfect venue to host a memorable wedding, with its beautiful brick-exposed architecture, naturally lit halls and hardwood floors, not to mention romantic archways, ornate chandeliers and vintage furniture. The stately venue manages to keep things modern too, with wireless internet throughout the property, DJ facilities and a robust 16-speaker acoustic system. Although the venue is most popular for weddings, it has also hosted a range of celebrity soirees and events in the past.
At the north end of Exposition Park, which isn't really a park at all, sits this sunken garden. Exposition Park Rose Garden features more than 20,000 rose bushes, made up of more than 190 different varieties of roses. During blooming season from March to November, the smell here can be incredibly strong. This spot is popular for picnics and weddings, the latter of which is available by reservation.
Electric Dusk Drive-In is LA's only drive-in movie theater. This retro Americana experience lets you drive into the outdoor movie theater, park close to the giant screen, then relax in your car and watch as the movie starts once the sun sets. If you don't want to stay in your car just grab a seat on the AstroTurf directly in front of the screen. If you're hungry head to their snack bar to buy a bag of popcorn. This unique movie theater is even pet-friendly.