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Best Historic Locations in Los Angeles

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Originally built in 1926, this theater was completely renovated in 1991 by Pacific Theatres and The Walt Disney Company. It's now a premier movie palace that Disney uses to showcase its animated and children's features. Special features begin with a live stage show with a singing and dancing chorus of familiar Disney characters. Often short cartoons will precede the main show. Be sure to call or check the website for the movie and show times.

The exquisite Spanish-style Adamson House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1930 for the daughter of Frederick and May Rindge, who owned a massive chunk of Malibu at the turn of the century. Above all else, the home is a treasure trove of tile-work that is incorporated almost everywhere in the house, from the fountains to the dog shower. There is also a small museum next to the house, which features exhibits on local history. Call to book a group tour otherwise, no reservations are required. Group tours are on Tuesdays. On rainy days it is advisable to call to make sure the tours are still on.

Years ago, one of the summer rituals for L.A. children was a new pair of huaraches from Olvera Street and maybe some Mexican jumping beans. Nowadays those rituals are a year-round treat on this cobblestone street, which is a block-long cornucopia of traditional Mexican clothing, artwork, gifts, leather goods, novelties and restaurants. There is also a Visitors Center where tourists can appreciate the complimentary screening of a film which depicts early life in Los Angeles. Olvera Street was created in the 1930s and comprises the area known as the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, which is the site of the city's beginnings. Free tours are given to the public by the Las Angelinas, a non-profit organization.

The largest home ever built in Beverly Hills is the Greystone Mansion, a 55-room English Tudor Mansion constructed by Edward L. Doheny in 1928. A gift to his son, it was built for more than USD 50 million and includes a huge garden. The grounds have been used as a public park, and the home itself for varying purposes, most recently for the activities of the American Film Institute. The interior of the mansion is closed to the public, but the exterior and surrounding park is completely open for visitors.

From fun outdoor activities to historic architecture, Will Rogers State Historical Park has it all. In 1944, actor Will Rogers' family donated his 31 room house and the 186-acre surrounding grounds so that it could become a state historic park. Take a tour of the ranch, watch a polo game, go on a horseback ride, or take a two mile scenic hike. This is a rare chance to see how a star of the Silver Screen lived.

Once upon a time, Rancho La Brea or La Brea Tar Pits was only a Mexican land grant. Now a park, the tar pits have been the world's richest deposit of Ice Age fossils. More than 40,000 years ago mammoths, saber-toothed cats and dire wolves freely roamed the Los Angeles basin and became entrapped in the natural asphalt of the tar pits. During the summer months, visitors can observe the ongoing excavation from Pit 91. A visit to the on-site Page Museum is a must.

This adobe structure, built by Don Francisco Avila, is considered the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. By modern standards the home is quite small, though at the time it was the largest in the area. Although it has been heavily restored, much of the original structure survives today. It now functions as a museum with the interior having been refurbished to include a four-post bed and other typical furnishings from the era.

Sitting pretty under the famous Hollywood Sign is the Paramount Studios lot, and a visit here is a memorable experience. Avail of one of the various studio tours, and let a bit of Hollywood glamor rub off on you. The venue is huge, and the wrought-iron double arch gate at Melrose & Windsor is an architectural wonder in itself, opening on to the vast premises where Hollywood productions come to life. Wander through the Bronson Gate and watch screenings in progress within the only big-time motion picture studio in the area. The huge library contains more than 1000 titles, including many Academy Award winners. Dating back to 1912, the place also contains a ton of history. If you are really, really interested, send in your resume, and they might just hire you! In any case, be sure to keep an autograph book at hand when here to gather a bit of stardust! Prices for tours may vary.

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel is steeped in history that dates back to when it was founded in 1771. Visitors can tour this well-preserved Roman Catholic Mission grounds and visit its museum. View the tall buttresses and walls then check out the campanile that holds six bells that were crafted between 1795 and the 1830s. The beautiful altar was made in Mexico City in the 1790s and some of the wooden statues were carved in Spain in the 1700s. The mission museum exhibits relics, books and religious artifacts.

One of the great 20th Century luxury liners, The Queen Mary has been the centerpiece of Long Beach Harbor since 1967. Larger than the Titanic, The Queen Mary allows tourists to take a self-guided tour of the bridge, engine rooms and officers' quarters, while guided tours visit areas of the ship which are otherwise inaccessible. See the classic art deco interiors and learn about the vessel's interesting history. The ship is now not only a historic attraction, but it's also a hotel, has several restaurants and shops, and there's even an on-site wedding chapel! Measuring 1019.5 feet (310.74 meters) in length, it features an indoor swimming pool and various conveniences and amenities of a cruise line. Staying at this unique hotel is an experience that should not be missed.

The Bradbury Building is the one of the most impressive Victorian buildings that remains in L.A. Determined to build a lasting monument as his final real estate development, millionaire Lewis Bradbury rejected conventional designs and urged draftsman George Wyman to give the building a more futuristic twist. Wyman initially turned down the offer as unprofessional, but was supposedly persuaded to change his mind after communicating with his deceased brother using a Ouija board. He ultimately created a masterpiece of oak paneling, tiled stairs, wrought-iron railings, open-cage elevators and a glass roof, which illuminates all.

Opening in 1929, this opulent venue has been the star of Catalina Island since it was built. Dominating the view, the Catalina Casino is perched inside the Avalon Bay harbor with its stunning architecture being the focal point. No longer a traditional casino, this historic space is now used for events like New Years Eve celebrations, jazz festivals, and private functions. Guests can learn about the history through one of its various tours that will take you through the theater, behind the scenes and of course, past the breath-taking views.

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