The Hollywood Boulevard is a prime spot for tourists and residents alike. Several business owners and actors also come here to show off their prized exotic car collections. But there’s more to it than just posh boys and toys, say Alvin Thomas.
Let’s face it: the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the city of Los Angeles is Hollywood – ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’. And tagging alongside that significant slogan is the ever-so-prominent ‘HOLLYWOOD’ signboard; the swanky multi-million dollar mansions that flank the area, some owned by the biggest names in the movie and music industries; and the prowling gold and chrome supercars in the (now infamous) Hollywood Boulevard.
But, what many don’t realise is that there’s so much more to Los Angeles than just Hollywood. The city – often abbreviated as L.A. – is actually home to some of the world’s most striking mountain ranges, valleys, forests and beaches along the rim of the Pacific Ocean.
L.A. is also an important hub in the US’ culture (supposedly): medicine, agriculture, business and finance, energy and aerospace, science, food processing, media, international trade, and tourism. This has resulted in an influx of working-class residents; L.A. is currently the second-most populous city in the US.
The city’s beaches are also a haven for sun-seeking tourists. Venice Beach is among the preferred destinations for tourists visiting L.A. It has long been touted as the “kooky” epicentre of the city, as it nurtures those looking to display their eccentric characters. A simple Google Image search will reveal how important the beach is to the local culture. If you’re feeling a bit creepy, you can also watch live, online videos sourced from nearby surveillance cameras, to feel like you’re there (don’t ask me how I know that). The climate in L.A. is known to be subtropical-Mediterranean, with temperatures hovering around the 20- and 30-degree Celsius marks, in winter and summer, respectively. Winter days are actually comparable to those in Oman, even!
The public transport system in the city is among the best in the country, and there’s also a new bike share programme, which allows tourists to rent bikes for days to go sightseeing.
Meanwhile, families can enjoy a day out at Disneyland, wherein children can have a fun day out; or at the Universal Studios, learning about the inception of mainstream motion pictures.
Over the past decade or so, L.A. has lost a lot of its charm after it started harbouring several oil refineries, mundane factories and food processing facilities to cater to the nation’s needs. But, one thing is evident: for as long as the city provides shelter to famous actors, musicians and businessmen and women, it will definitely not go out of style.
My favourite place- I’m not a big fan of beaches, so Venice Beach is not on my list of places to visit. Nevertheless, it happens to be one of the most crowded beaches in the world, and is also an amusing place to meet strangers and learn about their likes and interests. It’s also a cultural hub for the city and is the easiest way to get to know the various backstories of the locality. Weirdly, the residents are keen to propagate horror and ghoulish stories to visitors – and people love it. Moreover, if you’re an admirer of fancy cars and homes, then head to Hollywood Boulevard – a long stretch of road popular with people just hanging out. It’s a place where you can go to set your ego free.
Highlights- It’s hard to point out what makes L.A. so special. But, its role in the foundation of mainstream motion pictures, is what gives the city its glamour. Hollywood aficionados will also know that L.A. is home to various actors such as Mila Kunis, Johnny Depp and singers such as Katy Perry and Chris Brown; thereby making it all the more special to tourists. Who knows? If you’re lucky, you may also bump into them. Secondly, it is also home to the Getty Museum. It doesn’t match the rich collections of other galleries but it features some impressive works including several paintings by Rubens, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and even Van Gogh (!)
Lowlights- Before you head to the city, watch the movie L.A. Confidential. Of course, things are very different now, but it’s just nice to see how things were in the 1940s. Granted, crime in the city is at an all-time high, and as Y went to press, there was a case of shooting on Hollywood Boulevard. Also, L.A. is prone to earthquakes and fires.
Souvenirs- You have numerous options when it comes to shopping at L.A. Rodeo Drive is one such location but the prices of goods are excruciating. Of course, if you’re a simpleton like me, simply head to the Venice Beach and grab hold of some funky T-shirts.
Getting there- If you’re already in the US, I suggest you rent a car and drive down to the city. Renting a car within the city can be a hassle with the number of people visiting daily. If you’re flying to L.A. from Oman, you can opt for Etihad, but tickets are expensive.
Where to stay- It is best to opt for a hotel close to Hollywood, as your destinations will be easily accessible. But, downtown L.A. is best for business travellers flying from Oman. With several big names such as the Ritz-Carlton and The Four Seasons, and even reputed Airbnb home owners operating within the city, choosing a place to stay should be easy, too.
1. Visit the Universal Studios in Hollywood
2. Take a tour across the Griffith Park and Observatory
3. Snap selfies at the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Instagram loves those
4. Explore the paintings at the Getty Center
5. Learn the culture and tradition (not too much) of the city from Venice Beach locals