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Day in Los Angeles, CA

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By: Kristen Gunther & Sally Stevenson for Health Beauty Life
Photos: Allen Carrasco

Those who have never visited Los Angeles would perhaps dream of sun, sand and stars.

All of this and more is found in the City of Angels, where one could spend a lifetime soaking in the infinite beaches, restaurants and shopping districts. But what if you only had one day to explore Los Angeles attractions? Where would you go and what would you do? Slip into your comfortable shoes, swipe on some sunscreen and take hold of your camera… We will be your tour guides as you explore “L.A. in a Day.”

Union Station

The sun is shining as the morning rush begins at Union Station, considered by some to be the last of the great railway stations. Built in 1939 to consolidate passenger terminals of three different railways, Los Angeles Union Station still serves as a major Southern California transportation venue. Catch a guided tour to soak in the surrounding architecture and history of this famous transit hub. The L.A. Conservancy offers tours the third Saturday of every month at 10 am. Stop for lunch after at TRAXX restaurant, located in the middle of the station, a good excuse to linger and look around some more while savoring beautifully prepared dishes.

Union Station on the Big Screen:

With its beautiful design, Los Angeles Union Station has been the backdrop to many films including: Blade Runner, Silver Streak, The Italian Job, The Way We Were, Speed, Pearl Harbor, Star Trek: First Contact and Catch Me If You Can.

Olvera Street

As you step out of Union Station and travel across the street, you feel yourself transported in time to a traditional Mexican marketplace. Considered the oldest street in Los Angeles, Olvera Street has been renovated but not modernized. You will be greeted by the buzz of Mariachi bands and Native American entertainers fully clad in traditional headdress. Breathe in the aroma of homemade tamales as you observe merchants offering their wares, ranging from string puppets and sombreros to religious artwork and hand painted pottery. A few of these hard working merchants are 5th generation business owners who have served the visitors of Olvera Street for over 80 years.

In addition to daily shopping and entertainment, traditional Mexican events are celebrated throughout the year. These events consistently draw hundreds of additional participants and observers and make an exciting tourist attraction into an unprecedented cultural event.

 

Historic Downtown

Once you leave Olvera Street, head across the Harbor (101) Freeway and you will find yourself in Downtown Los Angeles. Come ready to bargain shop…jewelry, fashion and flowers, oh my!

Jewelry District

Find major bling for minimal dollars. From loose stones to watches and gold, the Jewelry District offers it all, on the cheap.

Fun Jewelry District Facts:

  • The Los Angeles Jewelry District is the second largest in the world and an estimated $3 billion worth of business flows through this district each year.
  • There are over 5,000 jewelry stores in the two-block district (not for the faint of heart).
  • The general public has access to many of the stores.
  • Expect to save 40% - 70% off retail, but be sure and do your homework –all sales are final.
  • 28% of tourists visit L.A. for their wholesale shopping.

Fashion District

Tips and Tricks for the Fashion District:

  • General business hours are Monday - Sunday, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturdays being the busiest day to shop. Wear comfy shoes.
  • Dress casually for the occasion, especially if you plan on bargaining.
  • Bring cash. It will help you negotiate price!
  • Make sure you love it before you buy it. Returning an item is not usually an option.
  • Check out www.fashiondistrict.org for maps, podcasts and vendor lists.

Flower District

All the smells of the city will be washed away once you enter one of the two main markets in the Flower District: The L.A. Flower Market or the Southern California Flower Market. What started over 100 years ago by Japanese-Americans who began growing and cultivating flowers in Santa Monica, has grown into the largest wholesale flower district in the United States. Offering most varieties of plants and flowers, it is truly an amazing sight, not to mention the fact that the prices for wholesales flowers are unbelievably affordable.

Know before you go:

Plan on coming early: the general public can start wandering through the fields of fresh cut flowers at 6:00 am and most vendors begin packing up at 10:30 am!

  • Market flowers will typically last longer than store bought flowers.
  • $1 on the weekend and $2 during the week is all it takes to gain access to both markets!
  • Bring cash for the best deals.

Hollywood

Perched atop Mt. Lee, the Hollywood Sign welcomes millions of visitors a year beckoning them to come and experience all that the Home to the Stars has to offer. For a picture-perfect view of the famous white letters, take a drive up Mulholland Drive or above the Hollywood Reservoir.

After capturing the quintessential Hollywood pic, take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard to check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Located between Gower Street and La Brea Avenue. This two mile stretch boasts thousands of “stars” lining the sidewalk containing the names of Hollywood’s most famous as well as lesser known names from behind the scenes such as writers, producers and directors.

The most famous of the famous not only have stars on the Walk of Fame, but they have memorialized their signatures, hand prints, footprints and unique mementos in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, one of the most visited sites on Hollywood Blvd. If time permits, stop by the Kodak Theatre. The home for the Academy Awards since 2002 offers tours to the public Monday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm.

In the summer, you might want to scope out the Hollywood Bowl, the largest outdoor amphitheatre in the United States! The Bowl is the summer home for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, indulging music-seekers with compelling and memorable performances. Check out the new L.A. Phil Music Director. Hailed as one of the most stirring and enchanting conductors of our time, Gustavo Dudamel came onboard in Fall 2009. For a concert calendar and ticketing information, visit www.laphil.com.

Melrose & Rodeo Drive

A day in L.A. would not be complete without an A-list worthy shopping experience. Heading toward the border of Hollywood and Beverly Hills is Melrose Avenue, home to some of the most internationally recognized fashion houses. Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Diesel and Vera Wang are all found intermixed with a variety of upscale restaurants, boutiques and salons.

Melrose Places

Check out some of our fave places for a retail therapy fix:

  • Wasteland - 7428 Melrose Ave. Buy or sell designer and vintage clothing at this hipster consignment store.
  •  Johnny Cupcakes - 7959 Melrose Ave. Don’t come expecting to satisfy your sweet tooth. Although the bakery-inspired interior might have you convinced otherwise, Johnny Cupcakes sells t-shirts and other apparel.
  • Munky King - 7308 Melrose Ave. Just because you are a grown-up it doesn’t mean you can’t shop for toys! Check out this unique store for fun and funky findings!

For the vast majority of us, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is primarily a window shopping experience. As one of the most expensive shopping districts in the world, Rodeo Drive covers three short blocks and contains notorious tenants including Tiffany & Co., Valentino, Christian Dior and arguably the most exclusive, high-priced fashion boutiques in the world, Bijan. Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars shop here. It is truly a real life version of the quintessential L.A. glitz and glamour seen in the movies, complete with million dollar cars parked on the street, security guards opening the doors for shoppers, and $50,000 suits. Rodeo Drive does not disappoint visitors seeking the “Hollywood Experience.”

Venice

Post shopping, head for the shore. Southern California has its share of great beaches, but for a tourist, there is no experience quite like Venice Beach. Long known to be a gathering place for hippies and artists, it seems there is no type of individual who does not look at home in Venice.

Here you can expect to see Harry Parry, the rollerblading guitarist, singing near the muscle clad Schwarzenegger types lifting weights the size of small cars. Yelling and jeering can be heard from local basketball courts with men showing off moves typically seen only in the NBA. Street peddlers and vendors line the boardwalk pawning everything from sunglasses to palm reading while locals jog, bike and rollerblade by. Moving inland from the beach, you are removed from the hustle of the boardwalk and transferred to the tranquil setting of calm waters with gondolas and rowboats. Soak in the charm of the surrounding neighborhood filled with rows upon rows of picturesque homes and arched bridges.

LA Nights: When the Stars Come Out

Surely by now, you are ready to tame your growling stomach. For a culinary treat at the end of your jam-packed day, unwind at one of the many restaurants Hollywood has to offer. We love the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip for their mouth-watering southern comfort dishes and top tier local musicians. Or, if it’s a sexy modern Japanese vibe you’re after, indulge yourself at Geisha House on Hollywood Blvd. Conclude your day in L.A. with a round of drinks at one of the many surrounding lounges. Try Well Bar (happy hour daily from 5-9 pm) for their signature Hot ‘n’ Dirty Martini and say cheers to an eventful day in the City of Angels. Should your plans last longer than 24 hours, visit www.discoverlosangeles.com for more information about where to sleep, eat and play in L.A.

Posted in: September 2010Travel
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