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I’m a hiker. My husband, my son and I hike a lot. We mountain bike a lot, too. Right across the street is Fryman Canyon. If you live in L.A., you know of the canyons: There’s Runyon Canyon and Fryman Canyon, and then up in Malibu there’s Sycamore, and then we also go up into the Angeles Crest. We have a little cabin in Big Bear, which is about an hour and 45 minutes east. We mountain bike at the local ski resort because you can put your mountain bike on the lift and go down, and there’s trails everywhere. And we have a boat, so we go out in the summer on the boat. Big Bear Lake is just a really simple place. I also rollerblade in Balboa Park, which is this huge park deep in the valley, and then also the boardwalk — from Manhattan Beach all the way to Venice.
When people think of Los Angeles, the movie industry definitely comes to mind, and although there are plenty of things to do surrounding that, L.A. offers so many more world class activities.
If Hollywood is on your mind, take an afternoon to visit Hollywood Blvd. between Vine St. and Highland Ave., snap a few photos of your favorite stars on the Walk of Fame, and check out the Hollywood & Highland Center, a shopping mall that is also the home of the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards are held annually. Their second and third story decks also offer stellar views of the Hollywood Sign. Just a block away, you'll find the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which was home to the first Academy Awards in 1929. For those who aren't staying at the venue, its restaurants and bars—including the poolside Tropicana Bar—are open to the public.
No matter where you are in Los Angeles, a hiking trail is probably in your midst. Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country and offers a 53-mile network of trails, including the Hollyridge trail that takes you directly above and behind the Hollywood Sign. Not too far away, you can find Runyon Canyon where Hollywood and West Hollywood types hike up the steep incline and socialize—dogs in tow. Farther toward L.A.'s west side, trails at Topanga Canyon State Park and Temescal Canyon Park offer stellar views of the Pacific Ocean and west side of Los Angeles.
You'll find sunshine and 70-degrees at the minimum nearly year-round in Los Angeles, and that will make you want to hit the beach. Although sometimes its too cold and breezy to swim, you can always stop by the Santa Monica Pier which is also home to the iconic Ferris wheel and carnival atmosphere of Pacific Park, or head north to Malibu's Zuma Beach where you can watch the surfers and kite borders, or jump in the waves for yourself.
Museums in L.A. are about as eclectic as the culture. Soak up diverse art offerings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Getty Center, Getty Villa and MOCA. Check out classic cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County recently opened a new dinosaur hall with 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures, including the T. rex growth series—the only trio of different aged T. rex specimens in the world. Tour the the retired Space Shuttle Endeavour insdie the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion at California Science Center.
You also can't plan a trip to L.A. without taking time out to shop. Hit your favorite luxury boutiques on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. You'll find a mix of luxury and casual shopping at centers like the Beverly Center, The Gove, Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade. For more luxury boutiques, hit Robertson Blvd., West 3rd Street shopping district, Sunset Plaza, Melrose Ave. and Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice.
Everyone says the best thing about LA is the weather. So it makes sense, whatever you do, do it outdoors. From hiking the canyons and dining al fresco to paddle surfing the waves and enjoying a concert in the open-air, it’s easy to plan days and nights that take advantage of the city’s best attribute. Year round, LA’s hills and mountains offer scores scenic hiking trails for every skill level. An easy hike up to the Griffith Observatory in Los Feliz boasts endless panoramic views from downtown to the Pacific Ocean, as well as a peek at the location James Dean made famous in Rebel Without a Cause. The workout and the occasional celebrity sighting makes Runyon Canyon Hollywood’s sexiest walkabout. In the Pacific Palisades, the incremental challenge of Temescal Canyon’s trails treat hikers to waterfalls and stunning views of the coast. A great day’s adventure is to start off with an early trek at Temescal Canyon Gateway Park, grab a fresh fish lunch at Malibu Seafood and head to Malibu’s El Matador or Zuma Beach. If the lounging on the sand doesn’t appeal, opt for Malibu’s laid back wineries and tasting rooms including Rosenthal Estate Winery, Cornell Winery and SIP. Wrap the day up with an ocean side dinner at Nobu Malibu or Topanga Canyon’s romantic Inn of the Seventh Ray.
From Venice Beach to Downtown LA, the outdoor culinary scene is vibrant and alluring. In Beverly Hills, indulge in modern Italian fare by celebrity chef/owner Scott Conant on Scarpetta’s patio at the Montage hotel. In West Hollywood, knock back a gimlet and upscale versions of fish & chips and fried chicken among the glitterati at world famous The Ivy. Take in the skyline and an epic meal at Downtown’s Café Pinot—perhaps as a kickoff to the area’s famous evening art crawl or after tour of MOCA’s galleries.
One of the most memorable experiences Los Angeles has to offer is catching a concert under the stars in a setting like Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre. These historic music venues host a long summer and fall season of concerts and performances in every genre. Book a box at the Bowl, pack an elegant picnic with your favorite champagne and savor the cool evening breeze.
Los Angeles is on the map for it's entertainment. However, there is much more to this vibrant city than you may know about. If you weren't already aware, Southern California is known for it's remarkable weather. Not just during warm season, but year round. When you come out to this city, spend sometime outdoors. This can include hiking at Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park or Bronson Canyon. While hiking, you'll see views of homes right in the Hollywood hills, the famous Hollywood sign and once you get to the top, 360 degree views of Southern California from the Pacific Ocean out to Eastern snow covered mountains.
Shopping is also a popular activity in Los Angeles. You can find shops and boutiques at the Beverly Center Mall, Rodeo Drive, The Avenues on Melrose Ave the Sunset Plaza on the Sunset Strip.
If you're a visitor coming to Los Angeles for the first time, taking a walk down Hollywood Boulevard is an experience worth having. If you have enough time, try to include some Hollywood Blvd landmarks into your agenda - which include Madame Tussauds, Grauman's Chinese Theatre and of course, The Hollywood Walk of Fame.