Spanish for “the angels”, LA is the second largest city in the U.S. A wide variety of stars call Hollywood home, so be sure to stop by Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Kodak Theater, Maddame Tussauds and tour a studio to get the complete experience. Don’t miss getting your very own glimpse at the world renowned Hollywood sign. A number of nearby theme parks include Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios Hollywood, Seaworld San Diego, Six Flags Magic Mountain, LEGOLAND California, and Knott’s Berry Farm. Take a stroll on the beach or stop by Griffith Park, which is the second largest park in the U.S. Los Angeles is located just two hours from San Diego and four hours from Las Vegas.
From seeing the stars to taking a walk on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or taking a short trip out of LA to the many nearby theme parks, water parks, Aquariums and zoos in southern California this area will entertain you. Visit some of the most popular theme parks in the country including Disneyland, Disney’s California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Seaworld San Diego, Legoland California, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Kodak Theater and so much more.
Just like any other vacation destination, a trip to Southern California can be customized to your price range, while the themeparks can get a little pricey, you can always visit the beach, LA China Town, see the Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Forecourt of the Stars at Graumans’s Chinese Theatre, Griffith Observatory, California Science Center, and you can actually see your favorite TV show taped live, putting you right in front of the stars of your favorite show for FREE. Imagine watching Doctor Phil, The Tonight Show, Deal or No Deal, Jeopardy, Price is Right, America’s Got Talent, (or what ever your favorite TV show is) live and in person and getting to see some of the most popular stars in the world like Howie Mandel, Jay Leno, or Dr. Phil for FREE. Your kids love watching TV as well, what would they think of getting to watch their favorites from the Disney channel, like The Suite Life On Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, or Sonny With A Chance live to see how their favorite show is made.
I recommend getting the Hollywood CityPASS to save 46% off Hollywood’s 4 best attractions, plus skip lines. Hollywood CityPASS includes admission to: Red Line Tours Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes, Starline Tours of Hollywood, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, Kodak THEATRE Guided Tour OR The Hollywood Museum. Adult $59 (value $108.95); Child (3-11) $39. Valid 9-days.
“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”
1. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (1926) is one of the most famous theatre in the world, with a recreation in the center of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This theatre has a capacity of 1152 and a prime location along the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Tour is a 30 minute Walking Tour that takes place 7 days a week, with stories and fun facts about the theatre’s Hollywood premieres and its Forecourt of the Stars.
2. Madame Tussauds Hollywood (2009) is a $55-million attraction, the ninth Madame Tussauds worldwide and the fourth in the US. See surprisingly realistic wax figures of stunning quality that make you feel like you’re actually getting to see the some of the most popular celebrity’s live and in person. Each featured figure actually takes a minimum of 3 months to make. Over 100 figures can be seen including Tony Hawk, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Jackie Chan, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and more.
3. Hollywood Museum has the world’s largest collection of costumes, props, posters, photographs, etc. from Hollywood’s greatest films, TV shows and music acts. This 35,000 square feet museum has 4 floors of exhibits with 10,000 objects displayed, including items from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Sopranos,” “Harry Potter,” “Star Trek,” “Baywatch,” “Oceans 11,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Gone with the Wind,” “I Love Lucy.” Also — Rocky’s boxing gloves, Marilyn Monroe’s dresses, Elvis Presley’s favorite bathrobe, Indiana Jones’ whip, Pamela Anderson’s “Baywatch” swimsuit, Cary Grant’s Rolls-Royce, the shark seen in “Jaws,” the church pews from “The Exorcist,” Tom Cruise’s eyeball-switcher from “Minority Report” (and the eyeballs), and “Moulin Rouge.” Located in the historic Max Factor Building, by the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
4. Hollywood Walk of Fame (1960) is a sidewalk, but not just any sidewalk. More than 2,000 five-pointed stars with the names of celebrities but fictional characters. On February 9, 1960, Joanne Woodward became the first performer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, since then, it has become a great honor to be rewarded with a star. Under the name on each star you will see a small, round emblem which illustrates the celebrity’s category, with one of five symbols. The celebrity with the most stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is singing-cowboy Gene Autry, who earned five different stars!
5. The Hollywood Sign (1923) is one of the oldest, most well known landmarks in the world. The 9 letters that spell Hollywood are high above LA in 45-foot tall white letters. It was created as an advertisement in 1923, that originally read Hollywood, and its purpose was to advertise a new housing development. This sign is known for it’s distinctive, wavy appearance, but when seen at a comparable altitude the letters appear straight-across.
6. Griffith Observatory (1935) is 1,134 feet above sea level, providing a great view of the surrounding area. As mentioned above, admission to the Observatory building and grounds is FREE, but a small charge is required to see shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. This museum, planetarium and theatre. Learn all about space by viewing the 60 exhibits. This historic landmark is definitely a must for visitors to the area.
7. California Science Center (1951) is the West Coast’s largest hands-on science center. This is another FREE attraction that is worth the ride, although admission is requred to see a show at the IMAX. See a 50-foot animatronic woman whose muscles, bones, organs, and blood vessels are revealed, demonstrating how the body reacts to a variety of external conditions and activities. The Air and Space Gallery is a seven-story area where real air- and spacecraft are suspended overhead. You can pedal a bicycle across a high-wire suspended 43 feet above the ground or get strapped into the Space Docking Simulator for an extra fee.
Ecosystems is new for 2010, providing information of Earth’s ecosystems.
8. LA County Museum of Art (1910) is the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago. View more than 100,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. This seven-building complex is located on twenty acres in the heart of Los Angeles. Admission for adults is $12, seniors are $8, Students are $8 and Children (17 and under) are Free. On the second Tuesday of each month, general admission to the permanent galleries and non-ticketed exhibitions is free to all. Come after 5 pm and you may pay what you wish.
9. Museum of Contemporary Art (1979) has 3 locations in greater LA. The museum’s exhibits consist primarily of American and European contemporary art created since 1940. MOCA is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Vie over over 5,000 works.
10. Kodak THEATRE (2001) has been host to many of the world’s top performers including Celine Dion, Prince, Barry Manilow, Alicia Keys and the Dixie Chicks. Kodak Theatre also hosted high profile events such as The Daytime Emmy Awards, The ESPY Awards, The BET Awards, the American Idol finals, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and many more. The stage is one of the largest in the United States and the theatre has has a capacity of 3,400. Guided Tours are available 7 days a week and last approximately 30 minutes. Tickets are $15
for adults, $10 for seniors and youth and children under 3 are free.
11. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum is a museum devoted to the bizarre, with more than 300 exhibits, such as a shrunken head, a six-legged cow, a full size portrait of Hollywood cowboy John Wayne fashioned from dryer lint, and a sculpture of Marilyn Monroe made from 264,000 discarded $ 1 dollar bills. Explore 2 floors with over 11 galleries, and nearly 300 unusual and fascinating exhibits collected by world-famous traveler Robert Ripley. A large T-rex even lives on the roof! Admission is $14.99 for adults, $8.99 for Children 5-12 and free for Children 4 and under.
12. Grammy Museum (2008) occupies four floors of exhibit space at the heart of L.A. Learn about the enduring legacies of all forms of recorded music; the creative process of music-making; the art and technology of the recording process; and the history of the GRAMMY Awards, the premier recognition of recorded music accomplishment. Admission for adults is $12.95, students- $11.95, seniors- $11.95, youth- $10.95, Military- $10.95, and children 5 and younger are Free.
Zoos & Aquariums
1. San Diego Zoo (1915) in San Diego, California is a 107-acre zoo is almost entirely outdoor, unlike many other major zoos. They have over 4,000 animals and 950 different species making them one of the best zoos in the world. Get a “bird’s-eye” view of the zoo by riding in the gondola lift called the Skyfari. This zoo is one of only 4 other zoos in North America to house the giant panda. But you will not just find one giant panda here you will find 5, more than any other zoo in North America! Other animals include african wild dog, anteater, polar bear, cheetah, jaguar, lion, snow leopard, chimpanzee, dolphins, elephant, giraffe, gorilla, hippo, kangaroo, koala, chimpanzee, sea lion, red panda, I could go on and on. Major exhibits are Absolutely Apes, Children’s Zoo, Elephant Odyssey, Giant Panda Research Station, Ituri Forest, Monkey Trails, and Polar Bear Plunge.
2. San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park (1972) is on 1,800 acres with 3,000 animals and 400 species. Visit one of the largest tourist attractions in Southern California. The Wild Animal Park is 32 miles away from the San Diego Zoo. Home to the world’s largest veterinary hospital. Exhibits at the zoo include: Journey into Africa, a 2.5 mile tour through giraffes, zebras, ostriches, rhinos, all of your African favorites. Nairobi Village houses the Conservation Carousel, Discovery Station, Bee-eater Aviary, flamingos, meerkats, Gorillas, etc. An observation deck with an interpretive center, an aviary, california condors, Desert bighorn sheep, Porcupines and located in Condor Ridge. The beautiful Green-naped lorikeets can be viewed in the Lorikeet Landing aviary. African lions can be viewed in Lion Camp. The Heart of Africa section of the park houses okapis, warthogs, flamingos, cheetahs and giraffes. The african elephant herd in the Elephant Overlook has over 10 elephants of all ages. Escape to the rain forest with stick insects, tarantulas, poison frogs, and butterflies. You will never get bored at a zoo like this!
3. Los Angeles Zoo and Botantical Garden (1966) is located on 133 acres with 1,100 animals and over 250 species. Over 1.5 million people visit the zoo each year. In Campo Gorilla Reserve you will find 7 western lowland gorillas, Sea Life Cliffs is home to a group of harbor seals, Australia is home to the Zoo’s koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, the 1 acre Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains is home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States. Red Ape Rain Forest is a multi-level tropical habitat where visitors can walk among orangutans, Dragons of Komodo is home to a pair of Komodo dragons, Winnick Family Children’s Zoo gives kids the opportunity to explore a cave, a desert trail or watch for prairie
dogs through specially designed pop-up bubbles, and other animals include snow leopard, mandrill, okapi and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Future Exhibits: Pachyderm Forest (2010), Reptile, Amphibian and Insect Center (2011), Rain Forest of the Americas (2012). Admission: Adults, $13.00 – Children (2-12), $8.00, under 2 free – Senior Citizens (62 and older) $10.00. Parking is Free.
4. Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California opened in October 1984 and contains 35,000 animals, and 623 species including jellyfish, sea otters, stingrays, octopus, African black footed penguins, seahorses, sharks, and an aviary. Also, you can go out on the “ocean view decks” to see animals like sea otters, humpback whales, harbor seals, Orcas, California Sea lions, dolphins and more.
5. Aquarium of the Pacific (1998) has 12,500 animals and 650 different species. The facility focuses on the Pacific Ocean in three major permanent galleries, sunny Southern California and Baja, the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific. Popular exhibits at the Aquarium also include the Aquarium’s interactive Shark Lagoon (guests can pet sharks and sting rays) and Lorikeet Forest (guests can feed nectar to colorful lorikeet birds).
Exciting, new attractions sprout up often at Southern California themeparks due to tough competition. Here’s what’s new and what’s coming soon. Hopefully this will help you decide when to plan your next vacation to central Florida. Note: some dates and attractions are rumored and could change.
1. Disneyland Resortin Anaheim, California is the original home to Mickey Mouse. This resort consists of two themeparks: Disneyland Park (1955) and Disney California Adventure (2001), Downtown Disney and three hotels. (see below) Disneyland park is the second most visited park in the world. California Adventure is currently undergoing a major renovation that will be complete in 2012 with the addition of Carsland and a huge park makeover. See how it differs from Disneyland by reading Disney World Vs. Disneyland.
2. Universal Studios Hollywood (1964) is a movie studio and theme park with 16 rides. Just like Disneyland park, this park is the original Universal Studios theme park, later followed by 2 other parks in Orlando and Japan (soon to become 5 parks- Singapore, Dubailand & South Korea). Outside the theme park, Universal City includes hotels Universal Hilton & Towers, the Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, a theater, and Universal CityWalk, which offers a collection of shops and restaurants, as well as the Gibson Amphitheatre, a concert venue. The park is divided into 2 areas, the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot.
3. Legoland California (1999) has 21 rides including 3 roller coasters and 6 water rides. This park is located near LA in Carlsbad, California. This park might be themed to the toy’s you grew up with, Legos, but this park has something for everyone. It is the third Legoland park to open, and is one of only two outside of Europe.
4. While in the SoCal area, you’ve got to visit Americas First Theme Park, Knott’s Berry Farm (1940). This 160 acre park has 40 rides including 9 roller coasters.
5. Six Flags Magic Mountain (1971) is located north of LA in Valencia, California on 260 acres with over 100 rides, games and attractions, including 17 roller coasters and 5 water rides. This park is known worldwide for having the biggest and badest thrill rides around, although there are attractions for all ages. Prepare to ride X2, the world’s only 5th dimensional roller coaster, Tatsu, the tallest, fastest and longest flying coaster, Scream, Southern California’s first floorless coaster, Deja Vu, a looping, boomerang coaster, Goliath, the giant among coasters, Superman The Escape, Batman the Ride, The Riddler’s Revenge and many more. New in 2009 is TERMINATOR SALVATION : THE RIDE, climb aboard a journey that begins at Six Flags Magic Mountain and transports you into a desolate future to battle alongside the post-apocalyptic legion of solders. Mr. Six’s DanceCoaster is new for 2010. General Admission is $54.99, Child Under 48″ $27.50 and 2 & Under FREE. BUT you can buy your tickets online for only $32.99, a savings of $22!