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Essentials for visiting LA: What's new, classics and more |

Travel and Tourism

Essentials for visiting LA: What's new, classics and more

Christine Armario - The Philippine Star

LOS ANGELES  — Mountainside hikes along urban cityscapes. Ramen noodle bars, Korean tea houses and taco trucks serving every regional Mexican specialty. Sure, Los Angeles is known for classic Hollywood, but these days the city is getting attention for other attractions too.


A pack of new Los Angeles museums and attractions is in the works: The Broad museum opens its $140 million downtown building in September, featuring more than 2,000 works of contemporary art — including pieces by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Jasper Johns. The space shuttle Endeavour has become one of the city's top draws since arriving at the California Science Museum in 2012 (reservations required for weekends and high-traffic holidays). Another relatively recent opening is the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Later this year, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles is expected to open.

Pockets of LA like downtown and Chinatown have undergone a resurgence. Stroll through downtown's Grand Central Market and enjoy cheese shops, oysters and flower vendors. Nearby Chinatown is home to buildings with upturned eaves — reminiscent of pagodas — alongside hip noodle bars.

FILE- This Dec. 27, 2012 file photo shows customers at the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles. A bustling downtown landmark that saw its glory days nearly a century ago is hoping to recover some of its fashionable luster as the gritty neighborhood gentrifies. The 27,000-square-foot market in the heart of the city is getting a cleaning and a new paint job. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)


Must-sees for first-time tourists in search of the stars include photos in front of the famous Hollywood sign, a stroll through the picturesque Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame, and a drive by the Sunset Strip and hot spots like the Whiskey a Go Go.

FILE- This Jan. 20, 2015 file photo shows two tourists walking up the dirt trail past a no hiking sign to get closer to the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles. Like pilgrims flocking to a holy shrine, they come from all over the world to pay homage, not to a deity but to something similar - the people they see on TV and in the movies. They are the seekers of the Hollywood Sign, that symbol of the Land of the Rich and Famous. And just like those on pilgrimages to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome or the Acropolis in Greece, they press to get just as close as they can to the immortality the symbol represents. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

For the morbidly curious, the graves of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and other departed celebrities can be visited at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park, a small, quaint cemetery near the University of California, Los Angeles. The larger Hollywood Forever cemetery hosts summertime film screenings.

Families may want to visit Universal Studios theme park (Disneyland is a 45-minute drive away). Griffith Observatory offers a planetarium, telescopes and a bird's-eye view of the city. Music- lovers will enjoy shows at the Greek Theatre or Hollywood Bowl.

FILE- This Oct. 3, 2006 file photo shows a statue of actor James Dean at the newly renovated Griffith Observatory on Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles. The observatory will reopen its doors to the public Nov. 3, after a comprehensive $93 million renovation and expansion project. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Shoppers looking for luxury brands and boutiques should migrate to the Melrose Avenue shops in West Hollywood. There's also The Grove, which has shops, restaurants, movie theater and, next door, an historic farmer's market.

Venture west to take in the sun at Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier.



Los Angeles is known as a driving city — but the Metro rail reaches a surprising number of areas. Tickets are $1.75 per ride and $25 for a seven-day pass (maps and more at Many Angelenos also rely on ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber.

If you're renting a car and nerve-frying LA traffic is not on your list of attractions, consider downloading an app like Waze, the popular navigation service. It calculates the shortest available route, shaving time off your drive while providing an alternative tour of the city through its many side streets. Warning: Waze routes are often a scenic contrast to highways but occasionally include hair-raising left-hand turns (you'll be rerouted if you miss them).

LA is filled with top-of-the-line, four-star restaurants, but food trucks sell some of the best — and cheapest — eats. Websites tracking food truck locations include



Thailand? Vietnam? Mexico? Exploring Los Angeles can feel like a trip around the globe.

Start with Asia: Koreatown, Chinatown and Little Tokyo are close to downtown. In Little Tokyo, wander through the James Irvine Japanese Garden and try the ramen at Daikokuya. Hello Kitty fans will rejoice: There is a Sanrio shop just down the street. Koreatown is also chock-full of great eats: For a nice evening out, go to Gwang Yang Korean BBQ and order the "Gangnam Style" bulgogi. Then hit Hwa Sun Ji, where you can have a post-dinner tea and shaved ice dessert. If dumplings are your delicacy, stop at Myung in Dumplings. For rest and relaxation, try Wi Spa's salt sauna.

Mexican culture is also strongly rooted in Los Angeles. Near downtown in Boyle Heights stands Mariachi Plaza — currently at the center of a gentrification dispute — where musicians in charro suits have gathered since the 1930s. And of course, there are more amazing eats: The Mariscos Jalisco food truck, serving shrimp tacos, is a must. Mexican wrestling fans can almost always find a show in Los Angeles ( for dates).

Prefer a quiet cup of coffee? Los Angeles is now home to a small trove of artisanal roasters. Local favorites include Handsome Coffee Roasters in downtown's Arts District, and Intelligentsia in Silver Lake, alongside a string of boutiques.

Finally, no trip to LA would be complete without a hike. Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon are near the city's center but feel a world away.



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