everything you've heard about Los Angeles, because chances are it's an
good or bad, and the truth is probably somewhere in between. Few places
on this planet are as hard to categorize as L.A.--it's too large and diverse.
The city of 3.5 million sprawls across 467 square miles of desert basin,
mountain canyons, and coastal beaches. Outside the city limits, another
6 million people live in 80 incorporated cities within Los Angeles County.
Another 5 million reside in the four surrounding counties.
population of Pacific Islanders in the nation lives here, as well as the
world's third-largest Hispanic population (after Mexico City and Guadalajara).
People from 140 countries speaking 96 different languages call Los Angeles
home. Signs in Spanish, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Armenian, and
Russian are as common in some areas of the city as English signs. What
isn't so well known is that this diversity dates back to the city's beginnings:
Indians, blacks, mestizos, and Spaniards were among the
44 settlers who first arrived from the Mexican provinces of Sonora and
Sinaloa in September 1781.
throughout the region pulled together after the devastating 1994 Northridge
earthquake and two years later, when wildfires raged in Malibu. The cooperation
of Los Angelenos with each other in these times of crisis contradicts
the mass media stereotype of a self-indulgent populace concerned only
about going to the gym and buying expensive gadgets for themselves. And
here's an interesting factoid: Research conducted in 1997 indicated that
Los Angeles residents actually donate money to charity at a rate above
the national average.
a universal symbol of Los Angeles, it's the automobile. Cars and freeways
have been a part of the L.A. image for so long that a driver's license
is seen as something of a birthright. As for
freeways--well, they're really not so bad. They're well-signed and for
travel at times other than rush hour the best route from one end of the
city to the other. But here are a couple tips: Most freeways are known
by a name and a number; for example, the Hollywood (U.S. 101). And depending
on the time of day you're traveling, distance in miles doesn't mean much.
The 10 miles between the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles,
for instance, might take an hour to travel during rush hour but only 20
minutes at other times.
combination of sun, sand, and 72 mi of gorgeous coastline stirs flights
of fancy. It's all here: more than 30 mi of wide beaches, beach towns
from the laid back to the super-chic, and plenty of sunny days to enjoy
it all. The average high temperatures of around 70°F and lows around 56°F
provide year-round opportunities, and average rainfall is only 12 inches,
with virtually all of that during the winter months. Point Dume
and Zuma Beach, north of Malibu, have always been popular with Angelenos
for their pristine water and excellent facilities, but they're a long
drive if you're not hip to L.A. distances. Easily accessible Santa Monica
beaches are always a good bet--though the bay could be
to the south, any town you're in will be the right one for a great beach
experience. Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, the South
Bay's prettiest beach towns, have easygoing lifestyles and plenty to do,
day or night.
Disneyland, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Six Flags
Magic Mountain during our trip, along with a day at Santa Monica Beach.
Los Angeles was a nice place to visit, but I think living there would
be rough. The traffic is bad, smog is worse, and the year-round
sunshine provides little greenspace. The palm-lined streets provide
a tropical feel, however, and the beaches are among the best in the United
States. The beaches also provide great scenery...if you know what
Los Angeles Photos
- Photos from our trips to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Universal Studios,
Santa Monica, Anna's 17th Birthday, the Movieland Wax Museum, Venice Beach,
California Highway 1, and Beverly Hills.