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Los Angeles

A city in southern California.

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Los Angeles tourism -- a few cautionary notes

  • Apr 7, 2000
  • by
Pros: Well, er, it is Los Angeles. Plus it has ME!

Cons: A city of price gougers and sub-literate jerks is not a great place to visit

The first part of any Los Angeles tourist write-up should be "Do not go to LAX." Fly into Burbank's airport, which is quick and clean and efficient. LAX is horrible. There is at least one other review here bearing witness to this Burbank-LAX phenomenon; seek it out so I don't have to repeat it.

I'm not a great fan of Los Angeles, which is why I live just far enough outside of it to stay sane, but the real disgust surfaces when friends visit.

Unless you have a friend here, or a genuine sort of morbid interest in celebrity stupidity, spend your vacation dollar elsewhere. The beaches are nice, but that interest would be better served by just about any other (read: cheaper) coastal city. The museums are passable for a city of its size, but that's about it -- cultural sight-seers would be better served by New York, DC, or places outside of the United States. Families will find the general filth and crime of the city somewhat trying. Younger folk will be disgusted to find that "going out" means rude people, high prices, and a surprisingly unpleasant time while crammed in among the breast implants.

I don't mean to be quite this down on the city, but the disturbing fact is that it is generally a bad deal for the tourist who wants to see "Los Angeles."

To wit:

Hollywood is a disaster. Most people want to at least see it. We go. It's filthy. The novelty of checking out stars on sidewalks and hand-prints in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre are fleeting, and illusions are shattered left and right when the glitz turns out to be not much more than a lot of remarkably tacky t-shirt stores. As if that wasn't bad enough, Hollywood is starting to "gentrify" -- and can be counted on to go the route of Times Square in NYC as far as Disneyization goes. In the interim, the prostitution crossed with mouse ears has been enough to repel everyone who's insisted on being checking it out. (Average time spent exploring "Hollywood" after guest discovers true nature of it: twenty-two minutes)

Attractions like "Universal Citywalk" and the like are self-serving advertisements, not attractions. Nobody who has ever lived in or visited a town with a population greater than 50,000 will find anything impressive in the shabby Universal (etc) offerings: like the "Hard Rock Cafe" and "Planet Hollywood" type of "attraction," the "Citywalk" is little more than a very large store...

...with bad items. Shopping in Los Angeles is a trial for all but the terminally well-heeled and stupid: Beverly Hills loses its lustre about as quickly as Hollywood. It is interesting excess, to be sure, but the extravagance wears thin when crossed with the mainstream (massive Nike and Tommy Hilfiger stores, &c), and nobody enjoys the window shopping when it becomes apparent that (a) the hoi polloi (you) does not get to go "upstairs" in the swanky stores, and (b) there is nowhere to pee or eat. At some point 90210 makes Hollywood look good, since, well, at least Hollywood has some normal amenities like...McDonald's.

The younger cousin to Beverly Hills is undoubtedly the Sunset "strip," littered with trendy stores, trendy bars, trendy hotels, trendy -- you get the idea. Bring a credit card with a very large balance, and be prepared for a trying attitude in many places. (Don't forget to leave with a nasty feeling that you could've found the same things, only better and cheaper, just about anywhere and everywhere else.) A real lesson in "one celebrity owner does not an attraction make."

Finally, there is the strange phenomenon of tourists (and I include dear friends in this group, yes) believing that locals regularly take off for a fun-filled day at anywhere from Disneyland to Tijuana, or any of the other attractions that are not located in Los Angeles. A trip to Knott's Berry Farm or similar is a bit of an undertaking, an expensive undertaking that you need to get up early in the morning for, not somewhere you decide to visit on a whim in the afternoon. If you want to visit Disneyland, visit Disneyland -- not Los Angeles. It's difficult to combine the two.

Day (or more likely, at least two-day) tripping is both possible and pleasurable, and, well, therein lies the rub. It has ended up being more entertaining to haul guests off in any possible direction -- San Diego, Las Vegas, even as far off as San Francisco -- rather than trying to entertain them in the sprawling mess that is Los Angeles.

The other options seem to be limited to private parties -- Universal Studios has fun places providing you have been invited into the inner sanctums, like most of the rest of Los Angeles -- and staying out of Los Angeles proper. The best Indian food I've found -- after some amazingly disgusting experiences with Angeleno attempts at same -- is in Pasadena. Disturbingly entertaining haunts are tucked away in curious little neighbourhoods not mentioned in any tourist book. A very small number of tourist areas are entertaining for some age groups: I am now fond of hauling people off to the garment district, despite the trauma inflicted on the more sensitive by having to drag them through a very serious skid row to get there and back.

In sum: don't expect what you've seen in "Beverly Hills, 90210," or any other show (with the possible exception of documentaries hailed by critics as "gritty"). Put it at the bottom of your places-to-visit list unless you have friends there who will both show you where to go and rescue you from bad hotels (at both ends of the price spectrum). If you want to see urban U.S. of A., go to New York City. If Knott's Berry Farm beckons, fly into Orange County and stay there for the duration of your trip. If you want to see how the other half lives, invest wisely.

And now the genuinely depressing part of this Epinion: it was inspired by finding out that another friend is about to show up. He is undoubtedly reading this review and hanging his head thinking "Sheesh, she could have just TOLD me not to come." I've been sitting here stewing around thinking of what to do with him while he's here, hence the write-up, and he should be flattered. He will also probably be hauled out of Los Angeles, to Catalina Island or some such.


Angeles National Forest

Drinker's Intro to Los Angeles



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K. Mennie ()
Member Since: Oct 27, 2010
Last Login: Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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Los Angeles is home to just under 4 million people, making it the 2nd largest city in the United States. It was founded in 1781 and its surrounding metro area is home to people from hundreds of ethnic groups. Today, Los Angeles is home to some of the richest and poorest people in the country and continues to attract thousands of new residents every year.
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