Christine Armario, The Associated Press, March 5, 2015
LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.
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.
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.
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 metro.net). 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 roaminghunger.com/la.
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 (Facebook.com/Luchaconnection 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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This article was written by Christine Armario from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.