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Our travel guides are frequently updated. This guide was last updated 1/08. Still, places are bound to have closed or changed since our last update. Use the listed phone numbers to call ahead, and please let us know of any corrections or new places of interest you discover.
Los Angeles is a city of mythic proportions. So perhaps it's fitting that the myths and misconceptions about L.A. are pervasive. You've heard that you can't go anywhere without driving. In fact, even spread-out L.A. has many pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, including the gay areas. You've heard that the air is greenish-orange and impossible to breathe. Kissed by Pacific breezes, however, much of L.A. is blessed with cool, fresh air, even in summer. You've heard that, unlike sophisticated and erudite New York, Angelenos are uniformly dumb. Two words for New Yorkers -- fashion industry.
The old joke says that the difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt has active culture. Perhaps the most significant difference between culture in L.A. and other cities is that in L.A., you have to find it. Because Los Angeles is so horizontal, its many cultural amenities often lie several miles apart. So while other cities throw their tourist attractions at your feet, it can take a little effort to reach the hidden jewels of L.A.
But with more museums per capita than any other North American city, a world-class symphony and opera company, hundreds of cutting-edge art galleries and performance spaces, historical sites dating back hundreds of years, a rich tapestry of diverse ethnicities, live theater productions at dozens of venues every night of the week, the world's best collection of modernist architecture and design, plus real live movie stars, Los Angeles apologizes to no one for its cultural offerings. Fortunately for you, we've taken a lot of the legwork (carwork?) out of discovering L.A.
Beyond culture, L.A. County covers some 4,000 square miles of sun-splashed beaches, verdant canyons, rugged chaparral-covered mountains, glittering skyscrapers, leafy neighborhoods, and more tacky mini-malls than you could ever visit in a lifetime. (You may be surprised to know that some of the city's favorite eateries are found in those tacky mini-malls.)
The city is justly famous for the warm, dry, sunny Mediterranean climate, whose influence is apparent in the relaxed, indoor-outdoor nature of local fashion, architecture, nightlife, dining, and entertainment.
WHEN TO VISIT
There is no best season to visit L.A., though January through March offers your best chance to see that local anomaly known as "rain." "June gloom" occasionally covers the city under a blanket of Pacific fog that doesn't burn off until afternoon, if at all. Even in the hottest months (July through September), nights can be cool and a light jacket or wrap is advisable if you'll be taking in an outdoor concert. In winter, you may want a jacket or sweater all day, and nighttime temperatures often dip into the 40s Fahrenheit (around 4-9? Celsius).
Part One | Part Two