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EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do

EXCLUSIVE | Los Angeles: What to See & Do

The big news at Los Angeles County Museum of Art ("LACMA," 5905 Wilshire Blvd; 323-857-6000) is the February 2008 opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum ("BCAM") on site. Even before this donation by real estate magnate and philanthropist Eli Broad, LACMA was already the largest museum in the western U.S., with far-reaching collections, particularly in furniture and costumes and its serene the Japanese Pavilion. Temporary exhibits are usually "blockbuster" in nature, but well curated.

The J. Paul Getty Museum's Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; 310-440-7300) spectacularly overlooks Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. The old Herculaneum-style Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Highway) shows the famous antiquities collection. Entry to both Getty venues is free, although the Villa requires advance ticketing.

Arata Isoaki's design for the Museum of Contemporary Art ("MOCA", 250 S. Grand Ave, downtown; 213-626-6222) provides expansive backdrops for its impressive permanent collection and changing exhibits. The affiliated MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary (152 N. Central Ave, downtown; 213-626-6222) showcases cutting-edge contemporary art and performance installations in a lofty space renovated by L.A.'s best-known architect, Frank Gehry.

Any child who's seen Ice Age will recognize the cast of characters at the George C. Page Museum (5801 Wilshire Blvd; 323-934-PAGE), an archeological and paleontological museum surrounded by the La Brea Tar Pits, tar pools oozing history and methane gas. Watch your step when touring the grounds: the tar pits are still active, and tar seeps from the lawn and walkways. Careless pedestrians often leave with unintentional souvenirs on their shoes.

L.A.'s newest headline-grabber is the indoor Noah's Ark by architect Moshe Safdie, a fanciful playground pieced together from recycled items including car mats, strainers, bottle caps, and rear-view mirrors. It's inside the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, 310-440-4500), which has interesting exhibits for adults and children about Jewish history and culture.

In the San Fernando Valley, Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Dr, Universal City; 800-UNIVERSAL) has been taking kids of all ages on movie-themed tram tours for generations. New attractions include Shrek 4-D, Fear Factor Live and the Simpsons Ride, opening 2008. You can avoid traffic and save on parking by taking the Red Line subway.

Last but not least, Exposition Park (just southwest of downtown and adjacent to the University of Southern California) offers a number of museums and landscaped parks, including the California Museum of Science and Industry and IMAX Theater (700 State Drive; 213-744-7400), the California African American Museum (213-744-7432) devoted to black history, art and culture, an expansive Rose Garden, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (900 Exposition Blvd., 213-763-DINO).

The Los Angeles Conservancy (213-623-2489) offers a wealth of information for fans of architecture and design, sponsoring tours of L.A.'s unique treasure trove of historical masterpieces. Their "Last Remaining Seats" film series screens classic movies in Downtown L.A.'s historic theater district.

Little known, even to nearby residents, Rudolph Michael Schindler's house at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture L.A. (835 North Kings Rd, West Hollywood; 323-651-1510), completed in June 1922, represents the birthplace of southern Californian modernism. The building's layout blends elements of Japanese architecture and adobe construction. The center offers guided tours, temporary exhibits and a book store.

Tours take place several times daily (Wed-Sun) at the Hollyhock House (Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood; 323-644-6269), which Frank Lloyd Wright designed for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, in the California romanza style, completed in 1923.

Architecture Tours L.A. (323-464-7868; $68+) offers unique access. Tours are organized by neighborhood, as well as a Frank Gehry-themed tour. But this is no "star tour": Laura Massina, who has a master's in architectural history, guides you through two hours of intriguing architecture and history, no less than 50 different sites on each tour.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Related Articles:
Los Angeles: Introduction
Los Angeles: Where to Stay
Los Angeles: Where to Eat
Los Angeles: Where to Play/Meet
Los Angeles: Resources

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