By: Al Bellesteros

Living in Los Angeles provides the opportunity to visit many places which are easy to get to, and, not too expensive. If you live anywhere in the Metropolitan Los Angeles Area, there are wonderful beaches to walk, a wide range of interesting museums to see and a world-class Zoo, The Los Angeles Zoo to explore. If you simply like to walk, West Hollywood and Hollywood Blvd., can be wonder opportunities to people watch, pop into the novelty stores or sit and have a great meal in one of the local restaurants or café’s.  In many of our past issues, we have highlighted several places we like and to this list, we’ve added a couple more.
Walk Hollywood Blvd and Take a Tourist Tour Bus –Walking Hollywood Blvd can be a fun experience.  Seeing all the sidewalk stars and taking photos of your favorite ones can be a cool afternoon.  There are many novelty stores open and several places to grab a quick bite to eat. There are lots of shops and some cheap souvenirs.  If you feel incline, you can take a tour bus to see local landmarks and some stars homes. https://www.hollywoodcitytours.com is a good place to see what is available.  Almost from anywhere in Los Angeles, there are bus routes which take you directly to Hollywood Blvd., including the Metro.

Venice Beach Walk – The famous Venice Beach boardwalk is always full of tourists and locals, with lively music, street art vendors and many different stores. If you like the smell of weed, you’ll love the walk.  This is a good venue to people watch and it also has a good vibe.  Parking can be difficult and can be pricy on the beach.  You may want to park a few blocks away or uber to the Venice Walk. Wear your sunscreen.

West Hollywood – Boy’s Town. The locals say the best times to go and experience the essence of LA’s largest LGBTQ community is early afternoon and into the evenings on the weekends. There are several gay bars, Cantinas and nightclubs along with great restaurants to eat great food.  There are several new clubs in WeHo along with long time favorites.  Parking can be tough and if you’re going to drink, probably best to let Uber or Lyft do the driving.

The Beaches of Southern California – Living in Southern California and the Los Angeles Metropolis affords the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.  Whichever beach you are thinking about visiting, it will be in close travel distance to where you are in So Cal.  Whether its Malibu, Venice, Santa Monica, La Jolla Cove in San Diego, Manhattan State Beach, Coronado, Laguna, Huntington Beach, Hermosa or Arroyo Burro in Santa Barbara.  You’ll find beauty and wonderful walks and shops around the beaches.  Day trips to various beaches is a wonderful way to spend a hot summer day and very affordable on most budgets.  Pack a lunch and beverages in a cooler. Smaller hand carried coolers are easiest to carry.  Remember to wear your sunscreen.

Los Angeles Zoo –– Los Angeles has a world-class zoo and botanical gardens. It is on 133-acres and situated right next to Griffith Park. It is a great vacation day and an opportunity to see elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and the California condor.  Wear your walking shoes and take it all in.  You can also pack a picnic to take with you.  It is best to get tickets in advance and you can do that on their website at (www.lazoo.org)

Descanso Gardens –
https://www.descansogardens.org/ is a 150-acre botanical oasis in La Canada Flintridge, despite being just 20 minutes from downtown L.A., near the intersection of the 210 and 2 freeways. The website lists the flowers in bloom each month and their range includes one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere, a five-acre rose garden, 400 lilacs, tulips, daffodils, irises, and wildflowers. A temple sits in the middle of the Japanese Garden (see photo), and you can walk through the Ancient Forest, which has flora that dinosaurs encountered. Signs explain the history, variety, and uses of each type of flower, plant, and tree. You can go at your own pace wherever you want or sign up for a guided tour. (From June 2022)

Southwest Museum –
https://theautry.org/visit/mt-washington-campus has the second-largest collection of Native American artifacts of any museum in the U.S. (250,000 items). It is on Mount Washington, north of downtown L.A., and free to visit, but with limited hours. One current exhibit recounts the expeditions that brought back items from all over the Western Hemisphere (and you can listen to wax cylinder recordings made of Native songs). Another traces the evolution of Pueblo Indian pottery from ancient times to the work of contemporary artisans (the photo is a 13th century pitcher from the Mongollon culture in New Mexico).  (From April 2022)

California Science Center – https://californiasciencecenter.org/ in Exposition Park at Figueroa St. downtown does a brilliant job of showcasing a wide variety of science issues in a way that is fun and easily understood for kids and adults. There are interactive and hands-on exhibits with live animals on all the different types of environments, from deserts to the arctic (it has a wonderful little aquarium). The giant chart on climate change shows how shockingly warm the planet is compared with the last 800,000 years. There is a model of the Wright Brothers’ first plane and the actual Endeavour space shuttle (with a history of the shuttles and their achievements visually laid out around it). The most mind-blowing experience there, though, is always in its 3-D IMAX theater, no matter the topic.

Museum of Latin American Art-
https://molaa.org/ – We’ll confess that we’re not usually fans of most contemporary art because too many schools teach what galleries have brainwashed customers to believe: they really like talentless crap that could be created by accident by a five-year-old having a bad day. So when we read that MOLAA was the only museum in the Western U.S. that exclusively features modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art, our expectations were low. But we were astounded by the quality and variety of both the permanent collection (1,300 works thus far) and exhibitions (it also recently added a 15,000 sq. ft. sculpture garden). The geometric optimal illusions of Carlos Cruz Diez and the ceramics in the central room were particularly impressive. There is also a notable Celebrating Diversity exhibition, including Afro-Latinx and Mexican-American artists. But the reason to head there ASAP is the retrospective on pioneering Chicana muralist Judy Baca, which was set to end Jan. 31, 2022, though we heard it was being extended to March. She is best-known for her half-mile-long Great Wall of Los Angeles in the Tujunga Wash Flood Control Channel, but there is a multi-media experience of some of her best works and she has other eye-popping pieces, such as When God Was A Woman. (January 1, 2022)

Aquarium of the Pacific –
By far the most important institution to visit is the world-famous aquarium. While being mostly closed during the pandemic, it was significantly upgraded and provides a vivid education for kids of all ages (the visitors guide is not only in Spanish and English, but a number of other languages). It pioneered jellyfish exhibits and the current ones are really jaw-dropping, such as the pure white local sea jellies, others that are mating, and some seem hopelessly entangled. It is especially fun being able to pet the rays and to watch the pure joyous play of seals, sea lions, and otters. Among the 11,000 animals and 500 species are also penguins, sharks, octopuses, truly gigantic crabs, sea turtles, and huge tanks of fish from Baja to the tropics in every hue of luminescent colors (the corals are nearly as vibrant). Be sure to look for the really unusual sea dragons in the Australian Kelp Forest. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours in order to take in the films about sea life and how climate change is impacting the oceans. (January 2022).