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Los Angeles: Academy Awards, Art, Culture & Cuisine
Glamour. Glitz. It’s that time of year: Oscar’s big night.
The Academy Awards takes place on Sunday, February 24. It always attracts a glittery crowd to Hollywood and Los Angeles. But the red carpet outside of The Dolby Theatre is not the only haute spot in town that’s sparkling this week.
The second most populous city in the United States, Los Angeles, is a treasure map jam-packed with gem-worthy neighborhoods offering the best in art, culture and cuisine, and its downtown core is seeing a big renaissance especially around the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Here are other Los Angeles high culture and celebrity-friendly highlights perfect for travelers looking to see and be seen in the city where there are as many stars on the streets as there are in the sky.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
LACMA is at the pinnacle of art museums in the western United States—and the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago—attracting nearly one million visitors annually. It holds more than 150,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present that’s divided among its numerous departments by region, media, and time period and are spread amongst various museum buildings. Current exhibits include the work of such diverse artists as filmmaker Stanley Kubrick (which also inspired the film repertory series, "Naked City: New York Noir and Neorealism," which is currently playing at LACMA's Bing Theater), photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as well as work from the museums vaults via “Lost Line: Contemporary Art From The Collection.”
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Downtown Los Angeles most adventurous art museum (led by controversial former New York gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch) MOCA features the work of contemporary visual artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Rothko, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg and many more artists you could never afford to own. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA was originally designed as a temporary space for MOCA during renovations. But now this 55,000-square-foot facility is considered one of the most innovative and important art museums in Los Angeles. Named for famed art collector, movie and music mogul David Geffen it gives enormous latitude to artists and is typically used to display more recent works, often by lesser-known artists, or works which require a large amount of space.
California Science Center
The West Coast’s largest hands-on science center, a visit to this experiential space is a must for those who want to have fun as well as expand their world, and other worlds, view. A recent addition to the center—which includes the thrilling IMAX Theater and the Air and Space Exhibit—is The Space Shuttle Endeavor exhibit. It’s also free, but due to popular demand advance, timed tickets are required, and a $2 per ticket service fee applies.
Located in Brentwood, and overlooking the California coastline as well as the L.A. skyline, the Getty Center offers incomparable views to both Los Angeles and an art collection that includes pre-20th Century European paintings, 19th and 20th Century contemporary photographs and an array of decorative arts. A visit to the Getty is not complete with a visit to the surrounding terraces that encircle the center and are dotted with outdoor sculpture gardens.
Dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria, the Getty Villa is located in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Malibu. Designed for oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, the space was inspired by the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum and incorporates several additional details from ancient Greek sites. The collection has 44,000 Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD; among them is “Victorious Youth,” one of few life-size Greek bronze statues to have survived to modern times.
100-plus years of Hollywood stardom is showcased at this tribute to the film and television industry. Over 10,000 treasures—from Max Factor’s world-famous make-up galleries to the ominous jail cell that “housed” Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs”—this flash-bulb worthy tribute to the world of movie make-believe is a must for anyone who wants to see Hollywood up close and personal. Hollywood Museum is included in your Hollywood CityPASS.
Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Why should movie stars have all the fun? This behind-the-scenes tour, included in your Hollywood CityPASS, takes you directly to the sites of big-time film premieres, as well as the hallow grounds of both The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famed TCL Chinese Theater where celebs footsteps are immortalized in cement. Although the Dolby Theatre at this time is unavailable for tours (that’s where crews are currently setting up for this week’s Academy Awards), there are plenty of other must-see stops including a peek at the world-famous Hollywood sign overlooking the city.
Currently on everyone’s “hot spot” list this former West Hollywood hardware store attract foodies from all over the city for its innovative cuisine and inspired cocktail list. Don't be fooled by the small front. When you enter, the host takes you past this small area (perfect for people watching) and into an expansive, beautifully designed interior. It’s a little pricey, but well worth it, especially if you are sharing plates.
Located in Los Angeles thriving downtown quarter, this little spot is just around the corner from Chef Josef Centeno buzzy and always busy Baco Mercat. Inspired by the women in Chef’s Centeno family, Bar Ama’s simple and unpretentious Latin-themed dishes are elevated in such a way that you feel like you're eating at a very fancy restaurant. The pork barbacoa puffy tacos are a must, and the grilled items, like the banana leaf wrapped rabbit leg, are incredibly tasty too.
This is the place you want to go—that is if you can secure a reservation—if you want to see and be seen with glittering celebs like Beyonce or George Clooney. Why Gelina can draw both celebs and foodies is in large part due to its flawless melding of top-notch dining with the laid back vibe that is Venice. Not for those who expect to be “left alone,” at Gelina sit at one of their large wood tables, or sit on the outdoor patio and order food to share.
The Black Cat
Originally a gay bar named The Black Cat Tavern, it became many other bars over the years, but the new owners (who own The Village Idiot on Melrose) wanted to keep its colorful history so they restored the building's original name, completely renovated the inside yet kept the design true to the period (it has a bit of a British drinking hall vibe). At The Black Cat classic cocktails mingle with gastropub favorites such as steak frites and pork chops. Weekend brunch is available too. Bloody Mary’s anyone?