Los Angeles and Orange County
With icons like Hollywood, Disneyland, and Malibu, Los Angeles and Orange County together form the California that rest of the world envisions. It’s true that palm trees line sunny boulevards and the Pacific Ocean starts to warm to a swimmable temperature here—and that traffic is always a mess. But celebrities don’t crowd every sidewalk signing autographs and movies aren’t filming on every corner.
Instead, L.A. combines the glitz, crowds, and speed of the big city with an easier, friendlier feel in its suburbs. A soft haze often envelops the warm beaches, which draw lightly clad crowds vying to see and be seen while children play in the water.
Power shoppers pound the sparkling pavement lining the ultra-urban city streets. Tourists can catch a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, try their feet on a surfboard at Huntington Beach, and ogle the relics of the La Brea Tar Pits.
For visitors who want a deeper look into the Los Angeles Basin, excellent museums dot the landscape, as do theaters, comedy clubs, and live music venues. L.A. boasts the best nightlife in California, with options that appeal to star-watchers, hard-core dancers, and cutting-edge music lovers alike.
Out in the O.C., as Orange County is referred to, lies the single most recognizable tourist attraction in California: Disneyland. Even the most jaded native residents tend to soften at the bright colors, cheerful music, sweet smells, and sense of fun that permeate the House of Mouse. Orange County visitors also find scenic, sun-swept beaches with lots of great activities, state and national parks, and Knott’s Berry Farm (the other O.C. amusement park).
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition