Photos: Los Angeles: City of Angels

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  1. Los Angeles has a stunning and recognizable skyline and is a great spot to see Hollywood's A-listers, but is also known for sprawl and smog. L.A. is home to nearly 10 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2008 figures). (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. The East Pavilion at the Getty Center is pictured in L.A. "The J. Paul Getty Museum seeks to further knowledge of the visual arts and to nurture critical seeing by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting works of art of the highest quality," according to The Getty's Web site. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Venice Beach has the boardwalk, Muscle Beach, volleyball courts, a bike trail and many other attractions that have been luring people for decades. "Venice has always been known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic," boasts venicebeach.com. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. If you're a nut about pumping iron, you'll want to one very specific part of Venice Beach. "Muscle Beach is a special area where fanatic bodybuilders pump iron in a public show of strength," according to L.A.'s Department of Recreation & Parks. This photo shows Larry Pollock striking a pose in the finals of the annual Venice Classic bodybuilding competition at Venice Beach back in 2003. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Two women walk past businesses that cater to high-end luxury item consumers along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. "The famed shopping street is known throughout the world as the epicenter of luxury fashion," claims Rodeo Drive's official Web site. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Looking for stars in L.A.? You need not look beyond The Griffith Observatory. OK, maybe these aren't the stars you had in mind, but the observatory overlooks Los Angeles from atop the Hollywood Hills. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland is the centerpiece of Fantasyland, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. (Paul Hiffmeyer for Disneyland) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Visitors raft through realistic looking hot springs and geysers on the ''Grizzly River Rapids'' ride at Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Calif. The 55-acre park next to Disneyland is based on California themes, and opened to the public in 2001. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A Cownose Ray glides past as divers feed tropical fish in the Tropical Pacific Gallery at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The Aquarium features a shark lagoon and three main viewing galleries where visitors can learn about ocean issues and conservation. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A simulated "Jaws" shark attack is just one of the attractions that draws in visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood. Park rides include Revenge of the Mummy, Shrek 4-D, Jurassic Park, The Blues Brother, The Simpsons, and more. (Universal Studios) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. The Hollywood Sign was refurbished in 2005. The sign is one of the better-known landmarks in America, and sits atop Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains. (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is best known for the Oscars, an annual telecast set to run for the 82nd time. "More than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema" make up the Academy's membership, according to oscars.org. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. The Galleria Studio Hollywood sells merchandise along the Walk of Fame, where Hollywood's icons are immortalized. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Stars have left their hand and foot prints in concrete for more than eight decades at the original Graumans Chinese Theatre forecourt. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Dodger Stadium, opened in 1962, has seen more than 125 million fans come through its gates. Baseball fans can purchase a famed Dodger Dog and a beer, soak up some sun, take in a breathtaking view of downtown L.A., look for celebrities -- oh, and watch America's favorite pasttime. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. The Museum of Contemporary Art houses more than 500 pieces of art created by more than 200 artists. MOCA was founded in 1979 and "is the only museum in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to contemporary art," its Web site says. (Ted Thai / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Image) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Visitors to Olvera Street can stroll around the marketplace and shop for Mexican-inspired souvenirs. On weekends, revelers can enjoy entertainment by roaming musicans, Mariachi bands and performances by Aztec Indians. (L.A. Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. The 2,265-seat Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is clad with more than 6,000 steel panels. The hall is home to the Music Center of Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. (David McNew / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The Farmers Market started in July of 1934 when some farmers pulled their trucks onto some empty land known as Gilmore Island. The farmers displayed their wares, and customers came, parked, strolled around and purchased fruit, vegetables and other goods. "The atmosphere was casual, the open air commerce enticing, the goods fresh, and the result remarkable," farmersmarketla.com claims. "Farmers Market became an instant institution." (Farmers Market) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. This diorama of a mastodon trapped in the La Brea Tar Pits is featured at the Page Museum. "Rancho La Brea is one of the world's most famous fossil localities, recognized for having the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world," the Page Museum's Web site claims. (David Peevers / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A surfer heads toward the water at Laguna Beach in Orange County, Calif. The state's myriad beaches draw a large number of tourists and surfers from across the country. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. The $1.5 million solar-powered ferris wheel runs at Pacific Park amusement park on the Santa Monic Pier. Even with its 160,000 lights, the ride is 75 percent more energy efficient than the Pacific Wheel -- the ride it replaced -- which was auctioned off on eBay for $132,400. (Andrew Gombert / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Music Director Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 3, 2009, in Hollywood. The Philharmonic regularly performs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Mathew Imaging / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Manhattan Beach is located about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles, and features more than 2 miles of beach front, 40 acres of recreational beach area. The scenic 928-foot-long pier at the end of Manhattan Beach is easily recognizable, and fishing is permitted all year long. (Richard Cummins / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 8/28/2008 9:56:55 AM ET 2008-08-28T13:56:55

"L.A. is fascinating. There's a feeling of unlimited possibility and an endless supply of hope. And you can't underestimate the power of sunshine." — Cindy Guidry

Cindy Guidry, an L.A. resident for 18 years, is adapting her book, "The Last Single Woman in America", into a pilot for HBO.

People don't walk much in L.A., but as long as I have legs and they work, I'm going to use 'em. West Third Street is less trendy than Robertson Boulevard, but it still has tons of shops. My friends and I will pop into Little Next Door for breakfast or lunch (8142 W. Third St., 323/951-1010, thelittledoor.com), or into Tasca, a cozy wine bar, if it's dinnertime. The arancini with truffle sauce is a must-have (8108 W. Third St., 323/951-9890, tascawinebar.com). Melrose Avenue, west of Fairfax, has bigger names than Third—like Marc Jacobs, Theory, and Antik Denim. And at the end of the rainbow: my favorite restaurant, Lucques. The owner and chef, Suzanne Goin, has forever changed the way I feel about brussels sprouts (8474 Melrose Ave., 323/655-6277, lucques.com).

Bargainsla.com has a comprehensive list of all things bargain-related—and because of it, I'm now obsessed with Archipelago Botanicals' annual sale. Last year, I got $1,000 worth of candles for $100! (Speaking of useful Web sites, julib.com and dailycandy.com are great for scouting out sales and other happenings around town.)

The Farmer's Daughter Hotel is a converted motel next to the old Farmers Market. It's inexpensive, but I also recommend it because it's within walking distance of my apartment (115 S. Fairfax Ave., 323/937-3930, farmersdaughterhotel.com).

One of the best things about this city is that outdoor activities are possible most of the year. If I've got a tennis-playing friend visiting, we're hitting the La Cienega Tennis Center. The courts are $6 to $10 an hour and lighted (325 S. La Cienega Blvd., 310/550-4767). If not, we're going hiking. Runyon Canyon is an easy hike with potential for star spotting. You can hop off the trail and stroll along Outpost Drive, through a fairly celeb-heavy neighborhood. I once almost ran over a jogging Ben Stiller.

For a great massage, I go to Pho-Siam Thai Spa in Echo Park, where a Thai woman walks on your back. It's totally relaxing, and an hour is only $40 (1525 Pizarro St., 213/484-8484, phosiam.com). You don't get all oily, so afterward you can head straight to Sgt. Recruiter. It's what a bar should be, as far as I'm concerned (4655 Hollywood Blvd., 323/669-3922).

You can often catch a band for free at Amoeba Music. But I would've been wise to bring binoculars during my recent attempt to see Flight of the Conchords (6400 Sunset Blvd., 323/245-6400, amoeba.com). Other music venues worth checking out are The Hotel Café (1623½ N. Cahuenga, hotelcafe.com) and The Orpheum Theatre (842 S. Broadway, 877/677-4386, laorpheum.com).

For me, the Santa Monica Pier remains somewhat magical. And I always enjoy Big Dean's Oceanfront Cafe, a boisterous bar on the boardwalk (1615 Ocean Front Walk, 310/393-2666, bigdeansoceanfrontcafe.com). Venice Beach's vibe is more sophisticated. Stroll by the canals and then venture over to Abbot Kinney, a street that's like one big get-together.

Every visitor to L.A. expects to see someone famous. You're almost guaranteed to spot a celeb while having a drink in the courtyard of the Chateau Marmont. But watch out! The hotel adds an 18 percent gratuity to the check (8221 W. Sunset Blvd., 323/656-1010, chateaumarmont.com). And you can often catch one at the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills (300 S. Doheny Dr., 310/273-2222, fourseasons.com). I like to go there the night after the Oscars, when non-winners are consoling themselves. At either spot, walk in like you own it. In L.A., princes dress like paupers, and vice versa, so it's all about the attitude.

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