While the golden age of Los Angeles may be long gone, the city continues to attract visitors from around the world in droves, anxious to see this giant sprawling metropolis’ many iconic buildings, landmarks and cultural icons. One of the largest cities in the world, full of 20th-century history, you could spend a lifetime in Los Angeles and never see it all. To make things easier, below are some of the must-see buildings and landmarks and some of the must-do activities while in L.A.
Los Angeles, and California in general, has long been known as one of the cannabis capitals of the world, and without a doubt North America. LA has seemed to always lead the way when it has come to acceptance and then full legalization of marijuana and that cannabis culture still thrives to this day.
There are myriad dispensaries throughout the city to shop at as you make your way around and see the sights. It is entirely legal to buy and sell cannabis in California, so you can enjoy the plant during your trip stress-free. There are rules and regulations regarding where you can and cannot smoke cannabis, however, so keep them in mind before deciding to light up.
The Capitol Records Building
The Capitol Records Building is situated near Hollywood and Vine and was designed by the architect Welton Becket in 1956. As the myth goes, it was created to resemble a stack of 45 vinyl records but that has since been disproven by the architect himself. It has always been and continues to be one of the city’s most prominent architectural features and one of the defining LA buildings. If you keep your eye on the tower at night, a blinking light at the top signals out “Hollywood” using morse code.
While you aren’t allowed to visit or wander around the building unless you have official business with one of the tenants, there are plenty of great photo opportunities from Vine Street.
Pacific Design Center
This series of buildings, built across 14 acres of campus, was designed by Cesar Pelli and was constructed over two decades. The first blue building was inaugurated in 1975 with the subsequent red building only just opening in 2012.
The buildings are home to an interior design school, which uses some of the building space as a showcase, but they also feature public galleries and a large number of public art exhibitions. You are allowed to photograph the exterior of the buildings and the surrounding campus, but snapping photos inside is prohibited. You can also visit the free Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Bradbury Building
From the outside, the unassuming brick exterior of the Bradbury Building does not suggest an exquisite and opulent interior. For this reason, the Bradbury Building is not one you can really appreciate without stepping inside. The walls, stairways and floor space are filled and adorned with beautifully hand-carved wood and hand-wrought iron that receive natural light from the atrium above.
This building was originally designed by Sumner Hunt and then added to by his draftsmen George Wyman as a vanity piece for gold tycoon Lewis L. Bradbury. It is now the oldest surviving commercial building in downtown Los Angeles and a testament to California’s gold rush beginnings.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is one of those design landmarks in Los Angeles that is impossible to miss and shouldn’t be missed. Made to look like a ship with sails unfurled, you can actually climb all over this brilliant piece of architecture and get the perfect photo-op.
You can either explore the interior of the concert hall on your own or take a free tour but, either way, this is one of those buildings that give Los Angeles its reputation for magic and wonder.
Los Angeles is one of those global cities whose reputation precedes it in every way. In a sense, visiting Los Angeles can be a bit surreal because it is one of those places that feature so prominently in the global popular imagination that it can be hard to see many of its iconic features and landmarks as truly real and not the stuff of movie sets. But LA is so much more than entertainment. If you are planning a trip to Los Angeles and are interested in seeing the best of its endless design and architectural marvels, you should not miss the above sites and buildings.