Los Angeles
  Los Angeles

Downtown L.A.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has three buildings: MOCA Grand Avenue (250 S. Grand Ave.,), the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 N. Central Ave.) and the Pacific Design Center (8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood).

Still under construction, the L.A. Live (tel.213-763-5483, www.lalive.com) entertainment complex will occupy the southern part of downtown L.A.. The first building to be completed was the Nokia Theatre (www.nokiatheatrelalive.com). The Staples Center (www.staplescenter.com) is home to the professional hockey and basketball teams of Los Angeles.

Hollywood Boulevard is constantly teeming with tourists from the world over. Easily visited on foot, the heart of Hollywood Boulevard is at the corner of Highland Avenue, and its main attractions can all be found along a 1.5km stretch running between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street.

West Hollywood
With its varied and often funky shopping opportunities and its eclectic selection of hotels, restaurants, cafés and night spots, West Hollywood is regarded as one of L.A.'s hipper areas. It is also the main centre of the gay and lesbian social scene.

The breadth and the depth of the collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd., three blocks east of Fairfax Ave., tel.323-857-6000, www.lacma.org) are impressive by any standard. The museum has set itself the ambitious aim of presenting the art of all major cultures from the ancient world to present times.

The Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr., route 405, Getty Center Drive Exit, tel.310-440-7300, www.getty.edu), which has been the talk of the art world for years, is one of the most lavish and richly endowed museums ever built.

Santa Monica
Santa Monica is best known for the Santa Monica State Beach, which runs along a linear park lined with palm trees, and the long, bustling Santa Monica Pier. The Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica is one of North America's liveliest pedestrian-only streets.

The Ocean Front Walk is one of the zaniest, most effervescent, most kaleidoscopic, and most carnivalesque spots in all of North America. Running alongside Venice Beach (www.venicebeach.com), this delightfully loopy pedestrian thoroughfare is a scene unto itself.

Pasadena and Surroundings
The Norton Simon Museum (411 W. Colorado Blvd., tel. 626-449-6840, www.nortonsimon.org) is named for a food-processing magnate and arts benefactor whose personal collection of works by Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne and several of the Old Masters makes up an important part of the museum's permanent collection.

San Marino, located directly south of Pasadena, is home to the fabulous Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Rd., near Huntington Dr., tel. 626-405-2100, www.huntington.org). The library, art collections and gardens are set on an 84ha former ranch that was once owned by railway magnate Henry E. Huntington, an avid collector of books and art.

Universal City
Universal Studios Hollywood (off Hollywood Freeway 107, Universal Center Dr. Exit, tel.818-622-3801, www.universalstudioshollywood.com) is one of the world's most popular tourist attractions. Situated on the grounds of the world's largest movie and television studio, it features simulations and rides inspired by many of Universal's hit films.

Orange County
Of course, Anaheim is, above all, best known for the Disneyland Resort (1313 S. Disneyland Dr., tel.714-520-5060, http://disneyland.disney.go.com), which includes two distinct theme parks (Disneyland Park, for children, and Disney's California Adventure, for teens), three hotels and Downtown Disney, which features shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and a movie theatre.

Just south of Anaheim, in nearby Garden Grove, the 3,000-seat Crystal Cathedral (13280 Chapman Ave., tel.714-971-4013) is an incredible sight to behold. Designed by architect Philip Johnson, this fascinating structure features over 10,000 panes of mirrored glass that shine brilliantly in the California sun.

Santa Ana's Discovery Science Center (2500 N. Main St., tel.714-542-2823, www.discoverycube.org) teaches kids and teens that learning can actually be quite entertaining. Its interactive exhibits highlight everything from the principles of flight and space exploration to human performance and perception.

Laguna Beach is a small, eclectic town and the heart of the artistic community on Southern California's coast. An artist's colony was established here amidst the 30 white-sand beaches and bays of Laguna Beach in 1917.

The Mission San Juan Capistrano (26801 Ortega Hwy., corner Camino Capistrano, tel.949-234-1300, www.missionsjc.com) is located in the town of the same name, just east of Dana Point. Founded in 1776, the mission hosts the small Serra Chapel, the oldest building in California.