The vast sprawl of Los Angeles is a blessing and a curse. With its range of architecture, canals and bridges, it’s hard to know where to start exploring. Here is a short guide of sites around LA you need to see.
In the early 1900s a man named Abbot Kinney had a dream to create the Venice of America, equipped with canals and an Italian town center. Unfortunately, investors of his day did not share his cosmopolitan spirit and Kinney was forced to cut his project short when he was unable to obtain funding. The canals were the only part of his vision to be realized. Over the years many of them have been drained and filled to accommodate the growing auto industry, and the few that were left fell into disrepair. The canals were renovated in 1992 and modern million dollar homes now line the waterfronts. These are especially beautiful at night, when the canals offer respite from the pounding traffic flowing through surrounding streets.
The Bradbury Building is the oldest remaining commercial building in Los Angeles. Even 100 years later, it is easy to see why its opening was so widely celebrated. The floors are made of glazed Mexican tile, the steps are lined with soft red marble, and pine banisters top the ornate cast iron sidings. But the most inspiring aspect of the Victorian architecture is the five-story atrium that runs along the entirety of the building. Businesses have come and gone through the Bradbury, and it now houses the office of the City Treasurer and the Internal Affairs division of the LAPD. This is a must-see place in downtown LA, which will give you a snapshot of the city in its glory days.
The beginning of the Ballona Creek path is at the intersection of Jefferson and National. From beginning to end, the path runs about seven miles and ends at a bridge that will take you to Dockweiler Beach. If you don’t want to travel the entire way, there are plenty of exits and entrances from different streets along the way. It is the most direct way from West LA to the coast, and it’s a great scenic walk that will take you through Culver City and Marina Del Rey. Once you reach the bridge you have a few options: continue straight, farther out into the bay, and walk alongside sailboats and UCLA’s crew team. Or, you can make a left across the bridge and follow the path to Palos Verdes.
Exposition Park is the cultural hub of the city, which has many attractions each with a storied past. As well as the Los Angeles coliseum that dominates the area, the LA Sports Arena and the California Science Center, you can find nestled between all this a seven-acre rose garden. This is home to an estimated 20,000 rose bushes of about 200 varieties. This sunken, floral oasis is a perfect place to take a romantic walk, reflect on a particularly interesting exhibit, or replay that last game-winning drive. Whatever the reason, the rose garden is a place that should not be missed.
Sabato ‘Simon’ Rodia was an Italian immigrant who was determined to build an art piece that brought the community together. He began construction in 1921 and, after decades of working by himself, he completed the Watts Towers in 1955. The original triangle shaped lot has since been parceled off into a small park and amphitheater, and only a fraction of his work remains. Three primary towers are still in place, the tallest of which is close to 10 stories. All are adorned with shells and mosaic of all colors of the rainbow. Above all, it is the structural rhythm of the Towers that draws you in. Guided tours are offered Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.