The Los Angeles area has a great variety of places for entertainment, sight-seeing, and recreation. Many of them are within the city; virtually all are within 25 miles (40 km) of the downtown area.
Because of its association with motion pictures and television, Hollywood is of great interest to tourists. Sunset Strip, consisting of some 20 blocks and a plaza on Sunset Boulevard, is a center for restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and night life. At Mann's Chinese Theater, on Hollywood Boulevard, are footprints and other imprints made in concrete by Hollywood stars. The homes of many stars, both past and present, may be seen in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Live television shows are popular attractions at the network studios. Tours are available through the large Universal Studios, in Universal City, where motion pictures and television films are made.
Disneyland, in Anaheim, and Six Flags Magic Mountain, in Valencia, are major amusement parks. In the southeastern suburb of Buena Park is Knott's Berry Farm, with a re-creation of a gold-mining town and various other attractions. Docked in Long Beach is the retired luxury liner Queen Mary, now a floating hotel and convention center. Watts Towers (also called Simon Rodia Towers) consist of eight decorated spires built in Watts by Simon Rodia during a period of 30 years. Other attractions include Farmers Market, Will Rogers' home, and Mount Wilson Observatory.
Griffith Park, consisting of more than 4,100 acres (1,660 hectares) of hilly land, is one of the largest city parks in the nation. Here are the Los Angeles Zoo; Griffith Observatory and Planetarium; Travel Town, a transportation museum; and the Greek Theatre, a performing-arts center. Among the park's recreational facilities are golf courses, picnic grounds, bridle paths, tennis courts, and baseball fields. Other large parks include Elysian Park, Arroyo Seco Park, and Hansen Dam Park.
Outstanding botanical gardens are found in or near Los Angeles. They include the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum, in Arcadia; Descanso Gardens, in La Canada; the sunken rose gardens in Exposition Park; the UCLA Botanic Garden; and the South Coast Botanic Garden, in Palos Verdes Peninsula.
In addition to those of the city parks, other kinds of outdoor recreational facilities are available in the Los Angeles area. Beaches along the coast, such as those at Malibu, Santa Monica, and Manhattan Beach, afford excellent swimming and surfing. The coast also offers many opportunities for fishing, boating, and yachting. Skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts are drawn to the high mountains. Some 20 miles (32 km) away is Santa Catalina Island, a popular year-round resort.
Just north of the Civic Center is the founding site and old Spanish part of the city. It is designated as a state historical monument and called El Pueblo de Los Angeles. It centers around an old Spanish plaza and contains restored buildings dating back to the early 1800's. Among the chief attractions are Our Lady Queen of the Angels Church, or Plaza Church; Olvera Street, with its markets; and Avila Adobe (1818), the oldest house in Los Angeles. Even older are two missions: San Fernando Rey de España (1797), in the San Fernando Valley, and San Gabriel Arcángel (1771), in suburban San Gabriel.