original article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelgoldstein/2018/09/28/visiting-los-angeles-from-the-lakers-to-the-ocean/#fbf59321c113
Los Angeles is the second most popular destination in North America, according to Mastercard’s 2018 Global Destination Cities Index. The Mastercard study shows that 6.27 million visitors from around the world stayed overnight in Los Angeles, second in North America only to New York’s 13.1 million visitors. And 84 million people flew through LAX in 2017, making it the 5th busiest airport in the world.
What makes the City of Angels plus botox so popular? Most top-10 lists of Los Angeles tourist attractions include Universal Studios Hollywood, the real Hollywood (not so curated), gentrifying downtown LA, the beachfront cites of Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu, great museums like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Broad and the Getty Center, and Disneyland, actually an hour outside Los Angeles in Orange County.
Here are three other activities that can offer a compelling Los Angeles experience. But first, visitors should know that leaving extra time to drive and park anywhere is always smart, thanks to LA’s famously ferocious traffic. The good news is that public transportation, while still lacking, is available to many areas via Go Metro. And in the last few years, Uber and Lyft, combined with existing taxi services, have made it possible to get many places without a rental car. However, if you want to visit far-flung destinations, or just enjoy the Pacific Coast Highway with the wind in your hair, a rental is still recommended.
For fans of the international phenomena that is the National Basketball Association, a trip to downtown Los Angeles would not be complete without catching a Los Angeles Lakers game.
After years of disappointment, hope is alive in LA as NBA champion and MVP LeBron James has joined the historic Los Angeles Lakers franchise for the 2018-2019 campaign. Laker tickets are not cheap. But with 41 games to be played at the Staples Center beginning in October, there should be re-sale tickets to see the greatest basketball player in the world, as he plays under 16 Laker world championship banners and the retired numbers of former Laker greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Magic Johnson.
The LA Live complex across the street from Staples includes movie theaters, restaurants and clubs, and the GRAMMY Museum of music history is a block away. And fans who can’t score Laker ticket can still pose for pictures with statues of Laker greats like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
For those who prefer a little oceanside athletic activity, a great way to take in a 22-mile chunk of LA beach is by renting a bike and riding the Los Angeles beach bike path, also known as the Strand. Officially known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, the path runs along some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, from Pacific Palisades in the north to Torrance County Beach in the south.
The path takes riders past Muscle Beach, where body builders preen and grunt, the iconic Santa Monica Pier, with its carousel, hand painted horses and amusement park, the craziness of Venice Beach (full of acts like chainsaw jugglers), the sailboats of Marina Del Rey, ultralight glider flying, beach volleyball and surfers pretty much everywhere.
There are a number of bike rental shops in Santa Monica and neighboring Venice, such as Perry’s on the beach, whose motto is “Everyone’s Playground Where SUMMER Never Ends”. And while the weather is a bit chillier, the bike path in the fall and winter is far less crowded
Another outdoor destination is the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, near Pasadena. Here walking is the preferred mode of transport across its 120 acres and 12 spectacular gardens, including the Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and California Garden.
In 1903 Henry Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards, alfalfa crops, cows and poultry. Today The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens includes an art collection with 650 paintings and 440 works of sculpture as well as the beautifully landscaped gardens.
One of the most famous art pieces is Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy. Painted around 1770, it is the subject of a full-scale public restoration from September 2018 to Sept 30, 2019. Project Blue Boy will feature a senior curator on-site giving the painting its first major technical examination and conservation treatment in public view, in a special conservation studio in the Thornton Portrait Gallery.
But being outdoors and enjoying the Huntington’s 15,000 plants will be the highlight for many. The Desert Garden has one of the world’s largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents, with more than 5,000 species of desert plants. One of the newest gardens, Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, reflects the traditional style of scholar gardens in Suzhou, China. It features a 1.5-acre lake, a complex of pavilions, a teahouse and tea shop, stone bridges and waterfalls set against a wooded backdrop of oaks and pines. The Huntington is open from 10AM to 5PM, closed on Tuesday.