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Photo tour: From the beaches to the hills, see the best of Los Angeles in one day

Photo tour: Los Angeles in one day

Photo tour: From the beaches to the hills, see the best of Los Angeles in one day
Our Los Angeles in one day tour starts when you land at Los Angeles International Airport, and continues through Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and finally, Griffith Observatory.
First stop: Venice Beach, just 6.4 miles from the airport. This is the corner of Windward Avenue and Pacific Avenue.
A painted Venice Beach surfboard.
A multi-color lifeguard station in Venice Beach.
The Venice Beach skate park is a popular spot.
A street performer in Venice Beach.
The Venice Beach mural, as seen from the rooftop of Whisper.com.
Exercising in Venice Beach.
Capturing the street performers on smartphones in Venice Beach.
A La La Land-themed smoke shop.
Eat. Sleep. Beach. Says it all.
A crowded Saturday in Venice Beach.
She'll put your name on rice for $8.
Next stop: Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier.
An overhead shot of the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park from nearby Pacific Palisades.
The Hot Dog Stick stand in Santa Monica. Notice no "on a" here.
Electric scooter riders not obeying the law in Santa Monica.
The Santa Monica Pier.
Walking down to the Santa Monica Pier.
The lights of the pier glisten just after sunset.
A crowded Saturday in Santa Monica.
Santa Monica Beach.
Riding Segways off the Santa Monica Pier.
Next stop: Beverly Hills. The corner of North Beverly Drive and Elevado Avenue in Beverly Hills is just down the street from the fabled Beverly Hills Hotel, and is a popular tourist spot for seeing giant mansions and oversize palm trees.
Beverly Hills is a car-spotter's delight.
The entrance to the historic Beverly Hills Hotel.
The entrance to the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Beverly Hills Hotel.
The Gothic Spanish revival Beverly Hills City Hall, completed in 1932, was designed by architect William Gage.
A big yellow Rolls Royce is parked on Rodeo Drive - and has a ticket for parking too long.
The storefront for the Rodeo Drive Cartier store.
Huge palm trees in Beverly Hills.
Next stop: Hollywood. A gift shop recreates the classic Hollywood sign.
Checking out the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Posing with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The iconic TCL Chinese Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood.
Pose with Oscar.
A costumed Spider-Man performer tries to stop action on Hollywood Boulevard.
The El Capitan Theatre, where Disney movies play and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" is taped.
The Hollywood sign, as seen from Griffith Park.
The back of the Hollywood sign, viewable from a Griffith Park hike.
The Griffith Observatory by day. According to Discover Los Angeles, the observatory is the city's No. 1 tourist attraction.
Close-up of a statue at the Griffith Observatory.
The film "Rebel Without a Cause" was partially filmed at Griffith Observatory. A bust to honor the late actor James Dean is at the observatory, with the iconic Hollywood sign in the background.
The observatory, just after sunset.
Enjoy panoramic views from the side of the observatory.
Taking photos at the Griffith Observatory.
Hike up the road from the observatory to get a good, close-up shot of the building.
The Los Angeles skyline, as seen from a deck at the Griffith Observatory.
Los Angeles skyline at night.
Downtown Los Angeles, after dark.
This shot of the Los Angeles skyline shows the street to stay away from during rush hour - Western Avenue.
The observatory by night, just after sunset, as seen from down the way on a hike, with a 600 mm lens.
Nightfall over Los Angeles, with a full moon peeking through the clouds.
Our L.A. in 1 Day tour

LOS ANGELES — So maybe you're on a one-day layover, or just really pressed for time. Perhaps Disneyland is the main attraction and you only have morning, afternoon and evening to explore Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest city.

So we'll skip downtown, museums, the Sunset Strip and Dodger Stadium or Staples Center. Let's see the highlights of Los Angeles – the beach, the ritzy hotels and shopping district of Beverly Hills, the stars and footprints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and end at the Griffith Observatory for the best city views and a good shot at the Hollywood sign.

It's a long day, but it can be done. Check our photo tour for 55 highlights from the day, which begins at LAX in the morning and ends in the evening with sunset and skyline views.

Tour highlights:

• After landing at LAX, which is on the west side of town, we head 6 miles down the road to Venice Beach, for a stroll through the wild street scene that is Venice. Here you will see the iconic California beach, street performers, silly gift items like henna tattoos and your name written on rice, and wonderful, local art all over basically every building around. If you have time, head from the beach to the Venice Canals, which were created in 1906 by Venice's founder Abbott Kinney, who wanted to re-create Venice, Italy, in Southern California. Note: the area can be seedy, and has more crime than neighboring beach cities so be street-smart when you visit.

• Next up, 2.7 miles away is the tonier, cleaner Santa Monica Beach, which is highlighted by the pier and a fully functional amusement park, Pacific Park. Rides include a roller coaster, Ferris wheel and lots of games. From the pier, there are great views (on a clear day) of Malibu to the north and Venice to the south. Or just walk or rent a bike and enjoy the paved walkway, where you'll probably have to dodge electric scooters, which are all over Santa Monica. End your time here by getting to Wilshire Boulevard.

• Some 7 miles up the road, directly on Wilshire, will bring you to ritzy Beverly Hills. Here, the attractions are ultra-expensive stores on Rodeo Drive (treat the storefront windows like an art show) and historic hotels (the Beverly Wilshire, the Beverly Hills Hotel) which have served as locales in "Pretty Woman," "Argo" and countless other movies. A visit to the Polo Lounge for a drink is a lot less costly than the cheapest room, which starts at $463 nightly. Also check out the huge palm trees on Beverly Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard., which scream "California."

• From the Beverly Hills Hotel and Sunset Boulevard, go east 5.8 miles and you'll get to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We could tell you not to waste your time, as the area can be seedy, ultra-crowded and there's not much to see beyond cement stars of people you probably haven't heard of on the ground. But you'll go there anyway. Most of the action takes place around the TCL Chinese Theatre, where costumed performers, usually in superhero outfits, are ready to pose with you, in exchange for a tip. Posing with Spider-Man is probably as close to a star as you'll get on this trip. ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" tapes across the street at the El Capitan Theatre.

The Hollywood sign on Mount Lee in Los Angeles is one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Los Angeles. In this gallery, Jefferson Graham shows you the sign, as seen from the Mount Lee view, Lake Hollywood Park and the Griffith Park hike that takes you to the back of the Hollywood sign.

• From Sunset, head 4.5 miles east to the Griffith Observatory for the best city views and the closest you'll probably get to a selfie with the Hollywood sign behind you. The sign, the symbol of Los Angeles, is actually quite a ways away, up on Mount Lee, but the observatory has the best posing spot, with the only available parking on a seven-days-a-week basis. (You can get closer in residential neighborhoods, but there's no parking available Saturdays and Sundays.)

That said, parking can be challenging at the observatory as well, especially on weekends. The city recommends dropping the car down the road at the Greek Theatre lot and walking up the hill, or taking public transportation. (There is a parking lot at the observatory, no climbing required, that charges $6 an hour.)

At the observatory, showcased in the recent film "La La Land" as well as the 1956 classic "Rebel Without a Cause," it's all about the views. You can go inside for a space-and-stars show, or just marvel at the city lights and skyline of Los Angeles from 1,100 feet up. And if you're up for it, the observatory is the starting point for the Hollywood sign hike, which is either 2.8 miles away for a frontal view, or just under 4 miles (and uphill most of the way) to get behind the sign, for one killer Los Angeles view.

And that's our one-day tour. The skies are dark now, so it's a good time to roll back down the street and go to dinner, perhaps at a classic, vintage Hollywood establishment like Musso & Frank Grill, which is over 100 years old. You probably won't see stars there, but then you never know. Johnny Depp and the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards have been known to dine there.

Take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard

The $10 store, where everything is $5, invites folks to pose with an Oscar.
A Marilyn Monroe emulator greets fans at the TCL Chinese Theatre.
The scene outside the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame stops at the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman's) where Tinseltown royalty put their hand and footprints in cement.
A Catwoman and Spiderman come face to face on Hollywood Boulevard, where costumed characters work for tips.
Even Catwomen need to eat too. A costumed character waits for her burrito at a Baja Fresh on Hollywood Boulevard.
A pizza salesman with really large pies waits for some business.
Micelli's is said to be Hollywood's oldest Italian restaurant.
A friendly soldier awaits customers at a Hollywood Army/Navy shop.
Director Steven Spielberg's name in cement at the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Michael Jackson's star on Hollywood Boulevard was unveiled in 1984. When Jackson died in 2009, people gathered at the wrong star: the one for a radio personality of the same name.
Details on the front doors of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
The Chinese Theatre marquee.
Spiderman surprises tourists on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Dolby Theater is the home to the Oscars, and sits next to the TCL Chinese Theatre.
The area of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Vine Avenues has fallen on hard times, with many stores closing.
Marilyn Monroe's star on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Hollywood and Highland complex offers three decks of overhead views to look around Hollywood.
The upper deck at Hollywood and Highland has a viewing area to see the Hollywood sign.
A zoom lens will get you way closer to the Hollywood sign than a smartphone camera. Here, Jefferson Graham uses the RX10IV, which has a 24mm-600mm lens.
The way to pose for a photo with the cement hand and footprints is get down and kneel.
Many folks on Hollywood Boulevard look to make a quick buck by putting your name on a black star, momentarily, for $10.
Your name could be here on a Hollywood star.
This actor on Hollywood Boulevard poses for photos, and tips, as a Wookiee from "Star Wars," and is taking a breather.
A statue of Elvis Presley is stationed for folks to pose with at a Hollywood Boulevard souvenir shop.
A mad dinosaur sits atop the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum.
A Hollywood sign to pose with at a wax museum.
The Hollywood Wax Museum poseable postcard.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
A run-down hostel on Hollywod Boulevard, across the street from the TCL Chinese Theatre, and next to a popular liquor store.
The entrance to the Hollywood Hostel.
Tom Hanks' star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Tourists from South Dakota put their hands in the cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
A costumed Batman poses with Jefferson Graham on Hollywood Boulevard, outside the Chinese Theatre.
Marilyn Monroe's handprints outside the TCL Chinese Theatre.
The TCL Chinese Theatre, from across the street.
Elvis welcomes tourists to the 1/2 Hour Photo store.
From glitz on one side of the street to sadness, as homeless men stand and sleep by a tourist taking a photo.
A Hollywood gift shop.
A beggar for weed on Hollywood Boulevard.
One of the statues from Grauman's Egyptian Theatre.
Wigs are everywhere on Hollywood Boulevard.
Inside one of Hollywood's wig shops.
Masks on sale at a Hollywood gift shop.
Hollywood Toys and Costumes has been a fixture of the boulevard for nearly 70 years. Now it mostly sells wigs.
The Hollywood and Vine Metro station.
The historic Capitol Records building on Vine Street, near Hollywood Boulevard.
A sad statement about street life in Hollywood. A local bar notes what's not allowed.
Walking over Hugh Hefner's star.
Tourists posing for photos by the Hollywood stars on Hollywood Boulevard.
A tourist tips a Catwoman for a fun photo.
A Hollywood Boulevard gift shop.
Batman quietly patrols the boulevard as tourists walk by.
Tourists ogling the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
An old, vintage cash register at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood
An old business card for Musso & Frank Grill, which calls itself the oldest restaurant in Hollywood
Musso & Frank has been around so long, it even has a working pay phone, with a rotary dial.
Visitors to Musso & Frank Grill are welcomed with this historic sign
The interior of Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood
A booth for two at Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood
Musso & Frank dishes
Booths at Musso & Frank Grill

90210 in real life: Scenes from Beverly Hills

The corner of N. Beverly Drive and Elevado in Beverly Hills is just down the street from the fabled Beverly Hills Hotel, and is a popular tourist spot for seeing giant mansions and oversize palm trees. Join USA TODAY for a photo tour of the city with the 90210 zip code, home to the wealthiest of wealthy and ritzy Rodeo Drive.
A Rolls Royce seen driving down the streets of Beverly Hills
Rodeo Two is the even glitzier section of Rodeo Drive, the high-rent shopping district in Beverly Hills, and a popular spot for tourists
In the summer, the city of Beverly Hills puts on the BOLDBH event, which keeps Rodeo Drive stores open late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
The entrance to the historic Beverly Hills Hotel.
The gothic spanish revival Beverly Hills city hall, circa 1932, was designed by architect William Gage.
Posing for Selfies on Rodeo Drive.
The iconic Beverly Hills sign welcomes tourists in three locations. This one is by the tourist bureau.
The storefront of the Giorgio Armani shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
The city of Beverly Hills puts on a free fireworks show over local businesses during the BOLD event.
The entrance to the Beverly Hills Hotel.
A big yellow Rolls Royce is parked on Rodeo Drive--and has a parking ticket for parking too long.
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel is a longtime tourist favorite, and was the setting for the hit movie "Pretty Woman," with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
The historic Union 76 gas station is at the corner of Crescent Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard, and according to Los Angeles Conservancy, is "a true icon of Mid-Century Modernism." It was completed in 1965.
A former Beverly Hills post office is now a major new performing arts center
The storefront for the Rodeo Drive Cartier store
Roberto Cavalli store on Rodeo Drive
The clock for the Rodeo Drive Rolex store
The top of the historic Beverly Hills City Hall
The Paey Center for Media in Beverly Hills, home to TV screenings and events.
The BOLD nights on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where in August on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, tores stay open later, restaurants offer specials and streets are often closed to vehicles.
BOLD nights in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive
Western boots on display at the West store off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
The Rolex store on Rodeo Drive at night, in Beverly Hills
The Yves Saint Lauren store on Rodeo Drive
Food trucks feed the masses on BOLD nights in Beverly Hills
Slippers from Dolce & Gabbana
A mannequin in Beverly Hills
The Louis Vutton store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills at night
Live entertainment is on the bill for BOLD nights in Beverly Hills
Fireworks over the Prada store in Bevely Hills on BOLD nights
Watching the fireworks show in Beverly Hills on BOLD nights.
Watching the fireworks show in Beverly Hills on BOLD nights.
Rodeo drive
A yellow Rolls Royce
The Neiman Marcus store in Beverly Hills
A silver statue in Beverly Hills, on Rodeo Drive
The Two Rodeo mini-mall, just off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Two Rodeo Drive
Exterior of the large Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Beverly Wilshire hotel is owned by the Four Seasons chain
Pink mini boots on display at the Beverly Wilshire hotel
Rodeo drive
Wilshire Blvd. crosses Rodeo in Beverly Hills
The Jimmy Choo store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
The Nate 'n Al deli is a Beverly Hills institution.
Scuplture in a Beverly Hills park.
Posing by the #ILoveBeverlyHills sign.
The park on Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills
Big wide Beverly Blvd and those huge palm trees
The Beverly Hills Hotel, off Sunset, in Beverly Hills.
The entrance to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills hotel.
The interior of the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills hotel.
More from the Polo Lounge
The outside of the Beverly Hills hotel
The side entrance to the Beverly Wilshire hotel
Beverly Hills palm trees
James Anderson, the owner of the West store, off Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
James Anderson and customers outside the West store in Beverly Hils.
Beverly Hills at night

Photo tour: The wild street scene that is Venice Beach

The Venice sign in Venice Beach, California.
Street performing in Venice Beach.
A street performed prepares to do a flip in Venice Beach.
A street performer works the crowd in Venice Beach.
Visitors enjoy the show in Venice Beach.
Popcorn for sale on the beach.
The Kettle Korn Corner.
Bikinis for sale.
Posing with a promo Slurpee in Venice Beach.
A street performer does acrobatics in Venice Beach.
Watching the show in Venice Beach.
Vivienne Robinson will put your name on a grain of rice.
Playing music is popular with buskers.
Venice Beach also has a series of canals and bridges.
Ocean view at Venice Beach.
Boardwalk shops in Venice Beach.
Watching over the bikini shop.
A local 7-Elevent type store, underneath Angelica Huston's former home.
A fixture on Ocean Front Walk, Harry Perry has been skating up and down the street, playing guitar and selling T-shirts for decades.
The Venice Canals are a popular place for tourists to visit.
Cycling on the bikeway in Venice Beach.
A local gift store in Venice Beach, named after the recent hit movie.
Crazy sunglasses for sale in Venice Beach, Many tourists come to Venice specifically to buy sunglasses.
Local sunglass shops frown at posing with the merchandise.
Walking along on a summer afternoon.
Watching the skateboarders in Venice Beach.
Watching the skateboarders in Venice Beach.
Walking along Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach, with dog in tow.
Vivianne Robinson will put your name on a grain of rice in Venice Beach.
A street vendor offers poems for $5.
A psychic on the boardwalk offers $10 consultations.
Eveything's for sale on the Ocean Front Walk in Venice Beach.
Walking along the water in Venice Beach.
A giant ice cream cone welcomes visitors to Cairo Cowboy restaurant in Venice Beach.
Odd sunglasses are popular in Venice Beach.
Overhead shot of Windward Avenue in Venice.
The Erwin Hotel has a rooftop bar for food, drinks and views.
The Erwin Hotel has a rooftop bar for food, drink and views.
Muscle Beach in Venice Beach, where boydbuilders work out.
Working out in Muscle Beach.
Trying to learn balance in Muscle Beach.
A skater soars above sunset in the Venice Beach skate park.
Venice Beach is a popular spot to watch West Coast sunsets.
Rushing to catch the surf at sunset.
Watching the post-sunset hues.
The V for Venice sculpture in Venice Beach.
The Venice sign at sunset.
Topic: #los angeles
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