Los Angeles, California

Enjoy this tour of downtown Los Angeles and then some iconic sites in surrounding Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Simi Valley and Yorba Linda. This will be faster than driving in the second largest U.S. metro of 18 million people.

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1 Downtown Skyscrapers and Skyline in Los Angeles, California

With a population of over 18 million people, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the United States, the City of Angels has a surprising modest downtown skyline. Behind the Ritz Carlton and the J.W. Marriot in the center of this photo are the majority of the skyscrapers in the Financial District.

[34.046689, -118.268138]
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2 U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, California

The U.S. Bank Tower, which is commonly still called the Library Tower, has not only dominated LA’s Financial District skyline since it was built in 1989, but its crown at over 1,000 feet qualifies it as the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi.

633 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
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3 Central Library Tiled Pyramid Tower in Los Angeles, California

As the sun sets or rises over the Financial District, see how it lights up this exquisite pyramid tower of the Central Library which was designed by Bertram Goodhue in 1926. Below the gilded “Light of Learning” apex is an elaborate mosaic sun surrounded by vibrant tiles. Also notice the Plato and Dante carvings by sculptor Lee Lawrie.

630 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
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4 Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California

The glass façade of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel reflects its neighboring skyscrapers into a delightful kaleidoscope of narrow shapes and colors that shimmer, twist and mutate. With over 1,300 rooms, this 33 floor, postmodern hotel has been LA’s largest since it was built in 1976.

404 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90071
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5 Downtown Bunker Hill Skyscrapers in Los Angeles, California

These four skyscrapers face off against each in the Bunker Hill district of downtown Los Angeles. On top are the KPMG Tower and the Wells Fargo Tower which were built in 1983 and are connected by an atrium. Across Grand Avenue are sibling buildings called One and Two California Plaza. They were built in 1985 and 1992 respectively and share a courtyard.

350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
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6 Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California

The stainless steel panels on the Walt Disney Concert Hall resemble giant, billowing sails that change hues to match the sky above. This beautiful home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is nicknamed LA Phil, was built in 2003. Lillian Disney and The Walt Disney Company were the primary benefactors.

111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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7 Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Music Center consists of four buildings for the performing arts. The oldest is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. It was built in 1964 for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale but it also hosted twenty Academy Award nights. Now it is the home of the Los Angeles Opera. It is named for the woman who spearheaded the building project.

135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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8 Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles, California

If you want to enjoy a live theater production while downtown LA, the best venue is the Ahmanson Theater. It is part of the Los Angeles Music Center complex. Each season it presents several productions ranging from Broadway shows, comedies, musicals and dramas. It is named after its major benefactor Howard Ahmanson, Sr. who was the founder of a financial company.

135 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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9 Los Angeles City Hall from Grand Park in Los Angeles, California

After the Los Angeles City Hall was built in 1928, its glistening concrete tower of 453 feet made it the city’s tallest for 36 years. This is the sixth building that has housed the city government offices since the 1850s. In the foreground is the Arthur Will Memorial Fountain in Grand Park.

200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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10 Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California

A nickname for Los Angeles is “The City of Angels” so it seems appropriate that the largest Catholic church in downtown would share that name. At first glance, the modern cube design of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels makes the 2002 building look like it belongs to the nearby performing arts halls. But then you see the cross on the top of the 333 foot, detached bell tower.

555 W Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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11 AT&T Microwave Tower and Crescent Moon in Los Angeles, California

In 1961, when this 449 foot tower was built on top of the AT&T Switching Center, telephone calls were transmitted using microwave radio relays across a network of antennas. This tower ceased operation in 1993, but it stands proudly in downtown Los Angeles as a reminder of a bygone technology.

434 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90014
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12 World Map Collage on Madison Complex Facade in Los Angeles, California

Along Grand Avenue on the facade of the Madison Complex, which are three buildings that house telecomm and wireless companies including AT&T, is this world map collage. It was created in 1961 using “old” switches, cables and other phone technology from Pacific Bell. The artist, Anthony Heinsbergen, is famous for designing murals inside approximately 750 palace movie theaters.

434 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90014
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13 Pershing Square Bell Tower in Los Angeles, California

Once the epicenter for Los Angeles, the Historic Downtown District has largely decayed during the last fifty years into a neighborhood filled with crime and the homeless. An attempt was made in 1992 to revitalize the area by building Pershing Square with this rather curious bell tower and lots of palm trees. But the locals consider this urban park to be an unattractive oddity.

532 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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14 Inside the Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, California

When you walk through the door of the Grand Central Market you’ll immediately hear the buzz of people bargaining with produce vendors, ordering lunch at a deli counter, or talking with friends as they navigate the narrow aisles. Since 1917, these 30,000 square feet of bustling commerce have been housed in the Homer Laughlin Building. It was built in 1896 and, during the 1920s, its famous tenant was Frank Lloyd Wright.

317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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15 Title Guarantee and Trust Building in Los Angeles, California

This beautiful, art deco tower near Pershing Square was built in 1931 by a father and son named Parkinson who were also the architects for other downtown landmarks. If the Title Guarantee and Trust Building looks vaguely familiar, then you were probably a fan of the Lou Grant TV show because this was the fictional headquarters of the Los Angeles Times. It is now an apartment building.

411 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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16 Victor Clothing Co. Mural by Eloy Torrez in Los Angeles, California

This mural called “The Pope on Broadway” depicts movie star Anthony Quinn as he appeared in the 1964 movie “Zorba the Greek.” It was painted on the side of the Victor Clothing Building in 1985 by Eloy Torrez. Some people claim the outstretched arms have religious connotations while others say it is a welcoming gesture. Plans are underway to fully restore this 70 foot mural.

236 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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17 Angels Flight and Skyscrapers in Los Angeles, California

When the Angels Flight opened in 1901 it had the distinction of being the shortest railroad. Its two cars, Sinai and Olivert, traveled slowly up and down a 33% grade hill for 315 feet. The landmark funicular served for almost 70 years. It was moved a half block in 1996 but, after a series of accidents, it remains closed.

356 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
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18 Griffith Observatory Dome in Los Angeles, California

At an elevation of over 1,100 feet atop Mount Hollywood, the views of Los Angeles are spectacular from outside the Griffith Observatory. But if you want views that are out of this world, step inside for a free look through the telescope housed inside this dome.

2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
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19 Astronomers Monument at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California

This monument near the Griffith Observatory pays tribute to six historical astronomers ranging from (right to left) Hipparchus, who lived in 125 B.C., to Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and, not shown, Newton and finally Hershel who died in 1822. This tribute was designed by Archibald Garner in 1934 but six different artists did one sculpture. On top is an ancient astronomer tool called an armillary sphere.

2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
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20 Hollywood Sign From Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California

The most iconic nine white letters in the world are HOLLYWOOD. When the sign on Mount Lee was created as a real estate ad in 1923, it read “Hollywoodland.” A close look at this landmark is severely restricted but one of the best views is from the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park.

2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
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21 Bruce Willis Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California

Hollywood has always excelled at self-adoration, perhaps best demonstrated by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It started in 1958 and now has over 2,500, five-pointed stars. Nearly half of the honorees are from motion pictures and only Gene Autry is in all five categories. Approximately ten million people a year walk along Hollywood Boulevard with their heads bowed, looking for their favorite stars. Bruce Willis, the movie action hero, had his pink terrazzo star added in 2006 at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

6915 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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22 Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California

Grauman’s Chinese Theater, which was renamed the TCL Chinese Theater in 2013, is a Hollywood landmark. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, a married couple who were very famous movie stars, were part owners of the palace movie theater when it opened in 1927. The tradition of celebrities placing their footprints in the sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard apparently happened by accident when the concrete was drying during the theater’s construction. There are now over 200 sets of famous hand and feet impressions in front.

6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
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23 El Capiton Theater Sign in Hollywood, California

When El Capitan opened in 1926, it was called “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama.” It was originally a theater for plays and later became the Hollywood Paramount Theater. When the Walt Disney Company purchased it in 1989, it became the venue to premier many of their feature films.

6838 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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24 Hollywood Masonic Temple in Hollywood, California

A long list of Hollywood celebrities were members of the Freemasonry fraternal organization so when this elaborate, neoclassical temple opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1921, it was filled with Tinseltown’s A-list. The Masons left the building in 1982. After The Walt Disney Company purchased it in 1998, it was extensively renovated and became the El Capitan Entertainment Center. As advertised by the red banners, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show is broadcast from a studio inside.

6838 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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25 Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California

The Dolby Theater, originally called the Kodak Theater, is a relative newcomer to Hollywood Boulevard. But starting in 2002, the year after it was built, the theater has laid down the red carpet for arriving Hollywood’s stars during the Academy Awards’ Oscar night. Other famous broadcasts from the auditorium include “American Idol,” Miss USA pageant and the Daytime Emmy Awards.

6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
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26 Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, California

This garish billboard that fails to rival Times Square is part of the 75 stores called the Hollywood and Highland Center. Its redeeming value is that it’s also home to the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now called the TCL Chinese Theater) and the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater).

6927 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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27 Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California

Two years after the Roosevelt Hotel was built in 1927 along Hollywood Boulevard, its Blossom Room was the venue for the First Academy Awards. The hotel was originally financed by Hollywood celebrities Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman and Louis B. Mayer. It has also been the residence of other stars like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, it started the careers of Shirley Temple and Mary Martin, and it is rumored to be the haunting grounds for ghosts like Errol Flynn.

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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28 Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood, California

Are you a fan of the movie Back to the Future? Did the high school prom sequence called “Enchantment Under the Sea” bring back fond memories? Then you will want to visit the Hollywood United Methodist Church because its gymnasium was used for the movie. So close your eyes and you will travel back to when Marty McFly was here with his future parents in 1955 and the actor, Michael J. Fox, played “Johnny B. Good” on his guitar.

6817 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068
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29 Cleo Theater Curtain Mural on Former Redbury Hotel in Hollywood, California

This Trompe l’oeil mural is called “Cleo.” It is name after the famous 1963 movie “Cleopatra” staring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The painting adorned the exterior of the Redbury Hotel, which closed in 2017. The hotel had lots of nostalgic charm like record players in their “flats.” This was perfect because it is across the street from Capitol Records. They also had a restaurant named Cleo.

1717 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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30 Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, California

Some people claim the circular design of the Capitol Records Tower looks like stacked records and I thought the spike on top looks like a record player stylus. What I later learned is this beacon blinks out the word “Hollywood” in Morse code. Built in 1956, this landmark music studio remains the offices of the Capitol Music Group.

1750 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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31 First National Bank Building in Hollywood, California

Hollywood Boulevard is lined with the glitz and glamor of, well, Hollywood and it is a major attraction for starry-eyed tourists. But my eye appreciates vintage architecture, particularly any building that has gargoyles. Unfortunately, this exquisite Hollywood First National Bank, which was the tallest building in Los Angeles when it was built in 1927, stands empty, forgotten and overlooked by tourists.

6777 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
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32 Carney’s Yellow Train on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California

In 1975, Carney’s opened its restaurant in this Union Pacific car 535 that was built in 1926. Since then, this yellow train has become as iconic as the Sunset Strip where it is located. So, after viewing the dozens of celebrities’ homes nearby, stop into Carney’s Express Limited for their famous hotdog. It has been repeatedly voted as serving the best dog in Los Angeles.

8351 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
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33 Iconic Sign at Beverly Gardens Park in Beverly Hills, California

Just after getting the name Beverly Hills in 1906 as part of a real estate development but before the movie stars started building their mansions here during the Roaring 20s, a huge sign was built in front of a lily pond in Santa Monica Park. The pond was removed during the 1970s but was rebuilt in 2014 on its original site in front this 40 foot iconic sign. Both are located in Beverly Gardens Park.

9439 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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34 Giorgio Amani Store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California

In 1961, Fred Hayman was the first person to open an exclusive women’s fashion store along Rodeo Drive. His boutique was called Giorgio Beverly Hills and he earned the nicknames “Mr. Beverly Hills” and “Mr. Rodeo Drive.” That brand is gone, but this luxury menswear boutique has a similar name: Giorgio Amani. The famous Italian fashion designer was the first recipient of the “Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award” in 2003.

436 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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35 Rodeo Drive Walk of Style in Beverly Hills, California

Famous Californians love to honor each other with awards, miniature statues and plaques and so in 2003 the Rodeo Drive Committee created the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award. Each year, one major contributor to fashion is selected to receive an award that looks like the “Torso” sculpture at right by artist Robert Graham. The honoree also has a bronze plaque installed along the sidewalk. These luxury stores are at the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way.

270 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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36 Bugatti Parked at House of Bijan in Beverly Hills, California

When I first saw this Bugatti, which retails for well over $1 million, my immediate thought was that some people wear different colored shoes to match their outfits but apparently in Beverly Hills you drive a different sports car to match the color of where you shop. I later learned that this is one of several expensive cars that Bijan Pakzard always parked in front of his very, very expensive menswear boutique on Rodeo Drive. He was an Iranian fashion designer for some of the world’s richest and high-profile men.

420 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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37 Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard in Beverley Hills, California

If you stand at this intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, then behind you is the landmark Beverly Wilshire, which is a Four Seasons hotel, and in front of you is Tiffany & Co., the first of several premier stores and luxury boutiques that are fun to visit if you want to feel like the rich and famous. Everything along these three blocks is so exclusive and upscale that even the trees, called silk floss, were imported from the tropics of South America.

9500 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
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38 90210 Post Office Building in Beverly Hills, California

This is the Paula Kent Meehan Historic Building. It was named after the founder of Redken Laboratories who gave the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts a sizable gift to convert it into a theater which opened in 2014. But when it was built in 1933, this post office served the 90210 zip code. After the highly popular TV series by the same name, that zip code has become synonymous with Beverly Hills.

470 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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39 Beverly Hills City Hall in Beverly Hills, California

Will Rogers, the famous vaudeville performer, movie star and social humorist, was also the first honorary mayor of Beverly Hills. He helped spearhead the development of this City Hall in 1932. After 80 years, two things have not changed: this Spanish Revival landmark still houses the local government offices and Will’s quote, “A fool and his money are soon elected,” is still true.

455 N Rexford Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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40 Getty Villa Outer Peristyle in Los Angeles, California

Jean Paul Getty, the founder of the Getty Oil Company and once the world’s richest man, was an avid collector of Roman and Greek antiquities. To exhibit his collection, which now consists of over 44,000 artifacts, he built a Roman country house similar to one that was destroyed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The spectacular result is the Getty Villa museum which is seen in the background. In the foreground are a formal garden, reflection pool and bronze statues.

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
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41 Getty Villa Lansdowne Hercules Statue in Los Angeles, California

This marble “Lansdowne Hercules” statue was excavated from the villa retreat of Roman Emperor Hadrian in 1790. This youthful sculpture of Hercules after killing the Greek mythological Nemean lion was carved in 125 A.D. When J. Paul Getty acquired it in 1951, it became one of his favorite pieces among his extensive collection of Roman and Greek antiquities. It is now displayed in a special room called the Temple of Herakles at the Getty Villa.

17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
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42 Mickey Mouse Kneeling at Disneyland in Anaheim, California

This face needs no introduction, but it is fun to introduce yourself to Mickey Mouse at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Created by Walt Disney in the 1928 cartoon Steamboat Willie, his appearance evolved for 12 years before becoming the smiling, four-fingered, and lovable character with circular ears. Walt Disney also gave Mickey his high-pitched voice, but don’t expect the character to talk at the theme park.

1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
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43 Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse Partners Statue at Disneyland in Anaheim, California

On November 18, 1993, the statue “Partners” was installed in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle on Main Street U.S.A. at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 65th birthday. It shows a larger-than-life Walt Disney as he looked in 1954 holding hands with a three-foot Mickey. Blaine Gibson created it, along with most of the other iconic sculptures at the park. A similar version was added to Walt Disney World in 1995.

Partners Statue, Main Street U.S.A., Anaheim, CA 92802
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44 Santa Monica Pier and Beach in Santa Monica, California

The Santa Monica Pier is actually two piers that have been joined together. The longer Municipal Pier in the background was built in 1909. The shorter one in the foreground was called the Newcomb Pier when it opened seven years later. It is now the platform for a two-acre amusement center called Pacific Park. Beneath them is a sandy beach along the Pacific Ocean coastline.

200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica, CA 90401
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45 Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel in Santa Monica, California

This giant Ferris wheel is one of 13 rides you’ll find on the Santa Monica Pier. In addition to the Pacific Wheel, the amusement park also includes an arcade and restaurants. Pacific Park has operated since 1996.

200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica, CA 90401
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46 Girls Taking Photo on Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California

When you are enjoying a sunny afternoon on the Santa Monica Pier with your best friend, of course you need to memorialize the fun by taking photos of each other on your smart phone. Then, make a great day even better by immediately posting your smiling image on social media in order to make your other friends a bit jealous.

200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica, CA 90401
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47 Santa Monica State Beach in Santa Monica, California

This wide sandy beach stretches for over 3.5 miles along the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. It is the perfect way for a family to spend a warm day swimming, sunning, picnicking and then enjoying the amusement park on the Santa Monica Pier.

321 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
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48 Ronald Reagan Portrait at Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California

Five US presidents and six former First Ladies helped dedicate the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, when it opened in 1991. It contains over 150,000 square feet of exhibits that chronicle his childhood, movie career, early political life, presidential highlights, the assassination attempt, and world events. His tomb is in an outside memorial. My favorite portrait in the museum is this pose at the White House on October 3, 1984, during his first term.

40 Presidential Dr, Simi Valley, CA 93065
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49 Air Force One Pavilion in Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California

This Boeing 707 is called Special Air Mission 27000, or SAM 27000 for short. For 29 years, when one of six US presidents was inside, its air traffic control call sign was Air Force One. Nixon was the first to ride in it and, when he resigned, it flew him back to California. When George W. Bush’s presidency ended, it brought him to Texas on August 29, 2001. Then, its last flight was to California where it was dismantled and reassembled at the Air Force One Pavilion in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The helicopter is a Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King, called Marine One, when it was used predominately by Lyndon Johnson.

40 Presidential Dr, Simi Valley, CA 93065
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50 Richard Nixon Home at Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California

The first line of the Memoirs of Richard Nixon reads, “I was born in a house my father built.” Francis Nixon built this home using a mail order kit in 1913. Nixon and his four brothers grew up there under strict Quaker rules until 1922. During the home’s dedication in 1990 at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, Nixon said in front of a crowd of 50,000, “Nothing we have ever seen matches this moment – to be welcomed home again.” He and his wife Pat are buried nearby.

18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA 92886
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