The ‘other’ Los Angeles

Like all large cities, Los Angeles or ‘LA’ as it is more affectionately known, is really just a large collection of separate communities that have coalesced into one almost homogeneous whole over the course of the past 50 years or so in much the same way that Malahide or Rathgar or Dun Laoighaire are all part of the greater Dublin metropolitan area but with each having its own, distinct personality and reasons for going there. LA is a sprawling city that covers just over 1,200 square kilometres within its city limits. To put that figure into some kind of perspective, Dublin is roughly 115 square kilometres in area or roughly a 10th of the size. LA’s population is around four million and is the second largest city in the United States, after New York. It is a city crisscrossed by interstates, freeways, beltways and boasts some of the highest concentrations of motor cars in the world so you would naturally think that it is not an easy city to get around in but you’d be wrong! True, the traffic can be quite heavy during the twice-daily commute but it still moves, albeit more slowly than usual. It is really its size that causes it to take so long to get from A to B, particularly when A is quite some distance from B.

I last visited LA back in 1992 so my most recent trip was long overdue. I spent two days in Huntington Beach which is one of many seaside communities that dot the coastline south of Long Beach and which include Sunset Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. I remembered Huntington Beach from my last visit as I was holidaying in the LA area with my kids and we had based ourselves over in Anaheim so we could do Disneyland and Knotts Berry Fram and Huntington Beach was the nearest beach as the crow flew from Anaheim. It also happened to be the location for a TV series that for a brief period of time was one of the most watched programmes on the box — Baywatch! Indeed, while I was there recently, I got news that they’re currently in pre-production on a new film based on the original TV series which will star Dwayne Johnson (A.K.A. ‘The Rock’). I got my first lesson in surfing on that iconic beach and also enjoyed some hours of fun navigating my way along the miles and miles of cycle paths that wind their way along the coast in both directions. Huntington Beach is a family-friendly community with a beautiful beach and is well served by plenty of competitively-priced restaurants and bars.

As a tourist destination, LA has so much to offer but sometimes suffers from bad press because of the sheer size of the place and the absence of what one might describe as a’geographical centre’ — that’s why it’s important to choose a suburb such as Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara or Anaheim that scales things down for you a bit but still gives you access and proximity for all the things you’ll want to do and places you’ll need to go in this city of angels!

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