TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS —
The "original" Universal Studios is in the LA area, and though I haven't visited it myself, friends say it's a good option. Backlot tours here might actually have you running into stars (at least of the TV variety).
If it's your first trip to the LA area, you'll want to take your family down the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. This area of town may be a little seedier than you expect, but it's still an interesting walk down memory lane (if you care to walk it). You'll see Mann's Chinese Theatre while taking in handprints and shoeprints of Hollywood's most famous celebrities since 1927. Guided tours are available, and some of these will take you by the homes of celebrities in Beverly Hills, but don't expect to see much; most of the mansions have mammoth walls around them.
The La Brea Tar Pits, with their accompanying museum, are another must, especially if you have kids who are interested in paleontology (like I do). The bones of prehistoric plants and animals -- including the famed saber-toothed cat -- can be seen. If you're lucky, you may be able to view, close up and personal, an actual dig in the gooey asphalt.
There are several decent beaches in the area; Santa Monica is probably the most popular. Venice Beach is also a good bet, especially if you like to people-watch. Quieter (and prettier) beaches can be accessed at Laguna, Zuma, Malibu and the Pacific Palisades. If you're a sports fan, you might take in an LA Angels game.
If you have time, I recommend you take the train ($34 one way) south to San Diego. This city is really much more attractive than LA, and there's plenty to do -- starting with the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. We've done both, and I recommend two days for maximum coverage. The zoo is one of the best in the world, with some of the rarest animals (including giant pandas). A basic adult ticket for either park is $34, but there are deals to be had if you're willing to look. If you can, take a San Diego harbor excursion, or better yet, go deep-sea fishing.