The first in this swank chain of memorial parks (these guys thought up the term “memorial park,” because “cemetery” sounded so gloomy), Forest Lawn gives the deceased an upbeat, sun- and light-filled final resting place. So until Angelenos find a Botox-injected cure for death, we can pay our respects in these wide-open spaces – no depressing monuments here! Because it’s relatively close to the Hollywood sign, many elements of this 300-acre park are over the top. The wrought-iron gates in front are said to be the world’s largest. More than one million visitors pass through them each year, including thousands of schoolchildren on field trips (whaaat?). Some come to visit the 250,000 people interred here, but many come just for the artwork. That’s right, hoo boy, the “artwork”: a stained-glass “Last Supper,” replicas of Michelangelo statuary, a jumbo “Signing of the Declaration of Independence” in 700,000 mosaic tiles, a giant moai carving from Easter Island, an oversize bronze of George Washington that Congress forgot to pay for, so Forest Lawn bought it. It’s all big, bigger than life. Oh, now we get it: This is a place to get what you didn’t have the first time around. The expanses of lawn are amazing, and the living will earn your next meal walking from Great Mausoleum through the Labyrinth to the English reproduction chapels. You won’t get a lot of help from the management in locating your favorite luminaries, armies of whom rest here. Just as you couldn’t sit at their table at Chasen’s when they were alive. Oh well. This is a cemetery, after all, where reverence and decorum count. Even in Los Angeles.
1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 800.204.3131, forestlawn.com. Open daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (to 6 p.m. in daylight savings time).