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California, Here We Come!

AARP opens Life@50+ Expo in L.A. Thursday

Vintage Greetings from Los Angeles postcard - AARP 2011 member event

Photo by Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis

AARP's Life@50+ National Event starts Sept. 22 in Los Angeles

The marquis outside the Los Angeles Convention Center says it loud and clear — AARP Life@50+ National Event and Expo is coming here.

And with the 63rd Prime Time Emmy Awards, staged at the nearby Nokia Theater Sunday night, out of the way, there's room for AARP to move in — literally. Today through Wednesday is all about getting ready for the thousands of members who are coming to Los Angeles for three days of learning, entertainment, fun and sun.

Autumn is almost here but summer breezes are still blowing in sunny Southern California. The kids are back in school, which means it's the perfect time for grownups to come out and play with other AARP members and friends. Maybe crank up some Beach Boys, cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway and bask on peaceful beaches under a mellow September sun.

AARP's big Life@50+ Event is a perfect getaway. Three festive days of SoCal sightseeing and California cuisine, Life@50+ features a scintillating array of events, including our Movies for Grownups Film Festival, where you can attend a star-studded Hollywood premiere with celebrities like Martin Sheen, star of the former TV drama The West Wing, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. You can explore the exhibit hall full of demonstrations and information and choose from a lively roster of entertainers and speakers, including comedic geniuses Carol Burnett and Tim Conway, chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall, NFL Today's James Brown and, in concert, Lionel Richie, Patti Austin and Ramsey Lewis.

Life@50+ will give you all the best of California — sunshine and stars, food and fun — but you will be forgiven if you want to venture out to Grauman's Chinese Theatre with its world-renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame — featuring the handprints and footprints of entertainment industry royalty — or if you take a trip to the famous Venice Beach, with the boardwalk you've seen in countless television shows and films, from Buster Keaton 1920s films up to the Paul Rudd/Jason Segal comedy I Love You, Man.

The La Brea Tar Pits let you look into the past, both in its museum and in the actual tar bubbling up from below the ground. But if that's a bit too retro (Steven Spielberg's new Terra Nova notwithstanding) there's always the cutting-edge fashion on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, famous for (among other things) Julia Roberts' shopping adventures there in Pretty Woman.

Of course, there may be no reason to leave the convention center at all. Not when you've got stars like fitness maven Richard Simmons — guaranteed to out-short-shorts you while rockin' the oldies — as well as Mr. "Make It Work" Tim Gunn and movie directing great Spike Lee. There's also Law & Order: SVU's B.D. Wong, beloved actress Lily Tomlin and, oh, did we mention Sesame Street's Grover and Elmo? No matter where you go, there's an embarrassment of riches but then that's Southern California in September: the summer sun may be waning but the stars are always out.

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