Since being in the US, D and I have been lucky to be able to visit lots of exciting places. Most of our trips have been in California, with the exception of Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. At the beginning of September we planned a weekend away to Los Angeles with an old friend from the U.K! We spent two nights in the city, saw many interesting things and walked plenty of miles.
So here is it, my top 10 tips for an awesome trip in LA!
Keep it central
LA is a very big city, with a lot of interesting things to see. But they are pretty well spread out. Depending on what you want to see/do, try to find in a hotel that is central to that area. Common sense, right? We stayed at the BLVD Hotel and Suites, two blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard and in walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl. Having been to LA before, we knew the areas we wanted to venture to and researched walking distances, public transport, etc., making this an ideal location for everything we wanted to do.
Accept what you are
It’s okay to get excited about seeing where Tom Cruise lives, or seeing the shop that Vivian Ward (a.k.a Julia Roberts) is snubbed in on Rodeo Drive. You are tourists. One way to make sure you get to see the most of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, including the Hollywood sign, is to take a trip on a “Star Tour”. You will be accosted by many sales men on Hollywood Blvd trying to sell you their tour, making theirs sound the most exciting and jam-packed. They are all probably all the same, but all I will say is make your decision based on the price (haggle with them!) and how safe the truck/bus looks. The roads around the Hollywood Hills are very windy and you want to make sure you’ve got a secure seat belt!
Compare your shoe size to Will Smith
On Hollywood Blvd, you will find the TCL Chinese Theatre, the iconic place where stars are invited to leave hand and shoe prints in cement. Wondering around, you will find many different stars, both old and new. We found it interesting comparing ourselves to the sizes of other stars, and making D compare his feet to Emma Watson… Just behind the Chinese Theatre is the Dolby Cinema and a small shopping centre. It’s worth a look while you’re in the area.
Prepare to be underwhelmed by Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood Blvd is not as glamorous as it is made out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clean and interesting but it’s just not somewhere you can spend a lot of time. Yes, you can walk up and down the street looking at the different stars on the pavement, pointing out who you recognise and who you have no clue about. But that’s about it. There are some shops, some restaurants and a view-point for the Hollywood sign. I call it a view-point but you can barely see it.
Take a trip to the beach
Santa Monica has to be one of the biggest beaches I have ever seen! With its long stretch of golden sands and the world-famous pier, you need to go and check it out for yourself. If you are staying in Hollywood, the best way to get to Santa Monica is to use the bus. It’s so cheap and a great way to get there. You can even have a little snooze along the way to sleep off the night before! While you are there, you must have your picture taken at the western end of the famous Route 66 and visit Muscle Beach. It’s exactly what is say’s on the tin!
If you love films…
You need to visit Universal Studios in Hollywood. Everything from Jurassic Park to Shrek 4D and The Simpsons to The Walking Dead, it’s all covered! One highlight was walking through a life-size Springfield. You can buy a Duff beer from the Duff beer Brewing Company and visit Apu in the Kwik-E-Mart. We enjoyed lunch at Krusty Burger and a doughnut from Lard Lad Donuts, but perhaps a little too much? Universal Studio’s has lots of other things to see and do, including Harry Potter World, a must-see for any fan, young or old, as well as the actual studio tour through the working film and TV stages.
If you love TV…
Take a trip to the Warner Brothers Studios. They do daily tours of the sets and you can see everything from Luke’s Diner to the cars used in Austin Powers, Harry Potter and Batman. One highlight of the tour was getting to see Central Perk, the coffee shop from Friends. Sitting on the infamous orange sofa has to be one ticked off the bucket list!
Be prepared for traffic…and lot’s of it!
Los Angeles International has one of the most irritating driving systems I have ever witnessed at an airport. The amount of traffic that has to pass through the tiny horse-shoe shaped pick-up and drop-off lanes is hard to put into words. Maybe waiting 70 minutes for our Ubër to arrive will help? The airport is the first experience of the kinds of traffic that you will witness so if you can, book a taxi for a set time or use the metro system. Either that or be prepared to sit and watch the black cartoon car on your Ubër app move 2mm every half and hour.
Pretend to have money
Take a stroll down Rodeo Drive for some window shopping and maybe step inside one of the high-end stores and dream about what we would never afford. Other attractions include the Beverley Wilshire Hotel from Pretty Woman, many regular lunch and drink spots of the Kardashian family as well as the Beverly Hills sign being a short walk away. If anything, the trip to Beverly Hills is worthwhile just to witness the park/toilet where George Michael was arrested for his lewd escapades in 1998.
There are so many amazing places to eat in LA! Anything from burgers and steak to ice cream and cocktails, you can find it in Tinseltown. Some of the best places are hidden gems so do your research before you get there to make the most of every meal time. If you have a sweet tooth, then you have to check out Sprinkles Cupcake in Downtown LA. They have a cupcake ATM, open 24/7, where you can order and pick up any cupcake from their daily selection, baked fresh that morning. Convenience for the late night munchies!
LA has so many interesting things to do and see. Even though we have been twice, I feel that we have barely touched the surface of what the town has to offer. In the future, I would like to go back to explore what the locals like to do in LA, and possibly venture further south to San Diego or embrace our inner child at the original Disneyland here in our home state of California.
Have you been to LA? Do you have any more tips to make the trip once in a life-time?