The city of Los Angeles is 1,302 km² and is 3 times more than Vienna’s 414.6 km² (home base). It seems a lot of walking is not a good idea when you visit. Wrong, LA as Los Angeles is called by its initials, is a wonderful city to walk around. Not the whole 1,302 km², because a lot of areas are for hiking. ^_^ Seriously, LA has a lot of good spots to walk around in. We weren’t so sure at first knowing that the locals are always going by cars even if it will be just a block away.
Now the county Los Angeles is 12,305 km², and it would need 5 times more weeks you spend to explore the city alone. Thank goodness we found the Things to Do video series by CheapOAir and got tips. This is a first in their series of things to do with “The CheapOair Travel Guy” Beau Rials. So be sure to follow CheapOAir and their social media accounts to not miss updates and probably future contests.
For the many times I’ve visited the county, I was always by myself, with the wife staying with the kids as they have school when I go. I find it’s a wonderful bonus to have family and friends to tour you around. I was able to navigate the city much easier. Here are some of the things I did and saw in the City of Light and parts of the county too. You can take down notes for when you decide your own LA trip. This will also be our guide when the kids and the wife would be able to go.
Los Angeles is without a doubt famous for Hollywood being the home of the U.S. film industry. Hollywood Boulevard alone is a good stretch to walk and see a lot of sights and sites (it’s 7.4 km).
Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame stretches 2.1 km with names of musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, even fictional characters embedded in stars (about 2,500 of them). The stars are made out of terrazzo and brass. These are names that made it big in the industry (both dead and alive) and as such has become a popular tourist destination.
Dolby Theatre, El Capitan Theatre and TCL Chinese Theatre
Along Hollywood Boulevard is the grand Dolby Theatre (formerly Kodak Theare – I can’t find a newer photo). It holds live act performances. It is also known for being the host venue of the Academy Awards. Try to visit in February if you want to get a glimpse of your favorite stars. Although it may be too crowded to be at on such a starry night.
Two minutes away from Dolby theatre is the El Capitan Theatre. This is where most Walt Disney movie premiers are shown. I wasn’t able to watch nor tour, I hope I can do those in the next visit with the kids.
Another theatre worth a visit is the TCL (Grauman) Chinese theatre, a few steps away from the two. This theatre has one of the largest movie screens all over North America. It’s a different experience watching Furious 7 premier in it. It is also a nice photo opp with celebrity handprints and footprints at the entrance of the theatre.
Wax Museums and Hollywood Museum
If you’re not able to spot and take a picture of a celebrity while around Hollywood boulevard, Madame Tussauds is your chance. Although in wax, there would be a handful of them you can take selfies with. 😀
There’s also the Hollywood Wax Museum, the pioneer to wax figures of Hollywood celebrities and famous film characters. If you love films then head on to the Hollywood museum were memorabilia of many films are on display. Also, you would see mascots hanging around Hollywood Boulevard to take pictures with, some famous ones were Spiderman, Garfield, and Bumble Bee!
> One of the very few photos I have, I was always behind the camera.
90210’s first episode was aired when I was 10-years-old. So that was my idea of how the neighborhood looks. Then I learned later of course that there are different film locations…seeing the real Beverly Hills is a pleasant experience. So clean and chic. Honestly, no city in Europe I’ve been to could compare.
Celebrity Home Tours
Mullholland drive is famous for being an area where celebrities live. There’s a bus tour that goes around and it is better to take it because you’d be on a double-decker bus. You have a bigger chance at seeing over the high gates. 🙂 The whole of Beverly hills is a good area to spot famous faces. Although there is no guarantee you’d see your favorite actor or actress, the trip around will give you a feel of the beautiful neighborhood.
The famous Hollywood Sign is best seen from Mullholand drive and the Griffith Observatory but can also be seen from elevated areas around Hollywood Boulevard. The photo below was taken while inside Hollywood and Highland center with a 300mm lens. Just outside the California Pizza Kitchen or by Starbucks, and the viewing bridges are good spots if you lack the time to go to the other areas.
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive is worth checking in and checking out too. It’s a landmark that has been the filming location of many movies.
It is worth mentioning that driving down Beverly Hills and all of LA makes for the best sky shots! Of course, drive the famous Sunset Strip. The different hues would make my wife be happy, as she’s always the girl who gets excited when the sky is in pretty colors.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
If you drive Wilshire Boulevard to the other end, you will end up seeing the Urban Lights. It’s an installation outside the LACMA – LA County Museum of Art.
This is a famous spot for photos specially at night. The perfect light setup for prenuptial shoots, I think. 😀
The LACMA itself has been established in 1910. There’s a wide range of exhibitions at the museum, with many centuries, and origins of arts displayed. You can find Asian, Greek, Roma art represented among many others.
There’s even photography and film departments for enthusiasts to enjoy. Know that it’s the largest museum in the west of the US, so spend more hours to enjoy the displays.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
One of the most iconic architecture in LA is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It’s pretty in the morning but mesmerising at night. Do try to watch a music performance, especially that of the Los Angles Philharmonic. It’s not called the City of Angels for nothing, hear some of them sing.
Los Angeles’ shopping landscape is truly vast and overwhelming. To name a few of the malls and outlets sprawled around LA: The Grove, Robertson Blvd, The Outlets At Orange, The Santee Alley, Melrose Avenue, 3rd Street Promenade, The Citadel, and South Coast Plaza.
Hollywood and Highland Center
Five storeys of stores – shoes, bags, clothing, knick knacks in the middle of all the walking at Hollywood boulevard, that’s Hollywood and Highland center. There are also restaurants you can grab a food or two from, so you’re covered.
Highend shops, a feel of Europe, and a generally beautiful place to walk and shop at is how Rodeo Drive’s whole atmosphere is. Buy your new Prada tote and dine at Cut by our own Wolfgang Puck. That’s just what you have to do here, shop and eat. Otherwise, you can also take photos at Rodeo Drive Walk of Style around Wiltshire Boulevard to South Santa Monica Boulevard. It’s like the Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard only for fashion icons.
Rodeo drive will teach you 1 important thing. What? It’s how to manage your money wisely by using credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. ^_^ The whole of Los Angeles is waiting for you to spend. You have to be wise when here, or really bring a lot of money and never anticipate.
The coast of Los Angeles is a beautiful blue span of beaches to relax around with your family. For example Venice beach, Marina Del Rey, and Santa Monica are the first ones to come to mind. But beaches worth mentioning also, which are just outside or unincorporated to LA are County Line, Redondo Beach, and Manhttan beach among others.
Venice Beach is often a location for movies, and is great for surfing. There are a lot to do and places to eat at at the boardwalk if you’re not one to get a tan. You can have free workouts at the outdoor gym at muscle beach, practice at the skate park, even play basketball and volleyball at the courts. There are also bike rentals along with surfboard rentals so you can enjoy the views by the side of the water (biking), and the water itself without carrying anything along.
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier has a fancy approach to how to spend fun by the beach. There’s an amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel and other rides. Seeing the vast blue ocean on top of the Ferris wheel is breathtaking. The original muscle beach is here too, so if you didn’t get enough workout at Venice beach, you can do do here. Of course, you can swim and then go to the spots where Forrest Gump was in the movie and dine at the restaurant inspired by the film: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. 🙂
Enjoy free music as you walk around, and don’t forget to buy a souvenir from the many stalls.
It is worth visiting Hermosa beach at sunset, have a picture like Ryan Gosling below – from the movie La La Land. 😀 On a serious note, Hermosa beach, from the spanish word “beautiful” is worth a walk down with your special someone. So put it on your list.
Let Your Inner Child Out
California has a lot of amusement parks namely Seaworld, Legoland, Disneyland Park, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, all these are just at the border or a short drive away. Technically, Universal Studios is the biggest park within LA.
Universal Studios Hollywood
There are a lot of rides you should get into at Universal Studios. The Simpsons ride is one not to miss, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Transformers: The Ride-3D, Jurassic World ride are some that we tried. Warning: make sure you do not have motion sickness before taking the challenge.
Your Los Angeles vacation won’t be complete without going on a food trip. LA is a hotpot of many different cuisines, fast foods, casual, and fine dining, and whatever your palate fancies. There really is a lot of good places, we’ll probably make a separate post for it on our food blog. Meanwhile, here’s a few to try, or go to when you’re really hangry.
Pink’s Hot dogs (Fairfax)
Legendary hot dog restaurant Pink’s Hot Dogs has been serving LA since 1939. There’s usually a line of customers waiting to be served. So come by when you aren’t so hungry yet to avoid getting hungrier when in line.
Hard Rock Cafe (Universal Studios & Hollywood Boulevard)
Hard Rock makes this list because we always go to the Hard Rock cafés in cities we visit to check their local legendary burger version. We also get our souvenir shirts, and charms from HRC stores. Thus, an american original burger from HRC is but a must.
And it’s fine whether you go to the HRC at Hollywood Blvd or the one at Universal Studios coz if burger is not your thing, there’s a lot more american dishes on the menu (spare ribs, ribeye, and the usual HRC offerings.)
Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
You know, it’s a kind of easy fix for people with sweet tooth but doesn’t want to get anything from the grimy vending machines. 😀
Nah, Sprinkles cupcakes is an icon itself. Considered to be a pioneer bakeshop in Los Angeles, while the cupcake ATM is the first of its kind in the world. The main bakeshop is at Beverly Hills and was a minimilist layout by a Viennese designer.
The Cheese Store (Beverly Hills)
Beverly Hill’s food scene is as aesthetic as its landscape and beauty. While there are a lot of wonderful food joints in Beverly hills that serve fresh seafood, the best cuts of meat, the most authentic Italian dishes, the Cheese Store is special for people who are crazy for these fermented milk. The mecca for cheese aficionados as it has been nicknamed can be found a few steps from Rodeo drive.
Watch a Lakers Game
In light with recent events, it is worth mentioning that watching a Lakers game if in season is a must. Although Kobe Bryant won’t be there to play anymore (he figured in a helicopter crash on July 26), it is worth seeing a game at the Staples Center (below photo is at the Oracle Arena).
Planning your Los Angeles Trip
Like we often say, an enjoyable trip starts with good planning. After choosing Los Angeles as your destination. Identify what or which spots would you like to see in the city. Itemise these and then plan accordingly with your travel partner. If you’re going solo, then it’s a different thing.
Choose your season. It matters a lot, LA is usually dry and the highest temperature in summer could go up to 29°C. Consider these things before booking your flight, accommodation, and travel insurance. When’s all set, start counting the days leading to your flight.
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