The America Series
If you read my blog post from yesterday, you’ll know that I recently spent five weeks travelling the USA with my sister.
The first stop on our trip just had to be Los Angeles.
We’d been there before, a few years previously, with our parents – and fell absolutely, inexplicably, irrevocably in love with the place.
Once we’d stepped foot off our plane at LAX on 5th January, this past love reignited almost immediately. I cannot describe the way that I feel when I’m in LA – all I can say is that there’s some kind of magic in the air. I turn into a five year old kid again and feel more excited than I’ve ever felt before.
There’s nothing better than cruising down Sunset Boulevard with the sunshine on your face and the Hollywood breeze through your hair. (FYI, LA gets sunshine 360 days of the year or something ridiculous.) Or being up in the hills, surrounded by the most beautiful houses you’ve ever seen in your life, looking down on the fast paced life of the city.
There are beaches to explore, there are theme parks, there’s Downtown – I think that’s why I like it so much, because of the variety. I also like the vast scale of the city.
If you ever visit LA, there’s some things that you just have to do or see. My top picks are:
1. The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Yes you will look like a complete tourist, but you have to have your photo taken with at least three different celebrity stars on the Walk of Fame - it’s like some unwritten rule! You also have to spend some time walking up and down the pavements, popping into the shops and visiting the famous theatres (the Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre) whilst trying not to get attacked by tour operators trying to sell you things. Dodging these people is a skill!
2. Santa Monica Beach and Pier.
Santa Monica is actually one of my favourite spots in LA (if not my absolute favourite)! The beach stretches on for miles and it’s incredibly stunning. There are always some really talented buskers on the Pier as well, so it’s just nice to grab a coffee, find a bench and absorb the music and atmosphere whilst overlooking one of the prettiest sights of the city.
3. Universal Studios in Hollywood.
Universal Studios is a great day out made easily accessible by the Metro system. There are some awesome rides to explore; these include new ventures in the form of Transformers and Despicable Me, as well as the classics such as Jurassic Park and The Mummy Returns. Then you have to go on the traditional Studio Tour, of course, where you get a sneak peek of past and current film sets.
4. Beverly Hills Celebrity Homes Tour and Rodeo Drive.
There are a few different companies that provide this type of tour, but the best one to do it with is most definitely Starline. With Starline you can be reassured that you’re seeing real, authentic celebrity houses and not being fed some cock-and-bull story. This is a fabulous tour where you get to see some unbelievably amazing houses (and sometimes the celebrities themselves)! You also get to drive down the seriously impressive Rodeo Drive, where all the designer shops are (if only I could afford to shop there!)
5. Venice Beach.
Venice Beach is just down the coast from Santa Monica Beach and is often a bit less crowded as the sand stretch is vaster. However, it has more characters as it’s known as the ‘hipster’ beach. There are a lot of skaters and people selling on stalls - you can pick up quite a few quirky bargains on a good day. People come to Venice mostly to shop and check out a completely different vibe to Santa Monica.
6. Disneyland in Anaheim.
It doesn’t matter if you’re four, or twenty four (!), Disneyland is still a must do for all the family when you come to LA. It’s a little bit out of the way though, so easier to get to if you rent a car. We actually rode the bus - it took over a couple of hours each way, which was fairly exhausting! We don’t regret it though as Disneyland is magical and worth all of the time, money and effort.
Malibu is another part of the city, in addition to Beverly Hills, where the celebrities like to set up shop! After visiting there, it’s easy to see why. We actually went on another Celebrity Homes Tour with Starline – but you can drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica and do it yourself, if you’d prefer, as it’s not too far away. The Malibu beaches are gorgeous and it just seems like such a pleasant place to live as most of the houses are on the sea front! It’s definitely worth a visit.
8. The Hollywood Sign.
Whether you just view it from the shopping centre on the Walk of Fame, or make the trip to the Griffith Observatory, you have to take a photo of the famous Hollywood sign. We went to Griffith the last time we were in LA with our parents, but we really wanted to go again - unfortunately we ran out of time though. It’s definitely worth it if you have time because, not only are you able to get a bit more up close and personal with the sign, but you also get a great view of the city.
There were other things my sister and I did on our trip that we thought were must-do’s – but the main majority of people may not agree. A few examples include: go to a Lakers basketball game, visit Madame Tussauds on the Walk of Fame and celeb spot at the Golden Globes.
You have to tailor your trip based on the time of year that you visit and the goings-on, whilst also taking into consideration your time and budgetary limits.
Since the last time I went, I’ve always said that LA is one of my favourite places in the world. I stand by that. I would love to live there at some point in my life, for a temporary period, to be able to explore it even further. Here’s to someday!
(Have you been to LA before? Did you do any of the things mentioned in this post? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)