What to do in Los Angeles

LA is probably in a lot of people’s dreams, but this time our destination wasn’t to fulfil my dream but my son’s dream. Since a very young age he has always aspired and dreamt about the US, so this year as he was 18 years old and we don’t know for how long he is still going on holiday with us we decided to make is dream come true. At the same time, I can’t deny that I was also glad as we all fantasise about the glamour, the movies’ scenery, actors and actresses that so many times entertained us…

I was a little bit concerned about the duration of the flight as I had never went on such a long journey before. Fortunately, we had a direct flight from Dublin to LA even though it took more than 10 hours, but I managed to have some sleep and I kept myself entertained reading and watching movies.

From the moment you step outside of the airport you know that you left Europe as wherever you look you can see nice big cars and muscle cars. My son was absolutely delighted with a smile from ear-to-ear as he is passionate about cars.

During our stay in LA we used Uber all the time to move around apart from when we went to Las Vegas where we rented a car as we wanted to drive from one place to the other.

During our stay in LA we stayed at OMNI Hotel. The location is excellent as most of the attractions are nearby, so we could walk and get familiarised with the city.

We bought the Go LA card which includes 35 of the main attractions. The passes are available for 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 days. For more information click the link.

Come with me and let’s visit some of the best places in Los Angeles.

Griffith Observatory

This was my favourite place in LA. Located at the top of Hollywood hills it’s the perfect place to see a stunning sunset. Usually in the morning the hills are foggy but in the afternoon the sky clears and is the perfect place to see downtown LA and the Hollywood sign. The place is very peaceful despite being one of the most visited places in LA.

The observatory opened to the public in 1935 and it was built due to a donation from Jenkins Griffith who was born in 1850 in Wales and went to the US as a teenager and made his fortune in Mexican silver mines. Mr Griffith wanted to make astronomy accessible to the public in general. To fulfil his dream, he decided to donate the land in order to build an observatory, an exhibit hall and a planetarium. The entrance is free as wished by Mr Griffith.

“It must be made a place of rest and relaxation for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people. I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happy, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered.” – said J. Griffith

Did you know that the planetarium was used to train the astronauts who went on their first lunar mission?

The building is beautiful, built in an art deco style it really stands out on top of the hills.

Take your time to explore the place. There is a Café (with a terrace where you can enjoy the views of the Hollywood sign and Downtown LA), exhibition rooms, a planetarium and telescopes.

 

Grand Central Market

Built in 1917 it is the largest and oldest market in LA. This is the right place to try different food and cultures. A feast for food lovers and those who like to experience different cuisines. The first time we went there it was lunch time and the market was bustling, it was difficult to find a seat. This became one of our daily stops, particularly in the mornings for breakfast, our choice was Valerie. The options for lunch or dinner are plenty, it all depends on your taste. The prices are very affordable.

Angels Flight

This orange funicular was built 117 years ago and it’s the world’s shortest railway (298 feet/91 metres) that has made over 100 million journeys. It has changed places and some accidents and safety issues happened in the past. It has two cars named Sinai and Olivet and whilst one goes down the other goes up. For 1$ per way you can ride this iconic landmark.

OUE Skyspace LA

It’s located in the US Bank Tower. Before you reach the top where you can enjoy magnificent views of the city firstly you have an interactive room where you can learn more about the influence of LA in movies, sports and music. The high-point is without doubt the open-air observation deck where you have unobstructed views to the city. You can also experience a ride in a 45 ft glass slide that is nearly 1000 ft above floor. There is also a bar where you can have a cocktail or an ice-cream whilst you are enjoying the panoramic views to the city.

I would recommend you visit the Skyspace in the morning close to the open time as it isn’t busy at this time and you can appreciate the city’s sights, relax and take your photos without too many people around.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

With an extension of approximately 2Km it contains 2600 five-point stars that includes 5 categories: TV, radio, music, motion pictures and theatre. The stars don’t come free there is a cost of $40000 to create, install and maintain the star.

Dolby Theatre

We did a guided tour of the place where famous actors and actresses receive their Oscars. But the Dolby Theatre also hosts other famous events such as the American Idols Finals, American’s got talent, Cirque du Soleil, Fashion shows, Opera and is used by renowned names of music industries to live perform like Celine Dion, Elvis Costello, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey…

You will have the chance to feel like a star even if it is just for 40 minutes, so let’s go, the red carpet is already waiting for you!

Rodeo Drive

What can I say about Rodeo Drive? Luxury, style, fashion, glamour, sports cars, all in one place. If you want to do some shopping don’t forget to bring a credit card with a lot of money in it as all the big brands are here and they are truly expensive.

Do you remember the movie Pretty Women with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel is the place where their characters fall in love.

If you want to see the famous American cars this is the right place. You can’t imagine how many times my son made me come here to see and listen the sound of the muscle cars, my favourite is the Dodge. If you are a car aficionado this is the place.

LA City Hall

A beautiful neoclassical and art deco building that was completed in 1928 it has 138 metres, 32 floors and an observatory deck which access is free of charge and it will guarantee you great views of the city and the Hollywood hills.

The building was constructed to resist earthquakes of magnitude up to 8.2.

The city hall has been presented in several movies like: Superman, LA Confidential, Perry Mason and War of Worlds (just to mention some).

Walt Disney Concert Hall

An extraordinary piece of architecture this is the home of the LA Philharmonic. The building has 6,500 reflective stainless-steel panels all different sizes and shape.

Chinatown and Little Tokyo

The original Chinatown from the 19th century was demolished to give place to the Union Station. The actual Chinatown was built in 1938 and is a commercial area that has Chinese residences, shops, restaurants and art galleries. Immerse yourself in this small world inside LA.

Similarly, to Chinatown, Little Tokyo gives you some of the Japanese ambience.  It’s a good place to experience the Japanese cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to visit one of their shops and look at all the products you can find on those shelves. Apparently, there is also one of LA’s best jazz clubs.

Bradbury Building

A beautiful brown brick building from the late 19th century designed in an Italian Renaissance Style and its interior is stunning. It’s a five-floor building with cage elevators. Admire the beautiful iron railings and the marble staircase. The building is also seen in the movies Blade Runner and Wolf (with Jack Nicholson).

The building is a National Historic Landmark.

The Last Bookstore

A beautiful bookstore with new and used books and vinyl music, a magical place for those who are addicted to books (like me) or love vintage records. The place is also very well decorated most of the decorations are made with books, there is even a tunnel made of books.

Union Station

This beautiful station that has been featured in so many movies like Pearl Harbour, The Dark Knight, Charlie’s angels, Blade Runner (just to mention some) was built in 1939 and it is located where the original Chinatown used to be. It is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the western United States. You can admire the beautiful waiting room (decorated in marble, tile and terra cotta) and the original ticket lobby. Feel the atmosphere!

Universal Studios

We spent a day at Universal Studios which is the most famous Hollywood film studio still in use and it’s also a theme park. You have the chance to visit some of the movie sets (King Kong and Fast and Furious) and at the same time you can have a lot of fun in the theme park. I absolutely loved Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey where you can experience a thrilling ride in a magical broomstick that recreates the scene of the movie when they are riding their broomsticks to score goals by throwing and catching balls…it’s absolutely exciting you feel that you are really flying, utterly magical.

There are plenty of other electrifying attractions like the Water World, The Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, the Simpsons Ride, Walking Dead…

Santa Monica and Venice Beach

If you come to LA, you must go to Santa Monica (beach and Pier) and to Venice beach. Santa Monica offers 3.5 miles of coastline (from Malibu to Venice). The Pier was built in the beginning of the 20th century (1909) and apparently when it was built its purpose wasn’t the fun and entertainment we all know now, instead it was used to carry sewage out past the waves.

Did you know that the Santa Monica’s carousel (built in 1922) is a National Historic Landmark? Did you know that the Ferris Wheel is solar powered?

The famous route 66 that connects Chicago to Los Angeles ends here.

The Santa Monica Pier has featured in several movies like Forrest Gump, Iron Man, Hancock, Hannah Montana: The movie, Farewell my Lovely, Bean, Falling Down, just to mention some.

One of the highlights of this trip was riding a bike through the Strand, a 22-mile paved trail. There are some shops where you can rent a bike and enjoy the incredible atmosphere. You feel like you are the main character in a movie. How many times have you seen this scenery in movies and now it’s your chance of being there with the Pacific Ocean stretching at your side, the glistering sand, the people enjoying their time.

My son loved Muscle Beach where famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out and my son being that person that loves to take good care of his body he didn’t miss the chance to do his training here.

 

This post wouldn’t be completed if I didn’t share one of my son’s best experiences (as he also had another one in Las Vegas at Speed Vegas) in LA which was driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder from Sunset Boulevard to the Hollywood hills. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to drive in LA as he was 18 years old at the time and we read that to rent a car in some places they required a minimum age of 21, so you can’t imagine his happiness when he realised he would be able to live his dream. He absolutely loved it, to drive one of his dream cars, the sound of the V10 motor, the scenery, Hollywood hills, the sunset, what else can someone at his age aspire more? Have a look at some of his pictures.

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “What to do in Los Angeles

  1. You covered a lot of ground for your first trip to L.A.! A great mix of touristy and local spots.I learned a lot about my city through this post. Look forward to following you.

    • Thank you very much for your feedback. My son loves your city. He is going back in September with some friends.

Leave a Reply