The City of Angels, often mistaken as being the capital city of California (which is in fact Sacramento), is one of the most popular destinations within all of the United States. Being the home of Disneyland, the beautiful pacific coast beaches, and of course celebrities, it is no wonder that over 45 million people chose to visit this sunny city each year. Coming from all over the world to see the sites, people flock to this city to experience the near perfect weather year round and hope that they will catch a glance of someone, anyone, famous. Being one of the largest city/county’s in California, with all of the attractions spread out far and wide, it is impossible to see everything in only a few short days, and with the sun out shining 99% of the time, why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as possible in this glowing city.
Hollywood is definitely one of the first things on peoples to do lists. Hollywood and Beverly Hills is the place to see the stars home and the Walk of Fame, though I’m sorry to say that it is not all that common that you will see the actual stars in this part of town. Hollywood is definitely a must do, once in a lifetime kind of thing, that is worth a pit stop, but there is so much more to see in and around the Los Angeles area that you shouldn’t spend too much time here.
“Down at the boardwalk we’ll be having some fun.” The infamous Venice Beach. Some people love it some people love it not so much; well at least in regards to the Venice Boardwalk. I for one love the atmosphere at Venice Beach and find its roller bladder’s and muscle men a fun and entertaining sight. However, the actual town of Venice is even better. Down the streets you’ll come across colourful and interesting street art, pop up boutiques, and so many healthy bistros offering the best avocado toast on the West Coast, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide which is actually the best. Venice is also where you will find the small area of Abbot Kinney, the location of the last remaining Venice (California, not Italy) canals.
One of the newest museums to open up in Los Angeles is the Broad. A modern and contemporary art museum that is constantly changing to include new and inceptive pieces. This museum is also currently housing one of the more Instagrammed exhibitions, the Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama (pictured above). This exhibit has obviously caught the attention of many people and thus, even having been displayed for quite a few months already, has a long wait time every day. Unfortunately it is impossible to reserve tickets specifically for this room, so your only chance of getting in is going early to the museum to put your name on the wait list. However, even without this exhibit, the museum offers unique and innovative artworks and sculptures.
Sitting along the Pacific Coast Highway only a short way out of LA, Santa Monica is a favourite for many, popular for its pier and the city itself, often skipped over after the pier. This is by far one of my favourite areas in all of Los Angeles. The carnival like atmosphere on the pier, where you can buy as much junk food as you want and pretend that your metabolism is still as good as when you were a kid, and ride the rollercoaster until you are walking around with a spinning head. But beyond the pier the city of Santa Monica is a clean and fresh place to spend an afternoon wandering the open aired promenade.
Echo Park and Silver Lake
Two of the more up and coming hip neighbourhoods to hang around in LA are Echo Park and Silver Lake. Full of yoga studios, thrift stores, and coffee shops, these are definitely the spots to be for the younger generations, and it is no surprise that you’ll find an array of different styles and persons wandering the streets. This is also a popular area for musicians to both live and play, so it isn’t hard to find live shows every night of the week.
Probably the most visited museum in LA is the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The LACMA is a large museum showcasing a diverse and ever changing display of modern and older art, ranging from sculptures to photography pieces, to the permanent light exhibit presented at the front of the museum.
A trip to anywhere in California, or really anywhere in the United States, is not complete without a visit to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! This is by far one of my all time favourite places in the entire world, and it just continues to get even more magical with each visit. Having so much to do within both Disneyland and California Adventure, it is almost impossible to do in one day, but can be done if you’re lucky enough to visit on an uncommon day when there are short lines. But with princesses, rollercoasters, and themed food, what more could you want from a vacation?
Right on the southern most point of Los Angeles county sits Long Beach, a cool and relaxed city that offers a break from the busyness and the constant thread of tourists that walk the streets of LA. Long Beach is still a relatively big city, and has its own downtown area that is well worth a quick visit, yet Belmont Shore, is definitely my favourite part of Long Beach. Boutiques and restaurants line 2nd Street, which is only a short walk down from the beach, a beach that is indeed very long, and is often occupied by dogs, roller bladder’s, and wind surfers. Down by the Pike is also worth a stop, with colourful shopfronts, and views of the port where cruise ships are seen arriving and departing frequently. Long Beach is also the scene of some of the most beautiful sunsets, so make sure to visit at the right time to view them.
A place that has become increasingly popular amongst locals and visitors alike is Griffith Park. With more than 53 miles of trails and tracks to hike, there are endless options with varying degrees of difficulty to occupy an afternoon or even the whole day. If you are wanting something a little bit different from just a walk through a park, even if that park is 6.5 square miles, horse riding is an exciting alternative. I did a ride with Sunset Valley Ranch Tours, and it wove its way along the side of cliffs (a safe distance from the edge of course) and included amazing views over LA and of the Hollywood sign. Also located within Griffith Park, is the Griffith Observatory that is a worthwhile visit.
Although, smaller than its sister studio in Orlando, Universal Studios Hollywood has just recently stepped up its game by opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. A joyful attraction, especially families with younger children, this is a fun outing that is closer to the city than Disneyland, and so is a good stop if you only have a few days to explore Los Angeles, but still want to experience some adventure at a theme park.
Downtown LA has long been the scene of forgotten architectural beauty’s, derelict buildings, and dirt and rubbish. But over the last few years this historic neighbourhood has undergone a revival, it is currently in the process of restoring its remarkable theatres and buildings, and is opening up new and trendy restaurants. While it is still in the beginning stages of renewal, it has definitely seen an improvement and a restoration.
Attend a Sporting Match
Sport is massive throughout the entirety of the United States, having teams for almost every sport in every state, and high school games to professional teams are previewed on the many, many sport channels on offer. Yet Los Angeles in particular is nuts for their sport teams. Two of the most popular teams to go and see play are the Los Angeles Dodgers and the LA Lakers. While I am not the biggest sport fan, I do admit that seeing a sporting match in America is one adrenaline pumping activity that can leave anyone entertained.
Six Flags/Knott’s Berry Farm (theme parks)
California is not only all about the beaches and the palm trees, it is also about the adrenaline and thrill seekers, and having more than 8 theme parks just within the southern part of the state you are sure to get your heart pumping on all of the rollercoasters on offer. Some of the more favoured theme parks include: Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags.
Warner Bros Studio Tour
If celebrity sightings are high on your LA check lists, than look no further than the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Burbank. While it is not guaranteed that you will see a star, Warner Bros is the set of productions like The Ellen Show, Pretty Little Liars, The Big Bang Theory, and more recently the Gilmore Girls reunion, as well as movies including Oceans Thirteen, Inception, and the Dark Knight Rises. On my tour I was lucky to spot Ashely Benson, the real life Hanna from Pretty Little Liars, and on the same day someone else caught a glimpse of Alexis Bledel, Rory from Gilmore Girls. So it really is quite common to get a sight of one of your favourite stars throughout the studios.
U.S. Bank Tower Skyslide
One attraction that I unfortunately missed out on, is the soon to be opened glass slide, which is currently being built onto the side of the U.S. Bank Tower skyscraper, the tallest building in LA. This slide will sit 1,000 feet in the air, hanging off the side of the 70th to the 69th floor of the building, and is made of solid transparent glass, offering a new and exciting (for some), way of seeing the city, even if for only the second that it takes to go down it. This attraction is due to open late June 2016.
The Grove/Farmers Markets
A great place for a quick lunch and some shopping is the Farmers Market. Unlike most farmer’s markets, it is not always overflowing with tasty fresh fruit and blooming flowers that are usually common, here you’ll find a variety of food kiosks selling cuisines ranging from Indian to French and everything in between. Only a few feet away from the food stalls is a popular shopping area that stocks all of the general stores like H&M and Sephora.
A smaller neighbourhood located just on the outskirts of the city of Los Angeles, Pasadena is a little gem that is one of my favourite spots to visit when in LA. Housing both the Rose Bowl Flea Markets and the Rose Bowl Parade, it is a popular location during the holidays and a great little getaway only 20 minutes out of the downtown district. With an apparent smaller population, but with an equally, if not more, expensive real estate market, Pasadena definitely has that laid back Californian lifestyle yet also has a superior feel to it as well.
So there you have it, a complete guide to your next LA vacation. What are your favourite Los Angeles hang out spots? Are you more of the relax by the pool type, or do you crave that blood pumping excitement that only a rollercoaster can give you? Either way Los Angeles has got you covered for whatever kind of holiday you are in the mood for.