California was high on my travel wishlist, probably because of all the films and series I’ve watched that take place there. Well I grew up watching Beverly Hills 90210 (the original one not the remake) after all! And then there is San Francisco and Golden Gate bridge and not to mention Pacific Coast Highway 1, which I discovered through blogs and Pinterest (the latter one is definitely a “thing” nowadays for travel planning along with Instagram).
Today I’m really proud and excited to say that I’ve been there and done that and I really really liked the experience! I have so many photos, experiences and tips to share with you and will take it one step at a time, starting off with 12 fun things I did in Los Angeles over the span of three and a half days (yes they were jam packed, but we saw and experienced so many things that it was worthy)!
1) Window shopped along Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Abbot Kinney is probably my favorite street in the LA metropolitan area as it has cute stores (sometimes beach themed), it’s small (by LA standards) and leads to the beach! We mainly window shopped but returned here on our last evening and stopped by the TOMS flagship store, which was very bohemian I should say!
2) Walked along Venice Beach
After the window shopping we ended up on Venice Beach just in time to see the last sliver of sun go down in the ocean. That would be a killer sunset, but I’m happy that at least we caught a glimpse of it! We then walked along the beach towards Santa Monica pier. Being Saturday night the beach was bustling with people who walked, biked and skated.
3) Visited the Getty Center
The Getty Center is one of LA’s free attractions, which I highly recommend if you like museums, gardens and killer views. We mostly visited for the latter to be honest, although we did see one photography exhibition by Josef Koudelka and admired the center’s central garden!
4) Drove along Malibu (and dipped our toes in the Pacific)
After marveling the views from the Getty Center, we drove along Malibu up to Zuma beach were we stopped for a while to dip our toes in the ocean (which was cold) and marvel the beach for a while. For the celebrity savvy people, Gwen Stefani (of No Doubt fame) has named her second son Zuma. She was indeed inspired from this very beach! Our visit in Malibu ended with dinner at Geoffrey’s, which was delicious. Tip: If you do plan to eat there, keep in mind that the lunch menu is more budget friendly!
5) Took photos at the Urban Light sculpture outside LACMA
This trip was probably the only one that I haven’t been inside a museum. Not that it bothers me, but it’s a fact. But I couldn’t ignore the Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden outside LACMA which is always accessible to the public and thanks to fashion bloggers and Instagram, a classic photo destination. Did I mention it was also busy with people taking selfies and pictures of each other? I’m sure the artist didn’t have such a use in mind. I do took photos with the lights, but I like them alone, without people!
6) Hiked up to the Hollywood Sign
This was probably the best experience we had in LA, because a photo with the Hollywood sign on the background was not enough for us. We wanted to hike on top and that’s what we did! To do so, we followed Christine’s instructions and made it to the top. It was hot on that day (and I’m sure it gets hotter come summertime) but thankfully for about 1/3 of the hike we were behind the mountain so there was shade! Needless to say we were the only people hiking with jeans on…but whatever!
7) Walked along Hollywood Boulevard
Stepping on stars in Hollywood Boulevard was next on our list. The stars span over many blocks but we only walked a couple of them! If you want to find a specific actor/singer just Google it and you’ll get the location instead of roaming aroung! Here you can also see the Chinese Theater which is the longest running cinema since 1927. Outside the theater you’ll find the foot and hand prints of many stars! Oh and next to the Chinese Theater right between Hard Rock Cafe and Sephora is the entrance to the Dolby Theater where the Oscars take place. It’s also the entrance to a mall so we didn’t realize that also doubled as the theater entrance as we walked inside and out THAT specific entrance! I blame Google maps which failed to give detailed hints!
8) Drove around Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is such a vast neighborhood, with many interesting houses and would take hours to just drive by. We made at stop at the Beverly Hills sign (we had to because of the aforementioned series) as well as the Beverly Hills hotel, and drove by Rodeo Drive, of Pretty Woman fame. It’s not exactly Avenue Montaigne (Paris), but it’s a nice place (for window shopping) nonetheless and I wish we had more time to walk around for a bit.
9) Admired LA at night from Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is a must if you are the kind of person who likes to see cities from a vantage point. For me the best time to visit would be at dusk, but we made it on top at night. The view didn’t disappoint as you can tell from the photo! I guess that on a clear day you can even see the sea! Hint: See those skyscrapers on the left side of the photo: that’s downtown LA.
10) Visited Paramount Studios
Another thing we definitely wanted to do while in LA was to visit a Hollywood studio. The options are a handful, but after researching and reading this answer on Trippy, we settled on Paramount Studios. I’ve been told that most studios are mainly used for TV series nowadays, which was the case here, but that doesn’t mean they’re not used for films as well. I spotted one stage that was used in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and was somewhat ecstatic (because it was a film I’ve seen), as our guide focused in the studio’s golden era (which I don’t blame him as Paramount has a long history). In any case, we learned a lot about how a studio works and a few things about old school special effects!
11) Walked around Downtown Los Angeles
After Paramount, we bid Hollywood goodbye and headed to Downtown LA, which is totally different from all the other areas that we had driven by up to this point. It’s a walkable city center, with skyscrapers, shops and ethnic neighborhoods! No 1 on my to-visit list was the Walt Disney Music Hall as I’m a big Frank Gehry fan in case you didn’t already know so. We then walked by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pershing Square and Diamond District. We ate delicious desserts from Bottega Louie and headed to Japantown, ending our walk with a visit to Our Lady of the Angels cathedral, which is the most modern church I’ve ever set foot on!
Related: A Walk in Downtown LA
12) Admired the houses along Venice canals
We ended our visit in LA with a walk around the Venice canals, took countless photos of houses, dreamed about owning a house there before heading to Abbot Kinney for a last walk!
And that sums up our visit in Los Angeles. In case you were wondering, my travel partners were 3 friends of mine from Greece, which took advantage of me being in the US for nine months and planned a bi-coastal trip! As always I don’t share photos of my friends, just expose myself, which is more than enough!!!
I hope you didn’t get bored and enjoyed the ride…Hopefully the next California related posts will be shorter, but LA is a large city and needed a lot of (blog) space!!
Have you been in LA? Which is your favorite place/sight in the city?