In June 2017, my boyfriend and I travelled to the USA. We landed in Los Angeles on 1st June and we flew back home on 13th June. We stayed in Los Angeles for 8 nights and Las Vegas for 4 nights with a day trip to San Diego and a day trip to The Grand Canyon South Rim..
We arrived in LAX Airport at around 1.30pm (local time). After collecting our luggage, we got a taxi from the airport to our hotel apartment. We stayed in the Boutique Hollywood Hotel in Little Armenia, East of Hollywood.
We didn’t do much on our first day, due to some serious jet lag. We decided to take a short walk down Sunset Boulevard and familiarise ourselves with the area. We wanted to find somewhere to have an American style breakfast in the morning and we also wanted to find somewhere to eat. There was too much choice! We ended up eating at Denny’s, which is an American style diner, for those of you who don’t know.
On day 2, we woke up early… like really early. We decided to walk down to the Hollywood Walk of Fame at about 9am. As we were out quite early, we did avoid the crown a little, however, some shops were later opening up. We walked up on both sides of the walk of fame. We also visited the Chinese theatre. Be warned, there are many people in fancy dress who will charge you to take photos with them…Joe fell for it! We decided to get a tour bus of Hollywood and Beverly Hills because it’s the best way to see lots of things in one go. We paid about $25 each.
The tour took us to a view of the Hollywood sign (it was still very far away). The driver pointed out some famous buildings along the way, including the Laugh Factory, where Robin Williams was discovered. We also saw the fire escape from Pretty Woman. We drove down Rodeo Drive and we then went up to Beverly Hills. We saw quite a few houses that belong/belonged to celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Paris Hilton, Matt Le Blanc, Michael Jacksons Neverland, Victoria and David Beckham, Jennifer Anniston, Brad Pitt and many others.
Afterwards we ate in a Margarita bar. We decided to get a small snack and ordered Nachos and some Chilli Fries. America… you really need to work on your snack sizes. My ‘snack’ was big enough to feed both of us. We had so much food, it was unreal! The bar did huge margaritas for $18. They looked amazing.
On day 3, we visited the Getty Centre. We got there just before it opened. On arrival, you go through some security/bag checks and then you get a train up to the Getty Centre. The Getty centre has many famous pieces of art, which includes work from Van Gogh, Degas, Cezanne, Manet and Monet which was really exciting to see. There were also some photography and sculpture exhibitions. We visited the Sketching Hall which provided art materials and benches so that you could have a go at sketching yourselves. My drawing was atrocious, but it was fun to do!
The Getty Centre has some amazing city views and it also has some beautiful botanic gardens. My iPhone quality photos don’t do it justice.
In the late afternoon, we decided that we wanted to see a film in a famous theatre. As the Chinese theatre is one of the most popular theatres for film premieres, we decided to visit there. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean.
We wanted to have a beach day as it looked like a nice day so we took an Uber down to Santa Monica. Much to our disappointment, when we got closer to the coast, it stayed cloudy all day. When we arrived, we walked up the main shopping street. We stopped for an early lunch in The Cheesecake Factory and then we headed towards Santa Monica Pier. The Pier is very big, much bigger than it appears in photographs. We went in the arcades and had an ice-cream.
Afterwards, we walked along Santa Monica Beach. Although it was cloudy, it was lovely and warm, so we lay down on the beach for a while. We then continued to walk across to Venice beach which happened to have flags from around the world, which were being used as prayer flags. Venice has a great atmosphere and is lively. The board walk is full of things to look at and interesting things to buy. There is a skateboard park where we saw so amazing skaters Venice is also home to the world famous ‘muscle beach’.
On the way back to our apartment, we stopped in Weho for dinner. We visited the famous ‘Pinks’ Hotdog vendor. Worth a visit!
Santa Monica and Venice are by far my favourite parts of Los Angeles. If you haven’t already, you should check it out! But perhaps choose a warmer day…
We visited LA Zoo – because who doesn’t love the zoo?! The zoo was quite big and we got to see some animals that I had not seen before, such as Koala Bears and a Snow Leopard. The only thing that lets this zoo down is the size of the cages. Some cages are incredibly small. The lion cage is tiny. I know they’ll all meet regulations, but they really should think about expanding their current enclosures instead of cramming in as many animals as possible. My local zoo is Paignton Zoo in England and I guess I’m just used to seeing larger enclosures.
We decided that we were going to walk to the Griffith Observatory through the park. After walking for 30 mins, we reached the entrance to the park. It was very hot at this point and we didn’t realise quite how hard it was to walk through the park. We imagined it would be more…. Green… rather than rocky. After googling the route and reading about the dangers of walking through there, we decided to take the safer (and admittedly easier) route and got an Uber to the Observatory. When we finally got there, we realise the Observatory is shut on a Monday – Gutted! We were able to walk around the building and saw some great views, but we didn’t get to go inside.
On day 6 we visited San Diego. You can read about our trip in my blog post USA June 2017 – Day Trip to San Diego, CA
Day 7 –
On day 7 we decided that we wanted to visit Universal Studios because, after all, Los Angeles is known for making movies. We got an Uber from our apartment in Little Armenia to Universal Studios in Studio City. It cost around $8 dollars. We were dropped off right by the entrance and we purchased tickets on the gate for $115 per person (expensive right!!).
Universal Studios is great fun, although having been to Universal Studios Florida, I did expect more rides. Universal Hollywood is all about 3D rides and film making, understandably. We went on the studio tour, which was amazing. We saw sets from War of The Worlds, Bruce Almighty, Back to the Future, Desperate Housewives and Psycho, to name a few. They also incorporate a 3D King Kong ride and a Fast and Furious ride into the tour.
The Wizarding world of Harry potter is great! My favourite ride in Universal was the Forbidden Journey. I would also recommend going to Olivanders. The queue is usually no more than 10 minutes and its fun. I don’t want to give away too much. There is also a Simpsons themed area. They do giant ‘Lard Lad’ doughnuts for $6. They are huge and taste incredible.
Other thhings I’d recommend doing in universal are The Mummy Ride, Jurassic Park Ride, The Waterworld Show and Transformers 3D ride.
Although we had already visited the Griffith Observatory, as it was our last evening we decided that we wanted to visit in the evening and see Los Angeles lit up. The views are just amazing and we also had the opportunity to look at Jupiter through the telescope. The Observatory was actually open this time too, so we got to look around the exhibitions.
Bye-Bye LA! Hello Vegas!
Overall I really enjoyed our time in Los Angeles. The only things that really let it down was the amount of homeless people in the area and the amount of rubbish/trash. LA has a very big problem with homelessness. I have never seen a city with quite so many homeless people. At times, it didn’t feel very safe. In regards to cleanliness, the main streets were clean and looked after, but some streets were filthy and there is a lot of graffiti. Some graffiti is great and really adds character to the area, such as the graffiti on Venice Beach, but most graffiti is name tags and I personally would class it more as vandalism than art.