A visit to Los Angeles – my list of must see and do

I had never been to California until recently when I had the opportunity to spend 6 days in the Los Angeles area.  I thought I’d post a few pictures and review my trip based on what I’d love to see again, and what was worth one look – if you’re in the neighborhood.

The first thing up is the La Brea Tar Pits.

While I didn’t go in the museum, the pool of tar and bubbling methane, graced by a few fake elephants, was worth a look if you’re in the neighborhood, but don’t make a special trip.

Next is Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive

It’s every thing you imagine, the shops, the cars, the palm trees.  Did I mention the cars?  Traffic in LA is not nearly as boring with so many luxury cars to see.  Ferrari, Bentley, and Lamborghini – everywhere!  I think they also issue a new huge black Mercedes to every resident of Beverly Hills!

I also found a new favorite restaurant, we ate there twice, yum!  It’s called The Farm A must see – and eat!

Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame

It was really crowded, but I’d go back and tour the inside of the theater and maybe walk along more of the sidewalk.

The Hollywood sign – the better picture would be in the AM.  The Hollywood sign is on Mt. Lee and the Griffith Observation is on Mt. Hollywood.

The Griffith Observatory

Just be prepared to park and walk halfway up the hill, this is a popular place!  It has the best Hollywood sign views (above) and city views.  At night they have several telescopes available for viewing planets and the moon.  Everything is free but the planetarium show.  We also saw the international space station go by.  I first found out it was visible and saw the space station in New Zealand; you can look up your location here to find out when to watch for it.

This is certainly worth going once, you’ll have to decide if you want to fight the crowds to go again!

Day 1 we also went to Olvera St and Union Station, and The Grove and Farmers Market.  Both worth seeing if you’re in the neighborhood but no need for a special trip – especially in LA traffic.

Should I admit that this next image was taken out the window while we were driving?

Day 2 we rented bikes in Venice and rode to Santa Monica.  It wasn’t far and a nice flat ride.  We had lunch at the 3rd Street Promenade and walked around the Santa Monica pier.  I loved the view of the beach from the ferris wheel.   The old carousal was so pretty too.  This is a great way to spend a good part of a day.

Day 3 – I was staying in Venice Beach and loved the canals and all the unique houses, I could post dozens, they were all so quaint and beautiful.  If you love houses, this is the best walk!  This is also a good example of “June gloom” which usually burns off by noon, however, it decided to stick around all day the last 2 days of my trip.  The breeze coming off the ocean is also quite cold so be prepared with a jacket and layers even in June.

Even though it doesn’t seem to rain, that doesn’t stop the flowers in the yards.   Bougainvillea was so colorful everywhere.

Saturday night we attended a performance by the California Philharmonic at the LA Arboretum.  It was a gorgeous evening to be out on the lawn and special guests Brian McKnight and Bryan Pezzone were excellent additions to an already wonderful patriotic selection of pieces. I didn’t see much of the Arboretum, so if I was in the neighborhood I’d go back.

Day 4 – A visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu wasn’t my favorite, but the hike afterwards was fantastic!  Hiking is huge in LA and there are tons of trails in the hills/mountains.  This one was the Solstice Canyon Loop which in included the sweetest little series of waterfalls with maidenhair fern and the ruins of a home burned in one of the many canyon fires.  It was built by a famous architect and the family owned many exotic animals back in the day.

We took the high trail back and were rewarded with views of the ocean, this is why everyone builds on the hills even with the threat of fires and mud slides.  Definately a hike worth the effort!

Day 5 started the two days of gloom, which was so sad as this may be the prettiest beach I’ve ever been to!  It’s called Treasure Island and is behind the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. Pictures I’ve seen show amazing teal water.  I’d much rather have enjoyed a sunny afternoon on this beach than be in my jeans and a sweater trying to stay warm!  Seeing the huge (at least a foot across) star fish and sea anemones in the tidal pools was so neat.  I’ll definitely come back here if I’m anywhere close!

We also explored the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  Sadly the ship and dock area have seen better days since she was parked there in the 1960’s.  We didn’t arrive at the right time to take the guided tour of the first class cabins, or the WWII tour, so that may have been better, but it was a bit disappointing.  I think Titanic has glamorized ships like this so the poor Queen Mary even though bigger and newer just didn’t have much to offer the imagination.

Day 6 – I’ve always wanted to see a show being taped, but TV shows were on summer hiatus sadly.  But on the last day I discovered studio tours.  We did the Sony studio tour (used to be Columbia Pictures and MGM) which included the backlot, soundstages, sets, etc.  We saw the Jeopardy set (Alex Trebek may be the only host that interacts with the studio audience), saw the sound stage were the Wizard of Oz was created (the tornado was a huge stocking full of dirt!) and came within feet of Adam Sandler.  I love behind the scenes type things so I’d do this tour again and also the WB and Paramount tours if I had time.

Dinner at the yummy James’ Beach in Venice capped off a great week!

So, those are the highlights from 500 pictures. 🙂  There’s lots more left to see on my next trip to California, whenever that may be, and some new favorites to visit again!

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