After landing in Los Angeles, I picked up the Mustang Convertible I obviously rented and was excited to talk about traffic routes for the next 5 days. My husband and I drove straight to the city from LAX (We took Route 1 to the 1-405 North) and checked into the W West Beverley Hills.
As we checked in, we told the W's concierge it was our first time in LA. Free of charge, she upgraded our room to a suite complete with huge windows overlooking the hills, a separate lounge and office area, walk in closets and a gigantic bathroom. We were instructed to call down to the front desk 2 minutes before we needed our car; that would give them enough time to have it out front and ready for us. I realized that I loved LA and could really get used to this glamorous lifestyle.
As promised, our car was out front waiting for us shortly after we called. We headed to the famous Chateau Marmont for dinner. I was already excited to visit this enchanted castle on the hill, but even more so after all of the special treatment I was receiving in this prestigious city. I began imagining myself being escorted by the hostess into a private nook of the restaurant (You know, safe from the paparazzi). I couldn't wait to sink into a large leather chair by a candle-lit table and gaze out at the garden terrace. I would listen to the sweet, soft sounds of live jazz music while I waited for my friends, Bradley Cooper and Scarlett Johansson to show up. The waitress would be sure to bring me a martini while I waited and the chef would greet me to introduce the custom menu that was created for our visit....
It's a very good thing I wasn't too accustomed to being treated like royalty. When we showed up, we learned that our reservations were not for the main restaurant, just for the bar. So we ate kobe burgers and french fries while tucked up to a bar top, but they still offered us valet parking.
Speaking of the valet parking; it was absolutely everywhere and I had serious withdrawal from it when I came home. I do wish I had read this article before I arrived: How to Use Valet Parking (Without looking like an idiot). Besides having someone else park and bring me my car at any and every opportunity presented to me (This includes a quick stop at In N' Out Burger), here is a list of the other things I enjoyed and recommend:
1. Hike the Hollywood Sign Trail Luckily, Francisco researched this trail before we arrived as it was actually a little difficult to find. He brought this very detailed map with instructions on it (It might be a good idea to print the map out as reception on the trail was hit and miss, so we couldn't always rely on our phones). Don't forget to bring at least 1.5L of water per person; you will need it.
We didn't see any rattlesnakes, but we did see a baby coyote, dogs dressed better than us and a great view from the top.
2. Walk along Hollywood Blvd to see the TCL Chinese Theatre, The Dolby Theatre, the Roosevelt Hotel and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
3. Hollywood Bus Tour Like many celebrities before me, I did something embarrassing and am hoping the paparazzi didn't catch me: I took a TMZ bus tour. We basically drove around LA and were bribed with XL TMZ t-shirts to find and point out celebrities. I was so embarrassed to be on the bus, that I half-hoped someone would egg us. By the end of the ride, my bus mates had found Cameron Diaz, George Clooney and Malin Akerman lookalikes and I had less faith in humanity.
4. Embrace 90210 I felt like less of a loser back in my own car (And remember, it was Ford Mustang). Although Dylan's Porsche would have been a better ride, my inner 90's child was as content as could be driving through the streets of Beverley Hills, home of Ned's Peach Pit.
We stopped to look at the platinum fire hydrants, beautiful homes and the shops of Rodeo Drive. For dinner, we went to SUGARFISH for sushi and it was the best sushi I have ever had. The fish was so fresh and plated beautifully. As the waitress delivered our meals at staggered times, she would explain how they were made and how to eat the pieces. We were instructed to eat immediately; they do not wait until the entire table's food is ready before serving. They do not take reservations, but we only had a short wait for a table. We each chose 3 items from their "Trust Me" menu (I picked the snapper, salmon and albacore sushi) and quickly learned that we could indeed trust them.
We also did a self-guided tour of Bel Air ( I didn't realize that Will Smith's cab where "the license plate said FRESH with a dice in the mirror" made such a long and windy trip up a hill to get to Uncle Phil's house).
5. Venice Beach We had a great time relaxing on this vibrant beach. We walked passed Muscle Beach, the famous basketball courts, beautiful boardwalk homes, shops and the filming of a reality TV show. We also enjoyed watching artists musicians and athletes. Watching the surfers, bikers, skaters and hacky sackers, made me feel like I was in that old video game California Games. Apparently, I also felt like I had actually participated in these athletic activities the way I rewarded myself with some delicious beach snacks in a boardwalk pub.
6. Santa Monica Pier Another great beach stop with swimming, fishing, surfing, volley ball, rides, music, people watching and delicious food.
7. Go to a Television Taping One month before arriving in LA, I requested tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen Degeneres. The highlight of this trip was definitely getting to go to a taping of The Ellen Degeneres Show at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. I couldn't believe it when someone from the show called to offer me the tickets. I spent the majority of that long distance phone call making the person convince me she was real.
The day was magical: I got to sing karaoke before the show, I was seated in the aisle Ellen dances through, her guests were Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and we even got to watch them joust.
8. Universal Studios When buying our tickets, we upgraded to the 'Front of the Line' option. It was pricey, but worth every penny. We got to walk to the front of the line for each attraction and we were able to hit them all. My absolute favourite one was Jurassic Park- The Ride (it was very, very scary). I also really enjoyed the 1 hour Studio Tour, which is included in all admission tickets. We were able to learn about how movies were made, see a King Kong attraction, studios and sets (including Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives).
I had a fantastic time in LA and am already looking forward to going back. I really enjoyed staying in Westwood as it was such a cute area with a lot of shops and restaurants. I particularly liked Barney's Beanery (A restaurant and pub). We met some locals there who befriended us for the night and invited us to join them in some great karaoke duos. The bartender also informed us that Jim Morrison was once in the establishment, but kicked out for urinating on the very bar I ordered my drink from....Nice!
I definitely wasn't here long enough so, what should I do next time? Please add your recommendations in the comments section for others to see as well.
My name is Sara and I love finding new things to do in a new city. This website is an attempt to share the things that excite me in a new place through stories, photos, lists, travel tips and tricks.