Some of you will know that my family and I have recently returned from an amazing 3+ weeks in the States, so this is the start of a ‘mini series’ of USA blogs to whet your appetite and talk about this spectacular destination that has so much to see and do!
As most Australian’s do, we flew into Los Angeles – the city of angels – famed for Hollywood, glossy films, home to the elite actors/screen stars and the capital of the ‘silver screen’, known for all of its glitz and glamour! And it is all that, and so much more.
I’m fortunate to have visited LA a few times now for holidays, conferences and work, and each time I have been there it has been a totally different and unique experience. It is a huge area which is very diverse and with lots on offer, something to make everyone’s heart sing.
If travelling with children, Anaheim is a must so that you can take in Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, and Knott’s Berry Farm if you want to take in some good ol’ fashioned American rides. There is also Universal Studios, Legoland, Hollywood and the Chinese Mann Theater to explore… lots for the kids to do!
L.A. Live is the new ‘trendy’ part of town, which is technically downtown LA. Here you’ll find the Staples Center where you can take in a basketball or ice hockey game, the Conference & Convention Center and a host of ‘cool’ new restaurants. Olvera Street has a Mexican focus and is a great place to have dinner one evening and check out the Mexican stalls and shops.
This time we chose to stay in Santa Monica which was lovely. Take a walk down Santa Monica Pier where you may be lucky enough to see a seal, bike ride to nearby Venice Beach & Muscle Beach and there are a range of shops, cafes and restaurants to enjoy. The beaches are great and the sunsets are amazing (albeit quick!) so it was a great place to be based, away from the hustle and bustle but with easy access to all that LA has to offer.
It’s worth jumping on the ‘Big Bus’ tour if you want to take in all the main sights, as this takes you through the lovely suburb of Brentwood (home to many of the stars), Beverley Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, the Chinese Mann Theater and beach areas of Venice Santa Monica. It also introduces you to Melrose Avenue (inspiration for the 90’s Melrose Place show – which you will know all about if you are my age!), The Viper Room, Sunset Boulevard and lots of other landmarks that most people have heard of. You can jump off the bus at most points of interest and explore to your heart’s content, so it really is an economical way to take in all the sights but to do at your own pace and without being herded as part of a group. And you can spread out your sightseeing over a couple of days, it doesn’t all have to be done in one day which is a bonus, as you will find it hard to fit it all in.
For the serious shoppers, a day at the Citadel Outlets is also a must. Home to 90+ shops, most of the well-known fashion brands (for males, females and kids!) are there and you will definitely grab a few bargains. It is around 20 mins by cab from ‘downtown LA’ or 45 mins by cab from the beach areas, but it is worth the journey if you do plan to do a bit of shopping. The savings will more than outweigh the cost of the cab!
The Americans have really progressed with their food options over the past few years. Gone are the days that you can only find burgers and chips… much to everyone’s delight! Sandwiches and wraps are now readily available and there are Thai and Indian restaurants, Irish and British pubs to eat in as well as the traditional Diner eateries. The Mexican is fresh and more authentic and we were pleasantly surprised by the choices on offer, which was great!
The weather is mainly fine all year round and temperatures tend to sit in the mid to high 20’s so there’s never a bad time to visit LA.
You will need at least 4 – 5 days to cover the main areas of Los Angeles itself and then maybe think about adding on a trip to Las Vegas, Palm Springs (both of which you can easily drive to) or even a cruise to Mexico. There are a huge range of ships carrying out seven night cruises from LA to the Mexican Riviera at at very affordable prices so definitely worth thinking about if you have the time.
LA was the start of our USA adventure so we picked up a car at the end of our stay, ready to journey north to San Francisco… but you’ll have to read about that next week!!! Next week I’ll be “California Drivin’ ” and telling you all about out our amazing journey from LA to San Franciso…. so look out for next week’s blog!