Maria Bouman, The Netherlands
You cannot visit California without a visit to the City of Angels: Los Angeles. Famous for the movie studios, Hollywood and The Walk of Fame, but there is so much more to see in this spectacular city, even when you are only visiting for three days! So start planning your trip to LA right now, because I will reveal to you the best sightseeing places, restaurants and, of course, the most wonderful shops.
Visit The Farmers Market
I started my trip with a visit to the famous Farmer’s Market. This is a great experience to try different kinds of foods from several cultures. From Italian pastas to Japanese sushi, The Farmers Market has it all. Around Christmas is the perfect time for a visit because of the special atmosphere and exuberant decoration. There are also many Christmas festivities going on, like live music and Dickensian carolers. The market is not only a great place to eat, but also to shop. All the big names like ZARA, Barney’s, Coach and many more have a shop in this area. So the perfect location for food, shops and fun!
Forget the Universal Studios and go to the Warner Bros Studios
Los Angeles is without doubt the capital of the movie industry. All the big movie companies are located here, like Universal, Warner Bros and Paramount. For all the movie lovers this is the perfect opportunity to visit one of their studios, but the big question is which one to visit? I chose the Warner Bros Studios. They offer different kinds of tours, like a general tour, classic tour, deluxe tour and even a horror tour. I decided to go for the classic tour because I am a big fan off the old movies. This tour is focused on the Golden Age of Hollywood from the early 1900s to 1960s. If you are not a huge fan of the old movies, than a better option is the general tour. The tour I took was 3.5 hours and it was an amazing experience. They showed us the movie locations of Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause and many more! What is special about this tour is the fact that they really give you an inside look behind the studio. They showed us the depot with all the equipment they used in the Warner Brothers’ movies. In total the tour took around 3.5 hours so a good option would be to combine the tour with another day activity.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
You cannot visit Los Angeles without a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At this place you can find the real stars. In total there are 2,600 stars, from The Beatles to Johnny Depp, along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Fine Street. I went to this place in the evening, but I highly recommend going during the day. You have a much better view of the street and a lot is going on, like street performances and you can even take a picture with a real snake!
Griffith Observatory Park, The Best of Both Views
Looking for the best view of the whole city? Go to the Griffith Observatory Park where you will find a breathtaking view on the City and the Hollywood Sign! There are two options to go. The first one is to go by car and park your car at the Griffith Observatory parking place. This is the easiest way but I would definitely recommend to go here by hiking. It’s active and by this way you discover so much more. There a dozens of way to get to the park, from beginner to advanced level. I was not prepared for a challenging hike so I decided to go for the East Griffith Observatory Trail. This hike took only 30 minutes, so perfect when you have more plans for the day. For this hike you can park your car to the intersection of Vermont and Vista de Valle / Commonwealth Canyon road and walk west on Vista de Valle. Go further and you see the picnic table, this is the start of the hike. This route is easy-to-follow and not that difficult. During this trip you will pass by many point where you have a magnificent view over the city of Los Angeles. After 30 minutes you will arrive at the Observatory, which offers you art deco architecture, the views on the Hollywood Sign and the Statue Memorial to James Dean. This was just one short and easy way to go. For an overview of all the different hikes go to http://www.modernhiker.com. Enjoy your hike!
A True Shopping Paradise
Los Angeles is by far the best place to shop in California. It offers a variety of high end brands, vintage stores, upcoming designers, big department stores and cozy boutiques. I started my shop session at Melrose Avenue. First stop was the legendary retailer Fred Segal. Well known for the perfect jeans. Visit also Gregory’s for great service and exclusive, high quality Italian shoes. I found here the perfect pair of over-knees suede boots. Go further on Melrose Avenue and you will find big names like Paul Smith, Balenciaga. Looking for something more affordable? Go to Wasteland consignment store. This vintage walhalla offers a big range of clothes for men and women. I ended my shopping adventure with a visit to most famous shopping street off Los Angeles: Rodeo Drive. Every legendary designer has his own brand store, from Chanel to Hermes. Shopping in this street is only possible with a big wallet, but even only for the window shopping it is a great experience.
The oldest part of Los Angeles, Olvera Street
Done with the glitter and glamour of Hollywood and looking for something completely different? Go to Olvera street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles. This street is known as the birthplace of the city. It is famous for the Mexican heritage and it is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. The street will give you the experience to be part of the old Mexico through the authentic architecture, restaurants, markets, traditional music and folklore shops. Go to this place during the day because in the night most shops and markets are closed. I would also recommend to check out their webpage with information about upcoming events http://www.olvera-street.com.
Santa Monica, The Pearl of The California Lifestyle
Before heading back home I made a little stop in the beach town Santa Monica. Famous for the beaches, 300 days of sunshine and the amazing sunset. Santa Monica is also well-known as a walkable and bike-friendly town. So park you car at the beach and explore the rest of the town by bike of with your walking shoes. Make sure to visit the Santa Monica Pier with a variety of shops, restaurants and carnival attractions. From the pier you walk straight into downtown Santa Monica in only 10 minutes! Around 2.00 P.M. it was time to go back home via highway 1. It was an amazing trip which I would never forget!
Where to stay?
Los Angeles offered a wide range of accommodations types. From cheap hostels to luxury hotels. I decided to stay at the Banana Bungalow Hostel in West-Hollywood because I made the trip on my own. A hostel is a great tool to meet new people because there are a lot of individual travelers. I would highly recommend the Banana Bungalow Hostel due the great location, free breakfast and drinks during the night.