Los Angeles. The city of celebrities, sun and salaries. Well, that’s what the movies and television shows had me believing.As I was touring around LA, however, I found it to be a place of extremes – the extremely rich but also the extremely poor. It was pretty confronting to see homeless people sleeping alongside the Hollywood Walk of Fame and something I definitely wasn’t prepared for.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time in Los Angeles and here is a list of things I got up to during my five days there:
1. Universal Studios
I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun as I had at Universal Studios! There were so many awesome rides, from The Simpsons Ride in Krustyland, to the sets of famous movies and tv shows in the Studio Tour. My tips? Get yourself a front of line pass – if the line is huge for your particular ride, you can go on it almost immediately. N and I also arrived when the studio opened so we could go on all the rides quickly, then we used our front of line pass again later when the park got busier! Remember, this pass can only be used once per ride.
Combine a weekend with Christmas holidays. Add huge expectations of a magical faraway land. What do you get? That’s right, disappointment. N and I did everything wrong for our trip to Disneyland. There were huge crowds, screaming children, people pushing in front of us at the cafeterias…The only ride we went on was the teacup ride because it didn’t have a 2-hour+ wait! The FastPass system was available…but I don’t know if it would have made a difference with so many people. If you’re a Disneyland expert, please let me know below! I’m not giving up on this theme park yet though – perhaps I’ll go back in the off season.
3. Ice Hockey Game
Being a massive sports fan, this was one of my favourite experiences in LA. N and I went to see the Anaheim Ducks play and it felt like we had entered the set of a Mighty Ducks movie. We may have gotten carried away with the team’s paraphernalia (think duck hats, jumpers and scarves) but luckily we didn’t look ridiculous leaving the rink as the Ducks won. And no, they didn’t do the flying v to win themselves the game!
4. TCL Chinese Theatre
One of the most famous attractions in Hollywood, you will find over 200 celebrity hand and footprints here. Originally named Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, its exterior depicts a Chinese dragon, with the main entrance guarded by Ming Dynasty lions.
Being a huge Harry Potter fan and also a proud Australian, my favourite hand and footprints belonged to Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and, of course, Hugh Jackman.
5. Hollywood Walk of Fame
Stretching along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street (right near the Chinese Theatre!) is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Celebrities have been unveiling their stars since 1956 and are still doing so today. Best part about it? It’s completely free to view. I also made a mental list of names I didn’t recognise and Googled them back in the hotel later that night!
6. Tour of stars’ homes
For some it may be tacky. For me, it was completely necessary! I enjoyed sitting back and relaxing while our tour guide drove us around Beverly Hills and showed us where the rich and famous live or lived. We saw where Dr Phil and Katy Perry reside, as well as the house Michael Jackson used in to live and where The Bodyguard was filmed.
7. Rodeo Drive
If you’re a mere mortal like myself, then you may be tempted to have your own Vivian Ward moment along this famous shopping and dining strip (fishnet stockings optional). It’s worth visiting just for the people watching alone. Make sure you also check out the Beverly Wilshire – yes, THE hotel from Pretty Woman!
8. Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier
We had a lot of fun hiring a bike and cycling past Venice Beach’s muscle men and yoga die-hards on this beautiful sunny day. We tied up our bikes and had lunch on the Pier, admiring the lifeguard shacks made famous by Baywatch.
9. Hollywood sign
Obviously because the Hollywood sign is located on a hill, it can be seen from various points around LA. Don’t forget to take its photo!
So now over to you, dear readers. What would you recommend for me to do on my next trip to LA?