Well we've been back for 2 weeks now and the West Coast seems a distant memory! We had an amazing time and I wanted to say thank you to everyone that helped us plan our trip!
Here's our trip report:
DAY 1- After a 12 hour flight from the UK, we arrived in LAX between 3-4pm to glorious Californian sunshine. Heading through immigration wasn’t too bad although we were the last 2 to go through!!!! Once we were through, we had to get a shuttle bus to pick the hire car up. We had chosen Dollar rental cars and it was really easy to sort out. We choose our car- a little jeep and after the lady put the address in for our hotel (the W); we headed off in the direction of Hollywood! By this time it was rush hour and it was weird getting used to driving on the wrong side of the road!!!!! The first time we turned right on a red light we thought that we were going to get pulled by the LAPD but we were fine!!!!
As we headed into Hollywood we got our first glimpse of the Hollywood sign and then we could see the giant W sign so just headed towards that! I have done a separate review for the hotel so I won’t mention anything more about that on here!
We didn’t bother unpacking and headed straight out. It was dark at this point and my first impressions of Hollywood were ‘OMG this wasn’t what I was expecting’! At night time it looked quite seedy (lots of adult and gun shops!) and all we could hear was the buzzing of tattoo places! We walked as far as the Chinese Theatre and decided that we would just get something to eat and head back.
DAY 2- The jetlag had kicked in and we were awake early. We opened the curtains and saw sunrise over LA. We were going to Universal that day so we headed out early and went and got some breakfast from the Coffeebean near the Chinese Theatre. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the W but you get to see some of the celebrity stars on the Walk of Fame on the way. Coffeebean is like the equivalent of Starbucks but cheaper (compared to UK prices) and we ended up having breakfast here most mornings! It was nice to just people watch out of the window!
We then took the tube to Universal which again was very hassle free. I think the price was $1.50 each per journey (regardless of where you travel too). When we were getting our ticket, someone tried their luck with us asking if we wanted to buy his ticket of him for a dollar. We just walked away as I’m guessing it was a used ticket! It’s not exactly expensive in the first place! Once we got off the tube we walked over to the Universal Shuttle bus and we were at the park by 9.
We brought our tickets online before we went and I was glad we did as the queues for the tickets were quite long. I had read about people getting front of line passes and we opted against it. I’m glad we didn’t get them as there were no queues at all and it would have been a waste of money for us!
We did the studio tour first and again were so glad we did as when we got off our tour, the queues for this were really long! We then did the rest of the rides. My favourite was the Jurassic Park water ride! I was expecting to get drenched as some people have mentioned on here but I didn’t even get a single drop of water on me! We finished up watching the Waterworld show and then headed back where we walked around Hollywood some more.
We got lunch at the Highlands shopping centre. You can get some good views of the Hollywood sign from here. Then we just strolled around looking at the Chinese Theatre and celebrity handprints. It is very touristy here but you would expect that!
In the evening we drove to Anaheim to watch the Angels at a baseball game. It took us over an hour to get there as the traffic was really heavy and the Sat Nav seemed to take us just about everywhere! Once we got there it was easy to park and it was an enjoyable night…although we had no idea how the scoring worked! We pigged out on hotdogs, pizza and pretzels! Everyone around us seemed to be enjoying themselves ad it was a good crowd! We didn’t stay for all of the game as the long plane journey and early start had taken it out of us but I think we saw the majority of it!
Heading back to LA the traffic was clear and it took about an hour.
DAY 3- Again we were up early and walked to Coffeebean for a chocolate twist! Then we headed over to the Starline stall and booked a trip on the Celebrity Homes tour. It was expensive but I thought it was worth it! The Guide was very informative and told us all his stories of seeing celebrities going about their daily business (I’m not sure how much of this was true mind you!!). First of all we headed up into the Hollywood Hills and saw some of the celeb houses here. We stopped off somewhere where we had an amazing view of LA, the freeway and the Hollywood Bowl. Surprisingly it wasn’t that smoggy on that day but when we went back later on in our trip, it was really smoggy! We then travelled past Sunset Boulevard, Beverley Hills, and Rodeo Drive etc. I noted down some of the road names and we decided to have a drive around in our own car later in the day! I wasn’t stalking celebrities honestly! We drove to Bel Air and it was nice just to take a leisurely drive and look at the enormous houses!!!!
We headed towards Rodeo Drive and spent a few hours here looking at things we can’t afford! We had lunch at Jack n Jills which considering where it was, we found the prices to be very reasonable. It was here we had our ‘celebrity experience’! From nowhere the Paparazzi appeared. The celebrity that they were stalking was Taylor Swift who was also having lunch at Jack n Jills!
We got a free entry ticket to Madame Tussauds with the starline ticket so we thought we may as well have a look. We’ve been to the UK once before and it is very much once you have seen one you have seen them all! It was free though!
That evening we headed back to Beverley Hills and had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory! WOW! You know you are eating in LA when you get a calorie menu as well as the normal menu! My best advice would be not to look!!!!! It turned out my husband had the dinner which had the most calories on the whole menu!!!! We had a lovely dinner and shared a cheesecake! Absolutely divine!!!!
DAY 4- this was our last full day in LA and we had decided that we would drive to Santa Monica and Malibu to check out some of the great Californian beaches. When we opened the window it was very hazy/foggy! Undeterred, we drove to Santa Monica along Highway 1 and strolled around the pier. It was still quite chilly! We then walked to Venice beach. It was great to just watch people along the way. There were yoga classes, skateboarders, roller blading, beach volleyball, people walking their dogs (dressed up in silly outfits- the dogs that is!). You know when you get to Venice beach as it is a completely different kind of atmosphere! There are lots of homeless people down this end and you can smell people smoking naughty things! Even so, it was worth the walk as you can see muscle beach (which seemed to be full of old men) and all the stalls and people entertaining the tourists.
We walked back to Santa Monica pier and the sun had started to come out so we headed to Malibu and stopped on route at a place where there were hundreds of flags (mainly American) as far as you could see. I wonder if anyone could tell us what this was? I think it was by a University but I may be wrong.
Anyway, we ended up at Zuma beach. It was still quite chilly so we only stayed for a bite to eat, a very brief sunbathing session and then headed back to LA. We went a different way back through the mountains which was nice.
DAY 17- This was the day we flew back to the UK. We drove from San Luis Obispo which took about 3 hours. As we weren’t flying home until 17.35, we thought we would have one last drive round Beverley Hills at posh houses. We also drove to get a closer view of the Hollywood Sign. I put in ‘Deronda Drive’ in the Sat Nav and it took us up a very windy road with really close views of the sign. When we turned around we saw that there were people on Mulholland Road (not Drive). We put this in the Sat Nav and this took us to within feet of the sign! I know it’s only a sign but it was still good to get that close! It must be so annoying for all the residents that live in the area as we weren’t the only ones driving around to get a closer look!
We had lunch at Jack n Jills’ again before driving back to the car hire place and flying home!