If you are planning to visit L.A., write this TEN key places down to start discovering this California's city. Bonus: where to stay, where to eat and how to get around.
1) GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
Going up the hills of the Griffith's Park is the best way to start a trip to Los Angeles: it combines nature and incredible views of the city. When you are reaching the Observatory, park your car whenever you see a free spot, walking for a few minutes is better than driving in circles. Same if you get there by UBER, get off a couple meters before so you avoid the traffic.
What to do? After seeing the Hollywood Sign from one of the sides of the Observatory, visit it and go up to its rooftop to appreciate the best Downtown LA panoramic -not so clear because of the smog-. If you get to the park early, it's worth the while going for a walk along its trekking circuits. The distances deceive: even the shortest trekking is hard to complete because of its constant up hill.
2) HOLLYWOOD SIGN
At the Griffith's Observatory, the dream of achieving a good photo with the Hollywood Sign in the back fades away because of the huge distance between them. However, there's another way -full of adrenaline- of reaching to this movie's emblem: it includes trespassing fences in a residential area, walking in front of houses and keep on going regards several warnings of penalties and even prison. The reward: a great and close view of the Hollywood Sign.
How to get there? Take an UBER to Mulholland Hwy and Mt. Lee Dr and walk ten minutes towards the right in Mt. Lee Dr until you see the sing. For those who do not want to trespass private property, there is a longer way: starting from Sunset Ranch Hollywood, take the Hollyridge trail until you come across the Mulholland trail, once there take that road in a westerly direction. Take a lot of water!
3) THE WALK OF FAME
If you want to visit it in peace, without hordes of tourists and with the chance to take a picture with your favorite star, the morning is your best option. Make a stop at the Dolby Theater and the Chinese Theater - you can enter to a certain point, then you have to buy tickets - as well as at the Madame Tussauds to be face to face with your idol (even if it's wax). In addition, like Times Square in New York, the Walk of Fame concentrates hundreds of brands to get lost buying.
Where to have lunch? Babylon Court Yard.
4) WARNER BROS. STUDIOS
In a guided tour of three hours along its sets and soundstages, Warner does not fail to live an experience worthy of the mecca of cinema. Also, the tour is in golf carts, to feel just like a movie director. The favorites? The sets of the sitcoms Friends and The Big Bang Theory and the rooms full of original objects from films like Batman and Harry Potter.
Before going: Although it is best to book in advance through their website to not depend on the availability of each tour, if you plan to go "spontaneously" you will not have a problem. At best you'll have to wait a while to get to the next tour (that's why there's a Starbucks full of Warner stuff to spend time on). Guided tours in English leave every half hour. Check $ and schedules at https://www.wbstudiotour.com/
5) RODEO DRIVE
A world of luxury and extravagance is born in the four blocks of Rodeo Drive: the streets are filled with high-end cars and the showcases present the latest fashion collections of the most expensive brands: Fendi, Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Louis Vitton, Chanel... Walking around is as unreal as it is beautiful.
How to get there? In UBER or car to Wilshire Blvd and Rodeo Dr. The most fancy area extends to Rodeo Dr and S Santa Monica Blvd.
6) BEVERLY HILLS
A few meters from Rodeo Drive, the houses of Beverly Hills and the picturesque avenues full of palm trees, tempting to take pictures, begin to appear. Once you get to Rodeo Dr and S Santa Monica Blvd, turn right and walk to the Beverly Hills welcome sign in Beverly Gardens Park, your starting point. If you want to discover more of the area by walk, go to the Beverly Hills Hotel, on Sunset Blvd and N Beverly Dr.
Mandatory stop: Whole Foods Market to fill on supplies.
7) UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
It is only twenty minutes from the center of L.A., and with an online ticket of 105 dollars you have access to all the attractions, the movie studios! and the CityWalk, a three-block walk to entertainment, restaurants and venues.
What games you can not miss? Jurassic Park, Revenge of The Mummy, The Simpsons, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead and of course, the guided tour through the film studios.
8) VENICE BEACH
Venice Beach's promenade is a bizarre journey through a world of tattoos' shops, local merchandising - from t-shirts with XXX phrases to California flags - medical marijuana and improvised stands of street performers more unbalanced than creative. After touring the pedestrian, release a towel on the shore of the Pacific Ocean: the beaches are wide but the water is quite cold.
To feel even more the Californian vibe, go to Venice Skate Park, where skaters of all ages -even some grandparents- entertain with their pirouettes.
For the sporty ones: the infrastructure of the place also includes bicycle paths, basketball, handball, paddle and tennis courts.
Hint: walk from Venice to Santa Monica (40/50 minutes).
9) SANTA MONICA
During the day, enjoy the wide beach in Santa Monica. At dusk, walk along the pier and have fun at the "Pacific Park" amusement park.
A classic: eat a shrimp plate in the restaurant "Bubba Gump". Preferred: Shrimp Mac & Cheese and Of course we have scampi! For dessert: the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae.
If you have an extra day at L.A., take a trip to Malibu, the city chosen by many Hollywood celebrities to live with good reason. The road is already beautiful, making its way through leafy hills: on each hill stands a mansion. Once on the beach, the lifeguard cabins will transport you a chapter of Baywatch and the water is warm enough to get into.
How to get there? The trip by UBER is expensive: from Santa Monica it costs around $ 60 round trip, while from the Hollywood area around $ 100. The best choice? Take the bus 534 in Santa Monica (costs less than $ 2) and the same for the return.
The fashionable beaches:: Zuma Beach -the favorite- and El Matador.
How to get around
Two premises: public transport is not useful and distances are gigantic. Although the first impression is that the car is essential, moving with UBER is cheaper and more practical. Take advantage of the "pool" (you share the car with other people that go to your side) to pay a little less, although the trip gets longer.
If you rent a car anyway, take into account that its freedom is at the same time a sentence: driving through the most popular areas and parking is an odyssey. The "public parking" offer half and full stays from 10 dollars, while the parking meters from two dollars a half hour allow to park on the street (they fly).
Where to stay
$$ Airbnb apartments are always a good choice, especially in the Sunset Blvd. area of West Hollywood, as they offer proximity to shops and key areas such as Beverly Hills, Griffith Park and the Walk of Fame.
$ The Walk of Fame Hostel, located on the Walk of Fame, has breakfast (basic, of medium quality), clean facilities, large single and shared rooms and everything you need to have a great time in a cheap lodging.
$ HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Hostel is ideal to be close to the beach and in a cool commercial area. Like the Walk of Fame Hostel, it includes breakfast (very simple, low quality) and clean and neat facilities and bright rooms, everything a traveler with a low budget can ask for.
Where to eat
The Cheesecake Factory in Santa Monica and The Golden State in Fairfax. If you travel with a more limited budget and eating in restaurants day and night is out of your reach, Target is the best option to buy EVERYTHING (from infinity of food to electronics and clothing). What you can't do is leave Los Angeles without having tried an IN-N-OUT burger (the California version of the New York Shake Shack, superior for some -including this blogger- for its value and taste).