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A Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hello, strangers! Okay, so you're probably wondering where the hell I have been for the past few months, and truth is, I have been ridiculously busy. I know what you're thinking, 'excuses, excuses,' but I promise it won't happen again! Finishing high school, studying for final exams and then finding time to celebrate the summer holidays has just taken up so much of my time!

I don't want to bore you with exam stories so let's just skip to the exciting part - travelling! I spent the first two weeks of July in Los Angeles (where I'll also be spending my 19th!). This was my fourth time visiting the city and honestly now it just feels like a second home. I have friends out there and I know a lot of cool places, so I feel very relaxed when I'm visiting. I've done the touristy attractions and I've visited LA's best kept secrets, so here is my ultimate beginner's guide to sunny Los Angeles!

1) Spend 4th of July at Disneyland, CA
It's going to be busy. It's going to be hot. It's going to be worth it. Nobody puts on a better show than Disney, and the parades/firework display were spectacular. I got to dress up for the day and meet all my favourite characters, including Elsa! The crowds did make it jam-packed, so here is some advice;

  • Splurge out on VIP. Trust me, it's worth the money. It's probably Disneyland's busiest day of the year and you don't want to spend it waiting in line. Buy front-of-the-line passes and experience every ride (I recommend Indiana Jones!).
  • If you want front row seats at the firework display, get your place early! People start setting blankets down from 3pm (the parade starts at 9:30pm), so get comfortable and bring snacks.
  • Use StarLine. We purchased our tickets online through them and that also includes travel (from Hollywood.) The trip is almost an hour long, so don't waste money on a taxi. StarLine also pick you up in the main car park and will wait for you if you get stuck in the crowd.
  • Remember, celebs celebrate Independence Day too! I spotted actor Vince Vaughn standing in line for a water!

2) Hike!

Hiking on the first day has became a tradition for myself. Something about seeing the city from the hills really makes you feel like you're 'finally here.' Travelling is so long and tiring, it's nice to remind yourself why you travelled to this incredible city in the first place. I recommend Griffith Park for first timers, but if you've visited before, try Runyon Canyon. A little tougher, but there it's a lot less 'touristy' and no horse poop!

3) Studio Tours

If you're a film fanatic like myself, you cannot miss out on the studio tours! I have toured Fox, Warner Brothers and Universal and I am yet to explore Paramount. Unfortunately, Fox isn't open to the public, which is a shame because there are some great sets to explore.
Universal Studios is a must as your ticket includes the studio tour and the theme park. On the tour you will get to visit the set of Psycho and experience the 4D King Kong tram experience (as well as much more.) The theme park itself includes Harry Potter world (2016) and even Minions Land! A very fun day out, and why not chill on Century City which is literally at the doors of the entrance.

4) Venice Beach

If your looking to buy your friend a crazy souvenir, I seriously recommend you wait until you visit Venice Beach - there are some weird and wonderful things to be purchased! Henna tattoo stalls are literally everywhere. as are bike riders, street performers, street artists, weed stores (?!) - the list is endless. As my mum wanted to chill out on the beach for an hour, my brother and I hired a bike. Seriously fun! We rode from Venice Beach to Santa Monica and back and took little pit-stops off at play parks and beach gyms. It was also super cheap, so I really would recommend!

5) Celebrity Spotting

Celebrities are literally everywhere in Los Angeles. I mean, it is their home after all. You can't visit for two weeks and not see a celebrity. Man, I can't even count how many I've seen over the years, just strolling along minding their own business. If you do fancy celeb hunting, here are some helpful hints and tips;
  • Chateau Marmont - Book at least 2 weeks in advance for dinner or why not stay the night. That's exactly what I did for my 19th and I think I ate in the restaurant 6 times this year. Hang out in the lounge or by the pool. 
  • TMZ Tour - If you're a fan of the TV show TMZ, do not miss this tour! You will visit all the hot spots and even hunt down some famous faces. I've done the tour twice and I've only spotted 'The Human Ken Doll,' but maybe you'll get more lucky than myself
  • The Grove - Ahh, 'The Grove.' Probably my favourite place to hang out in LA. Restaurants, cinemas, shops, cupcakes - EVERYTHING. No wonder so many celebs hang out here, it's seriously so chill and the vibe is just really positive.  
  • Signings and Premieres -  Red carpets are a lot of fun and probably the easiest way to score an autograph off of your favourite actress. Red carpet events and signings take place across the city every single day. Keep an eye out and use sites like 'seeing-stars' or 'iamnotastalker.'

 6) Hollywood Boulevard
A fun and exciting experience, although these tips could come in handy;

  • Mascots and characters will ask to take pictures with you. They'll seem friendly at first, but if you don't tip them they won't be happy. Remember, this is how they make money - off of tourists!
  • 'Free CDs' aren't free at all. Do not take anything from anyone because, again, if you don't pay you'll be in trouble. These promoters are on every corner of every street - beware.
  • It can get very busy and very crowded. Most locals never step foot in Hollywood. Visiting once or twice is probably enough. 

7) The Saddle Ranch

My new favourite restaurant in West Hollywood! This cowboy themed restaurant is a perfect night out. The music is loud and upbeat, there is a mechanical rodeo bull in the centre, they offer complimentary desserts and the portions are humongous! If you're looking for a fun night out I seriously recommend this place. Do not miss the candy floss tower for dessert.

Just remember, Los Angeles isn't exactly how the media makes it out to be. It has some serious hidden gems and the energy and vibe is really positive and upbeat. There is so much to see and do - the opportunities are endless. I've been four times and I'm already planning two more visits within the upcoming year. If you ever need any help or guidance, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me!

Have you been to Los Angeles? Where would you recommend to see or do? Is it somewhere you've always wanted to visit? Leave a comment in the section below!

- KVL xo

10 comments on "A Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles"
  1. I do love LA. It took a couple of times before I saw through the urban sprawl that it can seem at first site, but there are some lovely areas within it. Like Santa Monica and the beaches.

  2. Oh I'd so love to go to LA, I've always wanted to go if I'm honest but even more now. I'm such a sucker for celeb spotting too but there's not much call for it down here in Devon!

  3. Great post! Hope you have a lovely day.

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  4. I went to LA a few years back and absolutely loved it. I'm so desperate to go back again, hopefully some day! Great photo's! x

  5. I loved this post! You've made me want to visit LA even more now. I'd love to visit Ch√Ęteau Marmont, so jealous you got to stay!

  6. Love your photos! I've wanted to visit LA for years and I'm hoping to finally book a trip there in the near future so these tips will come in handy! Venice Beach is top of my list, and I would also love to go on the studio tours!

  7. This is such a great post and really makes me want to go to LA, I have family in San Francisco so maybe a holiday is in order!!

    Georgia x

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  8. I went to LA when I was little...and also maybe about 7 years ago for a brief moment. I'd like to go back... your photos are fun!

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