We recently returned from an amazing road trip adventure through the beautiful state of California. God allowed us another wonderful opportunity to experience some of his handy-work and we are so grateful he did. We honestly didn't expect to enjoy California quite as much as we did, but we are already talking (dreaming) about our future return. We absolutely loved the beautiful weather, diverse landscapes and lively, friendly people! We really couldn't get enough of this place - it has easily climbed the charts as one of our top favorite adventures!
Los Angeles, California: Sunny, warm L.A., the land of dreams! Hollywood, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Malibu, need I say more? Los Angeles, spanish for "The Angels" is the second most populous city in the United States. This vibrant place is well known for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it's the endless supply of celebrities who claim it as their home or the countless entertainment venues you can choose from. Maybe it's the breathtaking landscapes that surround the city from every angle. Some could say it's the almost perfect weather that's constant year-round. Whatever the reason for traveling to this iconic landmark, L.A. is certainly not going to disappoint those who find themselves wandered there.
When to Visit
I think we hit the jackpot with timing for our trip. We read about different seasons that could be ideal for traveling around California, but the truth was that we didn't have a whole lot of options to choose from due to my school track-out schedule and other committed travels we have planned. Many articles we read suggested Fall and Spring, depending on where you're going. However, since we were traveling to various Californian locations we decided to keep an open mind with seasonal reviews.
We were lucky to have the opportunity to travel in early October. It was cool in the mornings and evenings and warm during the days. During our time in L.A. many folks we talked to mentioned the unusual heat wave that was hitting the area. For us, coming from eastern North Carolina where humidity runs ramped, the weather was ideal and perfect - even if it was in the hundreds during our days there!
We have had many friends travel to L.A. during all different seasons and I have never heard anything negative towards specific times of year unless you are planning to travel to northern California or the mountainous areas. Typically we hear of fairly warm temperatures and sunshine regardless of the month or season if you are along the coast. I can't imagine, after seeing the natural beauty of the area, that weather could cause someone to dislike this beautiful State.
How to get there
Traveling to Los Angeles can be achieved multiple ways. LAX – the Los Angeles International Airport is one of the largest international airports in the world. In fact, it is the second largest in North America. LAX is a practical options. Although be prepared for traffic as you’re coming and going to the airport. This is honestly the only time during our stay in L.A. that we hit extremely dense traffic.
Another option for traveling to L.A. is obviously car. Since we started our adventure in San Francisco and intended on doing quite a bit of adventuring around during our stay, we rented a car and drove. This was, in our opinion, a perfect approach! We were a bit nervous about driving through L.A. because we had read the horror tales about the dense traffic. However, we must have been very fortunate because we didn’t have any trouble with this.
Parking was simple everywhere we went and we didn’t hit excessive traffic until the last 10 minute of our trip, driving into LAX. I will say our luck probably had a lot to do with the timing in which we chose to go do things, along with the routes we chose to take. We are certain that if we tried driving down some of the freeways at rush hour our luck might not have been as good.
Where to lodge
This was such a difficult task for us to figure out when planning our trip. We aren’t usually the type to spend big bucks on a place to just rest our heads for the evening but we do value safety and cleanliness when choosing our lodging.
It was difficult not knowing anything about the area. Not knowing which neighborhoods were good and which to avoid while also trying to stick within our budget and be within a realistic, convenient location that met our itinerary. We read great reviews about Airbnbs'. However, we ended up finding a Groupon for a hotel that was located North of Hollywood. The surrounding area wasn’t quite as glamorous as the streets in Beverly Hills or Brentwood but the hotel was decent and secure, as well as reasonably priced. We drove their later in the evening and left to explore early Sunday morning so traffic wasn't an issue for us either.
If I had to recommend specific areas to stay in I would highly recommend Beverly Hills, Brentwood and the Santa Monica locations.
wine & dine
L.A. is thriving with places to dine. I'm pretty sure you could make a special trip there to JUST try restaurants and you still wouldn't even cover half of them! There are so many wonderful choices! We weren't there long enough to try many restaurants but we were able to compile a list of qualified suggestions based on our research.
In n Out Burger - This one is a must if it's your first time out west! I'm sure the locals may roll their eyes. That's okay! It was worth the five bucks to us.
Chateau Marmont - This is your stop if you're wanting to dine and drink in a celebrity frequented, historically classy spot. Located in one of L.A.'s most prestigious hotels, Chateau Marmont lives up to it's name and reputation for sure.
Brentwood Market - We frequented Brentwood Market a few times on our trip. They have a wide variety from recipes that are unique to Brentwood as well as common sandwiches and desserts. It has a little bit of everything to offer and this is another celebrity frequented spot. We saw Adam Sandler and Henry Winkler during one of our visits.
Sams Bagels - This was our breakfast stop. It was convenient and absolutely delicious! Don't be afraid to try one with spinach :) There is seating in the back as well as parking.
Sprinkles Cupcakes - We didn't make it to this one but heard nothing but wonderful reviews about it! We were told
Malibu is located just outside of L.A.. We were able to go through it while driving into L.A. along the Pacific Coast Highway. This was a great place to stop and hit the beach. We were very surprised at how accessible the beaches were along the Malibu coastline. Most individuals just pulled over along the PCH and parked their cars. The beaches were large with plenty of room for everyone to have their own space to enjoy Gods natural landscape. We got out and made sure to stick our feet in the Pacific for just a while.
Experience some of the local celebrity scene with a stop in L.A.'s own Brentwood neighborhood. This is one which we thoroughly enjoyed just by driving around, looking at some of the extravagant homes with their perfectly manicured yards and of course hoping to spot a big name celeb. However, that’s not the only thing the area has to offer. You can also enjoy some quaint, unique shopping and dining at the Brentwood Market. Enjoy a nice cup of Joe at Caffe Luxe while people watching and taking in some of the sunshine, or indulge in some fresh baked goods at the The Farmshop. Perhaps you would prefer a sweeter fix from Sweet Rose or a fresh sandwich from Barney. Whatever you're looking for, the Brentwood area has it. We had a blast chatting with the locals and browsing through the shops. We may have even spotted Adam Sandler and his family during our ice cream break. In fact, we enjoyed Brentwood so well we drove back over there the next day to enjoy it more. It has a great vibe and a little bit of everything for everyone.
Everyone knows about Beverly Hills! You can learn all about it in televisions hit shows like Beverly Hills 90210, and movies such as Pretty Woman. So, when you head out to L.A. this is a must stop through. Whether you’re shopping your way down Rodeo Drive, or staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel, it’s a nice place to stop, with a guarantee that you’ll find something enjoyable to do or see.
We decided to head out to Venice Beach during our last few hours out West. You can witness the famous Venice Canals as well as some of the quirky companions that Venice is well known for. It personally wasn’t our favorite location, but it was a must see on our list that we were able to check off.
Santa Monica is a pleasant surprise. The streets were clean and the venues offer wonderful restaurants and shopping, many with great view of the Pacific Ocean. While the crowds were a bit denser than Malibu, be sure to leave some travel time, especially if you hit Santa Monica during known busy hours.
what to do
L.A. is FILLED with so many things to keep you entertained. When I say FILLED, I mean you could spend weeks exploring everything around the this metropolis area. It is truly massive once you consider all the suburbs that define it. This can make it difficult when trying to plan a trip there. Especially when you are like us and only sticking around for 24 hours. We really had to prioritize and take a good look at what would be realistic and worthwhile. For us this meant skipping out on a few locations and sites. In fact, we didn’t even drive into the heart of L.A. because we chose to stick to the surrounding areas (Brentwood, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, etc.). This worked great for us and with careful planning we were able to see a lot within a short period of time.
Brighten your life a little at the LACMA:
Head south of Beverly Hills along Wilshire Boulevard and you will find yourself at a must stop in and see. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States and has many things to offer including a delightful display or street lights as well as larger than life size furniture pieces and rotating exhibits that keep you constantly wanting to come back and see what's new.
Get Star Struck at Paramount Pictures:
Whether you’re like us and just have time to drive by and see the entrance, or you have the opportunity to take in a tour, Paramount Pictures Studios is an iconic filming location in the area offering a reminiscence of some of Hollywoods greatest motion pictures.
Walk down Hollywood histories The Walk of Fame:
We knew this would be a popular tourist destination and just like any of our other travels we try to avoid crowds as much as possible. So, when we made the decision to see the famous stars in Hollywood, we had to figure out a good time to avoid those touristy crowds. This left us with an early Saturday morning time slot. We headed to the Walk of Fame around 7:00am which turned out to be absolutely perfect! No one was out and about yet so we parked right on the side of the road in front of the Dolby Theater and walked down the block on both sides of the roads admiring the famous, well known names. We had the sidewalk to ourselves most of the time which was just how we desired it. I highly recommend waking up just a tad earlier to make this happen if you plan on stopping by!
Climb the Hollywood Sign:
Another must do for us was hiking to the Hollywood Sign! This just seemed like the L.A. thing to do. So, after leaving the stars, stopping at Sams for a bagel we headed towards Lake Hollywood Park. We did a ton of research on this beforehand and what we found was that Griffith Observatory was a very popular place to get a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. There are also trails that lead from the Observatory to behind the Hollywood sign but they are a couple of miles, at the least, so be prepared. We decided however, to do it a little differently. First, we went to Lake Hollywood Park where we were able to get the famous Hollywood Sign picture opp. This was so easy, not crowded and honestly a perfect sighting of the iconic image (Remember, we don't do crowds). Then, we drove up the road just a bit (Lake Hollywood Drive), and parked on the side, for free, and began our trek towards the Hollywood Sign. If you decide to take this route be prepared for the hike. It is a bit more demanding than the hike from Griffith Observatory and certainly more so than we were prepared for. We actually saw a helicopter rescuing some hikers who had overdone it on their journey while we were climbing down. It's mostly uphill and very rocky. Don’t let this scare you, just let it prepare you! It’s totally worth the leg work out and there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and sip on water (that you will need have handy)! This route also takes you directly past the Wisdom Tree which also offers fantastic views and is about halfway between your starting point and the sign.
Los Angeles has so much more to offer. This post could honestly go on for pages. However, we hope that you find some helpful advice and tips throughout these words, and if you find yourself in this gorgeous Metropolis in the near future, that you enjoy as much that it has to offer as you possibly can!
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We are the Bests! Jo and Mo. Founders of BestCapturedTravel.
We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Cambridge, MA but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
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