Los Angeles for Dummies
For the past two weeks I have been hosting my family on their first visit to Los Angeles - the city that is fast becoming my new home. What had I learnt and loved in my time so far in the city of dreams that I could share with my family and give them the best possible experience. Because when you live in a place where you can both ski and surf on the same day the possibilities really are endless. Therefore for this week's blog I wanted to share with you my LA must do's and the things that maybe aren't worth the trek.
Where to Stay:
As my family were here two weeks I decided to split up the time with one week at the beach, and the second week in the madness of Hollywood. It's nice to see the different sides of the California - moutains, beach, city, etc however within the area you choose are even more options and decisions!! So here is what I picked and why...
Week 1 we stayed in; Manhattan Beach - A hidden gem for tourists. Because it's not at all touristy, which I personally like. Down in the South Bay you can really feel like a local, walk barefoot, surf, or hire a bike and go down the strand which is a consistent human traffic jam of runners, bikers, paddle skate boards, rollerblades, you name it! Everyone here is very active and its extremely motivating so make the most of that early morning jetlag and go for swim in the sea or attend a class at Yoga Loft where you can watch the sea waves as you vinyasa yourself happy.
For me it feels like a Devonshire surf town, you can walk around a paradise of local businesses and friendly people. It's the place to the experience the true chilled out side of California the kind you imagine you play singing The Beach Boys too and slow motion running Baywatch style. We booked into an 'air bnb' house that was situated right on the beach to make it a complete seaside Eden.
There are many other beach location options, which are more well known such as; Santa Monica and Venice Beach. For me, I prefer these as more day trip locations - Venice is full of colourful energy and people and the sights of Muscle Beach are something not to be missed! Walk along the boardwalk for a unique experience of hippie stalls and bodybuilder extraordinaires. Santa Monica is a real tourist hub , with lots of shops, and the pier to play on - it's busy but if lots of people is your craic then it's for you. I would describe it as the most 'commercial' beach location, but there is a lot to see and do. For the complete opposite experience you could to Malibu, where there really isn't much happening at all. Paradise cove offers lovely dining on the beach, but since most of the beach front properties are privately owned it - there aren't many options to enjoy the beach to it full potential unless you are visiting a friend's beach house or lucky enough to own one yourself!
For our second week in the city we checked into the famous Hollywood Roosevelt - the host of the first Oscars and former home to Marilyn Monroe. It located right on Hollywood boulevard so perfectly situated for all the tourist sights - We could see the Hollywood sign from our room and glare down on the famous names imprinted on the stars that lined the streets. The hotel however was host to a lot of crazy pool parties - So it's definitely suited for a more lively crowd and my parents I think would have preferred somewhere more mellow.
Other hotels I have visited in the past include The Beverly Whilshire, to me known as the Pretty Woman hotel - which is perfect for a romantic special stay amongst the glamour of Beverly Hills. I sent my parents there for the last night of the holiday as an early anniversary present. They were treated like absolute royalty - with complimentary champagne and chocolate strawberries and an upgrade to a suite. I'm currently in the good books!
What to eat;
One the things I really encourage when visiting the US is to embrace the breakfast culture. Forget lunch, in LA it's all about going out for breakfast. One of my favourites is The Griddle in West Hollywood. The pancake portions are will certainly weigh more than you did at birth - So I recommend sharing! (It can be busy on weekends, so go weekdays if you have the option)
No trip to La is complete without the infamous 'In n out burger' where the 'off menu' items turn a simple burger and fries menu into an ectasy you never thought would fast food would be. Just ask for everthing 'animal style'. A timeless chain favourite where the menu resembles the size of a bible and the food is always awesome is The Cheesecake Factory. Please bear in mind all of the above is fat food for indulging - But there is a time and place for everything in life!
For lighter options in Kalefornia its green go. Check out Café Grattitude or Gracias Madre for fantastic healthy vegan food that even a carnivore like myself can get along with. And for something special my favourite place is Yamashiro , the Japanese gardens overlook the whole of Los Angeles for stunning views and outstanding food without the pretentious price tags.
What to do;
So once you know where your staying and accept you will probably gain five pounds you add a few activities to fuel the days.
It was my birthday during the visit, so a trip to Disneyland was my number one choice of celebration - Disney is an rather self explanatory amazing day! Other local theme parks include, Universal Studios - Which includes a studio tour of the sets of iconic movies and a highly recommended day out. For the more extreme riders Magic Mountain has the scariest rides I've ever experienced - If anyone reading this been on X2 then make sure you get in touch as I think we should set up some sort of survival society.
For the complete opposite kind of day head over to the Palisades, Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon and go hiking - It's a true California sport and timeless hardworking fun. If concerts are your thing there are constant perfomers coming into town - I took my parents to Taylor Swift's 1989 tour at the Staple Centre. It was probably one of our best nights.
So why skip across the pond now that summer is nearly over experience some 365 California sunshine - I could double this post in size with the amount of things there are to do! Hope everyone had a great August, and welcome to September - back to school, work, reality time but the good news is we can start getting excited about Christmas soon!
Don't forget to send me your LA experiences on my twitter or instagram!