20/01/2017 12:38 GMT | Updated 21/01/2018 05:12 GMT

Nine Things To Do In Los Angeles If 'La La Land' Has Inspired A Trip

Like many people in cinemas around the world, this week I fell utterly in love with La La Land. For me, the film had extra sparkle because I went to Los Angeles last summer and got to reminisce about an absolutely wonderful trip.

La La Land

Like many people in cinemas around the world, this week I fell utterly in love with La La Land. For me, the film had extra sparkle because I went to Los Angeles last summer and got to reminisce about an absolutely wonderful trip.

After paying for the flights I was pretty skint when I rocked up to LA, so, much like Sebastian at the start of the film, I had to find cheap ways to have 10 days of fun.

If watching the film has inspired you to take a holiday, here are nine places you can visit, without a Hollywood budget.

1. Griffith Park And Observatory

griffith observatory

Griffith Park plays a big part in La La Land and for good reason - the winding hills provide a welcome respite from city life and allow you to get a great view of the Hollywood sign.

You can go off the beaten track and into the trees for a pleasant walk or use the park as a starting point for a hike to the sign itself (more on that later).

Griffith Park is also home to the Griffith Observatory and while a visit won't leave you flying through the sky à la Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, parking, entry and access to the telescopes is free. What's not to love?

For refreshments, I'd recommend heading to The Trails Cafe within the park grounds. The lavender and honey shortbread is to die for.

2. The Hollywood Sign

hollywood sign

You can't go to LA without seeing the Hollywood Sign up close and it's another free day out. We chose to start our hike in Griffith Park. If you head to the observatory, there's a sign you can't miss with the trail routes marked out.

We set out on the Charlie Turner Trailhead, which can be used to head to a viewing platform where you'll get a pretty decent photo of the sign in the distance, or to join a longer, connecting path that takes you right up to the sign.

We went for the latter option, on a route that's approximately 8.8 miles for the round trip. The hike took about two hours each way, but we did stop for a lot of selfies and some chats with strangers, so you could probably do it in less time.

Be warned, the last part is steep but totally worth it. If you take on the challenge make sure you head out early and take plenty of water - there is nowhere to stop and buy it en route. Find out more about the route we took here.

3) Santa Monica Beach

santa monica pier rides

I stayed at a friend's apartment in Santa Monica and absolutely loved having the beach and pier within walking distance.

The pier is a like a glamorous version of Great Yarmouth, complete with kitch seaside rides and stalls. Stopping for a photo by the famous "end of the trail" sign is a must, as is hiring roller blades for the cliché LA experience.

Right by the pier, you'll find a small shop that rents out blades and knee pads for relatively cheap. I'd recommend heading straight down the pedestrian coast track (towards Venice Beach) for some people watching at Muscle Beach.

If you're still in Santa Monica in the evening, head to The Bungalow for cocktails in a cool venue with a house party vibe.

4. Warner Bros. Studio Tour

warner bros

Just like Emma Stone's character Mia, you can marvel at movie sets by going on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

A tour guide will show you where they've filmed scenes for the Gilmore Girls, Pretty Little Liars and of course, La La Land, as well as costumes from the likes of Harry Potter and Suicide Squad. But the highlight of the day has to be getting your photo taken on the Friends set.

A warning, the tour doesn't come cheap, ($62.00/£50 per person if you buy from the site directly), but if you intend to visit multiple attractions in LA (such as Universal Studios) you can buy a package via Go Los Angeles, which gives you money off per ticket and has lots of deals. Groupon is also a great site for offers.

5. Universal Studios Hollywood


Universal Studios Hollywood is full of tourists, but another thing I feel you have to do.

Despite the queues, we had a day full of laughter. The theme park is home to a whole host of rides as well as live shows and ' The Wizarding World of Harry Potter'.

If (like me) you're a bit of a scaredy-cat, for the love of God do not go on The Walking Dead walking attraction. I won't give too much away, but I got so scared I almost attacked a security guard because I thought she was a zombie. I had nightmares for days (my friend, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious).

Again this is expensive ($105/£85 per person if purchased directly from Universal) but I'd say worth it, especially if you shop around.

6. Venice Beach

venice beach california

A friend described Venice Beach as 'Camden, but with sand' and I can't think of a better description. Don't bother taking a towel and a book to Venice because this is a place for exploring, not relaxing.

The area is covered in impressive street art - even the trees are decorated - and the beach is lined with people selling various arts and crafts. You'll get a waft of weed every 50 paces and there's even a 'green doctor' on the corner dishing out medical marijuana.

Head away from the beach and you'll discover the Venice Canals Walkway, an area where lavish houses stand either side of a quaint, man-made canal that'll make you think you're in Italy. Nearby you'll find Salt and Straw, a shop that sells the best ice cream you'll ever eat (and gives away tons of tasters).

7. Will Rogers State Beach

will rogers state beach california

For a truly relaxing beach day, head to Will Rogers State Beach. It's a little-known gem, with a fraction of the crowds of Santa Monica Beach and none of the hipster distractions of Venice.

This is the place to take a book and soak up that LA sun. Bring snacks, suncream and anything else you'll possibly need with you, as this area is blissfully deserted. Better still, access to this little slice of paradise won't cost you a penny.

8. Downtown LA

downtown la

Take a trip on the Metro and explore downtown LA, where old meets new and tall buildings are flanked by palm trees. I'm not much of an architecture buff, but Downtown managed to capture my imagination.

Head to Grand Central Market for food, where Mia and Sebastian go for a date in the movie. I'd recommend Egg Slut, where eggs are given the glory they deserve.

Finish the day with a trip to the rooftop bar at The Standard. The day I went there was a mermaid casually swimming in the pool while people sipped on their cocktails, proving that LA is indeed "lala".

9. The Hollywood Stars

hollywood stars

Going to see The Hollywood Stars reminded me of being in Leicester Square - the area is packed and not somewhere you'd want to stay for long, but if you're only in LA once you should tick it off your bucket list.

Head to the Chinese Theatre to see the handprints of some of Hollywood's biggest names, from Tom Hanks to Meryl Streep. You'll also notice a star dedicated to (now President) Donald Trump, which draws in crowds for a variety of reasons.

Be sure to stop by the Dolby Theatre, which looks like part of a regular shopping centre by day, but transforms to the home of the Oscars every year.

There's not a lot to do in this part of Hollywood, so I'd recommend tacking the trip onto another day - we did Warner Bros. in the morning and Hollywood in the afternoon and it worked perfectly.

Final tips:


Nothing is close to each other in LA so you'll need to hire a car or pay for transport each day. We hired bikes from Hulu (like Boris Bikes) to get between Santa Monica and Venice and used the Metro and Uber for everything else. Uber is super cheap in the States and you can use UberPool to keep costs down further. You're going to have an awesome time. Enjoy the 'City of Stars'.