♪♪…I hopped off a plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan...♪♪ On my way to New Zealand I stopped in LA. The home of Hollywood, music and glamour (debatable), I had always wanted to see what it was all about and this seemed like a perfect time to visit. We spent 4 nights (5 days) here. Before we went everyone chimed in with their two cents on how it was dirty, rough and generally an unlikable city but I was blown away with how much I Liked LA.
One of the best things we bought was a two day ticket on the Starline Hop-on-hop-off bus. We debated on getting this for a while, oftentimes its cheaper and just as easy to walk around a city than get a tour but we both agree that this was one of the best decisions we made. It was $64 dollars each, so by no means cheap, however there are 6 different routes available. This meant that we were able to use the bus to visit Downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Hollywood over 2 days! The staff were so helpful and showed us which routes to take in which order to allow us to maximize our time and see everything.
We stayed at a Guest House, which was a little studio apartment in Hollywood that we found on Airbnb. It cost €535 for 4 nights and was perfect, easy to find, clean and in an ideal location for us. It was about a 10 minute walk to the Walk of Fame from our front door!
The first day we headed down south on the bus to Venice Beach. Here we wandered along the beaches, grabbed some beers by the waterfront and checked out some of the local shops. Richie was particularly excited to see Muscle Beach. This is an outdoor gym on the beach which is considered the home of physical fitness in LA. It’s most famous for being the place where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained ahead of his Mr Universe victory in 1966.
From here we walked up along the beachfront towards Santa Monica. Once here we headed down the Santa Monica Pier to the famous fairground to catch some rides. There were lots of bands and singers on the pier which made it a great place to sit and watch the world go by for a couple hours!
With your Starline bus ticket you’ll also get free entry into Madame Tussauds. I found this really dull so its not somewhere I would go again but it was free so we popped in for an hour.
The next day we headed on the bus to Downtown LA to check out the the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Little Tokyo and Chinatown. More importantly we saw the building the ending of Die Hard was filmed on and my beloved Alan Rickman aka Hans Gruber met his demise. From here we hopped on another bus and headed down around Beverly Hills where Richie finally got to try the Cheesecake Factory. There is no end of things to do on this route from Melrose Place, to Pink’s Hot Dogs and the Farmers Market and Grove. After seeing so many movies and tv shows depict LA it was amazing to get to see it all in person. We didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of any celebrities, although anyone could have walked past me and I would be oblivious!
That night we decided to use the last few hours of our bus tickets to head towards Sunset Boulevard. As two die hard music fans this was a major bucket list stop. We saw the infamous Viper Room which was previously owned by Johnny Depp before heading to the Whisky a Go Go. This is the bar where Guns and Roses got big and is a rock lovers mecca. We managed to get tickets to a show where we saw a couple of metal bands from America, Finland and Germany play. It’s a great venue and I would definitely recommend catching a show here if you can. Unfortunately for us it was an early night because the next day we were headed to Universal Studios to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter **jumps up and down with excitement**.
OMG. It was amazing. I might have even teared up. As someone who grew up with the world of Harry Potter this was incredible!! Diagon Alley and Hogwarts are so realistic and you honestly feel as if you’re part of the world (still waiting for that letter J.K. Rowling). The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride is fantastic. Even the queue was enjoyable because it brings you throughout Hogwarts including Dumbledore’s office, the great hall, talking portraits, the defence against the dark arts classroom and many more!
The attention to detail is astounding and the ride itself was so enjoyable we went on it 3 times!. We made sure to stock up on our Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans before grabbing lunch in the Three Broomsticks and having a butterbeer (too sweet for me).
Aside from Harry Potter there is so much to do here including the Mummy Ride, a Simpsons park and Despicable Me ride. The one downside is that most of the rides are simulation rides rather than actual roller coasters but they’re still great fun. Because we went in a Tuesday in October there were practically no queues. We bought the fast pass tickets but I think the longest wait for any ride was 20 minutes.
Make sure not to miss the World Famous Studio Tour. This is an hour long tour where they bring you around the studio lots. They’ll also show you how they create some famous action scenes. I was really impressed with the tour and it was by far one of my favourite parts of the day – after Harry Potter obviously.
For our last day we left our bags in a baggage drop in Hollywood for a couple of dollars and headed up to the Griffith Observatory to kill some time before our flight. This is another LA icon and I can see why. There were incredible views of the city and the famous Hollywood sign. We wandered through the museum and then caught a 30 min show at the Planetarium which was excellent, although I was so relaxed I could easily have fell asleep after.
Overall I loved LA. We saw so much and i think we had the perfect amount of time there. It’s by no means a cheap getaway. The Starline Bus and Universal Studio tickets alone are pricey but it was such a fun holiday. I definitely put on at least a stone after eating nothing but bad food – but isn’t that what a holiday in America is all about!?