Going to LA was definitely the biggest highlight of my trip so far. I saw Chaplin Studios, Marilyn’s Monroe’s resting place and visited many locations for famous crimes and murders (call me sick but I am intrigued by mysterious and shocking deaths).
We saw movie sets, film locations, Hollywood star homes and the Playboy Mansion. But most importantly to me was ticking off some bucket list items. Seeing the home where my dearest Marilyn passed away was one of them and it hasn’t sunk in that I stood a few meters from where she took her last breaths. That’s pretty deep huh?
But seriously, LA is an incredible place with so much history. It’s so sad that many historic houses and buildings are being torn down for mansions. However, for the most part I love the architecture of the homes here – all unique and different. Sad the owners of them feel the need to flatten them for a new mansion.
LA is great if there are things that take your interest and you certainly need more than a couple of days to appreciate it.
I hope this guide gives an insight to all that LA has to offer and I hope it encourages you to visit someday.
We’ve all heard of Los Angeles, the second largest city in the USA. Based on the coast of California, LA was founded in 1781 so is really a baby in comparison to London (founded in 43AD).
This huge city was home to over 80% of the world’s film industry by 1921. The money made from these movies insulated LA from much of the economic suffering which the rest of the country endured during the Great Depression.
LA is still the home of many movie studios and movie stars although it is much more of the tourist location that it was back in the days of Hollywoodland.
We went to LA to soak in the sunshine and the movie history I’ve come to love over the passed few years.
Our original plan was to stay near Brentwood, 4 minutes drive from Marilyn Monroe’s home. A week before leaving the UK, Santa Monica announced that short-term rentals were no longer permitted so our booking was cancelled. Luckily Airbnb were very helpful and assisted in finding new accommodation. Although a little pricey every penny was well spent.
That is when Paul found Justin’s apartment in West Hollywood. As soon as I got into the apartment I was in love. The place is swarming with books, art, and funky antique furnishings. Oh and did I mention the HUGE TV’s in the living room and bedroom (complete with PS4, Netflix and more!).
Justin also was kind enough to put together a welcome hamper of goodies for us. He was the perfect host.
The area is peaceful with lots of eclectic shopping spots nearby – oh and there’s a Starbucks a block away!
Right next to Paramount Studios is a fast food joint called Astroburger (also a drive-thru) which has a huge menu of fantastic grub including a large vegetarian menu. May I recommend the Garden Burger EVEN if you like meat? And their cakes are darn tasty too. Yes, we binged on veggie burgers a lot!
Lovers of milkshakes should definitely try a deliciously but sickly M&M shake 🙂 A perfect place for burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings (the ranch dressing goes wonderfully with the onion rings mmmmm…)
We stumbled upon Olio on the way back from dropping off some laundry and I’m so glad we did. Share a caesar salad, a delicious wood fired pizza and top it off with the amazing home made cookies – expect to get full.
We popped by here on a tour of Hollywood given by our friend and LA residentsJackie and her friend Elisa. This is a bar where Jim Morrison of The Doors decided to get pretty darn intoxicated and use the bathroom… but on the bar itself. It also is the place where Marilyn Monroe, in 1949, went after her nude photoshoot which was featured in the first Playboy magazine.
Apparently, it’s famous chilli but Paul and I opted for the vegetable burrito (which was incredible) and fries (even better). Oh and there’s a game room, Paul table, sports on TV… Overall, an awesome dive bar with great food.
THINGS TO DO
I was so surprised at how busy this attraction WASN’T. It’s much more spacious than the one in London and has many photo opportunities. Try and pick up a BOGOF voucher or book online to get a discount.
There are so many different routes on this tour, you are sure to see the main attractions. Drive through Beverly Hills, learn about the residents of Brentwood (there are so many I can’t even list them for you!), and see the exclusive shopping locations at Rodeo Drive.
Ever thought about standing above the Hollywood sign? I didn’t think it was possible… It wasn’t until last year. But now you can hike to the sign and see it up close (not too close, mind you!)
The sign was originally built as a real estate development to encourage people to move there but at the time it was called Hollywoodland. It’s changed a lot of the years but it’s still an amazing landmark you should definitely visit. It took us 2 hours for a round trip.
Although I love Disney World, Disneyland is the original, the one Walt himself stayed in and built his dreams from. It was a pretty hot day when we went (July) and it was super busy as it was the school break but we still had an amazing time.
- Get your fast passes for Space Mountain and Indiana Jones as early as possible.
- Bring a water bottle and when it runs out, ask fast food restaurants to fill it with water and ice so you can drink for free.
- Sunscreen is a must.
- You don’t have to see the fireworks from in front of the castle, we stood at It’s A Small World and saw the fireworks AND the projection display.
- If you want to see the parade, fireworks and projection display by the castle, get there about 3 hours before. Seriously, people this seriously and get there early.
- Pick up a schedule so you can see the times for shows and parades.
If you’re interested in the history of Hollywood and want to see where some of the first movies were created, then Paramount is the perfect place. You will be taken around in a small group to where some of the world’s greatest films were created as well as some of the best TV shows too.
Warner Bros are famous for some of the biggest movies in the world, including Batman and Harry Potter. It’s also where Golden Girls, East of Eden and Pretty Little Liars is filmed on set. You will be taken around the houses where Ross and Monica Gellar grew up in Friends and even able to take a look at some Harry Potter/Batman costumes and props.
And if you’re feeling thirsty after that, you can grab a drink at Central Perk before buying some awesome merchandise.
If you’re a newbie fan or just interested in the beautiful and infamous bombshell that is Marilyn Monroe, Elisa’s tour is perfect for you to get the knowledge and whereabouts where Marilyn rose to fame and became one of the biggest Hollywood stars.
Other things to see and do:
- The Hollywood Museum – I didn’t go despite there being Marilyn items on display. Ignore the fake photos of Marilyn and JFK if you do go there!
- Grauman’s Chinese Theater – Find your hand twin (guess who mine was?)! You can also watch a movie there 🙂
- Santa Monica Beach – A beautiful pier and a stunning beach, if you have time (sadly we didn’t, we just drove by it) relax and have fun.
- Universal Studios – See the Psycho house, the set of Jaws as well as visit Springfield and enjoy some rides.
- The Farmers Market – A great shopping and food spot.
- Griffith Observatory – Even if it’s just to take in the views and enjoy the free exhibition there, this observatory is an awesome location for photos. You can see my outfit post from when we visited. I would also recommend to see a show inside the Planetarium.
- Use Lyft or Uber to get around. Unless you want to hire a car but I warn you LA drivers are a little crazy! LA is huge and there is very little public transport so walking places isn’t really an option.
- Bring ID with you everywhere, it’s a law in America.
- Fill your fridge with lots of bottle of water, you’re going to need it.
- It rarely rains in LA but when it does, it comes down heavy!