This past August, I spent a thrilling week in the city of Hollywood – Los Angeles, California! L.A. is one of the most well-known cities in the world, and I can see why!. In my seven days in L.A., I toured Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, El Segundo, West Hollywood, and several other townships. The mesmerizing palm trees, enchanting nightlife, grand shopping experiences, restaurants enough to cause a food coma, and never-ending sunshine give me all the more reason to keep this city a frequent staple in my travel books. You can just feel the aura of Los Angeles in the air. It’s not just another city; rather, it feels like a new fantastic point of view.
I hope this little guide will come in handy in convincing you to go to L.A. at least once in your lifetime!!
Well first up, we need a place to stay! My family chose to stay by the LAX airport (and I think this was a wise decision since you can maximize your time in the city when departing for the airport) at Embassy Suites by Hilton LAX South. This hotel is only 5 minutes away from the airport, right by the beaches, and it is MASSIVE. The interior feels like a little forest filled with greenery; beautiful palm trees and plants are placed throughout, with little man-made ponds that feature pet fish and turtles! The staff is extremely polite and friendly, and the hotel is very well maintained. During our visit, staff would clean and decorate regularly and ensure guests had the best experience. I really appreciate their service!
The hotel suite itself was also wonderful – it had a living room with a kitchenette, vanity with a sink, and a small washroom (and a comfortable bed, of course). My only complaint would be the size of the washroom, but the suite having 3 sinks made up for it.
Our stay included breakfast and happy hour. I recommend finding places that include breakfast because it fuels you up in the morning, and you don’t have to scramble for a place to find breakfast (trust me, it sucks). The hotel is also in a convenient location, with eating joints within walking distance, so if you should choose to go out to eat, it’s relatively easy to do.
Another option would likely be an AirBnB. I would suggest being wary of this and doing your research on the area you’re considering staying. The crime rate in L.A., for example, is high, so be careful when touring and when choosing an AirBnB! Try not to bring prized possessions with you; if you do, keep them locked somewhere safe if possible.
Uber was our method of commuting. DO NOT use the taxi service in L.A.; taxis charge you triple the amount for a trip than an Uber would. If you’re staying for a while and are able to find a good deal on a rental car, then that may be the best option for you. Keep in mind, however, that gas in L.A. at the time we were there was extremely pricey (almost $7USD a gallon!), and L.A. is quite populated, so commuting places does take some time. The benefit with Uber is that the service is used very frequently in big cities, Ubers will arrive within minutes as needed, and they are very well regulated.
We tested out the metro system for fun on a whim, but I would not recommend it. It can feel pretty unsafe and get backed up quickly. The stops on-route are also not the cleanest or safest.
The food options in L.A. are endless, and this is no surprise. There are restaurants featuring foods from all over the world. Of course, I’m unable to review ALL the options L.A. features, but I’ll rate some places I had the opportunity to stop at!
This is a fast-food option; some of you may have already been to an In-N-Out outside of California. This was my family’s first food stop in L.A. (trying to play it safe after a long day) at 11pm after our 8 hours of travel, and we were not disappointed. The In-N-Out in L.A. is not just a brand-new gastronomical experience, but for the literal vibes were immaculate as well. This particular location was FILLED with highschoolers in the late hours of the night after a school event. It was such a nice and lively atmosphere.
2. MrTempo Cantina
Out of all the places we went to, this is one I would not recommend. Conveniently located on the Hollywood Strip, it is seemingly the perfect spot for a quick Mexican meal. However, the food was not very good and very pricey for the portion sizes. They also charged us for water, which is typically complimentary at all restaurants.
3. Maccheroni Republic
This is a good Italian spot with a wide variety of food options, excellent pastas, and even more excellent service. If you’re in the Broadway area, then I would definitely recommend eating here for a quality experience without breaking the bank.
4. The Grill on the Alley
Located in Beverly Hills, this restaurant requires reservations well in advance and is quite pricey. We decided to try it for the experience when our tour bus guide suggested it was a popular spot among celebrities. Everyone there was super friendly; it did seem to be well-renowned for its variety of meats, though, so if you’re vegetarian, this may not be the place for you.
Luckily, we were able to make some quick stops for shopping. If you’re touring the Hollywood Strip, there are several stores conveniently located throughout, such as Zara and Nordstrom. The Hollywood Strip also has a mall of its own called Hollywood Mall, and you can see the Hollywood sign from there. A more traditional indoor mall would be the Westfield Culver City Mall. For more of an experience shopping with a view, I’d recommend The Pointe. This mall had a few eating spots and small shops but was more enjoyable in terms of the outdoor setting (so if you’re looking for a big shopping experience, this wouldn’t be it). Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue are your ultimate shopping stops in L.A. for all that designer wear!
I recommend booking a bus tour in L.A. to get the full experience! We had a two-day hop-on, hop-off bus tour by BIG BUS TOURS (I’ve done bus tours with them in New York and Chicago, and they have very reliable service) and toured the Hollywood Strip, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Pier. The good thing about these tours is that the guides explain the history behind landmarks, and you’re allowed to hop off at any location you wish and catch the next bus when it comes. Another tour I’d recommend while you’re in L.A. would be the celebrity homes tour. This tour is only 2 hours long but covers some beautiful homes! I’m not very well-versed with Hollywood celebrities, but my sister claims to have seen Tom Cruise drive by with his chauffeur, so test your luck!
And that’s all, folks! I’ve summarized the bulk of the advice I have for you in considering and planning your trip to L.A.! I enjoyed my week there and would honestly suggest spending at least two weeks in L.A. to enjoy the experience to its capacity as well as road tripping to cities nearby. If you have any questions, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!