If you’re visiting LA for the first time, then the first thing that you need to be aware of is just how big this city is. Unlike most big cities in Europe, getting around LA isn’t very easy, their public transport is poor to say the least ad getting from one end of the city to the other in a cab can take forever! It’s therefore important that you do a bit of planning before your trip to make it that bit easier to see all of the stuff that you want whilst there.
Earlier this summer I visited LA on holiday as part of a west coast road trip and as it wasn’t my first time there, I was able to cherry pick some of my favourite things to do. There’s literally loads of stuff to see so creating a shortlist can be tricky but don’t worry as I’ve put together a little shortlist of my LA ‘must do’s’…
Universal Studios Hollywood
LA is the home of the world’s film industry so it’s natural that you will want to catch some of that movie magic whilst in the city. Universal Studios Hollywood is always near the top of my to do list as it’s a great day out and is a great little theme park as well as a real working movie studio. If you are a fan of The Simpsons or Harry Potter, then you will be in heaven as you can visit Springfield as well as Hogwarts.
The highlight of a trip to Universal for me is Studio Tour though. They take you on a tram tour of the Universal backlot where you get to see some real live sets, some cool props, get to learn about some of the movie magic and experiences a few surprises too. I’ve been on it a few times now and never get tired as it’s always slightly different depending on what is filming on the lot.
The Grove & Farmers Market
If you’re looking to shop, then you would be harder pushed to find a prettier shopping mall then The Grove. It’s more Main Street USA than mega mall (the nearby Beverly Center has you covered if that’s what you are after) but it’s a must visit in any case. There’s a huge Nike Store, a Cheesecake Factory, a cinema and plenty of spots to grab a coffee and people watch.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite for food, I recommend popping next door and grabbing something at the Farmer’s Market, a LA institution since 1934 and home to countless tasty food counters covering just about every type of food imaginable.
Melrose Avenue is one of those famous LA streets that everyone has heard of and it’s certainly one of the cooler neighbourhoods in town. Here you can shop, eat. pamper yourself and enjoy some of the colourful street art that adorns the side streets.
Melrose is also where you’ll find LA’s iconic pink Paul Smith Store and Instagram hotspot, Fred Siegal and Pink’s Hot Dogs.
Breakfast at Mel’s
My mouth is already watering as I’m thinking about what to tell you about Mel’s. When I visualise a classic American diner, Mel’s is exactly what I see. There are actually locations all over California (including one at Universal Studios) but my favourite is the one on Sunset Boulevard and it’s my favourite place to have breakfast or brunch. Ask for a table on the pavement outside and watch the world fly by as you enjoy one of their breakfast specials.
No matter where in LA you are staying, it’s worth taking a day trip over to Santa Monica. The beachside city sits on the pacific coast to the west of LA. It’s home to the famous ferris wheel and pier and at times can feel like a million miles away from the madness of the Hollywood.
I recommend renting a bike from one of the shacks near the beach and cycle along to Venice. As you ride along the coast, you’ll pass famous spots like Muscle Beach and end up at Abbot Kinney Boulevard (once dubbed by GQ as the coolest block in America) for a spot of lunch/dinner or some early evening drinks.
No matter what you have in your LA to do list, my top tip is to make sure that you get your tickets for the big attractions like Universal in advance as you will always save yourself some money. For my recent trip, I actually got myself a 3 day Go LA Card from Attraction Tickets Direct which as well as offering unlimited entry to over 30 attractions across LA, it also comes with a free day ticket to Universal included which is an amazing saving! It also provided me with admission to the rides and Ferris Wheel on Santa Monica Pier, bike hire and loads more,
To see the full list of attractions included with the Go LA Card pop over to the Attraction Tickets Direct site.