Last week, I posted about our road trip on Highway 1. We drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles and today I will share with you what we did in LA. For you to understand, we had 11 days and we divided the trip in three parts: four days in San Francisco, where we have friends, two days doing Highway 1, three days in Los Angeles and two days in Las Vegas. I was very excited to visit Los Angeles- the popularity of the city among travelers only increased to my curiosity.
As I told on the post about Highway 1, we rented a car in San Francisco and chose to return it to the Los Angeles airport. We knew it was best to explore the city by car so we opted to stay with it during our stay as we thought it would be better than relying on Uber. I saw that the city has a subway system and also a bus and I confess that I was curious to know how effective this system for tourism. We arrived in Los Angeles on a Tuesday, around 8:30 p.m. We went straight to our hotel Ramada Plaza by Wyndham West Hollywood Hotel & Suites. The hotel is in West Hollywood, has a parking lot (guests pay $35 per day) and does not have breakfast. Our room was very large – it had a mini kitchen, with sink, coffee maker, mini-fridge, and microwave. There was also TV, air conditioning, and hair dryer. On the boulevard where it is located, there are several dining options and even a Trader Joe’s store. It’s a region, I would say, “normal.”
We started to explore the city on Wednesday morning. The idea was to spend the day at the beaches – Santa Monica and Venice. We had breakfast/brunch at Blue Daisy Cafe (609 Broadway). The restaurant is a delight – it has a very complete menu with choices of egg dishes, pancakes, toast, etc. From there, we went to the Third Street Promenade – it’s a boardwalk that brings together famous stores like Zara, Topshop and Forever 21, as well as restaurants. It is a street that cars do not circulate, so it is very quiet to walk around, not to mention that is very cute. We had to abort the beaches mission, since there was a strong fog there – we could barely enough to see the sea – and I wanted very much to check the two beaches in a sunny day. So we went back to Los Angeles and went for a walk in Beverly Hills. Of course, we went to check out the Beverly Hills Sign (9390 N Santa Monica Blvd) which is in Beverly Gardens Park. We parked the car there and walked down Rodeo Drive, a super charming boulevard full of designer luxury stores like Chanel. Whether or not you have money to buy there, it’s cool to walk, because it’s really beautiful.
From Beverly Hills, we went to Hollywood, to check out the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. And then, if I can give you some advice, it would be: don’t go. I already knew that Hollywood Walk of Fame was nothing, that the region was not so cool. But it managed to be even worse than I expected, lol. It is located on a street full of shops, zero glamor. That’s where is located Dolby Theater, the theater where the Oscars take place – you can also take a tour to get to know the backstage. It costs $25 per person and can be booked here. Next to the Dolby Theater is the Chinese Theater. It is considered one of the most famous cinemas in Los Angeles in the Golden Age of Hollywood since many movies had their premieres there. This area of the two theaters is quite busy. Many street vendors and artists.
After the somewhat frustrating drive through Hollywood, we returned to the hotel to rest a bit. The idea was, at the end of the day, seeing the sunset from the Griffith Observatory. I love seeing cities from above and it would be a great opportunity to see the city, enjoying the end of the day and still sighting the Hollywood Sign. Unfortunately, our plans were frustrated, as everyone had the same idea and there was no place to park. Anyone who wants to do this, I suggest requesting an Uber or leave the car in the parking lot and then get a bus that goes up to the observatory.
We finished our day having dinner at The Stinking Rose (55 N La Cienega Blvd), Thiago’s choice. This restaurant also has a location in San Francisco and basically the offer all garlicdishes. The place has a very dubious decor. To start, we ordered the Bagna Calda ($ 9), made with roasted garlic soaked in butter and olive oil. The garlic turns almost a paste to eat with bread. It is delicious. For the main course, we ordered a meat and we shared it came with mashed potatoes and vegetables. And Thiago still wanted to order the garlic ice cream for dessert – something I strongly suggest you don’t do it.
The second day started with breakfast at Kitchen 24 (4120, 8575 Santa Monica Blvd), a 24-hour restaurant that is attached to the hotel where we were staying. It’s kind of a diner, with pink decor, pretty fluffy! We ordered a bacon and tomato sandwich, french toast, two corn cookies and coffee and shared it all. We spent less than $ 30 with all of that and the food was delicious! From there, we set out for the mission of the day: Hollywood Sign! After the frustrated attempt to go to the Griffith Observatory, Thiago researched it and found a video, which taught how to get to a place where you can get a view close to the sign.
The Hollywood sign is on a hill that sits in the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood and the residents got tired of the tourists coming in to take photos and persuaded Google Maps and Wase to confuse people. When you type Hollywood Sign in Maps, the result is the Griffith Observatory. But the view from there does not even come close to the prime view of Beachwood Canyon. To get there, you must put on Maps: Lake Hollywood Park. When you get there, you park the car and you will see the sign. You’ll see lots of people taking pictures there and it can get even better – except that it takes a 15 to 20-minute walk. So be prepared: apply sunscreen, bring a bottle of water and wear a hat or cap. You will need to walk to the point I marked on the map at the end of the post. This experience was really cool! I loved seeing this iconic sign that we see so often on television … it was one of the few things that I really wanted to see in Los Angeles and I can say that it was a successful mission!
After this adventure, we went to the Farmers Market (6333 W 3rd St), a public market that has existed since the 1930’s. This market has several options for eating, sweet and salty, as well as products such as nuts, meats, and fruits. We were not very hungry so we bought a plate of falafel and hummus and it was very yummy. The market has several tables to sit, anyway, it’s very yummy! Next to Farmers Market is The Grove, an open mall super cute, with fast fashion and other luxury stores, as well as restaurants and movie theaters. It is a delight to also walk around.
We left the Farmers Market and The Grove and went up to Melrose Avenue, as I had read that it was a cool place for street arts. We walked past the pink wall of Paul Smith’s store and still walked another 10 minutes to the House of CB store, which I knew had a cool mural as well. However, I would not recommend this tour with the intention of appreciating street arts. In those 10 minutes of walking, I found only one other mural. Honestly, I thought it would be an avenue full of street arts, and it’s not like that. Melrose Avenue has several designer stores, including Rebeka Minkoff, Vivianne Westwood, and even a Glossier store. If your idea is to check out the store, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t go.
As this was our last full day in Los Angeles – our flight was the next day at 7 PM – we had no choice and went to Santa Monica, even though there was fog. I researched it and discovered that when it is very hot in the city, fog appears on the beaches. Incidentally, it was very hot when we were in Los Angeles. A part of California was on a heat alert. Arriving in Santa Monica, we rented a double bike and we ride by the border. The structure of the beach is very nice. In addition to the amusement park on the pier, there are plenty of playgrounds, swings and workout structures. We ride for about 15 minutes and arrived in Venice Beach. Venice has a very different vibe from Santa Monica: a lot of skaters, a marijuana smell (lol), but it’s really cool!
We went back to the hotel, took a shower and went to dinner at an Asian restaurant, RockStar, a follower’s recommendation. This restaurant is attached to the Westfield Mall, a huge mall. The restaurant is wonderful, from the decor to the food and service too! We ordered two appetizers – samosas and pork buns – and two dishes – one curry and one with fried pork, plus drinks. Everything was very delicious, we ate a lot! The price of the dishes I found great, start at $12 (appetizers are cheaper).
On Friday, our last day in Los Angeles, we still did a lot of things. We woke up late, packed our bags and checked out. We had coffee/brunch at a restaurant called The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, which is on Sunset Blvd, an avenue that is also great for walking. The restaurant is cute – we waited 20 minutes for a table. From there we drove to Downtown Los Angeles and it’s amazing how the city changes scenery with tall, modern buildings. Thiago wanted very much to see – from the outside – the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which has incredible architecture. It is a house of shows and you can check the calendar here. From there, we drive to Marina Del Rey, which is close to the airport. Since we were going to return the car and catch our next flight, it made sense to be in a nearby place. It is a beautiful and super quiet place – there is even a “beach”, super quiet, where a lot of people doing practicing paddle board. We went on the Killer Shrimp and ordered a portion of the dish from the house, the Killer Shrimp, plus drink and beer, which were priced at happy hour.
We returned our car to Hertz near the airport. Quick process, no bureaucracy – and they even have free buses that take you to the airport.
That was our travel itinerary in Los Angeles! As you can see it was pretty basic – since we did not go to Disney or to other famous parks in the city. Overall, I did not love Los Angeles – I think I was with very high expectations and expected more from the city!
- Overall, we had no difficulty with parking in the city. Or we would leave it on the street, in the parking meter system, or in the closed parking lots.
- Yes, Los Angeles traffic is boring. Be ready. It is not chaos, but it exists.
- We use Google Maps for everything. It always reported the fastest routes – including calculating based on how the traffic was.
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.