Who can resist a trip to Hollywood? Los Angeles has it all, the lights, the entertainment, the glamorous nights out on the town, the fine dining, the famous theaters and cinemas that premier the best of the ‘big screen’. But most of all, it has stars–so, don’t be surprised if you spot someone famous. LA is a huge metropolis of over 15 million residents, giving it the second largest population in any city in the US. From prime designer shops in Beverly Hills, stepping down the Hollywood Walk of Fame or taking a short trip out of LA to the many nearby theme parks, water parks, aquariums and zoos in southern California, SoCal is sure to have something for everyone in your party. See the most popular sights of Hollywood at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, the Hollywood Museum, and The Hollywood Sign. Griffith Park and Observatory is a great side trip, where you can catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign up close.
Step back behind the scenes of popular TV shows, where you will be seated right in front of the celebrities of your favorite shows, free of charge. You also won’t want to miss the best free fun around town, which is a chance to catch some waves at the most famous SoCal beaches. Those interested in the luxury travel scene, along with a great overview of LA, will want to check out my interview with Jonny Drubel from the E! network series called “The #RichKids of Beverly Hills.” If you want to learn more about the gothic scene then you will want to check out my interview with LA insider LA Carmina. Save 50% on admission to 4 popular Hollywood attractions with the purchase of a Hollywood CityPASS. LA is about a 4½ hour drive to Las Vegas (270 miles), about 2 hours to San Diego (120 miles) and 6 hours to San Francisco (380 miles).
Top 21 Attractions
1. The Hollywood Walk of Fame and the TLC Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) are the cities two most-popular attractions. More than 2,000 five-pointed stars with the names of celebrities to fictional characters can all be found on the Walk of Fame. It all dates back to February 9, 1960, when Joanne Woodward became the first performer to receive a star on this very walk. Under the name on each star you will see a small, round emblem which illustrates the celebrity’s category, with one of five symbols. The celebrity with the most stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is singing-cowboy Gene Autry, who earned five different stars! The Grauman’s Theatre is one of the most famous theatres in the world, with a recreation in the center of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. The LA version has a capacity of 1152 and a prime location along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Look closely at it’s forecourt and you’ll see imprints from Whoopi Goldberg’s dreadlocks and even magic wands from the stars of Harry Potter. Tickets to their IMAX® 3D Experience range from $12.50 – $18 for adults and $5.50 – $16 for children.
The TLC Chinese Theatre is home to the single largest IMAX® auditorium in the world with nearly 1,000 seats.
2. Hit The Beach – Venice Beach is a seaside neighborhood of Los Angeles, which is best known for its canals and its beachside promenade, where various kinds of street performers from fortunetellers to BMX bikers entertain onlookers at all hours. Venice Beach is also home to Muscle Beach, where bodybuilders strut their stuff, along with many beach volleyball and basketball courts. Surfers frequent the nearby breakwater, and murals adorn many of the beachside buildings.
3. The Getty Museum – It opened its main branch, the Getty Center, in Pacific Palisades in 1997 and its smaller cousin, the Getty Villa in Malibu, in 2006. The Villa houses an extensive collection of Greek and Roman art and is actually modeled after a seaside Roman villa. The Center houses a large collection of Western art from medieval times to the present, with particular strengths in alchemical texts, Italian futurism, Russian Modernism, Japanese avant-garde art and artists’ letters and sketchbooks throughout the ages. The Center’s campus features numerous garden spaces, fountains and pools as well as outdoor sculptures. Admission is free.
4. Universal Studios Hollywood (1964) is home to attractions including the famous Studio Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s largest working movie studio. Also unique to this park is King Kong 360 3-D, which is the world’s largest 3-D experience. Also drop straight down an 84-foot raft plung on Jurassic Park The Ride and visit Krustyland aboard The Simpsons Ride. 2016 marks the opening of their new $500 million Harry Potter themed land, which will be similar to the land at their Orlando parks. While it will not include a ride like their Dragons Challenge mega-coaster, we should expect to see a version of the Flight of the Hippogriff kiddie coaster will, along with the iconic Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Californians are looking forward to finally being able to get their hands on that stuff called Butterbeer! Just like the nearby Disneyland park, this park is the original Universal Studios theme park, which was later followed by 2 other parks in Orlando and Japan. Admission is $74 for adults and $66 for children.
5. See A Concert – It’s always fun to plan the dates of your vacation around a big event, that’s why I always check Ticketmaster to see who will be performing when I’m in town. The $50 million, 2,265-seat Walt Disney Concert Hall is the crown jewel of the LA Music Center, with wonderful acoustics and an open platform stage. It is home to the internationally acclaimed, Gustavo Dudamel–led LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale, but offers a surprisingly varied program of concerts throughout the year. Another popular venue is the Kodak THEATRE, which has been a host to many of the world’s top performers including Celine Dion, Prince, Barry Manilow, Alicia Keys and the Dixie Chicks. It’s hosted high profile events such as The Daytime Emmy Awards, The ESPY Awards, The BET Awards, the American Idol finals, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and many more. The stage is one of the largest in the United States and the theatre has has a capacity of 3,400. Guided Tours are available 7 days a week and last approximately 30 minutes. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and youth and children under 3 are free.
Those of you who don’t want to shell out a fortune to see the biggest names in the business will want to consider seeing a live TV show taping, most of which are free. Here’s a post I wrote with 6 Reasons Why You Should See A Live TV Shop Taping In LA, it’s where I tell all about what it was like seeing Chelsea Lately (and even meeting Chuy!) and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
6. Madame Tussauds Hollywood (2009) is a 44,000-square-foot, $55-million attraction, which is the ninth Madame Tussauds worldwide and the fourth in the US. See surprisingly realistic wax figures of stunning quality that make you feel like you’re actually getting to see some of the most popular celebrities live and in person. Over 100 figures can be seen including Tony Hawk, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Jackie Chan, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and more. Leave with a snapshot of you standing with your favorite A-lister. Each costs up to $300,000 to make and takes around 3 months. Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $18 for children.
7. Hollywood Museum - Beautifully restored to its original 1935 Art Deco design, the official museum of Hollywood has the world’s largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia, including costumes, props, posters, and photographs from Hollywood’s greatest films, TV shows and music acts. This 35,000 square feet museum has 4 floors of exhibits with 10,000 objects displayed, including items from “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Sopranos,” “Harry Potter,” “Star Trek,” and “Baywatch.” Lay eyes on Rocky’s boxing gloves, Marilyn Monroe’s dresses, Elvis Presley’s favorite bathrobe, Indiana Jones’ whip, Pamela Anderson’s “Baywatch” swimsuit, Cary Grant’s Rolls-Royce, the shark seen in “Jaws,” the church pews from “The Exorcist,” Tom Cruise’s eyeball-switcher from “Minority Report” (and the eyeballs), and “Moulin Rouge.” Located in the historic Max Factor Building, right beside the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and children.
See this pre-depression era truck from The Beverly Hillbillies at the Hollywood Museum!
8. Go shopping on Rodeo Drive - LA is well known for it’s endless shopping destinations, including quaint boutiques to massive malls. Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive is a 3-block district, which is a favorite among the rich and famous, welcoming stores like Prada, Gucci, Valentino, Dior, and Cartier. The cities two largest malls are South Coast Plaza and Del Amo Fashion Center, the fourth and fifth largest malls in the country, respectively. South Coast Plaza opened in 1967 yet still isn’t showing any sign of slowing down, it has over 250 stores including three Macy’s stores, Nordstrom, Sears, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales. Their sales of over 1.5 billion are the highest in the USA and they welcome over 24 million visitors each year (in comparison, the Empire State Building only receives 3.6 million annual visitors!). Zara opened their first California store here in 2004, Rolex has their flagship USA store here and other notable tenants include Christian Louboutin, Versace, YSL, a Barney’s Co-Op, Chanel, LV and Hermes, among countless others. Here’s 12 Fun Facts About Beverly Hills to get you pumped for your next vacation!
Get a snap shot taken of you with the world famous Beverly Hills signs.
9. Paramount Pictures Studios - Since the 1920s, Paramount has welcomed a large number of film’s all-time heavyweights (including Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio) and has produced famous shows like I love Lucy and Star Trek, as well as box-office hits like Forrest Gump,Braveheart, Gladiator, and Titanic. Today, Paramount Pictures is one of the only remaining entertainment studios in the Hollywood area. So for an authentic “Hollywood” experience, set aside some time to visit. TV and movie lovers will recognize the sets of some of today’s favorites, including Entertainment Tonight. Visits typically include a walk-through of the sound stages of TV shows or feature films, though you can’t enter while taping is taking place. To visit the studios, you must be 12 or older and reserve a spot in advance for a guided tour, which lasts for about two hours. You may have seen it, along with the Universal Studios Tour and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour featured on our list of the Top 10 Behind the Scenes Tours in America. It costs approximately $48 per person.
10. The Hollywood Sign (1923) is one of the oldest, most well known landmarks in the world. The 9 letters that spell Hollywood are high above LA in 45-foot tall white letters. It was created as an advertisement in 1923, that originally read “Hollywoodland,” and its purpose was to advertise a new housing development. This sign is known for it’s distinctive, wavy appearance, but when seen at a comparable altitude the letters appear straight-across. While visitors can’t actually touch these letters for themselves, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area, which allow you to get a good view of the sign. Before serious security precautions were put in place, the sign was actually known as a popular spot for pranksters, as people changed the letters to read things like “Hollyweed,”Holywood,” and “Ollywood.”
11. Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is the original home to Mickey Mouse and it’s called the Happiest Place on Earth.” This resort consists of two themeparks: Disneyland Park (1955) and Disney California Adventure (2001), Downtown Disney and three hotels. Disneyland park is the second most visited park in the world, right after the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Between the two California parks, the biggest attractions include the California Screamin’ roller coaster, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. California Adventure recently underwent a 1.1 billion renovation that included the addition of Carsland, the $75 million World of Color nighttime spectacular and a huge general park makeover. See how it differs from Disney World by reading Disney World Vs. Disneyland. Prices start at $92.
12. Griffith Observatory (1935) offers a great view of the surrounding area and features the 300-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium, where hourly screenings of a narrated 30-minute projection show called “Centered in the Universe” reveal the stars and planets that are hidden from the naked eye by the city’s ubiquitous lights and smog. Also, the observatory features 60 space-related exhibits, with the highlight being the largest astronomically accurate image ever produced, a 20*152-foot porcelain enamel dazzler that’s called “The Big Picture.” Onsite, you will find the Wolfgang Puck “Café at the End of the Universe,” and several Zeiss and solar telescopes for public use both day and night. On warm nights, with the lights twinkling below, this is one of the most romantic places in L.A. Admission to the observatory building ang grounds is free, while planetarium tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children.
13. California Science Center (1951) is the West Coast’s largest hands-on science center, with features including a 50-foot animatronic woman whose muscles, bones, organs, and blood vessels are revealed, demonstrating how the body reacts to a variety of external conditions and activities. The Air and Space Gallery is a seven-story area where real air and spacecraft are suspended overhead. You can pedal a bicycle across a high-wire suspended 43 feet above the ground or get strapped into the Space Docking Simulator for an extra fee. Admission is free to visit the museum, while the IMAX is $8.25 for adults and $5-$6 for children and seniors.
14. LA County Museum of Art (1910) is the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago. View more than 110,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present, with works by Degas, Rembrandt, Hockney, and Monet. Exhibitions include big names such as Jeff Koons, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. Their Pavilion for Japanese Art is another favorite, featuring a collection of Japanese Edo paintings that’s rivaled only by the holdings of the emperor of Japan. Also see one of the nation’s largest holdings of costumes and textiles, and an important Indian and Southeast Asian art collection. Free 50-minute guided tours of many of LACMA’s special exhibitions are offered weekly. Admission is $15 for adults, seniors are $10 and children are free.
15. Norton Simon Museum of Art - Admire one of the finest private collections of European, American, and Asian art in the world, with masterpieces by Degas, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Goya and sculpture by Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin. The “Blue Four” collection of works by Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Klee, and Feininger is impressive, as is a superb collection of Southeast Asian sculpture. Perhaps the most popular piece is The Flower Vendor/Girl with Lilies, by Diego Rivera, followed by Mulberry Tree, by Vincent van Gogh. The collection of paintings, sculptures, pastels, and prints by French Impressionist Edgar Degas is among the best in the world. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and free for students.
16. Grammy Museum (2008) occupies four floors of exhibit space in the heart of LA, sharing the enduring legacies of all forms of recorded music, the creative process of music-making, and the art and technology of the recording process. This $30-million, 30,000-square-foot museum is home to displays include artifacts like Jennifer Lopez’s infamous green Grammy dress, Billie Holiday’s costume jewelry, and Leadbelly’s prison pardon. There are pods with performance footage and interviews, eight interactive studios where you can mix tracks with some of today’s biggest recording producers, a rooftop terrace, and a 200-seat theater that shows short films. You can’t possibly see it all in one visit, so plan your stops accordingly. Admission is $13 for adults, and $11 and $12 for seniors and students.
17. Los Angeles Zoo and Botantical Garden (1966) is located on 133 acres with 1,100 animals and over 250 species. While it may not be quite as impressive as it’s neighbor in SoCal, the San Diego Zoo, but it’s still well worth the visit. See 7 western lowland gorillas in the $19 million Campo Gorilla Reserve, along with orangutans, harbor seals, kangaroos and one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in America. The Winnick Family Children’s Zoo gives kids the opportunity to explore a cave, a desert trail or watch for prairie dogs through specially designed pop-up bubbles and other animals that include snow leopard, mandrill, okapi and one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $9 for children.
18. Go On A Hollywood Homes Tour - My favorite is the TMZ Tour, which is where you can take the stories from the popular TV show and website come to life in current time from LA’s ultimate celebrity spotting tour. These 24-person buses scour the streets of Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, on a two hour tour, in search of your favorite celebrities. The open-air bus allows great visibility and you don’t have to worry about a glass window getting in the way of that perfect snapshot. As you travel through the city, your TMZ guide will dish juicy stories about all of your favorite stars. These areas are teeming with Hollywood’s most talked-about stars who are running in and out of coffee shops, shopping, walking their dogs and enjoying lunch at local restaurants. On their website, they share videos of actual tour sightings from One Direction, Lady Gaga, Cee Lo, Honey Boo Boo, Regis Philbin and Ellen DeGeneres. The tour is $55 for adults and $45 for children.
Another favorite is the Movie Stars’ Homes Tour, which passes by Rodeo Drive and all of the Holywood landmarks, but also takes you deep into the Hollywood Hills to see the homes of people like Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Simon Cowell, Katy Perry, Tom Cruise, Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and David and Victoria Beckham - Book Online and Save $5!!
19. Aquarium of the Pacific (1998) has 12,500 animals from over 650 different species, with enough exhibit space to fill three football fields. This aquarium re-creates three areas of the Pacific: the warm Baja and Southern California regions, the Bering Sea and chilly northern Pacific, and faraway tropical climes, including impressive re-creations of a lagoon and barrier reef. See over 150 sharks (some you can touch) in a 90,000-gallon habitat to delicate sea horses, moon jellies, and gaggles of tropical birds within the Lorikeet Forest. Learn little-known aquatic facts at the many educational exhibits, or come nose-to-nose with sea lions, moray eels, and other inhabitants of giant tanks, up to nearly three stories high. Admission is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $13 for children.
20. Six Flags Magic Mountain (1971) has more roller coasters than any other park in the world. It’s located north of LA in Valencia, California on 260 acres with over 100 rides, games and attractions, including 18 roller coasters and 5 water rides. Prepare to ride X2, the world’s only 5th dimensional roller coaster, Tatsu, the tallest, fastest and longest flying coaster, Scream, Southern California’s first floorless coaster, Deja Vu, a looping, boomerang coaster, Goliath, the giant among coasters, Superman The Escape, Batman the Ride, The Riddler’s Revenge and many more. Children will enjoy the Bugs Bunny World section of the park. Those going between mid-June through September will want to consider visiting their adjacent water park, Hurricane Harbor. Six Flags admission is $60 for adults and $35 for children.
21. Museum of Death - Rid your fear of death here at this extraordinary Hollywood museum. Since first opening in 1995, the 45-minute self-guided tour now begins with serial killer artwork (the world’s largest collection) and memorabilia, including a vomit-stained shirt one killer wore when he was electrocuted. Also check out Marilyn Monroe’s morgue photo, a Heaven’s Gate mass suicide exhibit, Liberace’s taxidermied cat, replicas of execution devices, and the real severed head of a serial killer! I rank it as the #1 coolest museum in America! There is no age limit, but it is recommended for mature audiences only. Admission is $15.
Video: The Best of Los Angeles
Opaque - Dine in complete darkness! Many of the servers are blind (well, even if they weren’t, it wouldn’t do them much good!). The experience is designed to allow you to ignore the atmosphere and solely take in the sounds, feelings, and of course the tastes. It is quite pricey, in fact a three-course meal can cost over $100. But where else can you get such an experience (turn the lights off at home and eat?! Nahh.). They also have locations in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, and New York.
Mari Vanna – We asked Kim Kardashian’s BFF Jonathan Cheban about his favorite restaurant in America and he said that he considers Mari Vanna to be America’s best restaurant. He said “It’s the Russian version of The Ivy..I’m addicted to it and sit there for hours when I’m in LA.. I love the Blini with black caviar!!” The caviar runs from $115 to $595! They have received rave reviews from The Los Angeles Times and Life & style. Other past guests include Adam Lambert, Jammie Fox, and Jed Leiber.
SUR Restaurant – Owned by Real Housewife of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump (You know, that gal who drives a pink Bentley and has a dog with nearly 100,000 Twitter followers?!), who makes regular appearances here at this West Hollywood hot spot, along with her star studded staff from the Bravo TV show called Vanderpump Rules. Her and her husband have owned 26 restaurants in LA and and London. Guests include Russell Brand, Paula Abdul, Miley Cyrus, Kathy Kilton and Jenny McCarthy.
Villa Blanca – Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, this restaurant is also owned by Lisa Vanderpump. They specialize in Mediterranean, Italian and Asian cuisine. All of Hollywood’s biggest A-listers have taken a sip out of their fine china, including La Toya Jackson, Drake and Nick Jonas. You never know, you may just leave with an autograph. Still can’t decide which one to visit? Just remember this, “Villa Blanca is where you take your wife and Sur is where you take your mistress.”
Magic Restroom Cafe, LA - America’s First Toilet-Themed Restaurant recently opened in 2013, featuring a lobby filled with real (but not working) urinals and toilets. All the dishes, seats and food items are all focused on toilets, bathrooms and human bodily functions. You even get to sit on a toilet (with the seat closed of course) while you are eating! Dishes have names like “black poop” (which is a chocolate sundae) and “bloody number two (vanilla strawberry sundae). I got so excited when I heard about this (I’ve heard about the Asian ones for years and always wanted to go) and I can’t wait to try it the next time I’m in LA. I just hope they improve enough to stay around, because the Yelp reviews aren’t looking so well – people say the service is shitty and that they had to throw their food down the pooper. But who cares, this place looks awesome!
Miceli’s Restaurant – Dating back to 1949, they are dubbed as “Hollywood’s Oldest Italian Restaurant;” but they are even better known for being the home of the singing waters and waitresses. Delicious food and eclectic Italian vibe come together to provide a mouth watering culinary experience like no other!
Chuy Bravo’s Taqueria – You know, the Chuy “nugget” guy off of the E! network’s Chelsea Lately! Well guess what, he has opened a Mexican restaurant and all I have seen so far is rave reviews so I am going to have to mention it. Anyone in the LA area, give it a try and let us know how you like it! You never know, you just might run into the little nugget himself.
Taylor with Chuy Bravo, the owner of Chuy Bravo’s Taqueria!
Beacher’s Madhouse – I first learned about this bizarre place when I saw Jonathan Cheban (from Keeping Up With The Kardashians) take a date here on Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. This club is one of the hottest places in town and I guarantee you that it will be unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before. You can’t just walk right in though, as you will need to contact them ahead of time. You must dress nice to get in, but the star attraction is the characters walking around, expect to see a mix of Barney and big birds, flying little people, Ooompa Loompas, burlesque dancers, live animals, celebrity lookalikes, fire breathers, and so much more! Past guests include Paris Hilton, Nick Cannon, and Miley Cyrus! It’s located at The famous Roosevelt Hotel, which is the site of the 1st Academy Awards and is located right next-door to Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Nickel Diner – Serving five unique varieties of donuts, this famous diner has been featured in Elle Magazine and on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri. They are perhaps best known for having their world famous Maple Bacon Donuts, a doughnut dipped in maple glaze and chopped bacon. Also try the Nutella Donut (made with Nutella and chopped nuts) or the Irish Car Bomb Donut (made with Guinness, Baileys Irish Cream and Jameson whiskey).
Hard Rock Cafe - Located at the Hollywood & Highland Center, beside the world-famous Dolby Theater, and just steps away from Grauman’s Chinese Theater and Hollywood’s starry Walk of Fame. The 20,000-square-foot cafe includes spacious seating, a live music area, a vibrant bar and two Rock Shops featuring Hard Rock’s limited-edition merchandise. Features include a 18’ x 4’ Rock Wall, to touch screens in booths throughout the cafe, to Microsoft Surface, each featuring innovative multi-touch technology that enables fans to explore the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia collection and virtually tour all of Hard Rock’s venues worldwide. Key memorabilia items on display in the cafe include Jimi Hendrix’s purple crushed velvet hat; to Janis Joplin’s love letter to then boyfriend Peter LeBlanc; to Katy Perry’s sparkly dress and Fergie’s tour outfit worn while on tour with the Black Eyed Peas. The menu features a selection of 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef Legendary Burgers, plus a mouth-watering menu addition unique to the Hollywood Boulevard cafe and their sister property at Universal CityWalk, the Gourmet Pizza selection with Neapolitan-style crust.
American Girl Cafe - Anyone with a young daughter or grand daughter will have to bring their girl here to this full-service restaurant! Brunch is $19 per person, lunch is $22, afternoon tea is $19 and dinner is $23. Dinner is only offered at select times. Let your girl shop next door for dolls, t-shirts, posters, and all things girly!
Sprinkles Cupcakes – In case you ever get where you’re craving a gourmet cupcake at 4 in the morning and you don’t happen to have a personal chef on hand, this is the place for you! A favorite among celebs, it’s just two blocks from all of the incredible shopping on Rodeo Drive. They opened their first 24-hour cupcake ATM here at their flagship location. $4 a pop.
The Proud Bird – This extraordinary dining establishment is located right next to LA’s LAX airport. It offers great views of planes coming in for a landing. The aviation theme is quite unique and the American cuisine is pretty good. Beware of the ‘Living Wage’ service fee added to all checks.
The Edison – Located inside a former electrical power point, The Edison nightclub opened in 2007 but it is complete with a 1900′s theme and placed in a building that was opened in the early 1900s. You get to seat near huge electric generators. The Higgins Building basement was Los Angeles’ first ever power plant, built by Thomas Higgins.
The Crocker Club – Located inside a former bank vault, complete with huge steel doors. Sit around safe deposit boxes. Sit in a “studio room” where semi-private booths can accommodate up to twenty people. The booths once served as areas where wealthy bank patrons examined the contents of their safe deposit boxes when the basement of the Spring Arts Tower was Crocker-Citizens National Bank.
Tagine – Owned by Ryan Gosling, this restaurant is ranked 4.5 stars on popular review sites. They combine traditional recipes with contemporary French and Spanish twists, providing an inviting Beverly Hills atmosphere that keeps you craving for more.
Medieval Times Dinner Theater - is a family dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting performed by a cast of 75 actors and 20 horses. It is housed in a replica 11th-century castle. Located right outside LA (near Anaheim) in Buena Park, CA.
Carthay Circle – Technically located in Anaheim, at Disney California Adventure Park (across the street from Disneyland), this reproduction of the classic theater that premiered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 now offers fine dining with Asian and Mediterranean influences. Located within Disney, the spot offers specialties like a fried biscuit stuffed with Cheddar, jalapeños, and bacon and served with honey apricot butter.
Yamakase - Located in West LA, Kat Odell from Bravo’s Eat, Drink, Love considers this to be favorite American restaurant, mainly for it’s secret sushi vibe. Kat says “to secure a reservation you need to fill out a form on the restaurant’s website, and you’ll notice that that website doesn’t list an address or phone number. Once you actually show up at Yamakase, there’s a sign outside that always says ‘Closed’ and the window curtains are drawn. Inside, the tiny unadorned eatery is littered with empty bottles of expensive wine, Champagne, and booze — this is a special occasion place. For the next four and a half hours you will dine on kaiseki and pristine sushi — some of the best I’ve had in the seven years I’ve lived in Los Angeles.”
Those looking for affordable transportation, look no further. Mozio is an airport transportation search engine. If you have no idea how you are going to quickly and economically find your way to the airport, Mozio will show you all the shared-ride shuttles, airport service buses, limo and taxi services and even helicopters and fly planes to get you from A to B.
Who wants a ride to Beverly Hills?
LA is well known for its swanky shops on Rodeo Drive, but they also have fun spots like Kitson, which has locations all throughout LA and offers affordable items that you can’t find anywhere else. All of the “whose who” shop here so why shouldn’t you? Read my post on 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kitson While In LA.
3 Star - Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel (Avg. price $169-$144) If you’re on a budget and want to stay somewhere unique then this is the place! It offers what you’d expect from a holiday inn, except it’s in a great location, adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm theme park and near Disneyland and downtown L.A. It’s nothing fancy but it’s all you need to have a great time.
3.5 Star - Hilton Las Angeles / Universal City (Avg. price $153-$286) This 24- story hotel is an excellent choice for anyone who plans on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal CityWalk, both of which are just a hop skip and a jump away.
4 Star – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel (Avg. price $338-$663) Located at the Disneyland resort, 30 minutes outside of LA, within walking distance to the two parks. The nicest Disneyland hotel by far (there’s only 2 other choices!). The prices are steep but worth it for those want to pay a little more and get their very own balcony overlooking Disney’s California Adventure (one of 2 on-site Disney theme parks), which has recently had a complete overhaul.
4 Star - Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (Avg. price $279-$690) – Named after Theodore Roosevelt, this hotel opened in 1927 and is located right on the Walk of Fame and next-door to the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It is the site of the 1st Academy Awards and notable guests and residents include Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Paris Hilton, Demi Lavato, Miranda Cosgrove, Will Smith and Frank Sinatra.
5 Star – Peninsula Beverly Hills (Avg. price $475-$721) This opulent mansion reminds me of the white house… actually it seems even nicer! Perfection is displayed with incredible service, historic atmosphere and generous amenities.
5 Star – L’Ermitage Beverly Hills - Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes and Penélope Cruz have all stayed at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, which caters to the biggest celebrity A-listers. During the awards season, their seamstress has colored thread, sequins and other materials on hand should a star’s outfit need touching up before the red carpet. Unique requests are filled by the chef and housekeeping team—think special moisturizers from Sweden, sodium-free tortillas from an artisan bakery across town and hand-crushed lilac bath salts from Japan.
5 Star – Hotel Bel – Air – For about $345 to $2,500, you can stay on a bed that was possibly slept in by Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Beatty, Jim Carrey, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Robert De Niro (just a few of the A-listers who have stayed here. This tropical villa is nestled in the heart of the Hollywood Hills, offering a peaceful oasis with a world class restaurant, which is widely known as one of the most romantic eateries around, not to mention one of Zagat’s most highly rated hotel restaurants. CNN considers it to be one of the highest-tech hotels in America and it’s easy to see why, with an in-room check-in that includes a tutorial by the bellman on the use of all guestroom gadgetry. The toilet is likely to be a Neorest 600 – its motion-activated lid opens automatically and features a control panel for flushing and other functions, like a seat heater and deodorizer. The bathroom also has heated floors and an in-mirror LED television. Guests book massages or dinner reservations from in-room iPads and there are Bang and Olufsen HD flatscreen TVs, smart lighting with mood settings and a touch-screen phone that lets you control everything from room temperature, lights and media to curtain height.
5 Star - Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel) – Built in 1928 and more recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, this 395-room hotel is located on the site of the former Beverly Hills Speedway. The famous ”Cut” restaurant in the hotel is operated by Wolfgang Puck. Elvis Presley actually spent several years living in this very hotel, while other past guests include President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, Farrah Fawcett, Elton John, Robert Pattinson, and Al Pacino. It is perhaps best known for being the primary filming location for the 1990 movie Pretty Woman. You may also recognize it from HBO’s Entourage television series.
Even if you’re not staying here, I highly encourage you to come in for a look around, especially if you’re coming around the holidays. It’s located on Rodeo Drive, the cities premier upscale shopping destination.
5 Star - The Beverly Hills Hotel – Those willing to shell out anywhere from $380 to $5,000 a night will want to seriously consider staying here at one of LA’s finest. It sits high atop Sunset Boulevard and it is known as “The Pink Palace.” Its lavish bungalow rooms and its bar and restaurant, the Polo Lounge, is where many Hollywood deals are made. The celebrity spottings, just to name a few, include: Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, Jon Bon Jovi, Dennis Hopper, Bill Clinton, Tyra Banks, Whitney Houston, Usher, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Roberto Benigni, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Caine, and Mike Myers.
Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, which opened in October 1984 and contains 35,000 animals, and 623 species including jellyfish, sea otters, stingrays, octopus, African black footed penguins, seahorses, sharks, and an aviary. Also, you can go out on the “ocean view decks” to see animals like sea otters, humpback whales, harbor seals, orcas, California sea lions, dolphins and more.
Legoland California (1999) has 21 rides including 3 roller coasters and 6 water rides. This park is located near LA in Carlsbad, California. This park might be themed to the toy’s you grew up with, Legos, but this park has something for everyone. It is the third Legoland park to open, and is one of only two outside of Europe.
Hearst Castle – Those taking the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco will want to consider stopping along the way at Hearst Castle, which is about a 4 hour and 10 minute drive from Los Angeles. CNN calls it one of the “World’s 15 Most Spectacular Swimming Pools” (though swimming is not permitted). This mansion was built in 1919 by William Randolph Hearst and this castle includes two spectacular Roman-inspired pools. Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and other legendary figures have splashed in the outdoor Neptune Pool, where a special ramp was installed to allow easy access for the pet dachshund of Hearst’s lover. It receives over 1 million visitors each year, despite it’s distant location. Admission is $25 for adults and $12 for children.
3 Star- Madonna Inn (Rates start at $175) – For anyone who is traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco (or for locals simply looking to get away for the night), I highly recommend stopping at the Madonna Inn, which is in the town of San Luis Obispo, which is about half way between LA and San Francisco. This quirky little 109 room Swiss Alp-inspired hotel and restaurant is beyond extraordinarily awesome in more ways than one. Each room has a different theme, such as “Floral Fantasy, Jungle Rock, Sir Walter Raleigh, Whispering Hills…” The Gold Rush Steakhouse (which I highly encourage you to dine at even if you do not care to stay here) is one of my favorite rooms because of it’s extravagant pink decor. They even have pink sugar on the restaurant tables and a waterfall urinal in the lobby restroom! Not to mention a pink basketball court! If I was going to build a hotel, I would want it to be just as cool as this place! It currently has 4 star average reviews on TripAdvisor, with one of the reviews saying “it’s like staying on a movie set.”
Taylor GoldblattAfter years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.