With its 1302 square kilometers and over 3,5 million inhabitants, Los Angeles is one of the biggest cities in the United States of America and the biggest in California. Yet we only got one evening en morning to explore this metropolitan. Oops.
Of course not all of that area is filled to the brim with hot spots. The most known places to visit in the City of Angels are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, so that was also where we headed for in our limited time.
We arrived around 5pm at the beach of Santa Monica. After a somewhat tiring drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, we were happy to have reached our final destination of the day. What struck me first was that it was a lot more touristic than Santa Barbara. The entire pier is surrounded by car parks and in my opinion it breaks a bit of the atmosphere. It made me miss Santa Barbara. Of course one needs a lot of car park with the amount of tourists that visit this place every day.
Since the pier is one of the hot spots of Santa Monica, that’s where we were headed first. The ambiance there is simply amazing. It’s basically an amusement park right on the beach. Sadly my dad is afraid of heights and didn’t really see the added value of going on the ferris wheel, so we skipped that. We did enjoy the most beautiful sunset from the beach. Absolutely stunning.
After that it quickly started getting dark, so we headed for Third Street Promenade to get a glance of that as well. Of course since we were there after dark, most of the shops were already closed, but there was a man playing the guitar, singing and old country tune which is one of the moments I’ll never forget.
I am a bit sad that we didn’t haven’t time to visit Venice Beach – and more in particular Muscle Beach – because we just couldn’t find a place to park our car without having to pay a day rate of +20 dollars. That was a bit too much for just a quick glance so we decided to skip it and spend all our time in Santa Monica.
Since we wanted to see the rest of LA the next day, we opted to spend the night in Santa Monica. Our hotel was called Ocean Park Hotel, and was good enough for what we paid. It did have a shared bathroom with which’s lock I had a big fight, but the rooms were simple and clean. Once again, that’s all I need for the night.
For one night in a room with one double bed we paid 76 euros.
The next morning we were once again up bright and early – blame the jetlag I assume – so we drove through the streets of still sleepy Beverly Hills. I just love these palm tree filled streets. Nothing screams vacation like palm trees. We made a quick stop on Rodeo Drive but of course no rich people shopping yet. And I did have to take my obligatory tourist picture with the Beverly Hills letters at Beverly Hills Park.
And then we were headed for the stars and fame of Hollywood. Because I was concerned with car park in that area before leaving, I’d looked up some options and found information on the Hollywood & Highland. You can park in this parking garage for two dollars for two hours if you validate the ticket in one of the shops of this mall. We ended up enjoying a Starbucks coffee and just like that we were able to park really cheap right where we needed to be. A+!
One of the biggest highlights of Hollywood is of course The Walk of Fame. It’s just so much fun walking along Hollywood Boulevard and read all the names of these big movie stars beneath your feet. The personal highlight for me was putting my hands in Kristen Stewart’s handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The “downside” was that Kristen Stewart herself would be at the Walk of Fame to inaugurate Jody Foster’s star the very next day. That did sting a bit to be so close to your idol, yet so far. But at least we didn’t have to battle the masses this way and I got to see how they prepared a star as they were already working on Jody’s the day we were there.
Next up we headed for the best viewpoint over Los Angeles. From the Griffith Observatory you have a stunning view over the city. Due to the smog, it’s always a bit unclear, but it’s spectacular to see how large this metropolitan actually is. Make sure to go quite early since the car park fills really quickly. When we arrived around 10am, there were still a few spots available, but by the time we left there were no more spots and cars were already circling the lot.
And one can’t of course go to Hollywood without trying to get as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign. You can hike all the way to the sign, but since we sadly didn’t have the time to do that, we drove to the closest point. You get the best view driving up North Beachwood Drive or you can park your car along Canyon Lake Drive for a closer view and of course some tourist pictures. It felt quite surreal to see those letters in real life as they’re featured in so many movies and stuff.
And then it was time to hit to road to our next destination. While right after departure I didn’t really know what to think about this city, I can now say that I wouldn’t mind going back one bit. The atmosphere is great and I would love to spend more time to discover more. I’d definitely want to hike to the Hollywood sign and visit Venice Beach. And maybe be really lucky and bump into Kristen Stewart?