Southern California’s star-studded sprawling city, Los Angeles is pretty much the place to visit on everyone’s travel list. Endless sandy beaches, towering skyscrapers, must-see movie studios and one huge, iconic sign… the City of Angels kinda has it all. Interestingly I know quite a few people who visited and found it disappointing, a far cry from the colour palette in La La Land, the nostalgia in Mid 90s or the slickness of Lucifer. I couldn’t have disagreed more! While I stayed and only covered the Hollywood area in three days, I can’t wait to go back one day, and my trip was unforgettable. Here’s how you can easily see the Hollywood area in just three days.
Griffith Observatory and Park
As the sun rose on our first day, we decided to take to Griffith Park, the famous green space being just a ten-minute stroll from our accommodation. Sitting at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, you can take a small hike to the top of the park to visit the Griffith Observatory, a lookout with a planetarium and other fascinating exhibits. The views are breathtaking too – you’ll be able to see the iconic Hollywood sign, the skyscrapers of Downtown LA in the distance, and even the Pacific Ocean.
We hiked the winding, dusty paths which are great to tackle early morning when the sun isn’t too blistering, and there’s plenty of places to stop and swig some water. When you reach the top, you can picnic on the lawn outside the Observatory, or you can head inside (the air con is a welcome break from the heat!) and the planetarium shows are under $10.00 too so well worth it.
From the top of the park, we decided to get an Uber to the hub of Hollywood, the boulevard, to see the Walk of Fame, and the TCL Chinese Theater amongst other sights. I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to this part of the city, but what I will say is I was a little disappointed. The area was rundown, there were a *lot* of people selling celebrity tours, and I will warn you, when you see the Walk of Fame, you’ll be a bit pestered by those trying to sell you all sorts. While it was good to see, I can’t say I’ll be rushing back there anytime soon!
The TCL Chinese Theater was good to see, as it had many foot and handprints from Hollywood icons, and you are able to buy tours of the interior if you’re interested. We walked much of the length of the boulevard, before finding a few museums we were interested in – we settled on the Museum of Death…
Museum of Death
Interestingly, the founders of the museum said they wanted visitors to see the exhibits and “feel happy to be alive.” I can confirm you will certainly feel this way! On a whim my brother and I visited the museum while passing, and after being sternly told not to take photos or video, we headed inside to be faced with serial killer doodles, torturous instruments, dismembered photography and cult memorabilia.
I like a true-crime podcast as much as the next person, but this was intense. This was heavy! Saying that, it’s always been a talking point when I tell people about my trip, and I don’t regret going, it was something I’ll never forget. It’s etched in my brain…
Warner Bros Studio Tour
As we were staying near Burbank, we really wanted to take a closer look at the studios. Universal Studios tour is actually *in* the theme park and the tour is included in the price of the ticket, but if you’re a big Warner Bros fan (or just a Friends fan), you’ll appreciate this tour.
A little pricey at around $40 a person, the tour is extensive and included not just walk-through exhibitions, but a tour on a buggy through the lots, some working sets and even one of the sound stages too. I really recommend this if you’re a film buff, it’s fascinating and great to learn about some of the most famous sets in the world.
I got to see the sound stage where they had Big Bang Theory all set up, the costumes from newer movies like Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Crazy Rich Asians, a whole exhibit dedicated to Batman’s bat mobiles and other vehicles, plus the Friends set and the chance to try out one of the Hobbit sets (which resulted in a pretty epic picture!)
Lunch at Bob’s Big Boy
As our trip to LA was fairly short and we were in self-catered accommodation, we did get provisions from the supermarket, but on this day we ate at Bob’s Big Boy for lunch, a traditional diner of supersized proportions. Dating back to 1936, it’s the perfect place to get the ultimate US diner experience and gorge on one of many burgers they have on offer!
The Hollywood Museum
The Hollywood Museum was one of the museums we stumbled across when we were wandering down Hollywood Boulevard, so we went back to it on our second day as we had some time in the afternoon. Housed in the old Max Factor building, this menagerie of memorabilia will delight everyone from old movie buffs to makeup mavens, horror obsessives to red carpet fashion fans.
It’s around $15 to enter, and it’s well worth it for the basement horror section alone, although I really enjoyed the history of Max Factor and the old makeup on display supposedly owned or used by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball.
Day Three & Four
On our third and fourth day, we really wanted to check out Universal Studios, so we bought a two-day ticket. Of course if this doesn’t float your boat then you can opt for seeing other areas like the affluent Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach a little further out. At the time it was around $149 for a two-day ticket, and it was fairly quiet in December so we got to go on all of the rides (some of them twice!) in that time.
A highlight for me was Whoville – the calibre of character actors was stellar, so many amazing members of staff that made the two-day experience really memorable, especially during the Holidays. Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were incredibly done, and I loved the Studio Tour (arguably more than the Warner Bros tour!), most probably due to the fact that I got to see Norman Bates’ house from Psycho and Bates Motel, one of my all-time favourite horror movies.
City Walk is great to grab a bite and hang out at in the evening, and the park was only a 10-minute Uber ride from our accommodation (near Griffith Park), so it was ideal.
Things to Note
Los Angeles was the last stop on my two-week trip (having visited San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu), and it was a last-minute idea to go, so I do want to go back to see more, but here are some things to note about the city:
- If you’re not going to rent a car or you can’t drive, consider which area to stay in. We stayed in Hollywood as we were planning on seeing things in just that area, do the same, as LA traffic is notoriously bad and it could take you hours to get from one side to the other!
- Downtown LA is a metropolitan area with skyscrapers and swanky bars, but it might not be the best place to stay – when I was there I found it was best admired from the Hills!
- If you want to get to grips with the whole city, stay in multiple locations to get the most out of your trip.
- Remember, LA is a real place, and it won’t be exactly like your favourite movies, I learned just that when I first laid eyes on the Walk of Fame!
- Be cautious. There are not to desirable areas in the city, so always research when you’re looking at potential places to stay!