Exploring Los Angeles with A Day In LA.
I’ve recently returned from a fantastic two and a half weeks travelling the Western USA with Trek America on their Westerner tour. I arrived in Los Angeles a couple of days before my trek began and decided that I wanted to make the most of my time in the City Of Angels by exploring what the city had to offer – after all, who knows when I’ll next have the chance to visit Los Angeles? I’d been told by friends that Los Angeles isn’t the easiest city to explore as a tourist – it’s large, vastly spread out and has limited public transport.
With the help of my old friend Google, it didn’t take long to discover ‘A Day In LA’, the number 1 rated LA tour on Trip Advisor. The tour was billed as being perfect for people looking for an excellent overview of what LA has to offer in a short space of time, allowing them to explore their favourite spots further if they have extra time. Of course, I only had one full day in LA before starting my Trek, and this just seemed like the best way of seeing everything. In the space of just a few hours, I would take in all of LA’s biggest hotspots including Venice Beach with its world famous Skate Parks and Muscle Beach to the glamour of Hollywood and the iconic Farmers Market at the Grove.
The tour started in the morning at Santa Monica. After grabbing a coffee, I jumped in an Uber and headed down to the world famous pier. As we approached, I could see that I was going to love this city. As cliched as it sounds it looked just like it did in the movies! The area in some ways conjured up images of holidays in Spain with its architecture, stunning blue sky, golden beaches and lush palm trees.
After a little walk along the World Famous pier, it was time to head to head to the pickup point for the tour. One thing I would say if you’ve ever played Grand Theft Auto, it’s uncanny how realistic this area is in the game! I’d love to spend more time in Santa Monica. After reaching the pickup point, I was greeted by the Day In LA team. There was fruit, fresh fruit juice and water available to take which was nice. After a short time, it was time to get on the Rastabus (the name of the company behind A Day In LA) which was immediately noticeable with its impressive bold red, yellow and green branding.
The first stop of the tour was in the neighbourhood of Venice to explore it’s awesome beachfront (aka Venice Beach). The promenade is over 2 miles long and features lots of little boutique shops, food vendors and artists. The area also includes the iconic Venice Beach Skate Park, and Muscle Beach outdoor gym. Regulars in the past have included Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Draper. This was all very impressive to see. What was perhaps most impressive about Venice was its art scene with impressive murals featured on many buildings paying homage to Hollywoods stars. Interesting fact: Apparently, a one bedroom bungalow on the beach at Venice costs $1 million. Ahh!
After a short drive, we arrived at Beverly Hills for a bit celebrity spotting in this upmarket area of LA. We stopped for a walk down Rodeo Drive with its raft of luxury shops for a spot of window shopping. It was nice to see a bit of how the other half live and check out some of the awesome luxury cars! I found 2 Rodeo Drive to have the edge for me, with its European style and cobblestoned streets, it felt like an escape from the bustle of the main shopping area.
It was soon time for lunch. Our tour guide took us to the Farmers Market at the Grove, where we had an hour to explore the famous market. The area is known for its speciality food stalls and ethnic cuisine. I had a delicious slice of pizza, washed down with a tasty milkshake. That was incredible! The market has food to suit every taste, and the smells were just great! It’s also located across the street from CBS Television Studios, so you never know, you might bump into someone famous!
After lunch, it was time for a nice short drive to the Hollywood Hills to visit the famous Griffith Observatory for stunning views of the Hollywood sign, Downtown LA and the Pacific Ocean. After the steep drive up the slopes of Mount Hollywood, we were greeted with stunning views of the observatory and LA. It felt a bit surreal to be there seeing all these sights that only a few years ago I would never have dreamed of visiting. The observatory itself was impressive, and I enjoyed the Foucault Pendulum which demonstrates the rotation of the Earth by knocking over a pin every hour.
After a while, we left and regrouped to head for Hollywood Boulevard. Arriving in Hollywood, I was amazed at how long the Hollywood Walk of Fame is – it goes on for miles! It was interesting to learn that celebrities have to be famous in three different areas to be featured – i.e. music, television and film and must pay $30,000. The street was buzzing and full of street performers and stalls. We also checked out the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars, and Chinese Theatre, where the celebrity footprints are. This was cool to see and great that I’ve done it, but it was also my least favourite area of LA. It felt too commercial, and I just didn’t feel like it was an area of LA I’d like to see again. I think its strengths lie in its beautiful coastal resorts and hills.
After exploring Hollywood, we headed back to Santa Monica where we were dropped off. After exploring the main shopping district of Third Street Promenade, it was time to head back to the hotel to meet some of the others in my Trek America group.
Overall I found ‘A day in LA’ to be an excellent way to explore Los Angeles in a limited amount of time, with a friendly, enthusiastic local tour guide who was very knowledgeable about everything there is to know about Los Angeles. I booked in advance online, at the cost of $89, which I found was excellent value for money. I would highly recommend ‘A day in LA’ to any readers looking for a tour of the LA area. To find out more about ‘A day in LA’ visit adayinlatours.com.
Have you explored Los Angeles before? What was your favourite part? Have you travelled with ‘A day in LA’? Let us know and join the discussion below.
Please note this is not a paid blog post and I was not asked to write this.