Me and my girlfriend are traveling from Amsterdam to LAX this coming Friday, we will be in California for 3 weeks. Our initial plan is to stay in LA(Hollywood) for 4 days, then rent a car and drive up to San Fransisco, spend some time there, and drive the coast down again, and further down to San Diego. We will also pay Anaheim a visit :-) Anyone have som tips for us, how to make this trip best possible?
I've never been to LA myself, so feel free to disregard the next comment
I think 4 days in L.A. might be too much. Most people seem to get bored there really quickly. Plus, it's expensive! And hard to get around, although if you have a car, that shouldn't be a problem.
I have been to San Fransisco, Sacramento, the Napa Valley and Yosemite. San Fran is such a great city and a week isnt even enough here, I think. It's really chilled out, easy to get around, great shopping, lots of really varied districts, fantastic nightlife. It's a really cool city. If you do get bored in LA, you could shave off a couple of days there and add them on to SF!
Hi samsara2, and thanks for the reply
Well, I have my reason to stay those days in LA, I have to visit the Sunset Strip (me beeing an old hardrocker).
I also have some additional questions:
-I'm planning to take a taxi from LAX to my hotel in Hollywood, is it safe to just take some cab from LAX?(other that dangerous for my vallet)
-I'm renting a car, anybody got a tip for a good, checp car rental company?
I lived in southern California (near LA) for over 30 years and have lived in northern California (not far from SF) for the past 7 years, so I think I'm qualified to answer your question.
LA is designed for the people that like the beach and Hollywood. Having said that, there are a few other places worth going, and I think you can have a great time here if you don't mind driving the distances between them. Let me give you the lowdown on the beaches first--
Beaches--there are good beaches (starting at the far north to far south) as follows:
Zuma (way out past Malibu)--this is where they film the Baywatch episodes you see on TV--but this is usually done from Feb to April, (and I think the show's over now?) so since it's so far out of town, go here only when travelling up (or down) the coast. Lots of good looking gals and guys hang out here because it has great surfing.
Malibu--all the celebrities live out here. Some surfing, but wave breaks aren't great.
Santa Monica--best known of all the beaches--lots of private beach clubs here for the Bel-Air and Beverly Hills people. The town is just at the top of the cliffs, with lots of good restaurants and shopping.
(P.S. The three best known beach clubs (all located here--are (1) The Bel-Air Club, (2) The "Beach" Club, and (3) The Jonathan Club--all require private memberships (it's $25,000 or so to join, you have to be sponsored, and it costs about $15,000 a year to stay a member)
Venice Beach--the most unusual place in LA--everything from small vendors to musclemen working out on the beach to hippies to half-pike skateboard contests to occult fortune-tellers to dance specialists to you-name-it. This is the beach you would see Suzanne Somers and John Ritter biking on in the TV show "Three's Company".
Manhattan Beach--where most of the professional volleyball tournaments take place in the area
Redondo Beach--used to be good, now just so-so sleepy village.
then there are no good beaches until you get to
Long Beach (good only on the south end--those buildings offshore are actually disguised oil rigs--waves here tend to be quite small--good for families with young children
Huntington Beach--good beach for hanging out and checking out the bikini babes--fun spot (I met my wife here--but not at the beach--she was/is a bikini babe, though)
Newport Beach--good surfing here and more good beaches. High-end homes, so parking is tough.
Newport Riviera and Corona del Mar--new hot spots
Laguna Beach--great beach, really scenic, and they have 3 great art festivals here that go on from June to August. Go to the Sawdust festival during the evening for an unforgettable experience. P.S. They just had a hillside collapse here last week that destroyed 18 homes, so traffic could be a problem.
My next post will discuss places to go in LA besides the beaches.
Other key attractions in the LA area are:
TV show filmings--these take place at the studios in Hollywood. Attending one of these are always free--though tickets are tough to get for shows like "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. Write ahead for tickets, or contact your hotel for more info on this.
The Getty Museum--once again, you must get your ticket in advance, though the Getty's collection is impressive--probably the best outside of the Louvre in Paris, and certainly the best in the US (sorry, NY--but the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection isn't even close).
Huntington Library--this is in the town of San Marino, near South Pasadena. Plan to spend at least 4-5 hours here to see it all. It's a home, a museum, and 8 large gardens all rolled into one. My favorite spot in all of LA.
Disneyland/California Adventure--two amusement parks well known across the world--obviously worth a shot, unless you've been to the Disney Parks in Florida--which in my view are superior to these.
Universal Studios Hollywood--fun place for a day trip--allow time to see the Universal Walk either here in Hollywood--or the one in Irvine if you go to the art festivals in Laguna Beach.
Holocaust museum (West LA)--interesting, though not for everyone.
Sunset Strip--go at night (this is Sunset Blvd between the 101 Hollywood Freeway and Beverly Hills)--lots of nightclubs and comedy clubs, and watering holes. (not many restaurants, though). Go to the Rainbow Room if you want to meet the other rockers--this is their "ground zero".
Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills itself--see how the stars live and shop.
Out-of-town trips--Santa Barbara, Palm Springs/Palm Desert, and San Diego.
In San Diego, stay on Mission Bay (at the Hilton or Bahia). Rent a waverunner or two and drive them all over the the Bay for a couple of hours. Dine in one of three spots--the Gaslight District (fun spot all around), Old San Diego, or on Shelter Island (if you choose this option, I prefer the Bali Hai restaurant for the food and view). Go to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, or to the Science Center in Balboa Park. Shopping is best in La Jolla or Del Mar. The horse racetrack in Del Mar is open through the summer and a day there is lots of fun--their motto is "where the turf meets the surf". About 30 miles out of San Diego to the north is the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and 30 miles to the south is Mexico. See my post on Baja California for info on what to do there if you go this far.
WOW!! what a great reply Calcruzer, THANX A LOT This will really help my trip beeing as good as possible
The only thing I can help you with is the Anaheim/Disneyland resort portion of your trip! Any questions at all feel free to send me a message. I just got back a couple weeks ago.