6 weeks after setting foot in California, here is my article “Los Angeles Travel Tips”, ladies and gentlemen!
When to go to Los Angeles?
All months of the year are favourable to the visit! From May to October it is hot and dry and from November to April it is mild with small risks of showers but nothing very bad.
Personally I left at the end of July but I didn’t choose my dates according to the trip to Los Angeles but according to my final destination. The summer months in Los Angeles are muy caliente but it is also the high season with its share of disadvantages (higher hotel and flight prices, high attendance at tourist sites…). The quietest months are November, January, February and March!
Where to sleep in Los Angeles?
To be 100% transparent with you, I went at the cheapest price. The rates were very high at the time of booking, especially since it was in high season and I took it 3-4 weeks before… I booked everything on FindHotel, which allowed me to save money by booking nevertheless at the best price. As I knew that our days would be very busy and that we wouldn’t spend much time in hotels (if not sleeping), it wasn’t very interesting in our case to blow up the budget in the accommodation.
So I opted for the SunBurst Motel, which is very well placed to go to Venice or the airport. It is a classic American Motel, without any particular interest but with spacious rooms, a cosy double bed and a good geolocation! I was not disappointed with the quality/price ratio even if by travelling at another time of the year, there is a way to find nicer accommodations.
➔ The best places to sleep in Los Angeles: my favorite is Venice Beach/Canals (for the bobo/trendy side, good addresses to gogo, calm and the seaside) and a lesser degree Santa Monica (same advantages as in Venice, less canals and the fair in addition with often more expensive accommodation). Otherwise I recommend West Hollywood or Hollywood Hills for the proximity to studios, places of interest and good addresses.
Here are some suggestions of nice and very well placed hotels (that I had spotted but that were either full or out of budget in high season):
➔ Hotels in Venice: SameSun Venice Beach, The Inn at Venice Beach, Boutique 444, Venice Beach Suite, Venice Breeze Suite.
➔ Hotels in Santa Monica: Ocean View Hotel, Cal Mar Hotel Suite, Le Méridien Santa Monica, Hotel Shangri La.
➔ Hotels in West Hollywood: The Standard Hollywood, Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel, Mondrian Los Angeles.
➔ Hotels in Hollywood Hills: Legend Hotel Hollywood, Mama Shelter Los Angeles, USA Hostels Hollywood, PodShare.
What to do in Los Angeles?
◆ Venice Canals: my favorite in Los Angeles! I didn’t expect to discover such a quiet, charming and inspiring place. Besides, the houses along the canals make you dream… I loved it so much that I went for a walk twice! A first at sunrise, between 6am and 7am, where I was able to enjoy the deserted place. And a second while we were cycling from Santa Monica. And even on a Sunday afternoon, there was no crowd.
To see around Venice Canals: ➔
Abbot Kinney Rd, a surprising shopping street with pretty tag walls, perfect for filling up with good shopping addresses and restaurants.
➔ Venice Beach and the Lifeguard Pride, unmissable!
➔ And if you have time, the Marina (there is not an absolute charm, it is a XXL version marina that was also under construction this summer).
◆ Santa Monica: walking on the waterfront, running, renting a bike… We parked our car at Parking Ocean Avenue ($12 a day) and then rented a bike as close as possible, in the trunk of a blue van with the inscription “Bike Rental”. ($20 per day). We hesitated for a long time with the electric scooters “Birds” which seem too much fun to move around but having not downloaded the application before and not being able to do it on the spot I could not. It is also in Santa Monica that there is the famous fair: Santa Monica Pier! Well, in itself, it’s a fair like there could be many others everywhere else in the world with the same attractions, the same music, the same tourist catch and crowds everywhere everywhere…
◆ Downtown L.A.: Los Angeles’ business district where the tallest buildings are concentrated. To visit Downtown, I advise you to go there for a day on weekends (ideally on Saturdays). There will be no workers and you will be much quieter to visit. To park at low prices, the ideal is to find a car park in Chinatown (for about $5 a day).
To do around Downtown:
➔ Angel Flights, a cute 91-metre long funicular!
➔ Walking tour with a guide, to learn everything about the history of L.A.
◆ El Pueblo: a small historical district of Los Angeles, the oldest in the city! A must see, it is easy to walk in 1 hour. Don’t miss the famous Olvera Street (a small 100m street where the oldest houses are located) and Union Station (a huge station so different from what you are used to seeing).
◆ Hollywood Boulevard: Hollywood Stars, nothing more mythical than that, right? I think we all have a “rhinestone and glitter” image of this place and yet… The stars of our favorite celebrities are set on a lambda sidewalk of a huge 4-lane avenue, with shops and museums all around! Add a lot of tourists and the combo is not glamorous at all… Well, it’s still an experience to do but as soon as possible. I was so happy to meet Steve Carell’s star as a big fan of The Office series!
◆ Melrose Avenue: in the classic series… We were able to park there for free by going a little bit deeper into the parallel, more residential streets. Like Hollywood Boulevard, it’s a big shopping street, but as soon as you look somewhere, you can find walls painted in all colours or pretty tags! And since Melrose Avenue is more than 9.5km long, I recommend that you walk from 7769 Melrose Avenue where you will find Colette Miller’s famous Angel Wings and go to 8221 Melrose Avenue where the pink Paul Smith building is located. Between these two addresses, keep your eyes open! You’ll think of me if you come across the vintage phone booth? 🙂
◆ Griffith Observatory: one of the best spots to get both a view of the city AND the Hollywood sign. I strongly advise you to plan a sunset here and/or a hike! On the other hand, make sure you check in advance on the official website about opening hours and any events organised at the risk of going round in circles in the park without being able to park… Unfortunately, I had no luck with this place. We went there twice, the first time during the day when we were able to park and access the observatory. It was crowded and not very pleasant but the view of the city is very nice and you can even see the Hollywood Sign from quite far away. The second time for the sunset except of course, that evening, there was a concert. Impossible to park there… Plan B: direction Cathy’s Corner (Mt Hollywood Dr,) where the film La La Land was shot. After 3 different routes to try to get there, 4 blocked roads and more than 1 hour lost on the road when it is only 2.5km from the observatory, we were forced to opt for a plan C at the risk of missing the sunset. We parked at the north entrance of Griffith Park (a small parking lot at the intersection of Griffith Park Dr and Skyline Trail). Although the view was not as good as we had hoped because, unlike downtown Los Angeles, the sunset was very nice.
◆ Hollywood Sign: as the letters are quite far from Griffith Park, I wanted to get as close as possible! It’s hard to find the ideal spot and after a few failures, the best place to admire the Hollywood Sign is from Lake Hollywood Park (3160 Canyon Lake Dr,) and frankly, you’d think you were there? Ditch everything to become a show actress in Hollywooooood! As a bonus? The view of the Hollywood Reservoir, an artificial lake.
◆ El Matador Beach in Malibu: a pretty beach 45min from Santa Monica. We had the great idea to head to Malibu for what we thought was a quiet sunset! Except it’s a very popular photo shooting spot! The kind of place where everyone comes for photos, amateurs and professionals alike (like in front of the Louvre Museum…). For the romantic sunset, we will come back… The world clearly spoils the experience even though the place is magnificent. I don’t recommend you to do the trip on purpose if you only have 3 days in Los Angeles but only if you stay longer or as part of a Californian road trip. Moreover, it seems that in October/November, the sun was setting right in the hole of the main rock and that it is really breathtaking…
Depending on your interests, there are a thousand things to do in Los Angeles! In addition to the great classics listed above, you can enjoy a treat if you like amusement parks, museums and cinema. For my part, I wanted to test the atmosphere of an official race in Los Angeles so I signed up for the 10km Summer Dash organized by the association A Better World Running. It was a very friendly event, in small groups since we were only 150 people at the beginning and with a mythical route on the waterfront in Santa Monica. I left with my first medal in the United States and it is a wonderful memory for me! Anyway, in 3 days in Los Angeles, you have to make up your mind, you can’t do everything.
Good addresses Los Angeles
◆ The Butcher’s Daughter (1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd): perfect address for a very unscheduled and super gourmet brunch but as there could be a little everywhere. Special mention for the Avocado Toasts Benedicte and the Acai Bowl // Budget: $90 for 2 with tips.
◆ Café Gratitute (several addresses in L.A.): a 100% organic address perfect at any time of the day, tested and approved for brunch! We ordered vegetables in sauce, a wrap for breakfast, French toast and an acai bowl to share and some very good fruit juices. It was very good even if I preferred The Butcher’s Daughter. // Budget: Salty bill, 110$ for 2 with tips.
◆ Dogtown Café (2003 Main St, Santa Monica): relaxed restaurant and café with a great trendy surfer decor! The menu is gourmet and makes you want to taste everything. As we went there for breakfast, we were satisfied with a drink and a cinnamon brioche to share for a snack. My Iced Chaï Latte was great yummy! // Budget: about $15 for 2.
In short, many gourmet, healthy and trendy addresses in Los Angeles. It is really a city for foodies and lovers of good food! On the other hand, the bill is quickly salty.
Los Angeles Travel Tips
After all this information, here is the ideal itinerary for a 3-day trip to Los Angeles.
◆ DAY 1: Hollywood Boulevard + Melrose Avenue + Downtown
◆ DAY 2: Hollywood Sign + Griffith Observatory
◆ DAY 3: Santa Monica + Venice Beach + Malibu
Our trip to Los Angeles was as crazy as I imagined! I really loved this little stay very cliché to discover all these world famous spots. One of my fondest memories in Los Angeles will always be the burning sunsets! The colors are really incredible in California and it’s worth choosing your spot to admire this show.
But not everything is rosy in Los Angeles: the traffic, the noise, the crowds at some places of interest can cool many… We were delighted to set sail for Joshua Tree for 2 days in the desert and discover another side of California. And even if 5 days on American territory is nothing at all, it’s still enough to hope to return there!
If you’ve ever been to L.A., I’d love to hear from you! What did you think of the City of Angels? Do you have any other travel tips for discovering the city? What did you prefer?