Are you heading overseas and have a layover in Los Angeles?? We did, we went to Mexico late last year and as we live in New Zealand we had to go via LA to get there. 12 hours to kill before our connecting flight – what to do?! We knew we couldn’t just sit in the airport waiting … and waiting … and waiting some more! So, we decided to make the most of the time and head out into the city.
If you haven’t been to LA before and you’re in the same situation – make the most of it! It’s a great opportunity to knock another city off your bucket list.
What did we do??? I hear you ask
We found a tour company – We Love LA Tours
They are absolutely AWESOME!!! We were able to plan a 7.5 – 8hr private tour with them (have to leave room for boring airport stuff).
I’m not going to lie – it wasn’t the cheapest option but it was the best option for us. I think we paid about $500 USD which we decided was reasonable for an 8hr private tour! Our tour guide, Carlos, was amazing – super friendly, very knowledgeable and happy to go with the flow. If we wanted to spend a little more time in one place, it was no problem and if we wanted to leave a place early, no problem!
Carlos picked us up and dropped us off at the airport which was super handy! Don’t have to look for alternative transport.
But where does the tour go???
I enjoyed the drive to Venice Beach as it was my first taste of the city so just being able to sit back and watch the city pass by was great.
We spent about 15 minutes at the beach. Carlos took us up to Muscle Beach where people go to work out in the open air. It was pretty cool getting to see it, I mean … Arnie! From there we were free to wander on our own so we had a look at the beach, admired the haze (something we don’t get at NZ beaches!) and then went to have a look at the shops lining the boardwalk.
Santa Monica Pier
This was definitely one of my favorite places to visit. The pier was amazing and the atmosphere there was just so light and relaxed. I could have stayed all day and if I’m ever back in LA this is definitely where I want to stay!
We didn’t play in the amusement park as we didn’t have time, but if you’re there and you get a change – take a ride on the Ferris wheel for me! It looks like it would have been fun and I’m sure you’d get a great view of the water and the surrounding area.
There are so many souvenir shops and food stalls along the pier, as well as buskers and artists who will perform for a small donation 😉
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay here for too long – we had to move on to our next stop:
Lunch at the Farmer’s Market and explore the Grove
On the way to the Farmers Market, we drove through Beverley Hills and Rodeo Drive. We got to see some of the famous houses in Hollywood, such as the Playboy Mansion, Ellen DeGeneres’ former home and the house where Michael Jackson died.
Rodeo Drive was pretty quiet and smaller than I expected but it was still super impressive seeing all the designer stores and flash cars.
Lunch at the Farmers Market was great. It’s a huge place with loads of different options to choose from – too many options! We went for subs at an Italian place before we had a nosy around at all the shops.
The Grove is really gorgeous and they have a massive candy store which I had loads of fun looking around though it took considerable self control not to buy ANYTHING! Coz … I. Love. Candy!
OK, so I know it’s just a sign but it is AWESOME!! Carlos took us there at dusk and it was really a great time to see the sign and the city-scape. We even saw a bat flying around and while this might not mean much to you, we don’t have bats flying about everywhere over here in New Zealand haha.
It truly is a beautiful view up there but we didn’t walk up to the sign. I’m sure the view is even more beautiful from up there but from where I was standing it was still pretty good.
After is got too dark to see we headed on to our last stop:
Dolby Theater, Chinese Theater & the Hollywood Walk of Fame
I learnt something new at this spot: the Dolby Theater is in the middle of a mall! When the Oscar’s come to town the whole place is done up and curtains go up to cover the shops, the carpet comes out and the statues stand guard watching over the celebrities as they enter the awards.
It was kind of strange to see it so barren but I could definitely picture it and after seeing the latest award show on TV I got to say “I’ve been there! I stood right there!” Haha.
After the theater, we moved out onto the most famous part of Los Angeles – the Hollywood Walk of Fame and had a load of fun spotting all our favorite stars. It was pretty busy so it was hard to get pics while people were walking all over the place.
Have to have the Dan Radcliffe one (spot the Potter nerd!). I chose not to post the one of me posing with the star grinning like a complete numpty though haha.
We wandered down the street spotting stars until we got to the Chinese Theater, where we spent about 20mins spotting the different hand prints in the concrete. It was incredibly humbling to see the hand and footprints of some of the greatest actors and actresses of the last 80 years.
We also got to witness a VERY devoted Judy Garland fan kneeling over her hand-prints, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and lovingly caressing the concrete. He was dressed in a very interesting fashion and got extremely upset when some rubbish landed on Judy’s square. I’ve never seen anything like it and each to their own, but it was entertaining from my point of view! Los Angeles attracts all kinds!
Back to the airport 🙁
Unfortunately, this was the end of the tour for us. From here we had to go back to the airport to catch our next flight but we would be back in 4 weeks to spend some more time in Los Angeles.
If you choose to do something similar, make sure you contact Pam at We Love LA tours! Let me know what your favorite part of LA is 🙂
Pin for later!