My LA City Guide
I can't believe it's taken me this long to get started on the content from our West Coast road trip! Life has ended up being crazy busy since we came home and somehow nearly a month has passed without me touching the list of blog posts that I've been dying to write. I thought I'd start the content off with a little LA city guide - it was the first place we visited on our trip, and both Sam and I fell in love with the city. I'd heard such mixed reviews before we arrived, but I was definitely a fan and I know I'll be back!
We had 4 days in the city, split between Central LA and Santa Monica, and I've included all of the best things we saw, ate and did, as well as the hotels that we stayed at. I really hope it's useful if you're planning a trip of your own, and as always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!
We flew from London Gatwick to LAX with Norwegian who are a budget airline, and from our experience I would thoroughly recommend their long haul flight service. The staff were great, our economy seats were really comfy and they were so much cheaper than other airlines for the same route.
Upon arriving on LA we picked up a car that we hired through Hertz. LA is such a sprawling city that driving really is the easiest way to get around, and parking is easy to come by in most places. Sam did all of the driving while we were there and once he had got over the initial nerves, he said he actually really enjoyed cruising around in the sunshine!
If you don't fancy driving, Uber is probably your best option for getting around - don't worry, it's much cheaper and more common than it is here in the UK! There is also a metro system, but we were warned that it can be pretty shady, so chose to avoid it.
We spent our first three nights in LA at The Line, a boutique hotel based in Koreatown. We paid a little bit extra for a Hollywood Hills room and I would thoroughly recommend doing the same - the view was the best one I've ever had from a hotel room (and I've been lucky enough to enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower and one of the world's most beautiful beaches from my bed before!). We couldn't stop squealing as we watched the sun set from our giant cloud bed, ogling at the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory in the distance.
The hotel also boasted a gorgeous rooftop pool, a critically acclaimed restaurant and a fancy stationery shop, as well as serving up some of the best room service I've ever eaten. Location wise it was perfect - it never took us longer than half an hour to get anywhere, and it was only $10 in an Uber to Downtown LA.
We decided to also spend a night near the coast so that we could also enjoy everything that Venice Beach and Santa Monica had to offer, and Sea Shore Motel was conveniently located between the two areas. Situated on Main Street, this pastel pink motel was the perfect base to explore from, with tonnes of quirky shops, bars and restaurants nearby, and only a 15 minute walk to the waterfront.
Parking was free here which made it the perfect place to start the road trip leg of our journey. The decor was less fancy and chic than what we'd become accustomed to at The Line, but we loved being able to get the proper motel experience!
Griffith Observatory - The Griffith Observatory is renowned for boasting one of the best views in LA and I can totally see why. Park at the car park half way up the hill and hike your way to the top to take in the different perspectives and the great views of the Hollywood sign en route.
Hollywood Walk of Fame - This place is pretty tacky (it reminded me of Leicester Square in London), but as we were nearby, we decided to stop for a nosey. It was kinda fun to see all the stars that I remember seeing as a kid, and it's a sight that you can tick off in about half an hour.
Melrose Avenue - If you want to do some shopping the LA way, Melrose Avenue is a must. Here you'll find brands such as Reformation, The Row and Fred Segal, as well as the Instagram famous pink Paul Smith wall.
Rodeo Drive - Rodeo Drive was one of the must see movie sights for me, as I must have watched Pretty Woman at least 50 times! Unless you've got the money to spend in all the designer shops I wouldn't recommend spending a long time here, but it was still cool to see.
Universal Studios - We actually booked our tickets to Universal Studios on a bit of a whim, and I'm so glad we did! We had loads of fun riding rollercoasters, hanging out in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and exploring TV sets on the studios tour. Buy your tickets online before you get there to save a little bit of money.
Venice Beach - Venice Beach is one of those iconic LA areas that you just have to see for yourself. There's the skate park and Muscle Beach that you've probably heard about before, tonnes of shops selling every souvenir under the sun, and the most gorgeous white beach complete with palm trees.
Venice Canals - If you're in the Venice Beach area, it's well worth taking the short walk to Venice Canals. We spent a lovely hour wandering up and down the canals and dreaming about which of the pretty houses we'd buy if we won the lottery.
Abbot Kinney - This little street in Venice Beach is an absolute must visit! Teeming with beautiful independent shops and gorgeous eateries, you can easily kill an afternoon here browsing and grazing to your heart's delight.
Santa Monica Pier - About a 40 minute walk along the beach front from Venice Beach, you'll find Santa Monica Pier. This is the official end point for Route 66 and a very fun place to spend a couple of hours - take a trip on the ferris wheel, indulge in some funnel cake or just admire the gorgeous ocean views from the end of the pier.
California Donuts - The perfect place to pick up a delicious breakfast to go. I can highly recommend the panda donut (cute and delicious!) and they serve great coffee too.
Gracias Madre - A super cool plant-based Mexican restaurant based in West Hollywood - apparently it's one of Beyonce's fave spots in the city! Be sure to order one of their margarita snow cones.
In-N-Out Burger - The LA classic - you can't visit without trying their burgers! Order a double double animal style and wash it down with a strawberry lemonade.
Wood Pizza - We didn't manage to make it to the restaurant in Silver Lake, but we ordered takeout on Deliveroo and it was one of the yummiest pizzas I've ever had.
Grand Central Market - If you're not quite sure what you fancy, Grand Central Market in Downtown LA is the perfect spot! Expect plenty of great street food stalls, a live band and a brilliant atmosphere.
Rose Cafe - The perfect brunch spot in Santa Monica - think super Instagrammable interiors, a beautiful outdoor terrace and very delicious food.
Salt & Straw - Without a doubt the best ice cream I've ever eaten! Get yourself to Abbot Kinney and prepare to have your mind blown - I can thoroughly recommend the almond brittle with salted ganache.
Modern Times Brewery - A super cool brewery in Downtown LA with more beer choices than you can shake your fist at! We didn't eat here but the food looked good too.
Ace Hotel - I can't comment on the rooms here as we only visited for a drink, but if the hip rooftop bar and pool is anything to go by, this is a super cool place to stay!
The Library Ale House - A cute little pub based on Main St in Santa Monica, serving delicious tacos and bar snacks with a huge selection of beers.
Shutters On The Beach - This Santa Monica based hotel is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat with a view of the ocean - it's pretty pricey, but they have some good happy hour deals.
So there you have it, my LA city guide. Have you visited the sunshine city before? Let me know if there's anything you think I've missed on my list!