It’s been another action-packed week. On the weekend we dined at one of my favourite West Hollywood restaurants and who would walk in but Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. I was beside myself but also reasonably cool (remember I’m pretty much acclimated now). But when I glanced over at their table another mate of theirs had joined–none other than Keanu Reeves. Please. Are you kidding me? Wow. No wonder I love hanging out there.
But then that high was marred by an incident yesterday where a man had led police on a massive freeway chase and ended up dumping his car in the middle of North Hollywood resulting in a standoff. There were SWAT teams, news crews and …. a number of nearby SCHOOLS in lockdown. Holy crap. Several news outlets showed kids from one school in locked arms evacuating their to safety.
That school was the other school that my kids got accepted into. That could’ve been my kids in lockdown yesterday and on the news evacuating their class instead of elatedly jumping out of there because they’d finished another “final” (exam). I’m not sure I or Mr H could’ve handled that.
Thankfully we didn’t have to, the kids are (I believe) all OK and today is another day. Just quietly there’s another bloody shooting in a US High School. I know that as outsiders to the US living in California (where we aren’t allowed to carry concealed weapons) I’m not brought up to understand why guns continue to be a huge part of life here but really .. seriously? It’s called change peoples. And change is good. It’s not always bad and scary.
Right … now on a brighter note. And now that I’ve given you a frightening picture of the US I’m here to tell you it’s also a great place. So, we’ve got our summer on and we’re raring to go.
LA is usually the first point of entry for tourists. So, here’s my 10 must-do things while you’re in LA.
10 must-do things in LA
1. Go shopping
Unless you’re from the US this may not apply to you. OK, it probably will. LA has some good shopping.
But, if you’re from Australia (or anywhere outside the US) you’re definitely going to want to take advantage of the cheaper prices for shoes (thinking Vans, Nikes and Converse) and clothes and hit the streets (or malls). Lucky I’ve written the ultimate guide to shopping in LA.
It will also pay you to understand the different sales tax rates around the country because it will affect the final price of your goods (who wants to pay more sales tax than they should?). Click here for the lowdown. I have to warn you it’s already out of date but it gives you a reasonable guide. Click here to check out current sales tax rates to find the current rates.
2. Pap a pap
They’re not everywhere like I thought they might be. They can actually be very discreet. But they are around. Look around you–not for celebrities but for the paps who make their living out of following them. (Hint: don’t go looking for guys with lots of cameras with long lenses hanging off them & they’re not often in a pack like this).
3. One night, two days just do it
Take it down a gear and splurge on a couple of days at one of Beverly Hill’s top hotels. Lucky for you I’ve done a review of many of the top ones for your consideration. You’re in LA, you want to lap up all LA has to offer: style, casual swag and of course hanging and being seen.
Given the Beverly Hills Hotel is currently being boycotted I’d try the Beverly Hilton or the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. But hang around long enough to schmooze by the pool, that’s where the action is.
4. Eat at our fabulous restaurants
Stay away from tourist trail and hit some decent restaurants. LA has some great places to eat and if you insist you can stay in the tourist areas–and even eat with the kids. But please, please, please the US has a bad enough rap without you adding to it, the food doesn’t have to be bad. Not if you don’t let it.
Here’s a link to my pinterest page highlighting great LA Dining. But don’t forget to book ahead of time–they book out pretty early. Oh, and in general they eat early here–as early as 5:00/5:30 so beware.
5. Take in the atmosphere at the Greek Theatre &/or Hollywood Bowl
6. Have brunch at the Getty Centre
Visit, eat, hang around. It’s not only worth a visit but it’s also worth hanging around. What a fabulous place to have brunch or for something different book a picnic hamper and picnic on the grounds. Sometimes they have free concerts on the grounds. Check out the website to see what’s going on when you’re here.
7. Go to see the Basketball/Baseball/Ice Hockey
It’s a great experience watching live sport in LA (especially if you’re from overseas). LA loves its Kings, find out why. If you’re a little late booking through official channels Stub Hub is a great place to go.
8. Take in Griffith Observatory (inside & out)
It sits majestically on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood overlooking LA just above the fabulously exclusive Los Feliz.
Donated by some rich guy (bequest in the 1919 will of Griffith J. Griffith) he also donated the land for Griffith Park (in 1896). I read somewhere that it’s the largest public space in all of LA so for God’s sake, honour his wishes.
Don’t just look up from those dreadful stars (sorry) and wonder what it is, go up and check it out. You can hike, picnic and see the stars (the real ones; up in the sky). Whatever you choose to do, pay it a visit.
9. Take in a Vintage Market (or two)
Have you forgotten you’re in Vintage land? It’s pretty hard to forget. There are heaps of markets, stores and areas where Vintage is King. Here’s a pretty comprehensive look at some choices. Probably the easiest to get to is Melrose Trading Post in Fairfax High on a Sunday but if you’ve got a car I’d definitely venture out. Oh, and La Brea is definitely well worth the look. While you’re there check out one of my favourite places Nick Metropolis Collectible Furniture. You’re welcome.
10. Take a sidetrip to Palm Springs
Yes, you read right. Palm Springs is where all Hollywood’s elite used to go to get away from it all. An easy two-hour drive from LA Palm Springs is mid-century modern personified. I get so excited just thinking about it.
The best way to describe Palm Springs is the perfect coffee table book picking out the best of the best. Yes, it’s ALL good. It’s like everyone in town got the memo, they pull off the Palm Springs look like pros.
You won’t be disappointed. Eat, shop and relax but allow yourself enough time to soak it in. There are also great Vintage shops and Estate sales so it’s pretty hard to cram it into just a couple of days. But, whatever you do, try.
But wait … there’s more …?
I bet that you think there are a couple of places missing from my list: Universal Studios, Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Boardwalk–even one of my favourites cruising Mulholland Drive and how can you forget Malibu?
I’m not just gorgeous and fabulous I’m pretty smart. I know you’re going to go against me and do one or a few of them anyway. Don’t let me stop you but just don’t make your visit to LA be about those things. You’re not giving LA justice if you don’t look outside the tourist box. Oh, and if you’re keen to visit an LA beach wander up to Malibu or head down South to Manhattan Beach. Very nice.
There is so much good stuff to see and do in LA I’m scared I won’t get to it all during my time here. How about we all make a pact to get out and about and enjoy all LA has to offer?
Like Ferris said, “Life moves pretty fast, if we don’t stop and look around once in a while we could miss it.”
Happy summer. I heart LA.
xx It Started in LA xx