Top 10 Disneyland Hotels
Top 10 Disneyland Hotels
By Shauna Murray
The Disneyland vacation. It’s an experience unlike any other that beckons people of all ages and from all over the world to Anaheim, California, to make special memories, start family traditions, and celebrate milestone moments with a little help from mouse ears and Disney magic. Whatever your reason for visiting, you’ll need somewhere to kick your feet up and recharge after a long day at the park.
The number of hotel options near Disneyland can seem overwhelming at first as there are dozens of options to choose from. Where you choose to stay really comes down to several key factors: how close you want to be to the park, the environment you want to stay in, and, of course, your budget.
If you want to keep the “Disney Magic” feeling even after you leave the park, one of the three Disney properties—Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and the Disneyland Hotel—can offer an uninterrupted Disney experience and special perks like early entry to the park and visits from Disney characters. There are plenty of other nearby hotels ranging from chic and trendy to no-frills economy, all of which are a short walk or shuttle ride to Disneyland, Downtown Disney, and Disney California Adventure Park.
Whether you’re on family vacation, your honeymoon, or celebrating your retirement, there’s a hotel that will fit your needs and your budget. Here are 10 of the best hotels near Disneyland, in order of their distance to the park
1. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa
1600 S Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA, 92802, United States, 800-491-6126
Distance to Disneyland: 0.2 miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4 out of 5
As an extension of the California Adventure park, the Grand Californian carries on the theme of California’s national parks with Craftsman-style architecture reminiscent of a mountain lodge, complete with roaring fireplaces in the lobby. The grand hotel strives to live up to its name with an impressive offering of services and amenities that include treatments at the full-service spa, three outdoor pools, “magical morning” access to the park before it opens to the public, and a variety of on-site restaurants and lounges.
It’s worth mentioning that the Grand Californian charges pretty “grand” prices for their rooms and services. During peak travel times, the hotel’s average nightly rate can be two to three times as much as the other choices on this list, but if staying in the Disney mindset for your whole vacation is important to you, then it could be worth it. The rooms are average size but the beautiful buildings and grounds really do set the Californian apart. With views of the park during the day and the fireworks at night, plus visits from Pluto and friends, you’ll be surrounded by Disney Magic throughout your visit.
2. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel
1717 S Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA, 92802, 800-491-6126
Distance to Disneyland: 0.3 miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4 out of 5
Tucked away right outside of California Adventure Park, the Paradise Pier Hotel is just close enough to be part of the magic, but secluded enough to offer a respite from the crowds and noise. A private entrance leads from the hotel to the park so it’s easy to come and go as you please. (Nap time, anyone?) The kids will love the expansive pool, the Paradise Theater showing Disney films, and hanging out with Minnie Mouse & Friends at breakfast. Parents will love the Yamabuki Japanese restaurant and the Surfside Lounge. Babysitting services are available, too, if Mom and Dad need a date night.
3. Disneyland Hotel
1150 W Magic Way, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 800-491-6126
Distance to Disneyland: 0.3 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4 out of 5
Originally built in 1955, the Disneyland Hotel was the first Disney-themed hotel and is still one of the most popular places to stay near the park. The 4-star hotel has gone through several major renovations over the years; the current interior design gives a nod to mid-century nostalgia with modern luxury and, of course, lots of Disney flare. The hotel has four restaurants, three pools, and lush gardens with waterfalls and a koi pond. Disney characters regularly make appearances during breakfast hours and you can catch the nightly fireworks from the club-level cocktail lounge with a glass of complementary beer or wine.
4. Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance
1420 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 855-239-9399
Distance to Disneyland: 0.4 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Located just a ten-minute walk to the Disneyland gates and loaded with amenities like an on-site water park, free WiFi and cooked-to-order breakfast, the Courtyard Anaheim consistently ranks the highest among area hotels. Rooms can sleep up to six people with two showers and double sinks, the family won’t be fighting for bathroom time while getting ready in the morning. The lobby restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and there’s a Starbucks where you can fuel up before a big day in the park. Best of all, you can put on your PJ’s and watch the nightly Disneyland fireworks from your balcony.
Tip: Double-check when you’re booking that you’re at the “Theme Park Entrance” Courtyard.
There are two other Anaheim Courtyard hotels: one at the Convention Center and another at Buena Park.
5. Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn
1630 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 866-573-4235
Distance to Disneyland: 0.5 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Best Western Plus consistently receives some of the best guest reviews of any Anaheim Hotel. Happy guests frequently mention the friendly staff, clean rooms, and they like that the hotel is less than a 10-minute walk to the Disneyland gate. While many area hotels charge a hefty daily fee for parking, the Best Western offers parking to its guests for free. There’s also free hot breakfast every morning so you can fuel-up before hitting the park. These perks can really add up—especially if you’re traveling with kids and staying for several days.
6. Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
1240 S Walnut St, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 855-239-9227
Distance to Disneyland: 0.6 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4 out of 5
Of the several Holiday Inns in Anaheim, this one is the closest to Disneyland. This family-friendly hotel will be a bit (or a lot) easier on your wallet than some of the nearby hotels, while still delivering on the goods. Perks include a second-floor firework viewing deck, the Splash Zone Waterpark, poolside food and beverage service and optional Disney-themed suites.
Dogs are welcome for an additional fee—they’re family, too!
7. Desert Palms Hotel & Suites, Anaheim
631 W Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 800-491-6126
Distance to Disneyland: 0.6 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4 out of 5
The Desert Palms is another favorite of budget-conscious travelers. The hotel is a short walk from the Disneyland main gate and in close proximity to several shops and restaurants. Guests love the complementary breakfast buffet, the safe and well-lit underground parking, the modern décor, and the clean rooms. Parking isn’t included but is only $16.00 per night, which is about half of what you’ll be charged at many neighboring hotels.
8. Hyatt House at Anaheim Resort
1800 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 714-971-1800
Distance to Disneyland: 0.7 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5 out of 5
While some visitors like the idea of a 24/7 Disney-themed vacation, others prefer a little reprieve from the hustle and bustle after a long day in the park. If that’s you, the Hyatt House is a great option for your stay. This hotel will feel like your “home away from home” with spacious suites that include a kitchen, plus a free grocery shopping service to stock the fridge for you. The swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and social gathering areas offer everything you need for a relaxing getaway.
The Hyatt House is conveniently located near Anaheim activities and attractions, too. Catch a game at Angel Stadium or the Honda Center, visit Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, or shop ‘til you drop at one of the nearby shopping centers or outlet malls.
9. Hotel Indigo Anaheim
435 W Katella Ave, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 800-491-6126
Distance to Disneyland: 0.7 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Hotel Indigo Anaheim is a trendy and charming boutique hotel in the Anaheim Resort District, just a 15-minute walk to Disneyland a 4-minute walk to dining, entertainment and shopping at Anaheim GardenWalk. Amenities include gated covered parking, an outdoor pool, a restaurant with an inspired menu, and a bar/lounge. Hotel Indigo is family-friendly but if you’re traveling without children, this hotel has a lot to offer. The hip and trendy atmosphere, lively bar and restaurant, and close proximity to the GardenWalk makes the Indigo a fun choice for grown-ups, too.
10. Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
1640 S Clementine St, Anaheim, CA, 92802, 855-239-9401
Distance to Disneyland: 0.8 Miles
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Country Inn & Suites opened for business in late 2016, which makes it one of the newer hotels on the block. The hotel offers a lot of valuable extras like free continental breakfast, free WiFi and free parking. There’s a movie theater for kids, an on-site bar for the adults, and the pool area doubles as a viewing deck for the nightly Disneyland fireworks.
Disney Annual Passport members get a booking discount, and Disneyland passes are available at the front desk so you can skip the long lines at the ticketing window.
So there you have it…everything you ever wanted to know about hotels in Anaheim, CA. Whether you’re seeking a luxury experience, something new and hip, or just a safe place to rest your head at night, there’s something sure to meet your needs. Whatever you do, there’s no doubt your Disneyland vacation will be one to remember.
The History of Disneyland
What’s New at Disneyland and Universal Studios
–By Shauna Murray 4/20/2019
The History of Disneyland
The History of the Happiest Place on Earth
By Shauna Murray
For more than 60 years, the “Happiest Place on Earth” has been a little park in southern California called Disneyland. Ok, maybe it’s not so little, but this 160-acre piece of land had humble beginnings as an orange grove before Walt Disney transformed it into an enchanted land that’s had more visitors since it opened than any other theme park in the world.
Disneyland has grown and evolved with the times but has managed to hold on to the magic that beckons people of all ages to visit, and dream of visiting, year after year. Fans of the park will tell you there’s just something about it—something special—that makes it a place unlike any other.
Upon entering the gates of the park, visitors pass through a tunnel and under the famous plaque that reads:
HERE YOU LEAVE TODAY
AND ENTER THE WORLD
OF YESTERDAY, TOMORROW
So just how did Disney transform this place from farmland to fantasyland to become one of the most beloved places in the world? Let’s take a trip through yesterday, today and tomorrow to find out.
Walt Disney first spoke of creating an amusement park while taking his daughters to ride the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. As he watched his girls from a park bench, he dreamed of creating a place that families could enjoy together; where children could play and parents could relax.
By the 1940’s, Walt Disney Studios had become well-known for its cartoon characters, including Mickey Mouse, and animated films like Snow White. Disney started receiving letters from fans who wanted to visit the studios; they wanted to do more than just go to the movies, they wanted to be part of an experience. Disney knew the actual studio wouldn’t offer much in terms of entertainment for the public, so he started dreaming up a place for tourists to visit. He spoke of creating a place both children and adults would enjoy, where their favorite characters and films could come to life.
In 1948, Disney sent a now-famous memo to the studio production designer, Dick Kelsey, outlining his ideas for “Mickey Mouse Park”. The typical amusement park in those days wasn’t a family-friendly place to visit. They were dirty and disorganized, known for over-serving patrons at the beer stand and for attracting a criminal element. Disney wanted his park to be different.
The original concept was slated to be a small park with a boat ride and a few themed areas on an 8-acre plot across the street from Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, but the project soon outgrew the proposed location. Disney started visiting other parks for inspiration and as his ideas grew and more designers got involved in the planning, it became clear they needed a much bigger space to hold the park they envisioned. They found the space they needed at a cost they could afford 27 miles southeast of Los Angeles, purchasing a 160-acre orchard of orange and walnut trees in Anaheim. The “Mickey Mouse Park” project became “Disneylandia” and finally “Disneyland”. In 1954, construction began on the site. Just one year and 17 million dollars later, Disneyland was ready to open its doors to the public.
On Sunday, July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened its gates for the first time with 18 rides and attractions and five lands including Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street USA. Park admission cost just $1.00, plus tickets for individual attractions. That sounds like quite a deal compared to the $129.00 single day pass in 2019.
July 17th was meant to be a preview day for invited guests and members of the press before opening to the public the following day. Unfortunately, the event was nothing short of a total disaster.
The dedication ceremonies, which included California Governor Goodwin Knight and Walt Disney’s Hollywood friends Ronald Reagan, Art Linkletter and Robert Cummings were televised live on ABC. The broadcast attracted over 90 million viewers—the largest TV audience in history at the time—which meant all eyes were on Disneyland for what Disney executives would come to call “Black Sunday” and would lead the press to deem Disneyland “Walt’s Folly”.
So, what could possibly have gone wrong in the “Happiest Place on Earth”? In a word: EVERYTHING.
The weather was scorching 101 degrees.
More than half of the 28,000 people in attendance had “invited” themselves by forging tickets or jumping the fence to get in.
Women’s heels were sinking in to the freshly-poured asphalt.
Due to a plumbers’ strike, Disney had to choose between working toilets or drinking fountains. He chose the former—which people might have been grateful for—but some thought it was a conspiracy by event sponsor Pepsi to make people buy their beverages.
Traffic was gridlocked on the newly-constructed freeway and celebrity guests like Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds were delayed for their scheduled appearances.
As if that weren’t enough, a gas leak forced operators to close down three of the five “lands” just hours after the park opened.
Ever the optimist, Walt Disney still delivered his official dedication:
“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome! Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America, with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
After receiving all the bad press and criticism that day, Disney learned from its painful mistakes and fixed them. Even today you’ll notice the plethora of restrooms and drinking fountains, assuring no guest will have to be thirsty or uncomfortable. Whatever they did to turn things around must have worked because within seven weeks of opening, one million people had walked through Disneyland’s gates.
The Rest is History
In the years that followed, Disneyland pushed the boundaries of technology and creativity and influenced the design of theme parks, roller coasters and other attractions around the world. To this day it is still the most popular theme park in the world. Here’s a timeline of the Disneyland’s milestones, innovations and firsts:
1956 – Just one year after opening, Disneyland had welcomed 5 million visitors.
1957 – Make that 10 million visitors.
1959 – The Matterhorn Bobsled ride became the first tubular steel coaster ever built. Its design still influences the design of modern roller coasters.
1963 – The Enchanted Tiki Room was the first of its kind to use new Audio-Animatronics technology and have three-dimensional birds, flowers and Tiki gods perform a live show.
1966 – It’s a Small World water ride opened featuring 500 Audio-Animatronics dolls representing cultures around the world. We’ve been trying to get the theme song out of our heads ever since.
1967 – Pirates of the Caribbean made its debut. It remains one of the most popular rides to this day and was the inspiration for the hit blockbuster movies of the same name.
1969 – The Haunted Mansion and its 999 ghosts – always with “room for one more” – started haunting park visitors.
1972 – The Main Street Electrical Parade premiered including more than 500,000 twinkling lights.
1976 – 150 million people had visited Disneyland
1977 – The Space Mountain coaster blasted off in Tomorrowland. Astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard were part of its inaugural journey.
1979 – Big Thunder Mountain railroad opened in Frontierland.
1989 – Splash Mountain opened and it’s five-story waterfall drop still has us packing a poncho in our purse.
1993 – Mickey’s Toontown was added as the newest “land”.
1995 – Indiana Jones Adventure invited guests to be part of the action with a thrill ride based on George Lucas’ films.
2001 – Disney California Adventure Park opened to the public, offering a whole new world of rides, restaurants and attractions modeled after California’s most notable parks and landmarks.
2005 – Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary.
2017 – 708 million people had visited Disneyland.
2019 – The much-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is scheduled to open May 31, 2019 featuring characters and places seen in the popular George Lucas films.
Celebrity Spotting Hot Spots in LA
Seeing Stars: Best L.A. Hot Spots for Celebrity Sightings
It doesn’t get more Hollywood than the iconic Chateau Marmont. This luxury hotel perches on the hillside above Sunset Boulevard and has long been a bastion for the most famous celebrities to lodge, dine, and take refuge from the hustle and bustle. You don’t have to reserve a room to enter this exclusive world; the restaurant is open to the public and actors can frequently be seen “taking a meeting” on the garden patio over lunch. Pull up a chair, order a salad, and casually glance around the other tables. There’s a good chance you’ll recognize a face or two—but don’t even think about snapping a photo of them. The Chateau has (and enforces) a strict no-camera policy.
Another Hollywood mainstay, the hotel on Hollywood Boulevard oozes old Hollywood glamour and you can almost hear the walls talking about all of the famous people that have stayed there. The hotel has several bars and restaurants–including a poolside bar—where celebrities come down from their suites to meet for drinks and dinner. Order a drink at the bar in the lobby, sit back, and see who walks by.
The Grove at Farmers Market
Don’t let the name fool you: The Grove is more ‘outdoor mall’ than ‘market’, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a farmer there. You’re much more likely to run into a celebrity shopping at one of the many upscale retail stores, or eating lunch al fresco. The Grove also hosts family-friendly activities – particularly around holidays – that stars bring their kids to. You might spot a familiar face or two at the adjacent Farmers Market, as well. The Grove is located where the historical farmers market once was, and a small part of it still remains. Stars are often seen strolling the market, buying flowers, and looking oh-so-down-to-earth.
Studio City Farmers Market
The Studio City Farmers Market is actually a real farmers market. Located in close proximity to the homes of many stars, celebrities are often spotted here on Sunday mornings—so much so that the paparazzi are usually camped out nearby. With a petting zoo and pony rides for kids, plus dozens of vendors with fresh fruits and veggies, health-conscious stars and their families frequently make this market part of their weekend routine. Best of all, you can do your own shopping and enjoy the sunshine while scanning the crowd for famous faces. The market is open every Sunday, all year round.
Los Angeles International Airport
There’s a reason TMZ is often staked out at the airport: they know the odds are in their favor to spot a celebrity arriving or departing. Look for a herd of paparazzi with their cameras and you’ll likely be sighting the celebrity they’re waiting for. If you get tired of waiting, take a break and check out the Airport Arts Exhibition Program at LAX with works on display in several terminals. And if hanging out at the airport all day doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you can get there a little early the day you fly and hope to get lucky.
The Best Murals in Los Angeles
10 Places to Find the Best Murals in Los Angeles
If you’re looking for creative inspiration, you need look no further than the streets of Los Angeles. Thousands of murals adorn the outer walls of buildings from the beach to the East Side, and they’re as much a part of the landscape as the Pacific Ocean and Hollywood Hills. The artwork both reflects and colors life in Los Angeles and is a great source of pride for the city. Los Angeles is a cultural melting pot and its murals are as diverse as the people who live here.
In a city filled with artists and centered around show business, it should come as no surprise that the whole city itself has become an art show. Local artists create work influenced by their surroundings, and visiting artists travel from all over the world to leave their mark here, too. The result is an eclectic mix of styles and cultural influences; life-like portraits, narrative tableaus, geometric patterns, bright washes of color, and inspirational messages all coexist on L.A.’s buildings, bridges and walls.
While it’s nearly impossible to narrow down the ever-changing roster of murals from thousands to a handful, here’s a round-up of some of the most popular, beautiful, and downright weird works of art you’ll find around the city. Chances are if you make your way to any one of these works, you’ll find yourself around the corner from many more.
Taking up the whole side of a two-story building, the Bloom Wall impresses with its magnitude. The burst of color was painted by artist HUEMAN; it’s not hard to see why she’s been sought after by brands like Nike and NYX Cosmetics
Where to find it: 298 Rose St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
COLETTE MILLER’S ANGEL WINGS
Artist Colette Miller created the Global Angel Wings Project in 2012 “to remind humanity that we are the angels of this Earth”. These human-sized are designed to be interactive – people can pose for photos in front of the wings and become part of the art. The Global Angel Wings Project has truly gone global, with wings on almost every continent but they started right here in the city of angels.
Where to find it: One set of wings can be found at 8401 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048, another at 453 Colyton Street, and there are more throughout the city. Search for more locations by using #globalangelwings on Instagram.
Venice Beach has long been known as an enclave for artists, and even with recent changes to the neighborhood, art remains a prominent feature. The crown jewel of Westside murals is Abbott Kinney Boulevard, a mile-long stretch of retail, restaurants, murals, murals and more murals. “Bleeding Hearts” aka #LOVEWALL by James Goldcrown (@jgoldcrown) is one of the most popular places to visit–and photograph– on Abbott Kinney.
Where to find it: Greenleaf, 1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, 90291
Jim Morrison Mural
“Morning Shot” is the 35-foot-tall mural of Doors front man, Jim Morrison, created by artist Rip Cronk in 1991 and revamped in 2012. From the side wall of an apartment building, Morrison towers over the Venice Beach boardwalk; a fitting place for this larger-than-life figure as The Doors met and started the band in Venice in 1965.
Where to find it: 1811 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Arguably the most psychedelic mural in town, “Technicolor Ooze” is the work of artist Jen Stark. She’s since brought her Technicolor magic to collaborations with Miley Cyrus and Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips.
Where to find it: 8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
WEST HOLLYWOOD LIBRARY
West Hollywood is a community known for its vibrancy and freedom of expression, and its public library is no exception. The parking structure of the West Hollywood Library is home to three of the most recognizable murals in the city: “Peace Elephant” by Shepard Fairey, “An exercise in spontaneity” by Kenny Scharf, and a striking blue and white abstract design by L.A. artist RETNA.
Where to find it: 625 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, 90069
4th STREET / ARTS DISTRICT
The L.A. Arts District truly lives up to its name with more than 100 murals covering the walls and sides of buildings in the neighborhood. One of the most striking works can be found at the intersection of 4th Street and Merrick. The collaboration between Christina Angelina (@starfightera) and Fanakapan. (@fanakapan) will give you allll the feels.
Where to find it: Arts District, Downtown L.A. @ 4th Street and Merrick, LA 90012
THE POPE OF BROADWAY
Some murals have a lifespan of only a year or two (or less) before they’re painted over and replaced. Some, on the other hand, have become semi-permanent fixtures in the city. “The Pope of Broadway” is one such classic. Originally created in 1985 by muralist Eloy Torrez, who also worked with the city to restore it in 2017, the 70-foot mural depicts Mexican-born actor Anthony Quinn, celebrating two of L.A.’s biggest cultural influences: the film industry and the Latino community.
Where to find it: The Victor Clothing Company Building, 242 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90012
Jules Muck, the “Queen of Venice Beach,” is among the most well-known street art and mural painters around. Her works can be seen all over Venice; on its walls, garage doors, vans and even discarded appliances. Perhaps her most famous work is “Freedumb”— a green-tinged mural depicting five legends of the stage and screen who died before their time.
A DAY IN LA TOURS MURAL
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the “Day in L.A.” mural. The mural was painted in 2017 by artist Dim Morisov at the A Day in L.A. headquarters in Santa Monica. “If Los Angeles was an amusement park, this map would show you where all the rides are,” Morisov says. He somehow managed to fit all of Los Angeles on the side wall of A Day in LA’s HQ so you can take a tour of the entire city and its key points of interest without ever taking the tour! Plan to spend some time looking up-close to discover all of the Easter eggs and hidden pop-culture references; you might even find Waldo (as in “Where’s Waldo?”) hiding in the City of Angels.
Where to find it: 410 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Summary: Los Angeles is home to thousands of murals that are as diverse as the people who live here. The artwork both reflects and colors life in Los Angeles, and is a great source of pride for the city. While it’s nearly impossible to narrow down the ever-changing roster of murals from thousands to a handful, here’s a guide to ten of the best places to find the most powerful, colorful, and downright weird works of art you’ll find around the city.
Tags: Los Angeles, Murals, LA street art, murals of LA, graffiti, public art, street artists, mural painters, arts district, venice beach, west Hollywood, shepard fairey, jules muck, jen stark, retna, hueman
The most Instagrammed in Los Angeles
The Most Instagrammable Places in Los Angeles
There’s no question that Los Angeles is one of the most popular places to photographand be photographed—in the world. In fact, Guinness Book of World Records rated L.A. the 6 th most Instagrammed city in the world last year. It’s easy to see why L.A. has been the backdrop, if not the focal point, for so many films, TV shows and photo shoots. Lala Land is a shutterbug’s playground with a seemingly endless selection of places to find the perfect shot.
From her sunny beaches to iconic landmarks, hilltop vistas to colorful urban tableaus—she has more than one good angle, and she’s always ready for her close-up. Just walking around the neighborhood on any given day can make you feel like you’ve walked on to a film set…and sometimes you’ll find you actually have. Whether you’re planning to post vacation photos from L.A.’s most famous destinations, or you’re looking for the best place to snap your next envy-inducing selfie, here are some of the best places in L.A. for you to feed your feed:
Santa Monica Pier
With an amusement park, arcade games, carousel, and iconic entrance, this 100-year-old landmark is one of the most photographed places in town. Strike a pose in front of the “Route 66” sign, then take a ride on the Pacific Wheel for an aerial view of the coastline. No matter which direction you point your camera, you’ll find something worthy of posting to your carefully-curated account.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard
GQ called it “The Coolest Block in America”. Forbes called it “America’s Coolest Street”.
Whatever name you choose to call it by, Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a can’t-miss stop on any Los
Angeles photo tour. While some locals <clears throat> might tell you that this street’s meteoric
rise in popularity has taken away some of its charm, it has also resulted in an explosion of
shops, restaurants and galleries that look like they were made to be Instagrammed…because
they were. From designer donuts to artisan ice cream cones to more murals than you can shake
a selfie stick at, this mile-long street is one big Instagram playground.
Colette Miller’s Angel Wings
Artist Colette Miller created the Global Angel Wings Project in 2012 “to remind humanity that
we are the angels of this Earth”. Since then, the colorful street-level wing murals have
multiplied to many locations across the city, and photos of people posing with them have gone
viral. The L.A. Times even calls them “One of Instagram’s best-known backdrops.” One set of
wings can be found at 8401 W 3rd St, Los Angeles 90048, another at 453 Colyton Street, and
there are others sprinkled around the city. Search for more locations and get inspired with
#globalangelwings on Instagram, and don’t forget to hashtag your own photos when you post
Griffith Park and Observatory
As with many of the locations on this list, a Griffith Park “photo shoot” can be customized to
just about any Insta-personality. The iconic art-deco structure of Griffith Observatory offers a
dramatic backdrop, sitting atop the mountain and overlooking the city below. From the lawn
you can see to the Hollywood sign, and if you’re up for a hike you can get an even closer look at
it from the park’s trails.
Echo Park Lake
Thanks to a recent makeover, Echo Park Lake has become a family-friendly recreation area on
the Eastside of Los Angeles. Lush green palms, lotus flowers, bridges, fountains, and swan boats
are framed by the downtown skyline, creating an unexpectedly-picturesque oasis in the middle
of the city.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
This is as “Hollywood” as it gets, folks. Look down and you’ll instantly recognize the black
terrazzo sidewalk inlaid with pink stars that covers 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. Look up
and you’ll see Grauman’s Chinese Theater towering overhead. Spiderman, SpongeBob and
Marilyn Monroe impersonators will be standing by to take a photo with you, just prepare to be
asked for a “tip” in exchange.
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Walt Disney Concert Hall
As home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, some of the greatest music ever played can be heard
inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the building itself is one of the most recognizable
landmarks in the city. Designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry, the stainless steel structure
makes for a visually-intriguing subject, as well as a dramatic backdrop. Show off your cultural
knowledge and appreciation for postmodern architecture with a photo of this modern marvel.
The Venice Canals Historic District offers a glimpse into the early 1900’s when developer Abbot
Kinney planned to create a “Venice of America” modeled after the city of Venice, Italy. The
narrow waterways are bordered by beautiful homes and a sidewalk that runs the perimeter.
The white wooden walk bridges and plentiful palms and flowers provide a pictorial backdrop for
photos of this charming neighborhood.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is home to some pretty incredible works of art, and its
outdoor spaces are no exception with magnificent sculptures, gardens, and building exteriors
just begging to have their picture taken. The Urban Light installation is one of the most popular
– and easily recognizable — places to photograph in L.A. The best part? No admission ticket is
required to visit Urban Light – it’s accessible and illuminated 24 hours a day. Come with your
battery fully charged and get ready to impress your followers with photos from this famous
(Psst…We cover LACMA and a whole lot more about L.A.’s museum scene here.)
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Top Museums in Los Angeles
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over and over again since moving to L.A. ten years ago, it’s that this city is hard to put in a box. It’s a metropolis, a beach town, a mountain hideaway and a suburban neighborhood all at once, and it expands for miles in every direction. The same can be said for the collection of museums that call Los Angeles home. From art and culture to science and technology, the past, present and future all converge here and are put on magnificent display.
L.A. has some of the best museums in the country (yes, really) and with so many to choose from, there’s bound to be something to pique nearly everyone’s interest. It might be hard to imagine spending the day indoors when you could be soaking up rays at the beach, but trust me, a visit to any one of these museums will be well worth the trip. (Plus, there’s many outdoor exhibitions so you can enjoy the weather while expanding your cultural knowledge.)
Here’s a sampling of the most recognized, beloved, awe-inspiring, and downright weird museums in Los Angeles:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA (pronounced LOCK-MAH), opened in 1965 and “has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, mirroring Los Angeles’s rich cultural heritage and uniquely diverse population” ever since. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States and sees more than a million visitors each year. Some of the most sought-after works on display are by Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, Barbara Kruger and local artist, Ed Ruscha. The most iconic of all works at LACMA is Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a sculpture composed of 202 restored streetlamps from the Los Angeles area during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The sculpture has become a ubiquitous symbol of LACMA and one of the most identifiable landmarks in the city.
Formally called the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Getty is an art museum split between two equally-stunning locations: the Getty Center in Brentwood, and the Getty Villa off of Highway 1 in Pacific Palisades. The Getty Center’s permanent exhibits include paintings, drawing, sculpture and photography from around the world, from ancient history to the modern era. The Getty Villa is dedicated to works of art from ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Both campuses are nestled in beautiful hilltop settings with grounds and gardens to wander through and impressive panoramic views of the city and ocean.
Admission to both the Center and Villa is FREE. Parking is $15 at both locations.
One of the newest museums to arrive on the L.A. scene, The Broad is a contemporary art museum that features rotating temporary exhibitions and interactive installations. Visiting The Broad is a refreshing break from tradition; there’s always something new to see when you visit, and opportunities to interact with and become part of the art experience yourself. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms have been hugely popular with visitors since the museum opened its doors in 2015.
Admission is free, reservations recommended but not required if you’re willing to wait in the standby line. The Broad tweets expected wait times so you can check before you go if you don’t have tickets already.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum (NMH) was the first dedicated museum building in L.A., opening its doors in 1913. Today NHM protects over 35 million specimens, some as old as 4.5 billion years. From the biodiversity of the planet to the human culture that has evolved in it, NHM covers the history of our planet from the beginning of time, up until now. Where else can you look at 100 million-year-old dinosaur fossils and living butterflies in the same place?
The Museum recently underwent a massive renovation is more impressive than ever, including a new entrance atrium that houses a giant 63-foot long Fin whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. The Gem and Mineral Hall is another favorite among visitors with more than 2,000 specimens on display and you can touch a selection of gems, minerals, and even a meteorite.
Bring your lunch or pick something up at The Grill and head out to the beautiful Rose Garden for a picnic lunch.
Ticket prices range from $6 for kids to 14 for adults with special pricing for students, seniors and groups.
PETERSON AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM
You don’t have to be a gear head to enjoy a visit the Peterson Automotive Museum. This museum is much more than a car show; it tells the story of the automobile as an art form, a technological achievement, and a cultural phenomenon. Cars have had a huge impact on our lives and culture, from everyday transportation to Hollywood movies. And there’s nowhere car culture is more pervasive than here in Los Angeles.
Fun Fact: Miracle Mile, where L.A.’s Museum Row is located, was the first street to have a dedicated left-turn lane and had the first timed traffic light.
The museum itself is a feat of art and technology; recently undergoing a $90 million renovation
that included an ambitious redesign of the building’s façade. Once inside, you’ll experience the artistry, industry, and history of the automobile while viewing 150 cars on three floors, along with optional interactive and VR experiences.
Tickets start at $11 and for an extra fee you can book a special tour of The Vault.
ANNENBERG SPACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
The Annenberg Foundation that founded and oversees The Annenberg Space for Photography set out to create a place where people can “see the world through a different lens and leave feeling motivated to make a positive change.” The Space opened in 2009 and is the first museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to photography and photographic culture. The interior design of the building was even modeled after a camera and its lens.
The Space features both traditional prints and digital media, and shows works by world-renowned photographers as well as emerging artists. There are roughly two special exhibitions each year showcasing innovative and thought-provoking work–plenty of reasons to keep coming back to see what’s new. Best of all? Admission is always free.
THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA)
L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art is spread out across three locations, but the main branch is at 250 S. Grand Ave in Downtown L.A. All of the works at MOCA were created from 1940 to present, and while many of the exhibiting artists’ names might be new to you, they’re worth checking out. MOCA takes great pride in finding and presenting what it considers to be “the most significant and challenging art of our time.” Works by more well-known artists like Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein and Mark Rothko are part MOCA’s permanent collection. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5:00-8:00PM.
THE MUSEUM OF JURASSIC TECHNOLOGY
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is, without question, the most unique museum in Los Angeles. The dimly-lit space is a winding maze full of oddities and cultural artifacts that make up its 30 permanent exhibits—some presented in familiar museum format while others are more esoteric. David Wilson, the museum’s founder and director, received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (aka the “Genius Grant”) in 2001 for his work challenging “perceptions of what is real and what is not” and demanding “reinterpretations of our understanding of science, natural history, mythology, and vernacular art forms.”
In all likelihood, you’ll exit the museum with more questions and confusion than you entered with, but that’s kind of the point. You might love it, you might hate it, but you’ll certainly have something to talk about at your next dinner party. Don’t miss the Tea Room on the rooftop patio, it’s one of those hidden urban oases that L.A. is famous for and makes you feel like you’re in another world, not a strip mall off Venice Boulevard.
Summary: From art and culture to science and technology, Los Angeles is home to some of the finest museums in the country. We assembled a list of some of the most recognized, beloved, awe-inspiring, and downright weird museums in Los Angeles…
Tags: Los Angeles, art museums, natural history museum, Getty museum, LACMA, MOCA, Jurassic technology, the broad, Annenberg, photography
Los Angeles Walking Tours
Are you planning a visit to Los Angeles? Already live here and looking to get to know the area better? As you might be aware, Los Angeles has some notoriously bad traffic for the United States. However you don’t have to be stuck in that mess. A lot of the famous sights and attractions are in a few concentrated areas. So if you’re looking to beat the traffic when you visit Los Angeles on your vacation or trip and want to sight see in the fresh air and sunshine, pick your area and just explore it by foot. You won’t have to wait in stand-still traffic with frustrated and angry drivers laying on their car horns all day. Yes, believe it or not but LA is a much more walk-able city than you might think.
Taking a walking tour of parts of Los Angeles is actually not Mission Impossible with famous places like Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and Santa Monica having their attractions clustered close together making walking the most convenient option. Of course nothing beats walking in LA’s year round beautiful weather – with sunshine and low humidity you’ll be happy and dry as you explore and sight-see Los Angeles in a way that you might have never thought or known existed!
Santa Monica Walking Tour
A lot of people will say downtown Los Angeles is the urban and walkable environment most akin to New York City in Los Angeles. But wouldn’t an urban environment just steps away from the beach be as nice if not nicer? Wouldn’t you prefer to breath the ocean breeze than the smog of the highway? Enter Downtown Santa Monica – The City by the Beach. Santa Monica is an actual city in Los Angeles county as opposed to some other famous LA areas we’ll talk about which are in Los Angeles city as well as the county. Santa Monica was primed for tours and tourism from the start. Originally envisioned as an industrial shipping harbor city, Santa Monica’s beautiful coastline had other plans for the city’s future and today it is definitely a place you don’t want to miss on your California visit.
Strut your stuff and check out the great, bountiful shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade, an open air shopping mall strip situated in the three blocks between Broadway on the south and Wilshire Blvd on the north. Blocked off to cars, it is a perfect place to mosey on down and have an iconic Southern California moment. Check out the beautiful sunset view of the Pacific Ocean off the historic and lively Santa Monica Pier. And of course, soak up the Southern California sun on the beach or on the bike path that snakes up and down the Los Angeles coastline – Pacific Palisades on the north (where a lot of stars like Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Ben Affleck live) to Torrance Beach on the south.
Downtown Santa Monica is designed in an easy to understand grid system with 1st Street, more commonly known as Ocean Avenue, flanking (you guessed it) the Pacific Ocean situated on the west – at “the edge of western civilization” as the Los Angeles band The Red Hot Chili Peppers sang in the lyrics to their hit song “Californication”. Ocean Ave goes to 26th Street and beyond to the east. From south to north we have Colorado Ave, Broadway, Santa Monica Blvd, Arizona Ave and Wilshire Blvd – the less famous (the more being Sunset Blvd, location of the Sunset Strip) Boulevard that’s spans the lion’s share of the length of Los Angeles. Every corner you go to in downtown Santa Monica you are bound to be steps away from some of the best eating in town, such as Michaels (classic Californian in arty digs) or Cassias (French-Asian). If you want to not only check out beautiful Santa Monica, but to learn all the famous characters that have been part of it’s story than check out our Santa Monica Walking Tour!
Hollywood Walking Tour
Hollywood is known around the world as the center of the entertainment industry of the western world. Now an industry over a century old, “Hollywood” is all over Los Angeles. Studios and production companies have outgrown the technical neighborhood of Hollywood by this time but the name of course has stuck and has become synonymous with the entertainment industry. Charlie Chaplin used to stroll down the street to his favorite restaurant (still there! – Hollywood Blvd, between Cherokee and N Las Palmas Ave) “Musso and Frank Grill” after filming all day at his studio.
These days Charlie Chaplin and many other stars of today and yesterday are honored on the walk of fame which spans a bit over a mile on Hollywood Blvd from La Brea Ave on the west to Gower Street (original location of Warner Bros, now in Burbank) on the east. You can walk that stretch of Hollywood Blvd and see your favorite stars from today and your favorite classic stars from yesterday. You might also see your favorite characters lining the boulevard as people dress up as famous Hollywood characters to give you a true Hollywood moment!
Check out the first outdoor shopping mall in the world on the famous Sunset Blvd (“Crossroads of the World”) where the central building is designed to resemble an ocean liner. Head up on the stretch of Highland Avenue between Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd to check out Mel’s Drive In, a 24/7 retro diner perfect for families and famous for being the place in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti”. Continue on up and across Hollywood Blvd and nestled right next to the Wax Museum will be the Snow White Cafe, named after the Snow White art and murals on the walls, some of it done by actual classic Disney animators, it was the place for the after party of the Snow White premiere back in the day.
For fun and scandalous Hollywood stories and history consider taking our Hollywood Walking Tour!
Beverly Hills Walking Tour
Seeing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood is best epitomized in Beverly Hills and best experienced on foot. Of course Beverly Hills (named after an east coast farm town) evokes exclusivity but downtown Beverly Hills is actually a very walkable area. With the famous Rodeo Drive (pronounced Row-day-oh, not like a rodeo!) at its center and the subway from downtown Los Angeles adding a stop by 2022 or 2023 (purple line, Wilshire Blvd), Beverly Hills is destined to become an even more walkable area. Shop Rodeo Drive with everyone from Gucci to Salvatore Ferragamo (legendary show maker to the classic stars) lining this fashionistas paradise, check out the inventor of red velvet, “Sprinkles Cupcakes” with its cupcake vending machine and walk off the calories in the beautiful Beverly Gardens Park when you need a respite.
The next street over from Rodeo Drive is Beverly Drive where at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd is The Paley Center for Media where you can check out costumes from current and classic productions as well as other great Hollywood memorabilia and exhibitions. Celebrate Los Angeles Mexican history (“Los Angeles” means “The Angels” in Spanish after all) by having some organic Mexican cuisine at Sharky’s Woodfried Mexican Grill further down on Beverly Drive. Further down Beverly Drive: If you’re a cheese and wine kind of person definitely don’t pass up an opportunity to visit “The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills” where you are guaranteed to find lots of things to whet your appetite.
If you keep going down Beverly Drive and arrive at Wilshire Blvd you won’t be far at all from the internationally famous Beverly Wilshire hotel at the Four Seasons. The Beverly Wilshire is the Los Angeles hotel of choice for many a celebrity and dignitary. And if you want to maybe see a celebrity check out “The Grill on the Alley” just around the corner on a little alley side street called Dayton Way. At The Grill on the Alley there could be some power players striking a Hollywood deal or just enjoying brunch.
If you are a car nut you might want to stay on Wilshire Blvd and mosey a little east to check out the Ferrari’s and Mclarens stocked in the Wilshire car dealerships.
For fun Beverly Hills stories about its famous faces consider taking our Beverly Hills Walking Tour!
Venice Beach Walking Tour
Conceived as a “Venice of America” complete with canals, these days you can walk these former canals that lead to and from the beach, as well as the actual canals themselves. Venice has gone through quite a transformation, from undeveloped marsh lands to a bohemian and artistic hotspot to now a quickly growing hub of tech industry activity, and many different phases in between. Learn about the fun stories and cool characters of Venice on our walking tour!
The focal point of Venice is the famous “Venice Beach” on the boardwalk which is lined with lots of souvenir shops where you can load up on the sunglasses you’ll need to sport to shield yourself from the California sun, all the better to see the skaters do they’re tricks at the skatepark or the tons of street performers that line the other side of the boardwalk from the shops.
Take your shoes off and put your toes in the sand! The beach and the sea are just steps away from the boardwalk. Check out the surfers catching the waves if the conditions are right.
Also, Venice beach is populated with beautiful street art – pop off the boardwalk every once in a while to the side streets a step away to admire these artists handiwork, which includes a Van Gogh “The Starry Night” recreation! (by Rip Kronk, longtime Venice mainstay). And don’t forget to check out the legally sanctioned graffiti wall. All you need is an easy day permit that you get from the police station next door and you’re good to go!
Abbot Kinney Blvd is another focal point in Venice Beach. Named “Coolest Street in America” by GQ, the street name is named for the founder of Venice, and the best shopping and eating awaits you here! Stroll the blocks of Abbot Kinney perusing the many offerings and when you need to re-fuel grab your coffee at Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia.
One thing you definitely don’t want to miss is the Venice Beach canals – a tranquil place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Admire the beautiful waterways and the modern architecture and wander over to the park to see the wandering ducks!
For fun stories about Venice and its many characters consider taking our Venice Beach Walking Tour!
The Ultimate California Circuit
Touring California from the West Coast to the Wild West
On such a winter’s day….
If those words are starting to sound more like your reality than lyrics from the Mamas and Papas song, it might be time to start planning your next getaway to the west coast. From up north in San Francisco to the south in San Diego – and many points in between – there’s a lot to explore.
And while you’re out west… Las Vegas might not technically be a city in California, but don’t tell some residents of Los Angeles that. At just a four-hour drive from L.A., Vegas makes for a quick and easy trip whether you’re looking for entertainment and night life on the world-famous strip, or you’re more interested in the natural beauty of nearby national parks.
Whatever kind of adventure you’re seeking, We’re here to help make sense of it all and point out some highlights you’ll find along the way.
SPECIAL OFFER: A Day in L.A. has partnered with Dylan’s Tours in San Francisco to help you explore even more of the Golden State. If you book a tour with Dylan’s and A Day in L.A., you’ll receive 10% off of both tours.
As one of the most famous tourist destinations in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see. Take in views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island while dining on clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Visiting the sea lion colony that lives there is a fun stop, too.
This neighborhood was the epicenter of hippie counter-culture in the 1960’s, and you’ll still get a sense of that history when you visit the Haight today. Tie-dyes, vintage stores, mural-covered buildings, and the smell of incense in the air will have you feelin’ groovy in no time.
Golden Gate Bridge
Nothing symbolizes the city of San Francisco quite as much as the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see it from many places in the city, but it’s worth a visit to see this modern wonder up close. You can even walk across the bridge if you have time.
Located in Mill Valley, just outside the city, this National Monument is famous for its gigantic old-growth redwood trees. Most of the coastal redwoods have been growing for hundreds of years, and the oldest is believed to be 1200 years old.
This neighborhood is the oldest Chinatown in the United States, and also the biggest outside of China. Enjoy the colorful scenery, ornate temples, and dim sum restaurants, and pick up a souvenir at one of the many shops that line the streets.
Santa Monica Pier
One of the most recognizable sights in the Los Angeles area, the pier is a must-see stop on any visit. Snap a photo by the famous Route 66 sign and then hop on the giant Pacific Wheel to take in 360-degree views from the bay to downtown.
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a stop in Venice Beach. From the Venice Canals to shopping on Abbot Kinney to walking along the boardwalk, there’s plenty to do in this beach community. The Venice Boardwalk is home to some real characters, like those that frequent Muscle Beach and the skate park. You never know what you’ll see in Venice on any given day.
Perched high atop a hill in Brentwood off the 405 freeway, the Getty Center boasts some of the finest works by world-famous artists, as well as some of the best views in town. Art buffs will appreciate the exhibits inside the museum, and everyone will appreciate the beautiful grounds and gardens surrounding it.
Griffith Park and Observatory
This urban oasis is nestled in the hills behind the Hollywood and Los Feliz neighborhoods, and home to the famous Greek Theatre. Wander the trails to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and a panoramic view from Downtown to the beach, then step inside the observatory and look to the stars through one of the telescopes.
Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater
If you’re visiting Los Angeles for the first time, you’ll probably want to make a stop here. Stars bearing the names of famous actors and actresses line the sidewalks while the restored theatre, originally opened in 1927, provides the backdrop. Great for a photo op or two before you move on to the next stop.
Balboa Park boasts an impressive 1,200 acres of trails, gardens, museums, and is also home to the San Diego Zoo. The largest urban cultural park in the U.S. has something for everyone, from hikes through palm forests to art installations…or just grab a seat by the Lily Pond and take in the view and beautiful architecture of the Botanical Building.
San Diego Zoo
One of the most famous zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo opened over 100 years ago and is home to thousands of animals. Don’t miss the giant pandas while you’re there – they’re a perennial favorite of zoo visitors.
San Diego is famous for its beaches for a reason: they’re beautiful to look at and fun to play at. Mission Beach is popular for its paved boardwalk that runs the length of the beach and makes it easy to walk, bike, and access its many shops and restaurants. The Belmont Park amusement park has fun rides and attractions, too, including a roller coaster and miniature golf.
Old Town San Diego
Established in 1769 with only a mission and a fort, Old Town San Diego is California’s oldest settlement of the Spanish colonization period. Today, Old Town is filled with shops, restaurants, and museums that will give you a taste of San Diego’s heritage. It’s a great place to wander around with the family for an afternoon.
This neighborhood is an interesting convergence of old and new. The Gaslamp Quarter, as it was originally called, was once home to San Diego’s brothels and saloons. Today, those nineteenth-century buildings have been fully restored and are occupied by a plethora of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Stay on the Strip
Themed hotels, 24-hour casinos, world-class entertainment and millions of glittering lights are just a few of the things you’ll find yourself surrounded with here. The Vegas strip is completely over-the-top, and proud of it. Staying in the heart of strip makes it easy to get from place to place. For a luxurious hotel experience, book a room at the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, or the Venetian. Traveling with kids? The Excalibur has long been a family favorite with activities that are fun for all ages.
See a Show
From Cirque du Soleil to stand-up comedians and magicians to larger-than-life concert experiences, there is never a shortage of entertainment in Las Vegas. Some shows play throughout the year while some rotate in and out, or only play for a limited run. New shows are added regularly so check the Visit Las Vegas website before you go and see what’s playing during the dates of your visit.
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy their impressive seasonal displays in the 14,000-foot conservatory. Bellagio’s horticulturalists design wildly imaginative installations using a combination of natural and man-made materials. While you’re there, step outside and enjoy the water show at the Bellagio Fountains.
This National Historic Landmark is quite a site to behold. More than 80 years after its creation, the Hoover Dam is still the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere and was named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century. You can drive from the Las Vegas strip to the Hoover Dam in under an hour.
It’s hard to believe it when you’re standing on the bustling strip, but Las Vegas sits smack in the middle of the desert and is a stone’s throw to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the country. A drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon will take about 4.5 hours and you’ll get to experience the beauty of the southwestern landscape along the way.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
- We recommend starting your California adventure by flying into San Francisco. You’ll want to spend at least a couple of days there to take it all in.
- From there, either rent a car and drive along the long and winding Highway 1 down the coast to Los Angeles, or hop on a short 1-hour flight.
- Once you’ve arrived in LaLa Land, A Day in L.A. can arrange tours of L.A., plus transport to and from San Diego, including a tour of the highlights there.
- For extra credit, add a stop in Vegas to your west coast circuit. Day in L.A. can provide transportation from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and arrange for tours there, too.
- Finally, book a flight home from Vegas and reflect on all the new memories you’ve just made.
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SUMMARY: Dreaming of your next west coast adventure? You can tour the Golden State of California with stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, then head out to the wild west to visit Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. A Day in L.A. is partnering with Dylan’s Tours in San Francisco to help you get the most of your trip.
Visiting Los Angeles on a Budget
Los Angeles has long had a reputation as a land of glamour and wealth, a place filled with movie stars, Hollywood mansions, and sun kissed beaches. And sure, we’ve got our fair share of all those things, but L.A. has so much more to offer. The city is a melting pot of art, culture, and natural beauty and there’s plenty to see and do no matter how small your budget is. We’ve rounded-up some ideas on how to make the most of your Los Angeles experience and your travel budget.
You can really get to know a city and its people by experiencing the local flavor, and if you can think of a cuisine, L.A.’s got it. There are so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin so here’s a few budget-friendly ideas to get you started:
These mobile restaurants are almost everywhere these days but they really got their start in L.A. You’ll see them all over the place in almost ever neighborhood in L.A. and they run the gamut from tacos to sushi to bar-b-que.
Many trucks post their daily location to Twitter, including the popular Koji Truck and Border Grill.
L.A. boasts some of the best tacos this side of the border and are often just a couple of bucks each. You’ll find plenty of street taco options at food trucks (see above) but there are plenty of restaurants with permanent locations serving them up, too. Check out the best fish tacos in town at Tacos Baja (for just 99 cents on Wednesdays), Tito’s famous crispy tacos in Culver City, or Mariscos Jalisco on Olympic Blvd.
Pink’s has been serving their famous dogs Hollywood since 1939. There’s usually a line but that’s part of the experience. Most dogs are around $5 each and there’s a wide variety to choose from, many named after Hollywood stars.
Some of the finer dining establishments offer great happy hour deals during their off-peak hours between lunch and dinner. It’s a great way to experience the surroundings and flavors without blowing your whole budget on one meal. And of course the cocktails, beer and wine offerings are usually a great deal. You can’t go wrong with Otoño in Highland Park, Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, and Chaya in Venice and DTLA (that’s Angeleno-speak for ‘Downtown Los Angeles’).
Twice a year restaurants all over town offer special menus with prices starting as low as $15 for a 2-course meal. Check their site for dates, and menus of participating restaurants.
Some of the best things in life are free, including a day at the beach in Venice. Bring your beach towel and enjoy the sun, surf and sand, or walk around the Venice Boardwalk and the enjoy free entertainment of people-watching at Muscle Beach, and the nearby skate park and graffiti walls.
Santa Monica Pier
You could easily drop a lot of bills here, but you don’t have to. There’s no admission charge to walk around the pier, and the people watching and street performers offer plenty of free entertainment.
A ride on the Pacific Wheel costs $7 per person and you’ll get to take in a view of the whole Santa Monica Bay. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Hollywood sign.
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is FREE for kids 12 and under, and just $5 per person for everyone 13 and up. You can learn about the local marine life and immerse yourself in viewing over 100 local species as well as fun activities and educational programs thanks to nonprofit Heal the Bay.
The Getty Museum
Take in world-class art exhibits inside the museum, or peruse the grounds to enjoy botanic gardens and 360-degree views of the city. The best part? Admission is FREE. (If you drive there’s a parking fee of $15 per car.)
This iconic building is a favorite for photo ops and offers panoramic views of Los Angeles. Check out the giant telescope inside or take a nature walk on one of Griffith Park’s hiking trails. Admission to the building grounds and telescopes is always FREE.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Located on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame, the theatre and area around it are some of the most recognizable destinations. They are also the most popular. Prepare for crowds of tourists, street performers in superhero costumes, and lots of cheap tchotchkes. You won’t want to stay here all day but it’s fun to find your favorite actor’s star on the walk of fame, or put your hands in the cement impressions of stars on the sidewalk.
Rent a room in a host’s home, or rent an entire apartment or house for yourself. Prices are often well below the cost of hotels and you get to “live like a local”. Most Air BNBs have a kitchen so you can save even more by getting a few groceries at the corner store and making your own breakfast in the morning before you head out sightseeing.
If you’re willing to share a bathroom and/or sleeping quarters with strangers, you can find lodging at one of several local hostels for a fraction of the cost of most hotels. Many include free breakfast and Wi-Fi, too. Samesun in Venice and USA Hostels in Hollywood both have reputations for being safe and clean places to stay.
One of the most challenging things about visiting Los Angeles is that the city is spread out across a large area, and parking can be expensive and hard to find. A tour company like A Day in LA can take the hassle and guess work out of getting around and allow you to enjoy the scenery on your way from one destination to the next. It’s a great value and one of the best ways to maximize your vacation time and your budget, if we do say so ourselves.
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Los Angeles is a melting pot of art, culture, and natural beauty and there’s plenty to see and do no matter how small your budget is. We’ve rounded-up some ideas on how to make the most of your Los Angeles experience and your travel budget.
What’s New at Disneyland and Universal Studios
With its beaches and mountains, world-class entertainment and nightlife, and Hollywood star sightings, Los Angeles can feel like a playground all on its own. Two of its theme parks, Disneyland Resort (in nearby Anaheim) and Universal Studios Hollywood, dial up the fun factor and keep visitors and locals alike coming back to visit year after year. Each park has tried and true favorites that visitors love whether experiencing them for the first time or the hundredth, but if you think you’ve seen all there is to see, think again. Each park is rolling out new and exciting attractions that take things to a whole new level.
A New Land in the Disney Galaxy
In 2015, Disney Parks announced they would be creating a new Star Wars Land at their Disneyland and Disneyworld Resorts, and fans have been eager for details while awaiting the grand opening in 2019. Disney Imagineers have been working closely with Lucasfilm to create a land they promise to be the most impressive the park has ever created. In Star Wars Land, or its official name, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll be able to live out your own Star Wars story in a galaxy far, far away.
Disney Parks recently revealed the two main attractions that will be part of the much-anticipated new land:
The first is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, where you’ll get behind the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy in one of three unique flight crew roles.
The second is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, where you’ll be put in the middle of an epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
Upon entering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you will find yourself on the planet Batuu, where you can explore the Black Spire Outpost, stop in for other-worldly refreshments at Oga’s Cantina, and even download an app for an optional interactive experience.
As if that weren’t enough, John Williams, the Oscar-winning composer of the iconic Star Wars themes, is creating new and original music exclusively for the new land. The new themes are being recorded by the London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios.
Galaxy’s Edge promises to be a legendary experience from start to finish.
If Summer 2019 sounds like too long to wait, you don’t have to wait for tomorrow to visit Tomorrowland and experience the Disneyland’s original Star Wars attractions that have delighted park visitors for years. Follow in the steps of a Jedi Master at the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple and prepare for the ultimate encounter with the Dark Side of the Force, and hang on tight on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue as C-3P0 accidentally jettisons you into a battle with the Empire. Featuring multiple storylines and destinations, it’s an unforgettable space flight almost every time.
Mickey and Minnie Take Center Stage
While Star Wars may be getting a lot of attention these days, it’s not the only thing Disney Imagineers have been dreaming up. Beginning in January of 2019, you’ll get to enjoy exciting new Mickey Mouse offerings at Disneyland with Get Your Ears On — A Mickey and Minnie Celebration, which will feature new entertainment, food and merchandise.
On January 18, “Mickey’s Mix Magic” will light up the night at Disneyland Park with all-new music, projections and lasers that set the scene for an epic dance party that takes over almost the entire park. The party will get even bigger when the fan-favorite Mickey’s Soundsational Parade returns to the resort in January 2019 featuring a new float with Mickey himself, who will lead the celebration down Main Street, U.S.A.
Bring your ears and get ready to party with the mouse that started it all.
- Wear comfortable footwear. It’s not unusual to clock six or seven miles on your pedometer during a day at the park. (There are ample accommodations for those with mobility issues.)
- Visit during the week, or in the winter. There are more visitors and longer lines for attractions on weekends, during the summer, and around national holidays.
- Get there early. You probably won’t have the park to yourself but the crowds get bigger as the day goes on. Pick the two or three attractions you want to see most and go there first before everyone else does.
- Plan your visit. Look at the map and have some idea of where you want to go so you’re not going back and forth from one side of the park to the other, taking up valuable time you could be riding rides instead.
More information is available at disneyland.disney.go.com
Universal Studios Hollywood Gets a Makeover
Just over five years ago, movie-themed Universal Studios Hollywood embarked on a journey to completely transform and update the park. With new attractions based on popular movies and TV shows such as “Harry Potter”, “The Walking Dead”, and “Kung Fu Panda”, the creative team designing the new features aimed to create an entirely new and revitalized experience for visitors.
“With over 75 percent completely reimagined, Universal Studios Hollywood is an entirely new theme park destination and we look forward to sharing everything that the Entertainment Capital of L.A. has to offer with visitors from around the world,” Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, said in a press statement.
Hogwarts Comes to Hollywood
In 2016 “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opened its gates at Universal Studios Hollywood. More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you’re a fan of the fiction and films, you’ll instantly recognize the landscape including Hogwarts castle, which serves as its iconic focal point.
From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will transport you to the very places you’ve read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen. Even if you haven’t kept up with the books and films, you can easily get swept away in this masterfully designed fantasyland.
Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade bustles to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons. Of course there are the added elements of the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”
“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer carts.
An Immersive Kung Fu Quest
Inspired by the global blockbuster franchise, the attraction will take guests on a thrilling journey that fuses captivating storytelling with state-of-the art visual effects for a highly engaging experience.
“Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” recounts a plot-filled story in which the dragon warrior Po embarks on a wild and perilous mission while enlisting guests to join him on the exciting adventure filled with raging rapids, river pirates, awesome magic and Kung Fu.
Stunning visual projections and 360 degree surround sound audio, sweeping physical effects from water to wind will empower guests to feel more like participants than spectators in the adrenaline-spiked adventure.
With cutting-edge technology at the forefront of the multi-sensory attraction, “Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest” will introduce the first-ever integration of interior projection mapping designed to engulf guests in 180 degrees of immersive adventure. This never-before-adapted technique will make it nearly impossible to realize the projected imagery is a mere illusion.
While You’re There
Don’t miss the renowned, behind-the-scenes Studio Tour featuring the intense “King Kong 360 3-D” attraction and the “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” thrill ride. Other popular rides include the 3D-HD adventure, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” “Transformers,” “Revenge of the Mummy” and “Jurassic Park,” “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, the award-winning “The Simpsons Ride”, and “The Walking Dead” attraction.
Universal Studios Tips:
- Plan to spend a full day at the park. Maybe two. Between the rides, attractions, and Studio Tour, there’s a lot to take in.
- With so much to see and do, it might be worth spending a little extra on Universal Express passes so you can skip the lines and see more of the park.
- Studio Tours are usually more exciting during the week as most filming happens on weekdays. If you go on the weekend you’ll still see the sets and recreated city streets where real TV shows and movies are filmed, but you’re unlikely to see filming in action.
More information is available at UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.