We spent our last California days [April 23-24] in Los Angeles. Other than the smog, which can ruin a would-be-perfectly-gorgeous view on a sunny day, there's only one thing we truly hate about LA: the traffic. We both decided we could never live there unless we were billionaires with access to our own helicopter to take us places - so, we will never live there. If we ever vacation there again, we will be staying on Manhattan Beach, Hermosa beach or Santa Monica - but on our Cross Country budget, we took every free-on-points room we could which required us to stay a little farther out and deal with the heavy traffic getting places.
    We have been to LA as a couple a total of four times now, and Tyler has been twice more with friends to watch soccer games. On this trip, we squeezed in our favorites, Pink's Hotdog Stand, Lemonade [both food, surprise!], and Manhattan Beach, as well as adding the Griffith Observatory which we both had been wanting to see.
    Tyler wanted to go to Sugarfish [another restaurant, can you tell we like to get our eat on?!] and I wanted to go to Disney, but there wasn't enough time this trip! If you're ever planning to visit LA, under each section of pictures* below I've highlighted some of our favorite things to see and do and of course, eat, from prior trips! Most all of them have click-able links that will take you directly to the site. One thing we never did that I wish we had was a celebrity home tour - but I don't know if I could get Tyler to sit still that long - he is not nearly as interested in architecture as I am!

To Do:

 Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure – you don’t even need kids to go here and no one judges you for coming as an adult without kids! The best part is both parks are compact with most all of the same rides as Disney World and are both easily doable in a day each [without kids]! If we’d had the time I would have gone back in a heartbeat, but Tyler’s rule is there must be a 5 year span between each Disney trip so that you can forget how awesome it is and be blown away again. Guess this will have to be my Babymoon if I want to come back without kids again – coming solo after having kids would be cruel.

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour – really any studio tour would be fun, we just did this one on recommendation from friends and loved it! Find out where your favorite movie and/or TV shows were filmed then do that tour! We did the 2hour tour and that was plenty for us. It was so fun to learn a few secrets of the industry, plus you may even spot a celebrity! We saw the cast of Glee when we were there.. unfortunately no one on our tour [including us, we don’t have cable] knew who they were and they seemed slightly angry no one was waving at them until our guide told us to, oops!

Red Carpet Event – if you ever have a chance to go to one, do it! Even if there’s no guarantee of a bunch of major A-list celebrities there, go – you never know who might become famous later and you can say, “I met them!” We were lucky enough to get tickets to the X-Factor Finalist Party through Tyler's work and I got to touch Mario Lopez - enough said.

Santa Monica – so much more than a beach! This is the end of historic Route 66, has a fun pier with games and rides, is home to Muscle Beach, and a huge outdoor shopping center, Third and Promenade. But the beach is pretty, too! I would love to stay here for a week or so, get up, run to Muscle Beach for a workout then down to Starbucks for coffee, and that’s saying a lot since I hate working out!

To See:

Griffith Observatory – the best parts of this place are the views and the price! If all you want to see are the views, then it’s free! If you’re interested in the planetarium then there is a fee. Be sure to check on their website before heading there as they are closed some days and have special hours. The telescope is also free to see but only at night and we were interested in seeing the views of the city during the day. There are a few hikes around the observatory that looked fun but we did not bring our hiking shoes nor did we have time! Also, depending on which way you drive in [we went in on the Greek Theater side] you’ll go through a neighborhood with some gorgeous cottage-like homes [on the larger scale] and meticulously maintained lawns - so beautiful it made us re-think our, "we're never living in LA," statements, if only for a moment!

Hollywood Sign – surprisingly this is not as visible from as many places as you think it would be! I would recommend following the directions on this site to get a good view!

Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese Theater – my recommendation for the Walk of Fame is that you decide who you want to see beforehand and find out the exact location of that star then you’ll see some other unexpected stars on the way – faster than walking around looking through all 2,500+ stars to find one! There's also an "Upcoming Star Ceremonies" tab that you can plan your trip around based on if you want to see it or you want to steer clear of the traffic! We didn’t go in the Chinese Theater, just slipped our fingers and toes into some of the hand-and-footprints outside for photos!

Manhattan Beach – it’s a beach and it’s gorgeous, enough said! Ps. the parking spots on either side of the pier are 5hour limit vs. the 2hour limit parking lots a few streets up – so you’re closer and you can stay longer, win.

Rodeo Drive – so what if you can’t afford anything?! Stroll the streets and snap some pictures in front of your favorite “I wish” stores! I went in to Juicy Couture just for fun and ended up finding a shirt for $17 including tax, so naturally I had to get it!

To Eat:

Lemonade – the only Lemonade to rival Chick-fil-A’s! They have a ton of flavors but our favorite is the Guava Lemonade! I was confused at the food options and ordering process the first time I went in, but the employees were all super friendly and helpful, plus you can sample almost anything before choosing to buy it - definitely try things! They have so many different "salads" with crazy ingredients that I thought sounded nasty but were heavenly! This last time I had a cauliflower, raisin, and nut salad that was to die for but had the employee not insisted I try it, I wouldn't have gotten it!

Pink’s Hotdog Stand – seriously the best hotdogs ever! They have so many different combinations, they are reasonably priced, and it is a popular LA spot, plus I just love their story! You can read about their story here! They have their own parking lot with free parking which is hard to find in LA! The lot is small but we’ve never had an issue finding a spot.

Sugarfish – I have never been, but my husband raves about this sushi place stating that the sushi is warm and melts in your mouth! I’ve just recently gotten in to sushi and am not a big fan of many rolls but if you are, I’d give it a try!

*all photos are our own

Ps. We currently just arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico after two days in Vegas and a night in Flagstaff! Vegas post coming soon - we update our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts almost daily, so you can follow along there: #PeterCrossCountry
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05/16/2014 7:12am

I agree with what you said about LA, the traffic is the biggest problem the residents are facing. But...I can't afford buying a helicopter :) Sugar fish sushi is definitely a good place to eat. Thanks for awesome photos.

09/18/2015 11:41am

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05/19/2016 4:19am

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