It’s no surprise that everyone across the globe has high expectations of this Californian City – it is, after all, the land of great Hollywood films that has been spreading its influence since 1912. Quoting from the Step Up: All In movie, “it’s the place where dreams actually come true”, or so they thought. However, I’d say don’t come with high hopes because 1. the probability of bumping into celebrities is really low and 2. it’s really a very chill place, thus you won’t find yourself waking up early everyday with a busy itinerary just to go from place to place to cover all the ‘tourist attractions’. So if you like the pace of NYC, then LA is probably not your cup of tea.

Nevertheless, it’s Hollywood baby! I’ve been there twice, and the most recent one saw us driving from the Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ to Los Angeles in CA. It was hella of ride – we reached at 6AM after a whole night being on the road. Anyhow, here are 11 places that I’ve gathered that you can’t miss out if you’re going there for the first time.

1. DISNEYLAND PARK
26703_407097146058_2305100_n
36482_407102986058_4612781_n

Well, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong are fun too, but this place in Anaheim is where the Walt Disney magic started from. If you always prefer the original outlet of a restaurant chain, then this applies disney theme parks as well. 😉 And it’s always a dilemma between Disneyland and Disneysea!

2. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
image credit 

Reason same as above. You can go one of them, whichever fascinates you more, or if you have the spending power, just go for both and they’ll make you happy. 😀

3. HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME
morgan freeman
IMG_3784

You can NOT miss this when you go LA. I mean, this is the prime tourist attraction and all the hype about this city. Of course, this only applies to first-timers in LA only. Once you’ve seen and captured them with your lens, then you probably won’t need to return a second time. #beentheredonethat

DSC06539
DSC06533
Do note that you’ll have to tip them if you want to take a photo with these people!

Note: Be warned that there are scams around this area. There would be some people with CDs who may approach you and offer to give you their signed copies. Then when it’s in your hands, they’ll ask you for tip. And nope, they’re not budding music artists.

4. GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
DSC06623
DSC06632

If you’re here to capture the Hollywood sign, then you’re probably here for the wrong reason. The name itself is misleading, given that it’s an observatory and the Hollywood sign is just opposite, but really far away. So if you try to capture your face with the Hollywood sign from here, you’ll end up looking like this:

IMG_3803
Yup, you see that white tiny bar I’m pointing? That’s the biggest I can show you from Griffith.

IMG_3807
IMG_3805
But this place of course gives you a view, and that’s the view of the Los Angeles Basin, which includes downtown LA, Mount Hollywood to the South and Pacific Ocean to the South-west. In the building itself, there is a wide array of space and science-related displays which are usually free. Check out their upcoming events here.

5. DRIVE UP TO GET THE BEST VIEW OF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN
IMG_3838
The exact address to drive to is

3000 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood

And it can’t be found on most GPS devices that you use for your cars, so use your phone’s Google maps instead.

IMG_3828
IMG_3849

Now this is the correct place to go if you really want to have a close up (read: visible) selfie with the Hollywood sign. However, it’s a narrow winding route up the hill so here’s a heads up for the drivers and for those who experience motion sickness! For those without a car, I suppose it would be arduous to hike up there, though you could try. 🙂

IMG_3827
IMG_3823
Nevertheless, the view there is also pretty stunning in Spring.

6. SANTA MONICA BEACH/ VENICE BEACH ETC

image credit

What’s LA without visiting their beaches? But be warned: thousands of people are there because both locals and tourists love the California sun.

7. BEVERLY HILLS
IMG_3798

The houses here are one of a kind, and seeing one row of them is enough to make you so jealous of their lives. But I’m really not sure how many celebrities actually really live there, and the probability of seeing them is really 0. Nevertheless, it doesn’t harm to go there and be in awe.

8. RODEO DRIVE
IMG_3793

Walk further down Beverly Hills and you’ll reach the most expensive shopping area in LA where all the designer brands congregate. If you there on a budget like myself, then just stroll along the area will suffice. The notion of just being there is enough to make you feel good.

DSC06603

It’s all well decorated and appealing. And just imagine the number of rich socialites or celebrities who have walked the same path as you. 😛

IMG_3789
IMG_3788

This was the only shop that I could afford to enter. Never say no to pretty candies! I bought some champagne candies and it was so addictive. 😀

9. IN-N-OUT BURGER
DSC06644
DSC06646
No need for explanation. You can’t miss me when you’re in the West coast! Double-double’s the most sinful, and they displayed the calories on the board. Dayum.

DSC06647
Anyway, their unsalted fries are the bomb diggity.

10. UMAMI BURGER
DSC06514

This burger chain is swore by many and it’s definitely one of the nicer burgers I’ve had in the USA. They have a few outlets across the States, which you can check out here.

IMG_3779
IMG_3780
I only tried the one with truffle aioli sauce so I’m not sure about the rest though. Also, don’t leave that place without a cookie ice-cream sandwich! 😉

11. WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

image credit

Some may not have heard of this but this is one of the most impressive architecture of a concert hall I’ve seen to date. I’ve had the privilege to perform and compete in this hall back in 2010 for a music festival, so it was quite an experience! If you’re musically inclined, be sure to catch a concert there. If not, it’s good to drop by just to take a look, or go for a guided tour. It’s quite a sight, huh?

And before I end off, here’s a song by Ryan Beatty about how much he loves LA:

keep travelling,
J