10 Things We did in Los Angeles
1. Visit Disneyland and California Adventure
What is a trip to Southern California without a stop in the original Disney Park! This was only my second and Lawrence’s first time to the theme park. Thanks to some complimentary tickets, leftover from our years working as cast members in Walt Disney World, we were able to secure our reservations in Anaheim for free.
We hit up the Magic Kingdom in the morning, then headed across the way to California Adventure. While the parks were still busy there was a definite difference between the crowds in California and the crowds in Florida. We were able to get on a few rides with less than a 30 minute wait, and actually enjoy the ambiance of the parks.
2. Stop by Cafe Orleans for a Cheese Monte Cristo
The premiere Disneyland lunch. This has been on my bucket list since 2019! The Monte Cristo is a deep fried, powdered sugar covered, grilled cheese, ham, and turkey sandwich served with a side of seasonal jam, found at Cafe Orleans and Blue Bayou Restaurant. However, the featured vegetarian, 3 cheese-only, option is only available at Cafe Orleans. So you bet your bottom dollar we made a reservation months in advance specifically to order it. We were in and out in under a half hour with a meal that definitely lived up to its hype.
3. Take in the Views at the Griffith Observatory
A great stop to view the Hollywood sign, downtown Los Angeles, and the (sometimes if you’re lucky!) snow-capped mountains. The Griffith Observatory offers ticketed admission into the observatory where you can see the stars in daylight! The park surrounding the building is always open and free to explore with the option to pay for parking, metered street parking, or public transportation right to the top of the hill. This is the ideal spot to take any pictures with the famous Hollywood sign. On a clear day the view is perfect!
4. Checkout the TCL Chinese Theatre
A classic stop! Historic and interesting catch handprints and signatures dating all the way back to 1927 and as recent as January 2023! This was also a long-time bucket list item for myself. I’ve wanted to visit Hollywood, California since middle school. As my native-Californian friends warned me and would probably warn you; it’s not nearly as glamorous as one might imagine. Think Time Square meets Disney World. There are people dressed in costumes offering to take pictures for money, street vendors, and large buildings that eat up the theatre a bit. But if you’re one for Hollywood history it does not disappoint, and I would personally recommend it. Seeing the handprints and signatures in the cement that are nearly 100 years old brings you back to the glitz and glamour of showbiz’s golden age. See it at least once in your life, that’s probably as much as you’ll need!
5. Stroll Down the Hollywood Walk of Fame
While on your way to visit the Chinese Theatre walk along and find your favorite stars. In edition to the Chinese Theatre The Hollywood Walk of Fame has also been on my list since middle school. We didn’t walk the whole way, but checked out the block nearest the Chinese Theatre. Notable stars included: The Muppets, Walt Disney, Disneyland, Elton John, Michael Jackson, and NSYNC. No luck in finding the Jeff Goldblum star though, grr!
You can even find blank stars for your future-famous self, or for bad photo edits!
6. Grab a Bite at the Original In-and-Out
In-and-Out is a California staple and definitely worth visiting! Their food is made with the same recipe today as when it first opened in 1948. Lawrence spoke highly of the cheeseburger, and the vegetarian “grilled cheese” option (pretty much just a burger without the patty, and add extra cheese) was a hit for me as well. We hit up the location just around the corner from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and be prepared: it is busy! We ended up sitting across the street on a curb. At least it gave us a great view for a picture.
7. Enjoy the Urban Light Art Fixture at LACMA
You may recognize these famous Urban Lights from some of your favorite L.A. based flix. The first movie I thought of was No Strings Attached staring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. While in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art area take a walk through the Urban Lights and snap a pic or two! We only had the day to see L.A. and still needed to checkoff Santa Monica, otherwise I would have liked to stay and check out the Museum of Art and the Academy Museum. Next time, on a longer trip perhaps!
8. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway on California Route 1
The PCH starts in Orange County, California. Drive along CA-1 on your way to Santa Monica to catch just a few of the fantastic views. One of the most famous roads in the U.S.A, I’m glad we got to see a little bit of it while on our way from Hollywood to Santa Monica.
9. Walk the Santa Monica Pier
The world-famous Santa Monica Pier is home to a roller coaster, Ferris Wheel, fishing pier, shopping, restaurants, and street performers. We strolled down the pier and stopped towards the end to read about how the pier first came to be. Fun fact: it was originally erected to be a sewage waste disposal but was re-imagined to bring more tourism and life to the Santa Monica area.
10. Take a Picture with the End of Trail Route 66 Sign
While in Santa Monica checkout the last stop of Route 66, halfway down the Santa Monica pier. You can no longer drive down the pier in your car so the only way to complete the trek is on foot! Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois, and spans over 2,000 miles. We got our kicks!
Bonus! Watch the Sunset on the Pacific Coast
If you’re lucky enough to see the Santa Monica coastline on a clear day, free of the L.A. haze, there is no better place to see the sun slip away over the horizon. Our last endeavor over our 2 day California pit stop.
A perfect ending to a 2-day L.A. experience! This awesome photo courtesy of my L.A. native friend Teresa!