10 Days of Fun in Los Angeles (+ recommended tourist activities for first-timers)
I lived on the US East Coast for a couple of years and never visited the West coast - blame it on my budget student life.
And so when the time came for our usual girl time away, my bestie and I decided to explore the West Coast and had to pick a state. California came up first - then the battle for the ultimate city began: Los Angeles vs San Francisco. As each city has its unique experience and vibe, Los Angeles blended with the holiday we had in mind.
The journey to LA from Lagos was quite a distance but I broke it off with a transit in the UK for a couple of hours. I left Lagos on a Saturday morning and arrived in London by evening but my connecting flight was the next morning. I checked into a nearby hotel which I had pre-booked, sank into the bed feeling cozy with the feather pillows, ordered some room service and had dinner in bed while re-watching my favourite movie - Love & Basket Ball.
The next morning, my friend and I met at the airport 3 hours before checking! Yeah, I’m one of those people who would rather arrive really early. It’s the best to be honest - no rush!
As it was a rather long 12 hour flight and in the spirit of “work hard, play hard” or as Nigerians say these days “we can’t come and kill ourselves”, we decided to upgrade to premium economy and it was the best decision ever especially as we got the exit row seats!
Tip: Airport upgrades sometimes come cheaper on the day of travel.
As a magazine junkie, I packed a bunch of magazines to keep me company on the flight.
We arrived LA and headed straight to the hotel in Beverly Hills. A lot of research went into the choice of hotel and location. We wanted a city vibe but not the downtown madness. For us, Beverly Hills was the right choice: it was beautiful, the luxurious looking mansions each with their unique designs.
Luckily, we got a room upgrade as we had booked a 10 day stay. Lo and behold, our room had a view of the Hollywood sign!
The hotel had an in-house spa, a 5-star lobser restaurant, a popping lounge and a beautiful reception which became our spot for pictures. The shopaholic that I can be, was also quite thankful that it was right opposite the Beverly Hills Mall and a shopping center. It was also a stone throw away from the famous Rodeo Drive (which has the designer boutiques shown in Pretty Woman) and Melrose Avenue.
Once we were done checking in, we haunted down a southern inspired restaurant we had seen on our way. I had missed a good old Mac n Cheese which I accompanied with Honey BBQ ribs and a southern inspired lemonade. We spent the rest of the day in bed and created a schedule of tourist activities for the vacation.
In usual fashion, I jogged the next morning to get a feel of the neighborhood and discover the hidden gems and boy o boy it was such a bougie area. We rented a car as well.
Tip: It’s advisable to always rent a car in America except New York! It really makes moving around easier. Make reservations ahead of time and use booking engines for discounts.
The next couple of days we spent touring the Hollywood area, Downtown LA, Universal studios, Disney Land, the beach, drive to Calabassas, shopping and resting.
The Santa Monica and Venice beach were very relaxing. Though it was packed, taking a long stroll with my feet soaked in water was very therapeutic. The Santa Monica pier was busy but fun. It had an amusement park vibe with rides and street food.
During the Universal Studio tour, we ran into Steve Harvey and he was a delight to photograph! We also saw the set of famous movies and TV Shows. I was quite happy I got to see “Wisteria Lane” from my favorite TV show: Desperate housewives. We watched some the film tricks and stunts used in movies and I got to experience being on set of one of my favorite movies, Fast and Furious!
At Disney Land I felt like a kid all over again - the happiness I experienced was second to none as for a few hours I had no worries. I ate candy floss and hopped on various rides. I felt like an agbaya (adult acting like a child) playing with Mickey Mouse but it felt so good. We also did an open roof tour and got to see celebrity homes. All I wanted to jump down at some of the locations screaming “Can I live here for a week?”. I went outside my comfort zone and did the OUE Sky Space slide which was a glass slide about 1000ft above ground! The Yoruba girl in me kept screaming internally from fear but braved it like a champ.
What is a holiday in LA without the huge American portions of food. We had hearty breakfasts and dinner daily that could last for a week. From maple syrup soaked French toast, fluffy pancakes to juicy burgers. Yes I put on a few kgs after the holiday but why pass on good food?
Every city has its downside and I didn’t like the high state tax and traffic! LA traffic is the cousin of Lagos traffic! A typical 1 hour journey took 2.5 hours. Even though it was a bummer driving in traffic, it saved a whole lot of transport fare.
I came back to Lagos glowing and pumped and ready to face the craziness. Would I go back to LA? Yes! I loved the city and definitely recommend it. There’s lots to do for everyone. And like most people who have been to LA, based on my experience I definitely recommend:
A Tour of Universal Studios
Visit Staples Center
Chill at Venice Beach and grab some road side food
OUE Skyspace (for a bit of adventure), and take an aerial view of downtown LA
Tour the Hollywood wall of fame and hop on an open roof bus tour
Walk / Shop on Rodeo Drive
Santa Monica Pier
There’s also a ton of activities for museum / sports or music lovers!
Have you been to LA? What other cities in the US would you recommend and what did you do there?