Planning A Trip To Southern California
Star Gazing In Hollywood
When people think of southern California, probably the first place they think of is Hollywood. All the glamour, all the glitz....drop your bags off at the Ritz. Mmmm...first of all, the glamour is more likely to be found in Beverly Hills and if you are dropping your bags anywhere it better be close to one of the beaches between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Hollywood is definitely a fun place to visit though, although not where the stars hang out. It's more like where the stars lay on the sidewalk. I'm talking about the Walk Of Fame along Hollywood Blvd. You can find your favorite star's name on a star imprinted on the sidewalk lining the boulevard.
The weather stays fairly consistent in southern California all year long. You can expect temperatures to be in the seventies, as an average, during the day. I have been to Los Angeles twice. The first time was in July for a week and the temperature ranged from low seventies to mid eighties while we were there. We saw sun and some clouds everyday but never a full day of clouds or rain. The second time I went was in January for a week and the temperature was in the sixties most of the week and then went up to the eighties our last two days. So based on my two experiences, there wasn't a lot of difference except for their being more cold days in January.
Now I will go into detail on my findings during my first trip out there. We toured the area between Los Angeles and San Diego which offered plenty to do for a ten day stay. This is an area I would go back to again and highly recommend it for a family vacation.
Chinese Theater and Hollywood Sign
Most people are probably familiar with the Walk Of Fame or the sidewalk of Hollywood stars going through Hollywood. But, what may be unfamiliar to some is a unique theater on Hollywood Blvd. It is the Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Grauman's Chinese Theater:What makes this theater distinctive is the fact that it is covered with fingerprints. I'm not talking about your ordinary fingerprints, you can actually see full hand prints and footprints. The reason you can see them is because they are impressed into the cement and the people who did it are all stars. You can actually put your hands and feet where someone famous had theirs. I was actually more impressed to meet Elmo, who was walking around outside the theater. You just never know who you might bump into!
Outside the theater is also a popular place to get free tickets to be an audience member in a game show or sitcom. We ran into quite a few people passing out fliers. I had gotten tickets ahead of time for a game show but if I hadn't I'm sure we would have taken advantage of that if our schedule allowed for it.
Right next to the theater is a huge multi level shopping center which includes the Kodak theater. This is an experience all in itself with all the shopping, eating and there is even a good spot for viewing the Hollywood sign.
Hollywood Sign: The absolute best way to view the Hollywood sign is to get in your vehicle and drive. Head up to Hollywood Hills and just keep driving through the winding residential area. You will find yourself getting higher and higher into the hills. We stopped and asked walkers a couple of times to point us in the right direction. I could never tell you how to get there but would recommend doing what we did. Everyone we ran into was kind and helpful. Once we got to the highest point, we were able to get some amazing pictures. The view down to the city from that point was spectacular as well.
Surfin USA: California Beaches
I could go to California for the beaches alone! Like an excited kid at Christmas, I'm going to jump right to my favorite one. Although all the beaches had something unique to offer, Huntington Beach was my favorite.
Huntington Beach: Maybe it was the fact that there was lifeguard training going on. Or maybe, it was the dozens of surfers showing off their skills or the numerous beach volleyball games going on. Everywhere you looked there was something interesting to see. Since I like to people watch, I found myself quite amused as I sat on my soft towel just soaking up the rays. We were also there on a Tuesday when they close off the streets in the city of Huntington Beach for a downtown street fair. Of course we took advantage of that. We topped the evening off with dinner at Fred's Mexican Cafe which had views of the water from where we were dining.
Laguna Beach: We had to see Laguna Beach because of the t.v. show and ended up enjoying our drive up into the hills the most. The beach itself was nice with quite a bit of activity going on with basketball games and beach volleyball. There were several artsy shops along the beach for our shopping pleasure, which is always nice.
Long Beach: Long Beach should actually be called long boardwalk. It is a pretty area with a lot of big boats docked. The atmosphere was very happy with reggae bands playing randomly along the way. Restaurants and shops line the boardwalk along with stands selling knock-off sunglasses and other paraphernalia.
La Jolla Cove: This is my second favorite, running real close to first. It is another must see. There are beaches that line the whole coastline from Los Angeles to San Diego. La Jolla Cove is located close to San Diego. The scenery is spectacular with large rock formations, that are almost cave like, in one area of the cove. But, the number one attraction has to be the seals. They are everywhere in the water and so much fun to watch. I was hoping to see one - I saw dozens, if not more. There is a boardwalk, next to the water, for viewing the seals until you get to the beachy area. Even there you still see the seals.
Los Angeles Attractions
Two big attractions in Los Angeles are Disney Land and Universal Studios. I found Universal Studios to be especially fun to tour while in the movie city.
Taking the movie set tour is probably the biggest highlight of Universal Studios. You take a ride through several movie sets where many surprises await you. Not only is it fun but it is also educational in that it gives you an idea of what is entailed for producing a movie. The picture shown is from a movie set of a plane crash.
Some of the shows are pretty exciting as well. They have there ways of making you feel like you are part of the show but I can't give away Hollywood secrets.
As we were traveling down the coast from Los Angeles to San Diego, we happened upon this ferry heading to Balboa Island. We figured, why not take it? So we did.
What a great decision! The island was filled with quaint boutiques and and unique restaurants. The harbor-side beaches were lined with one adorable cottage after another. There are some year long residents on the island who own the shops and boy are they happy. When you walk in the stores, they treat you like royalty - finding you the perfect must have outfit! I think it was the most fun I have ever had shopping.
If I had to live in California, I know that is where I would want to be.
When we reached San Diego, all I wanted to do was relax. This was definitely the place to do it. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency which was fantastic, with a great pool and hot tub to relax in not to mention the outdoor tiki bar.
Everything we wanted to do and see was walking distance from the hotel. There is a huge boardwalk along the water leading you past all of the hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions. It is a lot of walking but we could be as slowed paced as we wanted - no more driving for awhile.
One of the attractions by husband and son went to, while the girls in the family lounged by the pool, was the tour of the USS Midway navy ship. They had a terrific time, especially with the flight simulator.
California Hot Spots
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