1. Universal Studios – I love amusement parks so of course this is on my list. If you go during holidays, like Memorial Day as we did, the lines can get over an hour long. Bleh! Luckily, we paid the extra $50-$60 for the VIP tickets so we were able to hit all of the rides we wanted to and probably never waited more than 15 minutes in line. Make sure to do the Studio Tour. This takes you around the lots of Universal and shows how special movie effects are done. Plus, you might get tossed around by King Kong or go on a Fast and Furious car adventure.
In my opinion the best show and ride was Jurassic Park and Water World. Although, I must admit Despicable Me was also pretty fantastic. When your by the Despicable Me ride don’t forget to sample a freezer ray smoothie, which is a mixture of banana ice cream (or smoothie), and some carbonated beverage, which we thought tasted like Mountain Dew. A combination like that doesn’t really sound good, but it was surprisingly yummy. So yummy in fact, that we all kind of wish we had shared a second one.
Water World the show, had appearances by many different people who have appeared in movies and shows like The Walking Dead and Les Miserables. It was fun to watch the actors spritz (more like dump) water over those in the soak seats. Water World is an action packed live show with lots of stunts and explosions.
2. Getty Museum – The Getty is FREE except for $15 parking. It may be worth it to take public transportation to avoid the high parking fee. This is a gorgeous museum with grandeur. Although, the most beautiful thing about it may not be the art, but the gardens surrounding the Getty that are placed picturesquely atop the mountain and around the museum. Tip: Don’t forget to check out the amazing panoramic views of Los Angeles and also the Van Gogh and Monet, which are some of the museums most prized pieces.
3. Griffith Park Observatory/Hiking – Fitness buffs and stargazers alike can come to Griffith Park and have a superb time. There’s miles and miles worth of hiking and mountain biking trails with plenty of neat little stops along the way. For example, you could stop at the Merry-go-Round, iconic Hollywood sign, Greek Theater, golf course, tennis courts, or the Griffith Observatory. Enjoy the Griffith Observatory, which is a top of the line planetarium, where you can enjoy learning everything there is to know about outer-space. You can even view a short film featuring the late Leonard Nimoy, catch a lecture on the planets, or view all of L.A. from the roof of the Observatory, which also holds an extremely large and useful telescope.
4. Warner Bros. Tour – Calling all movie buffs, this one is for you. Especially if you love Batman or Harry Potter. The coolest part of this tour is when you get to visit the prop museum for Batman and Harry Potter. At the Harry Potter Prop Museum there is a sorting hat experience where they put the sorting hat on your head and you get sorted into a house, just like the movie. I got sorted into Gryffindor and was told by the sorting hat “Red hair, another Weasley”. The funny thing is I don’t really have red hair anymore because I haven’t dyed it in at least 6 months and in all actuality, I’m probably more of a Slytherin. This is because that’s the house I got sorted into when I took the official Pottermore quiz created by J.K. Rowling herself. Another cool thing on the tour was seeing Rosewood High School from Pretty Little Liars and the outside of Alison and Hannah’s house.
5. Beach – You can’t go to L.A. without at least visiting the beach. Take a nice and relaxing day off your jam packed tourist schedule and squish your toes in the sand and get a tan. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen and jacket because it’s usually cooler by the water. For beaches, I’d recommend Santa Monica for the stereotypical California beach experience, solar-powered ferris wheel and all, or head to Venice Beach where you can get your fitness on.
6. Pasadena – Here you can find the Rose Bowl and the City Hall where Parks and Rec was filmed at. This part of L.A. is filled with beautiful roses everywhere in honor of the Rose Bowl. Check out the shops and eatery opportunities to make your day complete at Pasadena.
7. Disneyland – This is another great amusement park…well two really. Make sure to plan for two days or purchase a park hopper ticket and plan on being there from open to close. This is ranked lower on my list because Disneyworld is so much bigger and better. At Disneyland, you couldn’t walk two feet without running into people. It was nuts! This could have been because of the 60 year anniversary, but the crowds were unbareable. For rides make sure to test out Tower of Terror. It’s still our favorite out of all the rides and it’s also our favorite as Disneyworld too. However, at Disneyland it doesn’t move side to side, only back and fourth, and up and down. Tip: Always get Fastpasses for the most popular rides like Soarin’ and Splash Mountain. Fastpasses allow you to take a faster line at a later time, free of charge.
Los Olivos and Solvang – I know, I know. This isn’t really in L.A., but it’s worth the extra drive. Los Olivos is the perfect destination for the wine connoisseur and Solvang is the destination for Denmark lovers. Los Olivos is a super cute town boasting wineries on every block that nearly convinced my parents to move there. Well, until the sticker shock of owning a home was mentioned. Rent for a small 2 bedroom was around $2,800. Solvang looks like a small Danish town in the town center. If you go here, check out the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. This small museum is located on the 2nd floor of a book store so it can be a tad challenging to find. Use GPS to locate the museum. Solvang is not recommend if you’re going for the Danish cuisine alone, as you’d be better off making your own Danish food at home.