JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH WENDY LEE FROM LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA!
Wendy Lee along with her husband, Jason, created the travel blog, Empty Nesters Hit The Road. Their blog was created to encourage couples 50+ to travel more. Since there is so much to see in the world, they want people to stop talking about travel and go do it instead.
The City of Los Angeles is the second most populous city of United States after New York. Hollywood and it’s celebrity association has given it the name of ‘Movie Capital of the World’.
Los Angeles is both flat and hilly with Pacific ocean on one side and high mountains on the other. It is also home to four of the nation’s steepest streets with Mount Washington’s Eldred Street being the steepest. The metropolitan area of Los Angeles has 5 airports and LAX is the fifth busiest airport in the world.
What is the best time to visit Los Angeles?
The beauty of Los Angeles is that our weather is warm and dry much of the year. However, to avoid the crowds, I recommend visiting October and November or January through March. These times of year avoid the biggest crowds. And we can get some really hot months, usually during July through September.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Los Angeles?
For right now most people will need to rent a car when visiting LA. The other option is Uber. Even transportation from the airport is likely to be via Uber. Los Angeles is car dominated and not known for its public transportation system, but that is changing and it will be better in the future.
Numerous transportation options have been introduced in the city to make it car free. There are six Metro Rail lines which offers visitors convenient and fast way of getting from one place to another. All the Metro Rail lines are connected with Metro Bus lines. Metro Local (orange), Metro Rapid (red), Metro Express (blue) and Bus Rapid Transit services (The Metro Silver Line/The Metro Orange Line) are available throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. DASH provides frequent, inexpensive and convenient bus service in downtown Los Angeles.
For more detailed information on Los Angeles public transit, click here.
What are the top three must visit places in Los Angeles?
Wow, its so hard to choose just three places! There is so much to do in the City of Angels. But I’ll recommend three areas; first is Griffith Park which is home to the Hollywood sign, second is downtown LA, and third is Venice Beach.
Griffith Park is a large urban park that offers hiking, museums, and the zoo. Located in the middle of the city, this park has so much to offer for couples and families, and its free! It’s just five miles from downtown Los Angeles hence the most convenient way to reach there is to use the DASH Observatory shuttle. If you have a car arrive early to find a parking spot.
Griffith Park is almost five times the central park in New York city. There are many different hikes to choose from ranging from 1.6 miles long to as much as 8.8 miles but a hike to the Hollywood sign is quintessential LA. This is also a popular place for filming, so visitors may recognize spots in the park from their favorite movies or television shows.
Downtown Los Angeles is divided into 16 districts and offers a variety of historic sites plus great art museums. Driving to downtown is one option, but this is also a great place to arrive by MetroLink, the regional train system. Arrive at Union Stations and walk to your destination or take Uber.
First, check-out Angels Flight, the world’s shortest funicular, that has been seen in many television shows and movies, and costs just $1 to ride. Next, visit the inside of the Bradbury Building, again a popular filming site, especially in old movies.
Finally check out some of the great museums in the area like The Broad—a contemporary art museum with features an impressive collection of 2000 art pieces. The Broad is free to visit, but advanced, online reservations are recommended.
The Arts District can also be found in downtown which offers popular galleries and trendy restaurants. A popular destination in the Arts District is the gallery, Hauser & Wirth. Located in a former flour mill, this gallery is free to visit and offers world class exhibits. Afterwards, walk down the street to view some of LA’s most famous street murals, slide from the 70th to the 60th floor of California’s tallest building or visit the very popular The Last Bookstore. This part of the city can be visited anytime of the year!
To know more about things to do in DownTown, click here.
Finally, Venice Beach is the classic California beach town. There are always great street performers, a lovely ocean view, and plenty of good food options. Start with a stroll down the boardwalk, then check-out the body builders at Muscle Beach, and then visit the canals. For a great ocean view head to a rooftop bar like High Rooftop Lounge at Hotel Erwin. Looking for a delicious and healthy meal, then head to Café Gratitude offering all vegetarian and organic food items. Most people drive to Venice Beach, but be prepared to pay for parking. Summer is a great time for people watching, but it will also be very crowded.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Los Angeles?
I’ve selected three day trips that will give visitors a nice overview of California; Disneyland, San Diego and Santa Barbara. Each of these places is important in the state’s history as well as its tourism industry.
Probably the most popular day trip would be to Disneyland and its sister theme park, California Adventures, both located in Anaheim, about an hour south of Los Angeles. Families with young children will definitely enjoy one or both of these amusement parks which are loaded with attractions. One of the top attractions in California Adventures is Soarin’, an experience that takes guests on a short, but impressive journey around the world. Disneyland will soon be opening its newest attraction, Star Wars Land. One of the best ways to manage lines at these two parks is by using the Fast Pass system. Driving is one option for travel to Disneyland, but tour companies also offer bus transportation and packages that include tickets and transportation.
Further south, about two to three hours, is San Diego, which is a much smaller city than LA, but offers great beaches and parks. For beach lovers, check out La Jolla, just north of the city. Walking on the sand or sunbathing are fun options, but so is checking-out the hundreds of seals and sea lions. But the gem of San Diego is definitely Balboa Park, filled with lovely gardens, historic buildings, seventeen museums and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. For transportation to San Diego there are a few options. Driving will give visitors the most freedom, but can also be a hassle due to traffic. The train is a great option, since Amtrak has a line from LA’s Union Station to San Diego’s main station. Then Uber around the city.
And north of LA—about a three-hour drive—is Santa Barbara, a medium-sized beach town with much to see and do. First-time visitors often start at the water visiting the pier and strolling (or cycling) the path along the ocean. Then explore the “main” street which in Santa Barbara is called State Street. This area offers plenty of great dining and shopping. For history buffs, head to the Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786. Due to its location on the water, Santa Barbara’s weather is lovely all year round. For visitors that don’t want to drive, this is also a great place for the train. Amtrak also offers a route from LA’s Union Station to Santa Barbara.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is an amazing city for ethnic food. Two of my favorites are Mexican and Korean. For Mexican, I love visiting Olvera Street in DownTown LA that serves any type of tacos. K-Town is where all the great Korean restaurants are located and most serve delicious bulgogi. Check out this guide for things to do when in K-Town.
LA is home to Sprinkles Cupcakes, a chain of bakeries famous for their creations like lemon coconut and triple cinnamon. They even offer a cupcake ATM!
Los Angeles is definitely vegetarian and vegan friendly. Not only do many restaurants feature vegetarian items, most will accommodate any special diet.
Where to head for affordable shopping?
The Grove, Santa Monica Place, Westfield, are some of the fanciest shopping malls in Los Angeles. If you want to shop cheap head to Fashion District in Sante Alley, TJ Maxx or Macy’s Marshall’s. Find the ten best places to shop in Los Angeles here.
However, the biggest and oldest flea market in the area is located in a neighboring city of Pasadena. This is where the Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place the second Sunday of each month. With around 2500 vendors selling their specialty you will find a plethora of vintage goods, fashion clothing, crafts and local art there. There are plenty of food and beverage counters too to keep you full while you shop. To know about more things to do in Pasadena, click here.
Which are the best streets of Los Angeles worthy of taking a stroll on?
To see where the fabulously wealthy shop take a stroll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills which is a two mile long street. While most people can’t afford anything in these expensive shops, its fun to walk where many famous movies—like Pretty Woman—have been filmed. If you are a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural projects, then you can also visit Anderton Court on Rodeo Drive, the final structure by the world famous architect.
And of course there is Hollywood Boulevard, home to the walk of fame. 2,600 stars can be found along this street immortalizing famous actors, singers and radio personalities.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
For a great view of Los Angeles visit the Griffith Park Observatory situated on the the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood. No hiking is required as you can drive right up to the top. Or take a trip down Mulholland Drive.
Here is a list of some of the free places to get a breathtaking view of the city of Los Angeles.
Would you suggest any shows in Los Angeles to drama, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in the city?
This city is famous for all kinds of shows! Great plays and musicals can be seen at the Mark Taper Forum or Ahmanson Theaters in downtown Los Angeles. It is a theatre complex with three theatres together including the Dorothy Chandler theatre. Having said that, the theatre isn’t too big and you can enjoy a non obstructive view no matter where you sit.
The Pantages Theater in Hollywood get huge Broadway touring productions hence it is your best bet for Broadway shows. However, the theatre itself is beautiful with an old world charm and is worth a visit.
The Greek Theater, in Griffith Park is an outdoor amphitheatre and offers a wide range of concerts.
Finally, this city has a great street art scene in the downtown Arts District. Here is a compilation of all public murals in the city. The Los Angeles Conservancy offers street mural tours too.
Would you recommend any local apps for transport in Los Angeles?
From the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, the Discover Los Angeles applets you know a wide variety of events taking place throughout LA each day.
Download the Go Metro Los Angeles mobile app to help you get around the city while you’re on the go.
And, of course, the usual apps of Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Do you want to give any suggestion/tip to tourists coming to Los Angeles?
This is a very big city! It also has terrible traffic. Organize your days around a specific section of the city to minimize your time in traffic and parking costs. I’d recommend focusing on areas like Downtown, West Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Miracle Mile.