Pretty much anything can be found in the vast Greater Los Angeles area: business, traffic, beaches, celebrities, mountains, and more traffic. During the summer of 2007, my family and I took a vacation to Anaheim, California, in order to experience some of LA’s most beautiful, glamorous, and fantastical sights.
“The Happiest Place on Earth” really needs no introduction. The only Disney amusement park designed by Walt Disney himself, Disneyland has been a Southern California fixture since 1955. Countless rides and shows spread over its eight different Lands mean there’s something fun for everyone.
During our trip, we could see the nightly fireworks from our hotel. Despite that, my brother and I decided to venture into the park on the Fourth of July, and brave the massive crowds in order to catch the special holiday show that night. From our spot right in front of the Castle, we were surrounded by exploding fireworks set to patriotic music. It was an incredible experience that I won’t soon forget!
As everyone knows, glitzy Tinseltown has long been the epicenter of the movie-making industry – and it shows!
The Hollywood Sign. It is impossible not to know you’re in Hollywood with the iconic sign’s 50-foot tall letters overlooking it all.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. For nearly 90 years, countless stars have attended major film premiers from this Chinese pagoda-style movie theater. Just out front is the courtyard where over 160 celebrities have left their imprints – usually hands and feet, although at least one nose and paw print can be found among them, as well. When we stopped by the famous cinema house, we missed the premier of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by just a couple days!
Hollywood Walk of Fame. Over 2,000 pink-and-brass stars honoring celebrities from throughout the movie era are set into a mile-long stretch of sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard. You’ll probably need a guidebook to find your favorites, though.
While Hollywood is all about putting dreams on the silver screen, Beverly Hills is all about living the dream in real life. This is the playground of the well-known and the well-heeled, with every bit of the glamour and excess you’d expect.
Rodeo Drive. A high-end shopper’s paradise, this is where the rich and famous come to fulfill their luxurious tastes. Storefronts lining the street boast top retail names like Prada, Tiffany and Co., and Gucci. Of course, Rodeo Drive is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern California. It offers a nice trolley tour of the area, as well as plenty of cafes to kick back and do a little star-gazing.
Sunset Boulevard. In this part of the city, the famous thoroughfare twists and turns through the exclusive properties owned by some of the biggest names in show biz. Visitors can take tours to learn all the ins-and-outs and who’s-who along this storied stretch of road. Follow the road on into Hollywood to experience the historic Sunset Strip.
The Great Outdoors
The gorgeous climate and scenery makes Southern California an outdoor paradise.
Pacific Ocean. With its inviting beach life, million-dollar views, and exquisite seafood, the Pacific dominates the culture here. During this trip, I got to take my very first dip in the Pacific: it was much colder than I expected!
Santa Monica Mountains. The beautiful mountains along the coast provide innumerable hiking trails, and give some of the most incredible ocean views anywhere. A drive along the Malibu Highway is truly unforgettable, with the rocky hills to one side and the vast blue ocean to the other.
Griffith Park. Located in Hollywood, this huge park offers plenty of dog-friendly hiking, as well as music festivals, a zoo, a carousel, and even an observatory with some truly stunning views of LA.