Ahh.. sunshine, blue skies and adventure at every single corner. Los Angeles is a prime staple for any good time.
Earlier this year we had the privilege to take off one week and really see the inside and out of Southern California. We saw the history, the fastest roller coasters, we saw the Happiest Place on Earth, we saw one of the oldest MLB stadiums still standing, we saw a miniland fully built from Legos, and we saw the waves.. oh yes, those waves.
Southern California is a place full of magic, full of fun. Below you’ll find a list of where to see, what to do and where to stay.
Things to do:
Oldest MLB stadiums
Dodger Stadium is one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball, and houses one of the best teams in the sport’s history. In addition to He great views of Chavez Ravine veins the outfield walls, the Dodgers don’t scrimp on celebrating their history. Throughout the park are plenty of mementoes, stores, and giant bobble heads that reference players gone by and great moments in franchise history. www.losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/la/ballpark
In Anaheim, not far from Disneyland, lies the home of the Los Angeles Angels, Angel Stadium. With great distinctive features like the giant red helmets that greet you at the front home plate gate, a large scoreboard on the right field wall and a pretty rock formation with waterfalls beyond the left center field wall, the stadium is beautiful to look at and a well suited venue for baseball. www.losangeles.angels.mlb.com/ana/ballpark
An entertainment spectacle beyond my wildest imagination. It was a dream come true to visit the happiest place on earth. Few places are given the build up of Disneyland, and I’ve heard about its reputation all my life.
Every time I’d play a game of ‘I’ve never…’ I always used ‘I’ve never been to Disneyland’ and people would gape at me. No more! For the first time, on a beautiful September day, I walked through the gates of California Adventure Park and the train station of Disneyland to an experience unparalleled and one I will never forget for the rest of my days. See extended review here.
Where to stay when visiting Disneyland
Grand Legacy at the Park
We put aside a whole day to experience the magic of Disneyland, and with that came the desire to reside in a hotel as close as possible to the park to not deal with vehicle traffic. Our hotel was right across the street and no more than a five minute walk from the entrance to the park, which was perfect for both the beginning of the day when we wanted a good place in line, and the end of the day when our feet were beat and we just wanted to lie down back in the bed as soon as possible. The room provided two king size beds, plenty of space for a family of four, and an absolute excess for just the two of us!
The air conditioning functioned perfectly allowing us an escape from the heat, and a comfortable time sleeping. The bathroom gave us plenty of room to clean and prepare ourselves, which was important for the sweaty walking filled days that lay ahead of us. Included in the room was a dresser for clothes storage, a television, wifi, and a small refrigerator to store leftover food.
One thing I really enjoyed about this hotel was that it had a excellent rooftop bar where they had live entertainment, great prices and a view to die for. The bar has a panoramic view of Disneyland/California Adventure Park. We couldn’t have asked for a more convenient and relaxed place to stay for this trip, and when we return to the happiest place on earth, we know exactly where we want to stay! Book Grand Legacy HERE.
The name Universal is very fitting for a park with the variety of things they have to offer. The whole spectrum of great entertainment franchises is covered in their rides, attractions, and characters.
The vast amounts of memorable franchises that have found their stories and settings replicated faithfully in one park is quite impressive both on the engineering scale, and a basic perspective of fun for the paying customer. The Harry Potter world alone is an environment of perfect transportation to Scotland where the fabled Hogwarts castle is located. Without actually leaving Hollywood, you are there in a quaint British village inhabited by wizards.
The castle itself is recreated wonderfully with a semi-sized facade, housing the excellent motion control/simulation ride, ‘Forbidden Journey.’ Even next door is the fun (though brief) roller coaster ride ‘Flight of the Hippogriff,’ complete with a beautiful recreation of Hagrid’s hut from the films. See extended review here.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Roller coasters always carried an otherworldly mystique about them that gave an intimidating aura I always feared. My family weren’t big fans of them and I was deluged with tales of motion sickness, so I stayed away.
Magic Mountain was my opportunity to show myself what I’d been missing. The exhilaration of a roller coaster is hard to describe with mere words. The sudden turns are reminiscent of a quick turning car, but the magnitude is much higher, and the effect more extreme. The steep falls remind one of an ordinary park swing, but the stomach dropping feeling is greater, and the feeling more euphoric. www.sixflags.com/magicmountain
Warner Bros Studio Tour
Warner Brothers is just one of the many makers of great movies in Hollywood, but you may not be aware of really how many movies have been made there. Warner Brothers shoots their projects on the backlot, but many other movie companies also use their lot and therefore many films by both Warner Brothers and others have made history there.
The studio tour includes an up close look at Hennessy street, a well traveled historic place full of film history. Here you can find shooting locations for movies and shows like ‘The Mask,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘Gremlins,’ and ‘Annie.’ There’s also the famous water tower, and the road from Jurassic park where the T. rex chases the Jeep. Then there’s the prop houses, which contain some of film history’s most famous props like the red chairs from the Matrix, the various Batmobiles used throughout the Batman franchise, and even the Maltese Falcon.
Then there’s the indoor sets, including that of the house from ‘The Fosters,’ as well as a whole recreation of the Central Perk set from ‘Friends.’ In addition, there’s a great helpful tour guide driving your group around and walking you through all this real estate and explaining the rich history behind the locations you go through. Out of all the ways to get into the movies, this way is pretty dang close! www.wbstudiotour.com
Knott’s Berry Farm
Roller coasters, water rides, and a great atmosphere combine to form a great park that kids and adults can enjoy. Be sure to check out the western ghost town, which includes many great buildings that evoke the aesthetic well, such as a saloon, a blacksmith, an entertaining outhouse inhabitant named Stinky Pete, and a themed stunt show.
There are several great rides to find, but we found our favorite to be the Ghost Rider, an old fashioned wooden coaster with just enough twists and turns to make you exhilarated, but not too much so that you’d be sick. There’s even a Snoopy Land for any Peanuts comic lovers. www.knotts.com
A world built of Legos. Now that’s what I’m talking about. LEGO Land was a true treat in our trip, however I do feel that if we were about 15 years younger it would have been a lot more fascinating, but nonetheless, it’s a treat for both kids and kids at heart.
The park has a few roller coasters and rides that are more suitable for children under 15, but still enjoyable for adults. One of my favorite things and truly the main reason we went to visit the park, was to see Miniland. Miniland is a very unique land where you can see a perfectly mini version of Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City.
The detail is impeccable and definitely worth the trip. Another great part was seeing the newer part of the land which was the Star Wars Land. There were some pretty well done LEGO characters and motion animatronics. www.legoland.com
Where to stay when visiting LEGO Land
Holiday Inn Carlsbad
The two of us were in great anticipation as we drove south from Los Angeles towards LEGO Land in Carlsbad, California, the holy spot for all Lego enthusiast. We needed a place to stay in town for the visit, and the Holiday Inn at Carlsbad was not only close, it also stands on its own as a fantastic place to stay for any duration and any occasion.
First impressions are important, and we were given the best when we were greeted with a beautiful clean room and a bottle of wine from the management to wish us a welcome stay. The room was spacious and cozy, with a queen bed and a television provided. Wifi was responsive and reasonably fast considering it was complementary.
The bathroom had a large shower and big vanity area for makeup application or face washing. The room was also within walking distance to a pool, and therapeutic hot tub. It was a very satisfying experience, and went a long way to making us very comfortable and happy for our stay. Book Holiday Inn HERE.
Jousting! Swordplay! Horseriding! Great food! Hilarious overacting! All this and more can be found at Medieval Times, and combined dinner theater and sport show that makes for a very unique outing perfect for small groups and large groups alike.
The food orients itself to be of the period, with chicken leg, and that classic medieval beverage, Pepsi. When entering, everybody is seated in a different section of a small arena of dirt. Then each champion on a horse is brought in and assigned to a certain section of the audience, and even though the champions’ assignments are arbitrary, something takes over you and along with the rest of the crowd you’re cheering when he’s winning and booing at the rest! It’s harmless fun, of course. www.medievaltimes.com
Zipping around Town
When it comes to booking a trip, you have a few obligations: hotel, airfare and transportation. Having a car really makes it easy when trying to get around the town you are visiting. However, when you are on a tight budget or under 25 you run into a few issues when it comes to corporate rental companies.
Zipcar saves you the hassle, and the best part.. you don’t even have to pay for gas! Simply go to www.zipcar.com, choose your booking dates, desired pick up location and type of car you’d like to us. It’s pretty simple. You get a membership type card in the mail to unlock/lock the car, you have a gas debit card in side the car and the keys stay in the car. If you have any issues you have 24/7 roadside service and can switch out your car if you’re not satisfied.
No hidden fees, no extra paperwork, no standing in line. Get a lyft or rental car shuttle to your desired pick up location and find your car based on the licence plate, or you can use your phone by using the Zipcar app to honk/unlock/lock your car. I truly loved using Zipcar and have used it already at home again once I needed a rental. It’s a great service and makes getting around California perfect, especially if you have a busy itinerary like we did. www.zipcar.com
Extended Stay America
After several months of planning, the two of us made a long anticipated trek to Los Angeles to see all the things the city had to offer and the trip required us to find a place to stay for almost a week. The options were varied but we went with Extended Stay of America and we couldn’t have been more satisfied with our experience. The whole week of our trip involved heavy walking and driving and we knew we needed a place that would accommodate the both of us after long days of touring LA. Extended Stay not only gave us a residence for that duration, it was our home away from home thanks to its above average amenities and spacious rooms.
Our room was expansive, with a full kitchen included, allowing us to make meals in the comfort of the hotel. It included an oven, full size refrigerator, microwave, toaster, sink, and plenty of cupboard space. Giving us a place to store any extra food we got at restaurants as well as any groceries was a real relief, especially in the heat of southern California. Speaking of the heat, we never had any trouble with the temperature as the room had perfectly functioning air conditioning the whole stay, allowing for comfort day and night when we needed rest. www.extendedstayamerica.com