Hello and welcome to A Scot, A Broad’s guide to Southern California! In this post we’ll be exploring the wonders of Los Angeles (LA), the coastal vibes of Long Beach and finishing with the utter coolness of San Diego. If at least one of these places has piqued your interest then stick around and see which of these will become you’re next must visit!
Los Angeles (LA) – offers one of the most impressive skylines out of the places I’ve travelled to so far. The skyscrapers of the TV world are seen for miles, especially when driving into downtown. Not only is the view amazing but the casualness of the Hollywood Sign looking over the city invites you to walk into the reality of this media centric city. The streets are lined with tall palm trees that draw your gaze not only to the clear blue Californian sky but to the ever present Hollywood sign – just in case you forget where you are! So now that you’re here what is there to do?
Well my first time in LA, I went to Hollywood Boulevard – this is the long street filled with Celebrities stars all along the pavements (side walks) but make sure you’re aware of your surroundings as there are a lot of people. It’s easy to get carried away and take pictures of all your fave celebs but I limited myself to finding that one special star; to save not only my phone’s memory but so that I could avoid clogging up the crowd! At big names like Michael Jackson, you’ll have look alikes that you can pay to be in your photo so if you don’t want that avoid eye contact! MJ isn’t the only person walking around, you’ll find everyone from Shrek to Batman and even a few Disney characters jumping next to their stars. The street has a huge shop known as LA Land that you can buy all the touristy memorabilia that you don’t need but will include good photo ops with huge metal statues of Predator and Terminator!
LA Land isn’t the only huge building, the whole street is packed with attractions such as Madam Tussuades- the official waxwork museum of everyone who you want to meet and more but there are a lot of knock off versions as well. A tip to get in cheaper is to look for the many people standing around handing out discount vouchers, these are also for bus tour tickets and merchandise! I got a great deal from a tourist shop next to the TCl Chinese Theatre – $5 for a t-shirt yes please! Wait what’s the Chinese Theatre? It’s the massive IMAX theatre that has all of the celebrities cemented hand and footprints at the front of it! When I went they were showing Batman vs Superman and had the actual costumes from the film inside the theatre! Right next door is the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars are held so make sure to get that staircase picture when you’re out there! Since there is an abundance of people, touristy shops and attractions Hollywood boulevard is very much a tourist trap but if you set a spending limit beforehand you’ll be fine! One thing to look out for (many I know!) is that upcoming music artists will also be trying to fund their music by selling CDs on the boulevard. So if someone starts talking to you don’t tell them your name or you might find them already signing a copy of their music to you and asking for a ‘donation.’ This happened to me and I ended up only giving a couple of dollars in change because my only notes were $50s haha oops but still it was the first time something like that has happened to me! Have you been caught out like that before? If so I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!
One great thing to do in Hollywood is to go be a part of a live TV show, my friend and I got free tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel live! What’s awesome about this is that because they need a live audience everyday there are lots of dates you can book for! You can look online here, click which show and date you want and they’ll send you the tickets! However, make sure you do this in advance for the best choice in dates! For Jimmy Kimmel live it was fun to see the audience cues of when to clap/stop, when to cheer your heart out and see some celebs at the same time! For my show Ashton Kutcher was the guest! So that was pretty cool and before you ask yes the set is so much smaller in real life haha!
For the best views of LA and the Hollywood sign I recommend hitting up the Griffith Observatory. Sitting on the South side of Mount Hollywood the observatory is free to get into so you can get your selfie ‘next’ to the Hollywood sign no problem! Also the observatory has a lot of space related exhibitions inside which is awesome if you’re into that. However the main reason why the observatory is popular is that the night sky is amazing to see up there. Unfortunately I could only go during the day so if you have the time it’s something to check out and let me know how it was!
From South to West side of LA lies The Getty Centre a famous art museum highlighting American and European art, as well as architecture and some really nice gardens. To get in is free but parking is $15 so make sure you go with friends to split this cost! However, once you’re inside, the vast museum is broken up into different exhibits that flow into several buildings for each area of art! For me, I enjoyed the gardens and the views the most but if you’re of the artistic kind then it’s a great place for inspiration!
In LA, like other cities, have different ‘towns’ dedicated to one group of people so if you’re all about the Korean culture and life, like I am then LA’s massive K-town is a must visit. Everything from cafes, hair and beauty salons, restaurants, noraebang (karaoke) and marts all of Korean origin live there. So if you’re in need of Kimbap or amazing Kalguksu noodles K-town is your best friend. I met one of my newly returned Korea friends here to catch up over Sundubu (Check out A Taste of Vancouver for more info) and it literally felt like we were back in South Korea. From ordering and speaking to the waiting staff in Korean and our mannerisms, as well as that pang of longing to be in Korea once again!
If you’re flying into LA the international airport is tagged as LAX – since California is a huge state a lot of cities have their own smaller airports for domestic travel. So if you’re using Skyscanner when booking flights make sure you search for LAX for more travel options!
Further South, our next destination is Long Beach, resting on the Pacific coast of the US, it’s the seventh largest city in California! My previous post That Cali Beach Life raves about the city’s beach where you can do yoga over looking the beach as well as play beach volleyball. If you want to know more about that make sure to check out the link above! A favourite spot of mine in Long Beach – other than many amazing restaurants is Sunken City. It sits right by the coast and over time the ‘city’ has worn away to leave ruins in amongst the coastal face. It’s fenced off and technically you aren’t suppose to go there…but there are many gaps in the fence you can slip through to check out the ever changing graffiti and artwork! Follow the directions for Sunken City Trail, Los Angeles, CA 90731, USA. Make sure to wear trainers (sneakers) or climbing shoes as you can walk down into the city to see the artwork up close and personal and you can carefully make your way to the coast to be by the sea! Depending on the time of day it will give this place a different feel but there are always people walking the trails or painting over the art work so Sunken city is definitely worth a couple of visits.
Continuing the theme of Korea – I do this quite well if you’ve read any of my other posts! Just up from Sunken city is a great grassy park and on the hill over looking the coast is a Korean Friendship Bell (3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, CA 90731, United States). The huge bronze bell gives a hint at Korean architecture that is proudly incorporated all over South Korea, especially in temples. So if you’re a sucker for some killer ocean views and some foreign culture, it’s a great picnic spot to relax on!
Out of the three cities I visited San Diego was my favourite for sure. I feel that San Diego is LA but without all of the hype, even though it has a world famous zoo, amazing beaches and it’s very own island connected by a gigantic bridge, to me San Diego just felt like a cool place to be. I came to San Diego twice, once to help out for a presentation and the other was to visit my university friend. So the first time I couldn’t appreciate it all because I was technically working but I still managed to see some seals chilling on the coast! The second time was to catch up with my friend whom I hadn’t seen in five years – oh well better late than never right? Under a local guide, she took me to Coronado Island, San Diego Zoo, and Pacific Beach all in one day!
Coronado Island is just off of San Diego Bay connected by a massive steel bridge that is tall enough to let battleships pass underneath it back in the day! Whether you’re driving towards the island or back into the city you are guaranteed an excellent view of the bay, the ocean and San Diego’s skyline! Want to see it for yourself? Follow these directions: Route 75 Coronado, San Diego, CA 92118, United States. Coronado Island feels like a resort with the Hotel Del Coronado – where you can have afternoon tea to the long stretches of beach and bike rentals. When I came it was a bit drizzly but if you’re all about the beaches then it’s still a wonderful place to walk along with your friend!
The world famous San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, is a great day out for the family or a good few hours with friends as it houses over 3,700 animals. The enclosures for zebras, giraffes and mountain lions allow for some close ups and great selfies! I love seeing big cats so I was happy to see mountain lions, jaguars, lions, tigers and snow leopards dotted around, however my friend was all about the elephants. All the enclosures are at walking height so you can get the full experience of being in the presence of these powerful animals. If you don’t want to walk around, and there is a lot of walking with some hills, then there are tour buses crawling along the roads to give you a more relaxed view of the animals. For an additional cost, there’s even a behind the scenes petting experience with some of wild animals they have. If I hadn’t been short on cash I would’ve done this so fast!
For our final part of the day, my friend took me to Pacific Beach. By now the weather had cleared from drizzle to blaring sunshine so the area surrounding the beach was packed with everyone enjoying the open pubs, restaurants, cafes, ice creams and of course the ocean! The waves were particularly strong so the life guard advised staying close to shore so unfortunately I couldn’t partake in my swimming fully clothed ritual hah! However I had a great time here and my friend said I must be the only person who enjoyed Pacific Beach over Coronado Island! It was probably due to the weather to be fair! However that just means you have to check out both places for yourself! The thing I really liked about San Diego vs LA was that it was way more car friendly with everything being only 20 mins apart. A big thing that dictates whether or not I like a place is if it’s easy to get around because if it’s difficult to reach places it makes the process of travelling frustrating rather than enjoyable – for me at least.
If you’ve reached this far then I hope you’ve enjoyed A Scot, A Broad’s edition for South California! Let me know what places you liked the sound of, want to hear more about or even to share your stories about anything mentioned. I would love to read them in the comments below! Thank you for reading and catch you on the next post!