An April 2004 trip
to Los Angeles by SFPhotocraft
Quote: During Spring Break 2004 we headed south to Los Angeles. We did the regular, Disneyland, and added two days in Los Angeles. La Brea Tar Pits, Westwood, and Kodak Center are a few stops off the beaten track.
Hotel | "W Hotel"
When you drive up you are greeted by the hip movie-star wannabes dressed in black who park your car. You enter the hotel up a staircase that is also a fountain.
The lobby is dark wood and modern. Small tables with glass chess sets ontop and cool people sipping mojitos fill the lobby. The front desk staff is hip, friendly and efficient. Even though the staff looks like something out of a fashion mag, they are friendly and have no attitude. We found the waitstaff, bell staff, front desk and valets to be friendly and professional in every way. They also could not have been nicer to the kids.
We had a great room on an upper floor. The rooms are huge. We had two large rooms (the rooms are all suites). One room with a desk, sofa and table. The bedroom had two large comfy beds with down comforters. (The kids love a TV in each room) The bathroom was bright and well stocked with great shampoos and creams. The closet had two fluffy large robes. The room was so comfortable I could have curled up with a good book or movie and spent the next two days getting lost in the room.
The hotel has a large wonderful fitness room that is well used. The pool is to the side of the hotel in a garden with colorful cabanas. A cool bar called MOJITO surrounds the pool. The pool and bar are full of young hard bodies! The one surprise is the pool is NOT heated and was FREEZING COLD!
The hotel is cool. In the evening the lobby turns into a bar called WHISKEY BLUE and the crowd is young and way too cool. I am sure it's the trendy pick-up spot for the area.
We were disappointed with the surrounding area. Westwood is in decline. They had a ton of closed shops and finding a place to grab a bite was a hunt. Traffic is still a nightmare and getting around was a royal pain. Everything seemed a long ways away from the hotel. Unless you have business in Westwood or are doing something at UCLA I would not suggest this area for your Hollywood or LA stay. One night we all were beat and decided on staying in and ordering room service, the basic hamburgers (nothing major), the bill was $135.00! Everything was outstanding and it came on time. However, the big price did pinch a bit!
However, this is a great hotel in every sense - it has class, style and top-notch service. If I come back to the UCLA area, it would be my number one choice!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 24, 2004
W Los Angeles - Westwood
930 HILGARD AVE
Los Angeles, California 90024
It bills itself as having a Latin American menu. However we only had breakfast here and the breakfast menu is not very Latin in feel. However I saw the lunch and dinner menu and it looked great. (Worth a trip back).
Being in the W Hotel this place is as cool as you would expect. It has big round cushy booths. Our waitperson was outstanding. She was gorgeous and cool, but had a huge smile and couldn't do more to make the meal a fun one. Our son fell in love with the muffins and she kept making sure she gave him one more, one more and one more. He was in love with her by the end of breakfast! My daughter had oatmeal with fruit and the bowl was huge. My partner had the typical bagel and trimmings and it too was huge.
I had an omelet with feta, fennel and asparagus, it was out of this world. It was so much fun, a relaxed but very attentive pace, and the food was outstanding.
The fun part of the meal was that Spike Lee was at the next booth. Some guy was pitching a movie to him. I had one ear on his table the entire meal trying to eavesdrop and not miss one word!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 24, 2004
930 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles, California 90024
+1 310 443 7820
It didn't hit me that the name CALLENDER'S was actually an upscale Marie Callender's. Not only was the Marie name dropped, but it was far from the average strip mall Marie Callender's. It was an elegant brick building with a lovely patio out front.
We went in and found it dark and clubby with a lot of dark wood, glass and brass.
The hostess stand directed us to the back for seating. We walked through the restaurant and found it almost empty at noon (a very bad sign). We walked along a full bar, that seemed well stock, but void of bartender or patrons. We found the hostess stand and nobody was manning it. We waited, we waited and we waited. Finally, I went to the counter where a woman was boxing pies and asked if anyone is seating people. She glared at us and said she was also the hostess and grumbled all the way to our table that she had to do too many things and they didn't have enough help. (A nice welcome!)
We then had to wait for a waiter. Finally, a very cute Hollywood actor wannabe-type with a big smile got to our table. He was so cute that it was hard to be angry. He took our order and was great to the kids.
The menu was exactly like the Marie Callender's we have down the street at home, except the prices have been jacked up a bit for the more fancy decor. You get the same dry corn bread. I checked out the salad bar and it looked wilted and hardly fresh. The kids had burgers and we had salads off the menu. The food was okay, but nothing special. It was a Marie Callender’s and nothing more. The one good thing about it are the yummy pies, that are their trademark.
It looked to me like an attempt to upscale Marie Callender’s, but the attempt was failing miserably. There was a baby grand piano with no body playing, about one tenth of the tables had people sitting in them, the wait staff was always hard to find and busy, it indeed seemed understaffed. My grandfather had an expression that seemed to fit Callenders: "You can put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig." They may call this place Callender's, but it's still Marie Callender's.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on April 25, 2004
5773 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90036
+1 323 937 7952
We were running late and had to get from Westwood to Hollywood. Our internet directions suggested 18 minutes. However driving through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood the traffic sucked. It took us nearly an hour! We were panicked and pulled into the garage at Hollywood and Highland at 8:00pm for an 8:00pm curtain time! No problem. We paid the extra money and did valet parking, we were right at the theatre door. We got to our seats just in time for the overture!
I now had time to relax and look around. WOW, this place was a gem. Our seats were great, comfortable and cushy. I wondered who sat in it during the recent Academy Awards?
Honestly, the play was rotten. A high school troupe could have done a better job and had better voices.
It was the theatre building that had me in awe. Yes, the Academy Awards are now held here, along with other wonderful theatre events during the year. The theatre is new but feels old and a part of the Hollywood community. It's plush, rich and elegant. It has wonderful details like smoked glass, fabric and modern lighting.
The lobby bar is fast and efficient, and we peeked into a VIP room, which looked like a private club. All very elegant and worth seeing anything showing just to get a feel for this wonderful place.
I saw in the program they offer guided tours each day from 10:30am to 2:30pm. Information on the tours can be had from the web page at Kodak Theatre. If we had enough time I would have loved take one of these tours.
The theatre is located right behind Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the new Hollywood Center. It's fun to walk out as this area of town is now alive and full of life. When we walked out, the “Kill Bill” premiere was just letting out. It was fun to see all the hoopla and stars leaving the theatre. The night felt VERY Hollywood!
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90028
Attraction | "La Brea Tar Pits (Page Museum)"
You enter the main building, which is a low-rise square building. The hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm each day. The cost is $7.00 for adults and $2.00 for kids.
The first thing off the lobby is a theater with a very simple movie that explains what happened here and why there is a such a wealth of fossils at this sight. It's a good first start for the rest of museum. The museum is small with lots of bones of sabre-tooth tigers, Mammoth and other Ice Age animals (no dinosaur). One exhibit the kids love is trying to pull out a metal can from the sticky, pully tar - it's harder than it looks!
There are also anthropologists still working here and they can be viewed cleaning and cataloging bones and fossils. It’s very well done. The story is simple and you really understand the place by spending an hour here.
There is a great gift shop with some fun learning tools for kids. The staff is friendly and helpful and will answer any questions you may have on the pits.
There is plenty of street parking around the pits. The area was once a little dicey but now seems very safe. You will never be able to spend a whole day at the pits (not enough to see), but you can combine with LACMA, which is next door, and have a nice balance of science and art!
More information about the Tar Pits can be found at Tar Pits.
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90036
The park is easy to reach from LA, and the parking is not a hassle. Heck, it's LA, so you can even get valet parking at the park! The lines are not as long as Disney; this was spring break, and we only waited at the front gate for 5 minutes to buy tickets.
We opted for the $79 Frontline Passes, which seems a little rude, but we feel that they were worth EVERY penny. Basically, it allows you to CUT IN THE FRONT OF ANY LINE! You never wait more than a few minutes, and for the shows you are in first and get the prime pick of seats!
The tram ride is still the best. You go through the Backlot and see real movie sets. This day nothing was in production, but in the past, movie stars have walked up to the trams to shake hands. There are a few thrills, like Jaws jumping out at the tram and King Kong trying to tip over the tram, but overall it's about movie-making and the guides have a lot of cool facts to share. The typical characters roam the park; you will see anyone from Sponge Bob to the Marx brothers. We enjoyed our day. It's not as high-tech as Disney and is more about the shows than rides. The kids loved the Spiderman show the best. It's a mix of gymnastics and hip-hop. I have to admit that the guy who played Spiderman was pretty impressive as he swung around the stage on a rope. They are really well produced and are something the kids and the parents can enjoy together.
We also advise that you splurge for the Frontline Pass--it's worth every penny and will allow you to be in shows, not waiting in lines. Check out more information at Universal Studios.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 25, 2004
Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, California 91608
(818) 864 837-725