A March 2006 trip
to Los Angeles by cr008k
Quote: My exciting visit to Los Angeles and Hollywood.
This hotel is really conveniently located. Wilshire Boulevard is one of the main roads - it runs throughout the Westwood Boulevard / Santa Monica area (along with Santa Monica) giving you great access to the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, and the Grove shopping area. There is also an entrance to the 405 right on Wilshire Boulevard, and for those who are familiar with LA - once you get on the 405 you can merge onto pretty much any of the other freeways and get pretty much anywhere you want to go. If you stay here, you are pretty close to both Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, which are the two main places that you will probably want to spend your time visiting in Los Angeles.Wilshire Boulevard itself is kind of a busy street so you aren't really going to be hanging out outside your hotel or probably walking anywhere (of course no one walks in LA anyway so that's pretty irrelevant).
Other than the location, the hotel itself was nice. It's not a chain hotel so you get a little bit more individuality and a little bit more character. The hotel is sort of a charming building with a lot of nice detail. The rooms are nice, they come with the standard 2 double bed, hotel artwork, expensive minibar stuff. The lobbies and common areas of the hotel are where it really stands out from other hotels you might stay in - they are quite well decorated and feel almost too regal for what you pay for the room.
The hotel staff are friendly and nice (as much as anyone in LA is) and will offer you help, guidance or suggestions on where to go. There aren't any tours or anything offered through the hotel so if you want that you will have to arrange it on your own (although I think the tour of the Hollywood stars home does pick up there if you arrange it through the tour company). The price is good, especially for the fact that you are getting a nice hotel that is conveniently located.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 14, 2006
Wilshire Grand Los Angeles
930 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90017
Hotel | "Emporium Thai Cafe"
I discovered this restaurant on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles and it was absolutely fantastic! It's kind of a small place, with about 15-20 tables. It's not usually crowded in the restaurant though (except perhaps a bit at the dinner hour). I went at about 4 in the afternoon and did not have reservations and walked right in and got a table.The staff are friendly and the restaurant is clean (it got an A in its board of health inspection). The food is reasonably priced (entrées range from about $6-$10 depending on what you order). The portions are large (I had enough to take some of my meal home with me as did the person I went with). The food came pretty quickly, we did not have to wait a long time for it to come and it was hot and good.
They have a great selection of typical Thai favorites (pad Thai, chefs specials, etc.) as well as some sushi rolls and some other speciality items. I would recommend the emporium fried rice - it's a chef's special and has beef and chicken and really good friend rice and is served with a little side of tomato and cucumber. The appetizer beef salad is also really good - it has a very flavorful sauce and generous portions of beef. The chefs special pad Thai with shrimp and chicken is also quite good, although perhaps a bit skimpy on the shrimp (you only get 2).
Overall everything I've had there has been good and I've been happy. When you can get a delicious dinner for 2 and still have leftovers for under $20 I'm always happy. They also have a website and you can order online and delivery is free if you order over $10 worth of food (and fast too - I ordered online for delivery and it came within half an hour at lunch time). Overall definitely try this restaurant if you are in the westwood area!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 14, 2006
Emporium Thai Cuisine
1275 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Attraction | "Manns Chinese Theatre"
Outside of Manns Chinese Theatre you can see all the footprints and handprints of the famous stars. This can be kind of crowded, especially if you go during prime tourist season or prime tourist time. It was a little crowded for us and we had to wait a little while to get our pictures taken with Marilyn Monroe's handprints. The more popular the star, the more tourists taking pictures—that is to be expected. It is nice that you do not have to pay to try out the handprints and take the pictures and see if you fit in with the stars prints. They even have Lassie's pawprints there—which was really fun.
You can also pay extra to tour the theatre. This is kind of cool because you get to walk around inside and see the historical stuff and the movie memorabilia. There was also a sort of art gallery type thing inside but that wasn't that great.
They also have movies and movie premieres there and the seats are very comfortable if you can get into a movie or a premiere. You also can maybe see movie stars, or so I have heard, although we did not see any movie stars on the day we were there.
I definitely recommend a visit. You should at least try out the handprints and footprints. Try to go later in the day so it will not be as crowded, or if you get to visit LA in the off-seasons (whenever they are—maybe in the summer when it is much hotter and less comfortable there). I don't know if I would spend the money for the tour of inside, unless you are really into the old movie stuff or seeing a movie, or want to imagine you are a movie star going to a fancy premiere.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 6, 2006
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
Attraction | "Venice Beach"
But Venice Beach is so much more than just a beach. You can walk the length of the beach and see great shopping and art galleries and entertainment and restaurants. The restaurants all seemed fairly reasonably priced, and we ate at a cute little place with delicious french fries that wasn't expensive at all and was right off the boardwalk. There are a lot of unique shops with stuff to buy that doesn't look like it came from a department store—more artsy and cool and not that expensive. You can buy boutique type shirts—I bought a green shirt with ties and sequins and it only cost me about $25 which was a very good price I thought. It's nice because it is stuff you won't find everywhere. There are also little art galleries and things that you can go into and browse local art—a great experience and great way to kill an afternoon.
It's fun to people watch there as well—there are lots of artsy young kids on the boardwalk and you can watch the surfers in the water doing their fancy tricks and be impressed.
Overall, I'd highly recommend that you visit—even if you are not a beach person there is so much more to it with the shopping and the art and the people watching and the surfers. It's a true Los Angeles experience and no trip to LA is complete without a visit. Best of all, if you just walk around and don't buy anything, it doesn't cost you any money (although if you want to park close and you get there a little later in the day you might have a hard time finding a parking spot, or you might have to pay to park.)
Venice City Beach
1531 Ocean Front Walk
Los Angeles, California 90291
Attraction | "Rodeo Drive"
Beverly Hills/Rodeo Drive Shopping District
Rodeo Drive (and surrounding area)
Los Angeles, California 90210
I visited both Venice Beach and this beach at the Santa Monica Boardwalk. I far far preferred this beach. First of all it was less crowded and there were mostly families and other people swimming - there wasn't the same crowd as at Venice Beach at all. And where Venice beach has people selling this and acrobats doing tricks and stuff, this is just a nice quiet beach where you can walk along and put your feet in the water.
When I say quiet though, I don't by any means mean to suggest that it is boring - it is not. Far from it. There is a great boardwalk there with tons to do. There are rides for kids including a merry go round. There are restaurants - a Mexican restaurant on the edge of the pier overlooking the water, a few places with seafood and seafood soups, and then casual little places to get cotton candy and ice cream and other boardwalk fare. There are souvenir shops and little fun places where you can get trinkets or get your picture taken. Overall the boardwalk is a great place to walk around, especially if you have kids. It's also beautiful at sunset to see the sun over the water. It's relaxing and a great place, way better then Venice beach. You can even see fishermen fishing off the side.
There is also lots of great stuff to do in the blocks surrounding the boardwalk as well. There are tons of shops and little restaurants and stuff. Al Fornio, a fantastic Italian restaurant, is practically across the street from the beach. There is a mall with the typical mall-type stores (Saks, Macy's, etc.) and a bunch of other stores dotting the streets (mostly big name stores that you have heard of - no boutique kind of shopping here).
Overall Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding area is a great place to spend an afternoon. There's something to do there for everyone whether you have kids who want to ride on the merry-go-round, a girl who likes to shop, a guy who likes to fish, or people who like to sit on the beach and look at the beauty that surrounds you.
Santa Monica Pier
Ocean and Colorado Avenues
Santa Monica, California 90401
Attraction | "The Grove"
The Grove is one of the most amazing, elegant, upscale shopping centers I have ever been to. It's technically a mall but it's a mall Los Angeles style, unlike malls that I have ever been to anywhere else in the world. It's beautifully manicured, there is lush greenery and lovely palm trees. The floors are marble-like and there are some neat architectural details. Walking around here, you can feel the rich design and feel the wealth and prestige. The stores themselves are also wonderful. Everything is represented here - all the big name, big expensive designers. Most of this is out of my budget, but it's still fun to look at Prada Bags and drool over Gucci shoes. You can check out the big department stores here too, there is a wonderful Nieman Marcus.
There are also some stores that are a bit more in the affordable range. There is a J. Crew, a Banana Republic and other stores of this nature. There aren't really "cheap" stores, i.e. no Forever 21 or stores like that though, but these J. Crew type places can seem like budget options after a look at the price tags in Gucci. There's also an absolutely fantastic food selection here - way better than any typical mall food court. There are some nice restaurants including Maggianos which, although it is a chain restaurant, has delicious and somewhat upscale Italian food. You get large portions and the price is good but it still feels like it has a nice atmosphere.
There are restaurants and stores in this mall that offer valet parking, but if you prefer to park the car yourself there is free parking in the large parking garage adjacent to the mall.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 18, 2006
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, California 90036
Attraction | "The J. Paul Getty Center"
This is one of the most amazing museums I have ever been too. First of all, it is kind of like up in the hills/mountain overlooking the city so you can take this little tram and you get a really amazing view of Los Angeles (although it would be more amazing if you didn't have the 405 at your feet sort of marring your view as you look at all the traffic). The museum itself is beautifully designed - the architecture is amazing and there is tons of glass and modern and unique and amazing features of the museum. You really feel like it is awe-inspiring when you first see it and you feel like you are stepping inside an architectural masterpiece.
Once you come inside you will not be disappointed in the selection of art that is available. There is a very wide selection of modern arts - you can enjoy Pollaks, Picassos, Warhols, everyone and everything you can imagine. You can also see more traditional art - there are many different wings of the museum and there is something to please every different art lover. There are also some fabulous sculptures and other things so everyone should be able to find something they find beautiful.
There is parking here and it doesn't cost a great deal. Admission is not expensive, especially for children under 12. In addition, on some Tuesdays admission to the museum is free to encourage people to come and check it out so if you are able to plan your trip for a Tuesday I recommend you check the Getty website to see if that particular day is a free day. I think it is the first Tuesday of every month but I could be wrong. Either way it is definitely worth the admission price - you could spend a whole afternoon there and not get bored or run out of things to look at. You can also have lunch at the cafe - it is really good food for a museum and they have a nice selection, especially rich on appetizers type foods and salads - I recommend the chicken Caesar or the bruschetta.
Overall, I highly recommend a visit to the Getty for the afternoon. Just beware of the potential for traffic, as the 405 is one of the more populated freeways of Los Angeles so if you go on a busy day it might take you a long time to get there. I rate this as one of my all time favorite museums in the United States and I am sure you will not be disappointed. They also have special traveling exhibits which give you an opportunity to experience even more art than they already have in the permanent collection.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 24, 2007
The Getty Center/J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Brentwood, Los Angeles 90049
Little Tokyo is a series of streets in downtown Los Angeles which consist of a lot of different Japanese restaurants. At first when I came here I was kind of disappointed because I was expecting something more like Chinatown in San Francisco—I was expecting tons and tons of shops selling merchandise from Japan, lively bustling streets filled with merchants, and tourists and an endless array of restaurants with people handing out flyers desperate to get you to choose their delicacies. It was not like that at all. It was just a series of streets with restaurants and one or two shops and mostly apartment buildings—it almost seemed more like a residential area, albeit one heavily populated with Japenese restaurants. However, I've eaten at a few different restaurants there and I'm no longer disappointed because pretty much everything I've eaten there has been delicious.
I'm picky about Japanese food and I've tried three different restaurants and eaten all different things from soup to sushi and everything has been good. You can pretty much come down here and walk around and find any place to eat that suits your fancy and be delighted with it. The atmosphere in all the different restaurants is good and authentic and you rarely have to wait more than a few mintues to be able to get a seat—we haven't really had to wait at all when we went for lunch. Most of the restaurants also have different specials going on.There are also a few shops that we've found sort of hidden away which sell art and chopsticks and sushi plates and different things like that.Overall, I would recommend you visit here. There are going to be great restaurants and a few shops, just don't be expecting an amazing and bustling commerce district because then you will be disappointed. Parking is easy—there are a lot of different parking lots—but it is not free. If you drive around for a little bit you will be able to find a $5 all day lot and then it won't be bad if you walk around for a little while and have a leisurely meal at any one of the many delicious restaurants.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 25, 2007
San Francisco, California