Ok this is my 3rd and last trip report from our California trip.
LOS ANGELES WARNER BROS STUDIO HOLLYWOOD
We were lucky and got to stay with my husband's aunt and cousins while in L.A. They have lived there for 30 years but still got lost and took wrong turns driving us around! The freeways were always busy even Sunday night at 10 p.m.
We got there Friday night and ate with them in Glendale. We also switched our rental vehicle there from a minivan to a cheaper Impala after the 1 week mark to save money. A one-way rental SFO to a Glendale hotel was cheaper than carrying it all the way to San Diego to drop off. We dropped off the Impala Wed at the San Diego airport. That combo was cheaper than one the whole way.
WARNER BROS STUDIO TOUR
Saturday morning we headed out to Warner Bros Studios for a tour. My cousin-in-law works there so we found it easily. There is a tour parking lot you can use. Don't forget they require a photo i.d. for adults. I realized I had left mine in another bag and panicked but luckily she got me in as an employee guest. We bought coffee in the Starbucks in the gift shop and they gave us a 10% coupon for the store. It might be worth a $2 coffee to buy a lot of merchandise. The store is small though. The tickets were $42.00 each plus tax and a transaction fee. A lot of Saturday slots were reserved so we had to get a 12pm one. That was fine because we stayed up late Friday.
The tour is about 2 1/2 hours long and mostly a tram ride. Each seats fit 3 adults but will be a tight squeeze for large people. Our guide asked us which shows we liked. He tried to talk about them if he could. On a Saturday, you won't get to see workers milling about like the weekdays. He said that is ok b/c you never see the actors anyway. Plus on a Saturday there are fewer restrictions on places he can take you since no one is working. A photo of your group is included with a Hogwarts train superimposed onto it.
Here is what we saw/ learned about:
Pretty Little Liars Sets
Big Bang Theory Sets and taping area
outdoor jungle area used in other studios' movies too
pretend town square and shops
pretend residential street
small museum with Harry Potter exhibit and a few tv shows and old movies
(you only have 15 minutes in this museum though so walk fast)
Props building with props to be rented: furniture, lighting, art etc. (I loved this section)
the Friends cafe set Central Perk
hangar with 10 cars from movies and your green screen for your photo
Photos were allowed everywhere except the museum and the Big Bang taping area.
Unfortunately, they didn't talk about movies too much and we didn't get to see inside any of the sound stages used for movies. I would recommend it though as it was interesting and our tour guide was funny.
POQUITO MAS BAJA TACO RESTAURANT NEAR WARNER BROS
My cousin in law eats here at their studio location(for studio employees) but there is also one a few miles from the studio. It was good, had fast service, and we ate outside under a roof. Traffic was quiet on a Saturday. They have fish tacos but other items as well. My son's tostado looked really good and big. They have about 8 dipping sauces. We liked it and we didn't waste too much time either. They have more locations around L.A.
HOLLYWOOD GRAUMAN'S CHINESE THEATER
Next my cousin in law drove us past the Hollywood Bowl and the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are held. We found a parking deck which was $8.00. If you buy something at the pharmacy or shoe store you can get 1 hr or 2 hrs free.
We walked to Grauman's and took photos of the hand prints and footprints. We also took some photos of the stars on the sidewalk. This area is similar to Times Square in New York. It is crowded with lots of stores around and people selling you things. For a few dollars you can get a photo with a costumed person. Some costumes were lame and some were cool.
Across the street, in the old Max Factor Building, is this museum. It costs $15 a person. It has some old glamour products displays and Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe exhibits. I wanted to try it but didn't realize it was so close on this day. (We found it the next day LOL) My kids weren't interested. The parking there is awful! They barely have any room and the man wants to hold your keys...weird. If you do go, just use the parking deck across the street near Grauman's. Hollywood High School is right near here too and has actors painted all across the front.
HOLLYWOOD HERITAGE MUSEUM
This is a small museum across from the Hollywood Bowl. It is $7 I think. It has a lot of Cecile B Demille's old equipment and collection. It could be good for old movie buffs. We didn't get to go in it though.
Next we drove through Beverly Hills looking for mansions. We rode down the streets you always see in movies lined with tall Palm trees. I stopped to get a homes of the stars map (hokey I know but I am more interested in the 40s and 50s era). She tried to charge $25 and sell it up but when I told her no, she gave me last year's version for $10.00.
We found Jimmy Stewart's and Lucille Ball's houses. Next we rode through Rodeo Drive twice. We didn't have any extra money to shop there so we didn't get out.
My boys looooved all of the luxury sports cars we kept passing. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, Maseratis, Audi R8s etc. (Yes they watch Top Gear on BBC). The funny thing is that it is a fad in L.A. to buy an $80,000 car and put a matte black finish on it. It makes it look like those people that don't have money for a real paint job. Our friend who works at a luxury car dealer there said it is becoming more common.
MULLHOLLAND DRIVE OVERLOOKS
Next, we rode up into the Hollywood Hills. We found the Mullholland Drive (over the Hollywood Bowl) overlook which has about 10 parking spaces. Look up this page for the overlook locations.
The sun had just set and all of the lights were coming on. There is a double set of stairs to get up to the telescopes. You can see the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory from there. It could be romantic for a couple at night. The lights are very pretty. Note they close the parking lot gates around 8:30 p.m. so don't be too late. You could park on the roadside right past it though and see a similar view but not quite as high if the gates are closed.
We just ate sandwiches back at the cousin's house since she got turned around a little bit and we got home after 9 pm.
Yes we do love art museums, history and science museums etc. but I just wanted to do the things we can't find in other cities, especially for my first trip. I love old movies and movie star stuff.
Next: Santa Monica and Venice Beach and Griffith Observatory and Disneyland
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Los Angeles (Hollywood), San Diego Zoo, San Francisco Alcatraz July 2012
Ok this is my 3rd and last trip report from our California trip.