2 days in California near LA area

Old Jan 30th, 2017, 08:05 AM
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2 days in California near LA area

Hi - My husband and I are travelling to LA at the end of February and will have 2 days (or 3 days TBC) to spend in and around the LA area. Would love some suggestions! He is not a museum kind of guy and we aren't really keen on taking in any beaches as we live in the Caribbean. We love window shopping and would love some sort of adventure. I would love to rent a car and drive the Pacific Coast but I understand that takes more than a few days. As you can see I am totally clueless about what to do and I have always reverted to Fodors for everyone's amazing tips and travel advice. TIA.
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 08:16 AM
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Santa Monica has excellent window shopping. A fairly close drive would make it possible to kayak the sea caves at Channel Islands. But that would pretty much take a full day.
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 09:06 AM
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You could rent a car and drive to Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Point Mugu, through the Santa Monica Mountains, along Mulholland Drive, down the Sunset Strip, along Sunset Bouvelard, etc.

Stay on major city roads. Don't be in a hurry. Get a good map of LA and surroundings.

There are free public parking garages in Santa Monica and in Rodeo Drive, and both have great window shopping.

The Warner Brothers Studio tour used to be a big treat, but the last time we went to Warner Brothers we were greatly disappointed by the bum's rush and an ignorant guide. I suggest the Paramount Studio Tour.

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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 10:21 AM
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If you have 3 days I don't see why you can't drive up the pacific Coast to Carmel with an overnight Cambria and one in Carmel and then drive inland back to LA (about a 6 hour drive).
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 11:47 AM
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With only 2 or maybe 3 days you do not have time for Highway 1 (only called PCH from Santa Barbara south).
Window shopping - Rodeo Drive (I once paid $300 for a scarf for my mother). Only a few blocks long.
Drive up to Malibu for a small taste of the coast, stop at Leo Carrillo and the tide pools, stop for lunch somewhere (Duke's is nice for ocean views and Hawaiian vibe, others like Malibu Country Mart).
Hubs might not like museums but he might like the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Huntington Library and Gardens is nice but might not be at its best that time of year.
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 06:44 PM
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Your title says "near LA area." Do you know where you're staying?

In Santa Monica, I prefer Montana Avenue rather than the more-often-mentioned Third Street Promenade, although the Wednesday farmers' market nearby (Arizona Street) is probably the best in SoCal.

Also Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice if your tastes run a little bohemian or Melrose and Robertson Avenues for famous labels a bit edgier than Rodeo Drive.

And Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for a nice walk-and-shop-and-eat experience if the weather's nice.

Others will probably mention The Grove and Americana malls, and perhaps the Westfield Century City mall. Maybe I'm not a big enough fan of shopping, but I dislike malls.
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Old Jan 31st, 2017, 06:57 AM
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I dislike malls too, but if you're going to go to one, the Grove is great!
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Old Jan 31st, 2017, 07:14 AM
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If you like the Grove, the Americana is similar (same developer) but bigger, more shops, and feels less claustrophobic.
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Old Jan 31st, 2017, 07:19 AM
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It's very busy in February but driving out to the Palm Springs area is another option and maybe some different scenery. Along the way you pass the Cabazon Outlets which have a lot of the brand designer stores (for actual shopping rather than window). For retail window shopping, El Paseo in Palm Desert.

It is about a 2 or 3 hour drive from the greater LA area, so come back to LA the night before your onward flight (assuming you will be on short layover).
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 10:31 AM
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A couple of thoughts:

Downtown Pasadena. You can get to it on the Gold Line. Colorado Blvd. is lined with shops and restaurants, and it has that small town vibe even though it's not. Pity your husband doesn't like museums, because I'd recommend the Norton Simon museum that is right there (and you see the outside of it if you watch the Rose Parade). The impressionistic art there is magnificent!

Expo Line pub crawl and/or Downtown LA. The Expo Line start (or ends) at 4th Street & Colorado, Santa Monica, 4 blocks from the Santa Monica Pier, and 1 block from the Third Street Promenade. Lots of shops, restaurants, and bars. It ends at 7th Street, downtown, where you can catch the red line to Union Station. If you get out at Union Station, you can explore the station itself, with its mission revival and art deco architecture, or walk over to Olvera Street. If you get out at 7th, you're smack in the middle of the tasteful restoration of many 1900 era buildings and entertainment centers. Close to the newly renovated Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway, and renovated Grand Central Market that was established back in 1917, and is hugely popular today. Buildings such as the Bradbury Bldg that opened in 1893 . . . you have to go inside and see what it's all about . . . also on Broadway, and the numerous theatres up and down the street that have all been beautifully restored and are now home to some of the best music concerts, from Van Morrison to Patti Smith or Echo & the Bunnymen. These include Theatre at the Ace Hotel, the Mayan, the Palace, and the Orpheum.


From 7th, you can easily walk to Pershing Square, and have a drink and/or meal at Perch, or its below level bar, Mrs. Fish (the latter, open evenings only).

If you get off at Civic Center, you will be surrounded by two courthouses (civil and criminal), the iconic City Hall (actually, during weekdays, a great place to check out the inside)
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 10:40 AM
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Hopefully the OP isn't sitting waiting for an email from Fodors that there are responses to het thread ??
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 12:06 PM
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Surfergirl mentioned a pub crawl along the Expo Line (metro).

I think this one along the Red Line (metro) sounds great too. It extends from downtown, through Hollywood, to the San Fernando Valley, and you could include the other downtown sights she mentioned. DTLA is easily explored using the DASH bus.


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