Los Angeles.

5 nights, 6 days.

Hotel –
Jerry’s Motel, Downtown LA, Lucas Av & 3rd St. Clean, affordable, has all you need. Free car park space. Get a welcome gift with some snacks and drinks in. In your room they provide a folder with all the information you need for the area and lots of leaflets to look through. Rated highly on trip advisor which is how I found it. $90/£58 per night.
http://www.jerrysmotel.com/m/hotel-sitemap.html

Activities –
Firstly i’ll say LA is big and it is busy. You need a car, it’s spread out so its easier/cheaper if you can drive yourself about, BUT, there can be a lot of traffic at any time of day, so make sure you allow plenty of time for journeys, even if its only a couple of miles. Try also to look your journey up before leaving as my sat nav system always wanted to take us I the freeway which is where the traffic was worst.

We started our time here with a bus tour. I like to do this in each area to get a feel for the place and try to figure out where things are. It’s also useful for learning bits and pieces about the places. If you go on tripadvisor they rank tours based on customer satisfaction for companies all over the world. This is how we found ‘A Day in LA’ on a rastabus.
http://www.adayinlatours.com/

The tour was $79 for adults and $69 for children. The buses are small minivans and you are provided with fruit and water. Our tour guide was Brad, real friendly, funny and knowledgable. I took the stroller and he put it in the front every time we were on the bus.

This is what the tour covers;
Start the day in Malibu with a drive to the pier and surfrider beach. Hop off for half an hour.
Drive up Sunset Blvd. through Brentwood, Bel Air and Beverly Hills and check out a few of the stars’ homes
Then we went to Rodeo Drive, the super expensive famous shopping street. Hop off for half an hour.
Then onto lunch at the Farmers Market at the Grove. Off bus for an hour and a half.
Drive up to Griffith Park for photos of the Hollywood sign and views of the downtown L.A. skyline. Hop off for half hour.
Take a walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame and see the beautiful Chinese Theatre, where the celebrity hand and foot prints are and Dolby Theatre (aka Kodak Theatre) where the Oscars are held! Off bus for half hour.
Check out the historic Whiskey, Viper Room and Roxy music clubs.
Back to Santa Monica for sunset.

So it stops five times but your driver comes with you which is nice as you don’t have to worry about waiting for the next bus. Things like Rodeo Drive and the Walk of Fame would be a pain to park at as they are busy and expensive so hopping off on the tour was perfect for us. Although half an hour sounds short, down Rodeo Drive you need appointments to go in most shops and the Walk of Fame is very busy and quite tacky so get a few snaps and go!

We brought cheap last minute tickets for a Dodgers Baseball game. $25 a ticket. Always a good evening out. Can be long but you are free to leave as and when you want to. Car parking $10. Hot ‘Dodger’ dogs $5. Can also take snacks in.

We also spent one evening at the Hollywood Bowl. Brought tickets that night for $11 each! You can also get ones for $2 but they were sold out. Take a picnic with you or eat there. Car parking is $15. But once your in you cannot leave until the show is done. We saw the LA Philharmonic orchestra. Not mine or Faye’s first choice of music, but we wanted to experience the venue – an outdoor amphitheatre holding well over 20,000 people. Can seethe Hollywood sign from your seats. You can still see in a $2 seat, not like in England if you pay for a cheap seat you will be sat behind a pillar and won’t see a thing. They do all sorts of shows. Ours lasted two hours with a 15 minute interval. The only thing to watch with children is that when the music is on, absolutely no talking is allowed, it is silent in the audience. I had read this beforehand and packed plenty of snacks and colouring books to keep Faye occupied, but to my surprise she actually quite enjoyed it and spent the whole second half dancing along to the classical music, in silence of course! Can get a bit chilly over there so pack a jumper and a blanket.

Beaches –
So the tour took us to Malibu and Santa Monica, both nice beaches, however I also wanted to check out Venice Beach/Muscle Beach – well I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s tacky, touristy and dirty. Saw cops arresting people on the beach. Lots of homeless people begging for money as well. On the upside the children’s playground was nice and Faye met lots of friends and the large skate park is good to go and watch for half an hour. I’d recommend Will Rodgers Beach it is one up from Santa Monica Beach, $8 to park there a day and its nice and quiet. It’s has no shops or anything so pack a picnic. Our tour guide told us this beach is used a lot for movies because its so quiet. The Santa Monica Beach is host to the Annenberg Community Beach House, which is a beach house that was donated by the Annenberg family to the City for public use. This has a pool and changing rooms, children’s play area and a cafe as well as a guest house which presents the history of the building. Nice stop off. One afternoon we also used one of the City’s public swimming pools, there is loads open in the summer, around $2 for an adult, under 17s swim free. List of all pools can be found on LA City Councils website.

Favourite spots –
Griffith Park for its views – big difference from hustle and bustle of the city.
Santa Monica – Much nicer beach and shopping area
Hollywood Bowl

Advise for LA first timers –
Start with a tour of some sort, this place is HUGE and I felt I was going round in circles most of the time.
Buy a detailed map with all road names on, cannot always rely on the sat nav.
Allow plenty of time to get to places.
Keep plenty of drinks and snacks with you at all times when travelling with children here.

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