Top 3 things to do in Los Angeles for the off-beat traveler
My heart yearns to reach for the stars, an ache that even the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or a close encounter with the stars at Madame Tussauds cant quench. My heart yearns to touch the sky, an ache that the summit of the Hollywood Hills cant quench. Today my heart yearns to take a leap, for the glitz in the neon on Hollywood Boulevard, the million lights I see from atop Griffith Observatory, and the gazillion stars I wonder at through the telescope tell me that my yearning will finally be quenched. Such is the lure of Los Angeles, the city of Angels; it leaves everyone it meets, wanting for more. There is much more to this city than the lure of Hollywood, and I am ecstatic that I got to experience everything!
1. Hike the Hollywood Sign
I had my heart set on the ever-elusive Hollywood sign, emblematic of the dreams of every Hollywood hopeful who comes to the city. I realized very quickly that scaling Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills to reach the sign would prove almost as hard as getting a part in a movie! (No offense to anyone who is struggling to land his or her dream job, it’s just that I’m not athletic!) I kid you not, I struggled through the 1.5 hour climb, and I was at the back of the pack throughout most of the climb, telling myself “please don’t collapse, please don’t collapse”.
We stopped along the way for pictures of the sign from great vantage points, and continued our climb to what felt like ‘my Everest’. Some experiences change you for life, and this was one such experience for me.
The view from behind the Hollywood sign was spectacular; it was as though all of Los Angeles was at my feet. While the chatter of the group melted away with the cool evening breeze, the setting sun was the perfect backdrop for me, slouched on a rock and still gasping for air, to gulp down my large bottle of water.
As tired as I was, I finally understood why hikers hike! And that is the day I went from a novice, never waking up just to walk and get dirty- type of person, to an avid hiker, still unfit, but always up for the hike as long as it promises a gorgeous view at the end!
2. Walk down Hollywood Boulevard at night.
The sights of street performers & bright neon, the sounds of people screaming in delight, (and in fright of the man with the giant snake!), and the smells of lip smacking street food are just the few lures of Hollywood Boulevard at nightfall.
I love walking down the Hollywood walk of fame pretending to be surprised by the friendly banter between Batman, Superman, Spiderman, & WonderWoman. (maybe they know how the Joker got the scars on his face?)
If taking a picture with a superhero isn’t your thing, go for the music and dance styling of artists waiting to be discovered in this city of dreamers. As the musicians and dancers set up shop at dusk, food vendors fire up their barbecues and a heady smell of hot dogs, burgers, corn on the cob, bacon and everything else I missed out on, fill the air.
It feels like all the tourists in LA are on Hollywood Boulevard at night, which just makes the place come alive with the sounds of the world. I should say that spotting your favourite celebrity’s star on the Walk of Fame is a lot easier during the day, but I found some parts of Hollywood Boulevard a bit underwhelming considering the hype there is about it the world over. The upkeep of the area and the shops on some parts of the road could be better.
Tourist attractions on Hollywood Boulevard
Having said that, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a fun place to be day or night, the Chinese theatre, Madame Tussauds, Ripleys Believe it or Not, the Disney store, the El Capitan theatre, the taping location of Jimmy Kimmel Live, & Ghirardelli store are just some of the big names on the street.
3. Catch the best view of Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory
If ever you wanted to wish upon a thousand stars in the night sky, or see the Christmas lights in the summer, head to Griffith Observatory. Los Angeles is beautiful at night, and you get a front row seat to the stunning views of the city all lit up from atop Griffith Park.
How to get to Griffith Observatory
-The easiest way to get to the Observatory is by public bus- the DASH Observatory bus from Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line station.
-If you want to make a day of your whole observatory experience, or if you want the views and the city lights to be a little more gratifying, you can hike from the trails originating from Fern Dell, or the Greek Theatre.
-You can also cycle across Griffith Park to the Observatory along the paved park roads. (Griffith Park hiking maps-hyperlink).
Star gazing through the public telescopes on the lawn might invoke the poet or the philosopher within you, for true beauty brings poetry to the layman’s lips.
Los Angeles has a lot more to offer, follow me to my next great experience in Part 2, where I explore El Pueblo, and search for hidden works of street art in Downtown LA- the Arts District!