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California/LA first time


I won a trip to X-Games at the Staple Center Aug-1-5. They will probably have us stay near there, maybe Marriott. Looking for things to see & do, places to eat, etc.. Trying to avoid renting a car and driving in LA traffic. We are in our 50's, but active. Not afraid to walk.

Syracuse, NY

Hi Roger,

I get the fact that you'd like to walk. However, this is not New York or San Francico, which have well-established public transit and more compact areas. Unfortunately, LA is spread out, and the public transit rails were torn up 70 years ago by the companies that make cars and tires.

That leaves you with the choice of renting a car and driving, or taking some very slow and long bus trips. For example, it's 36 miles between Universal Studios and Disneyland. You could drive it in 45 minutes if you leave early, or take a bus that takes 3 hours. There is limited train service to Anaheim, and you could find yourself stranded if you miss the last train which leaves early in the evening.

If you limit yourself to the areas covered by the subway, you could have a decent time. However, that will not include any beaches, and would only get you to Universal Studios. Other venues include the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Olvera Street, and Staples Center.

I would go by the adage, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". Or, in this case, Angelinos.  

There are literally hundreds of things to do here in LA. Here is my list of “must sees”. Visit as many as you have time for:

Disneyland: The Happiest Place on Earth. Half a billion visitors can’t be wrong. #1 Destination.
Universal Studios: A theme park that grew out of a studio tour. #2 Destination.
Even if you don’t visit Disneyland or Universal Studios Tour, Downtown Disney District and Universal City Walk are very fun places to visit for shopping and eating. And they’re free to visit. If you’re adventurous, try the indoor skydiving ( It’s a blast!

Hollywood: Enjoy the Walk of Fame, Entertainment Museum, Chinese Theatre and more. The Hollywood & Highland complex has lots of shops and restaurants, and the Kodak Theater. The El Capitan theater, right across the street, is where Disney shows their movies. And the Hollywood Bowl is a GREAT place to listen to concerts outdoors.

Other theme parks include Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain, which are both more geared towards the fast-ride teen crowd.

Olvera Street/Union Station: Olvera Street is the birthplace of LA, and it emphasizes our Mexican heritage. In addition to the Avila Adobe (oldest building in LA), you can eat at some pretty good Mexican Restaurants, do a little shopping, and taste a churro. If you don’t want to go to Tijuana, this is as close as it gets without going there

Rodeo Drive, 90210: Packed with exclusive shops, full of gawkers. They all came to enjoy the excess. Free, unless you intend to buy something.

Venice Beach: Here you'll find Muscle Beach, street performers and tacky shops galore. Fun, VERY interesting, but I avoid it after dark, when it gets a little TOO interesting for my taste.

Santa Monica: Beach and Pier: Great beach scene and a classic seaside amusement park, complete with antique carousel that has been in a lot of TV and movies. After visiting the pier, you can ride a bike south a couple miles to Venice Beach.

Sunset Boulevard began as a route between the stars' posh neighborhoods and the Hollywood studios. It runs from downtown to the ocean, passing through the "Sunset Strip" on its way.

Farmers Market and The Grove - A new shopping complex right next to a Los Angeles landmark, It is right next to CBS. They are currently shooting “Extra” here, M-F 9:00-2:00, so stop by and you might see a celebrity.

Griffith Park - Home of the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park Observatory, Travel Town, the Greek Theatre, and Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

Getty Museum - The Getty's architecture is so beautiful that it keeps me fascinated. No matter whether you like their art, architecture, or view better, the Getty is sure to please. Free.

Attend a TV taping - You can get free tickets at,, or see the booth at Universal City walk. It's very interesting to see a show being taped. The most popular, by far, is the Tonight show.

Places to eat:
In-N-Out Burger: Multiple locations, best burger in LA, ask anyone.
Pink’s Hot Dogs: 709 N. La Brea, just north of Melrose. You might even see a celebrity. Maybe.
Tommy’s Chili Burgers: Look for the shack, an LA tradition. The original location is at Beverly & Rampart, a couple miles west of downtown.
Canter’s Deli: 419 N. Fairfax, between Beverly & Melrose. Near CBS, you might spot a celebrity.
Phillippe’s: 1001 N. Alameda. Great roast beef sandwiches. Near Union Station and Olvera Street.
Tito’s Taco’s: Voted best tacos in LA, even though it’s in Culver City. King Taco is a good alternate if you can deal with East LA.
The Pantry: Corner of Figueroa and 9th, downtown. Huge portions, they never close, GREAT steak and eggs.
Medieval Times and/or Pirate’s Dinner Adventure: Dinner and an adventure show, both are on Beach Blvd in Buena Park, you get to eat with your hands.

Places to Stay:
Since LA is so spread out, there is no single place that is close to EVERYTHING. Most people who come here tend to stay in Hollywood, Santa Monica, or Anaheim. In Hollywood, I recommend the Orchid Suites, Hollywood Celebrity Hotel, or Hollywood Heights (formerly Holiday Inn Walk of Fame), all near Hollywood and Highland. In Santa Monica, the Holiday Inn Santa Monica is close to the pier and reasonably priced. In Anaheim, I recommend the Howard Johnson (HoJo) Anaheim, and the Candy Cane Inn. There is also a nice place in Burbank called the Best Western Media Center, very close to Warner, NBC, and Universal Studios.

Places to Shop:
Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica
The Grove, Los Angeles
Americana @ Brand, Glendale
Beverly Center, Los Angeles
Citadel Outlets, Commerce
Brea Mall, Brea
The Block at Orange, Orange
South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
Fashion Island, Newport Beach
Santee Alley, Los Angeles

Have fun!


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Steve Summers


I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I`ve lived in the Valley, west side, east side, and South Bay, so I`m an expert on getting around town. I`m knowledgeable about all of the Southern California tourist attractions. I am also an expert on state beaches in Southern California, and have an expansive camping background. No relocation/moving questions, please.


I have lived in Southern California my entire life. I'm a "local", with expert knowledge of Southern California. I've done a lot of extensive traveling to NorCal, so I can provide answers about northern California as a visitor, and southern California as a local.

Not that this matters, but since it's required, I have a Bachelor's Degree. I also have a Master's Degree in the University of Life.

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