When we think of L.A., sunshine, celebrities and glamour often comes to mind. But for us mere tourists, Hollywood life isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.
Words: Tessa Ross, Subeditor: Grace Faulkner
#LiveLikeALocal has become a popular Twitter trend for tourists. Simply visiting famous landmarks and taking a few selfies isn’t enough for people anymore. In particular, young adults want to experience a ‘real’ taste for where they are. In L.A.’s case this is glitz and glamour, a chance to experience life as a socialite first-hand.
Trouble is, this life is very hard to find. TV shows such as The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Keeping Up With The Kardashians create an image of L.A. that we idolise. Then there’s the fact that it’s home to one of the biggest film industries in the world. Unfortunately, you’ll be very lucky if you bump into an actor or the likes of Kim Kardashian, let alone live in their shoes for a week or so.
At least one thing is almost guaranteed, the sunshine. The L.A. weather makes the city 10 times more appealing than London. Maybe that’s why celebrities seem to flock there? Why buy an umbrella to shield yourself from the not so Great British weather, when you can get a mansion in Beverly Hills? Tours of stars’ homes give you the chance to get a glimpse of the celebrity lifestyle.
Beverly Hills is a beautiful place and the houses are amazing, but on a lot of the tours you’ll be left wondering who on earth were the celebrities whose home’s you’ve just seen. Also, the big name stars often have massive gates around their houses, which tend to ruin your view.
Rodeo Drive is like shopping heaven, especially for those that can afford the designer price tags. A lot of the shops are fabulous glass buildings and are worth taking a look at even if the amount of zeros on the price of the clothes, shoes and handbags is something that sends shivers down your spine. But, even this area of Los Angeles seems to lack in something. We spoke to Marie Conaghan, who stayed in L.A. for a week last summer about her visit to Rodeo Drive:
As the home of the Oscars you’d expect the Walk of Fame to be something really special. When you walk down the ‘sidewalk’ over the names of some of the most famous people the world has ever seen, you can get very excited trying to spot your favourites. Unfortunately the Walk of Fame has become very commercialised. The overall look of the street is somewhat tacky, think Blackpool’s main strip but a sunnier version. You’d have to be a VIP guest at the Dolby Theatre when the Walk of Fame is cordoned off for a real authentic experience of Hollywood. Sadly for us tourists we have to barge our way past people dressed as Spiderman and Elsa as they try to con us into a photo on our own camera and charge $10 for it!
Sunset Strip is literally described by tour guides as the place “where the rich and famous come to play”. But from the outside looking in, it doesn’t exactly boast glamour quite like you’d expect it to. Us Londoners in particular will have partied and dined in places that look far superior. Marie Conaghan shared her thoughts on this with us:
3 bits of top advice for your stay in L.A.:
1. Stay at Universal City
Universal Studios is a great day out and what’s even better about the Hollywood version of the park is you are part of the real thing. On top of the incredible rides, you get a tour of the working studios. City Walk is just next door and has a great choice of restaurants, bars and places to entertain you. Rather than wandering unknown streets looking for somewhere decent for dinner, base yourself on City Walk’s doorstep for good food and guaranteed fun.
The Sheraton Universal Hotel is an eight minute walk away from the studios. It has spacious rooms, great views and a fantastic pool area.
2. Get free tickets to a TV show recording
Apply online through websites like 1iota for tickets to some of the biggest TV shows in America. However, like with most free things there is a catch. Your entrance is not guaranteed. A ticket to a recording grants you access to queue to get into the studio on a first come first serve basis. Not quite the treatment you’d expect in L.A. but once you’re in the atmosphere is great.
The Late Late Show with James Corden is a good one to see, especially for us Brits as we are more familiar with him and his humour compared to the likes of Jimmy Kimmel. The recommended queuing time for this show is around two hours. But standing around in the sunshine isn’t the worst price to pay for a good bit of entertainment.
3. Visit Santa Monica
Santa Monica beach is a good day out. Not only is it the end point to Route 66 (which is pretty cool) it is a truly stunning beach. See the famous blue lifeguard towers for a real American Baywatch style beach experience. Santa Monica Pier is good fun, the ferris wheel is recommended as it gives great views of the shoreline and a lovely breeze! Also, take time to visit the Third Street Promenade for high-end yet affordable shops and restaurants.
Above all, don’t be put off going to L.A. if it’s a place you’ve always wanted to see. Just be prepared to find it might not be quite what you expected it to be like. But who knows, you might bump into Kylie Jenner and maybe she’ll show you around! I’m sure then you’d see L.A. in a whole different light. Crazier things have happened.