I recently took a trip to Los Angeles back in September to get a glimpse of the city we all know and love from the movies. It’s the city that’s home to Hollywood, Baywatch and the Kardashians. The city where the American dream comes to life right in front of your eyes and I wanted to see as much as I could in the short space of time I was there.
Throughout my years of travel I have never been to a city like LA. The city’s residences live a lifestyle I have never seen before. I can really see why it’s such a hotspot. From the morning hikes in the Calabasas mountains to brunch everyday all day. I really didn’t want to leave because this lifestyle is something I could really see myself getting used to. Let’s get one thing out there before I start, I was so surprised at how big LA is. I had been told I needed to rent a car that it was a must and I really didn’t think that much about it until I arrived and realised why a car is such a must on this trip.
I started my trip off in style back in Dublin with Aer Lingus. I don’t know if its an Irish thing but I have to be in the airport at least three hours before my flight in case a freak accident happens and I end up missing my flight. In saying that lounging around the airport for three hours isn’t ideal so I took full advantage of the Aer Lingus lounge in Terminal 2. It was the perfect way to get into that holiday mood with free wifi, complimentary drinks and snacks in a comfortable and quiet environment. It’s really a no-brainer that it’s a must. Due to the fact I was traveling to the States I stayed in the lounge before I was ready to pass though U.S immigration Pre-Clearance because once I left I wasn’t able to return but the cabin crew of our flight where so helpful and got me through in no time and got me settled onto the plane in no time.
The flight was eleven hours direct which is part of their new range of flights traveling to the U.S. So there was none of this changing planes non-sense which is ideal when you’re trying to get a little sleep. But if you’re like me you’ll say you’re gonna sleep on the plane, it’s kinda what I tell myself when I have to get up at 4am to get ready to leave for the airport and I’m so tired and just want to fall back into bed, but then I end up watching as many movies as possible. I even had the cabin crew give me recommendations along with some snacks…because we all know you can’t watch a movie without some snacks, it’s kinda a necessity.
Once I landed in LAX I had a million and ten things I wanted to do the list was endless. I had been given so many recommendations from friends and family that combined with all the things I wanted to see I really didn’t think I was going to have the time to see everything. I wanted to see it all and don’t get me wrong I got most of my list ticked off but looking back there are so many things I cannot recommend enough seeing. So let’s just start with my favourite. The Santa Monica Pier was one of the first things on my list. It’s used as a setting in so many scenes in movies that it was must see in LA. I decided to walk the pier in the evening while the sun was setting. Well this purely happened because that’s when I woke up from my nap after we had arrived at our hotel. I’m so glad I did though because it was just beautiful. I felt like I was just on the set of 90210 as I walked down the pier. With the iconic red and yellow Ferris wheel and mini amusement park at the end. The pier offers a combination of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops and with the crowds of people it really gave off an amazing atmosphere. It was so lovely that I had to come back during the day because I just wanted to see how it looked with the sun shining down on it. It was just as beautiful and just as busy. In my opinion it would definitely be up there on the list to see if I was returning again, you could honestly spend your whole day wondering around dining and having fun.
Next up on my list was Venice Beach Boardwalk, the beach and its famous boardwalk is very well known around the world for its funky and offbeat vibe. The boardwalk has everything going down its 2.5 kilometre stretch from a bike pate, shake board ramps, restaurants and plenty of bars. I will admit I do regret not renting a bike and cycling up and down the boardwalk because it did look a lot of fun. But in saying that I wouldn’t have been able to look at the hundreds of street vendors and performers. I saw everything from break-dancing to broken glass walking. It’s probably the reason it took me so long to walk the whole stretch of the boardwalk I couldn’t stop looking at every new act I came upon each more entertaining than the last. I did also have to take a look the muscle beach its one of the things Venice beach is so famous for and well curiosity got the best of me and I stood there watching bodybuilders strut their stuff while I ate a lovely cold ice cream with not a care in the world. As I explored more I came across the Westside which offers a lot of unique arts and crafts store, you can also find every sort of t-shirt under the sun along with tattoo and piercing stores, skate and surf shops, this is in addition to the large selection of restaurants and juice bars, it would be very hard not to spend the whole day wandering up and down.
Now what would a trip be to the City of Angels if I didn’t walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, like really you couldn’t go to Hollywood and not check out some of the stars on the Walk of Frame it would be scandalous. Although it’s not as glamorous as it once was. It’s still the site of some amazing show business shrines. The Walk of Fame, “Where the Stars are Immortalised”, comprises more than 2,500 stars embedded in the paths along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. I will say it is overloaded with tourists so it’s hard to get a look in on some of your favourite stars but let’s be honest if you didn’t get a picture with your favourite star did you even go to Hollywood?
The Hollywood sign is iconic and I only discovered while on my trip to LA that you actually can’t get very close to the sign as it’s protected by gates, which I’m not going to lie was very surprising to me because I have seen so many movies where people are literally just sitting on the letters talking. So because you can’t go right up to it there are hike routes you can do to get the best possible view of the sign in all its glory. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time or the right clothing with me to do a hike but it’s definitely something I would love to do if I ever returned to LA in the future. Speaking of hiking I would absolutely love to take a trip up to the Calabasas mountains for some walking. Calabasas has been growing rapidly since the Kardashians rose to fame and I would love to visit the place I see so much on Instagram as I’m scrolling down though my feed. If you have time on your trip I have heard they are really worth the trip and you wont be disappointed with the sights from the top.
Now what’s a trip to America without a shopping spree, am I right? or am I right? LA offers you everything from boutiques to thrift shops to outlet shopping centres. No matter what style you’re rocking LA has something for you. I ended up taking a trip to The Grove it was highly recommended to me, and after walking around it I can see exactly why. The Shopping centre is stunning with a beautiful outdoor shopping area it really has everything you want in one place with shops like Topshop, Nike and of course Sephora! Sephora is every Irish girl’s dream, I don’t know if it’s just because we don’t have any stores in Ireland that attracts us or if its the fact it has some of the worlds most beautiful makeup all under one roof, it’s hard to tell! I actually found in addition to shopping it was a great place to take a stroll, I grabbed a juice and just walked around in the sun it was heaven. It has the vibe of Kildare village yet a lot bigger and with much better weather, I don’t know if it’s just me but every single time I go to Kildare Village it rains. I don’t know if I have really bad luck or Ireland just has awful weather. Now if you were a lover of 90210 back in the day then you will be quite familiar with Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Firstly I couldn’t go to LA and not go to Beverly Hills and secondly I couldn’t leave without taking a stroll down Rodeo Drive, living my best life as I windowed shopped in shops such as Coco Chanel, Gucci and Christian Dior, I was secretly hoping to spot a Kardashian but in all my best efforts I sadly didn’t. Overall the shopping in LA is something not to be missed out on at all, the city literally has everything you can could dream of. I’m not going to lie I wasn’t expecting the shopping to be as good as it was, I really could of come home with a extra suitcase but I was strong and did my best to resist a lot of it.
If I haven’t already mentioned LA is HUGE and if you’re anything like me finding somewhere to eat in a place you’ve never been before can actually be one of the hardest things ever. One thing I noticed in LA was the amount of restaurants that promoted healthy eating, I’m talking a lot of fruit and a lot of salads which was something I actually really enjoyed. I think everyone can agree we all do some sort of diet to shed a few pounds before a holiday so we can look and feel our best, and then once we get onto that holiday we eat every dessert with the phrase “Sure I’m on my Holidays”. Well in LA that didn’t happen. I ate a lot of fresh food which was delicious, now don’t get me wrong I did indulge in a lot of ice cream and a few mimosas but overall I felt great. I had to try Sunny Spot in Venice beach it kept popping up on my Instagram and well the food made my mouth water just from looking at the photos so I had to check it out in person. It was honestly lived up to every expectation I had, I went for brunch because well brunch is just my favourite because it’s acceptable to drink a glass of a mimosa while eating some chocolate chip pancake (I really do believe no trip to America is complete without at least one serving of pancakes). I honestly couldn’t recommend Sunny Spot more especially as Venice beach is so packed with restaurants it can be so hard to choose one, I’m just happy my hours strolling though Instagram actually paid off in real life.
Of course during my time in LA I took advantage of the beaches they had to offer, while on holiday there is nothing I love to do more than just sit down with a book and relax and I found the beaches in LA perfect for that. I just sat on my towel under the sun and enjoyed my book, I even found myself having a few looks at the surfers out in the ocean. It was so nice just to take a nice stroll down the beach and watch as some people did yoga, others played beach volley ball others simply just had their dog’s out for a walk. It really gave me a sense of that cool, relaxed attitude people have to live here in LA. It was one of the most simple pleasures I experienced on my trip but yet one of the most memorable ones. If you’re near the Santa Monica pier it’s worth your while to pop down to the Santa Monica Bay for a little stroll near sunset, you will not be disappointed on how beautiful it is.
As I said at the beginning LA is huge so my biggest tip of this whole trip is to rent a car, I can not stress this enough! Los Angeles is so big and spread out and it feels like it goes on forever. So rent a car and drive to everywhere you wanna go, honestly it will save so much time and so much cash especially if you’re only visiting for a few days and want to get in as much as possible.
Leaving to go home is honestly one of the worst things about going away. Firstly you don’t want to leave especially if there is sun because we all know Ireland lacks a lot of that. All you really want to do is just be home, you’re tired, you’ve worn yourself out the last week and you really just need to crawl into your bed throw on your favourite pjs and grab a cup of tea but it’s not that simple. I was dreading the flight home because as I said I just wanted to get home but honestly I can’t stress enough how the Aer Lingus cabin crew on my flight home made me feel as comfortable as I could possibly be. I didn’t want to sleep on the way back because I wanted to jump straight into bed when I got in, so I just watched all the movies I didn’t watch on the way over and with all the lovely snacks from the crew the whole experience was perfect. They even got me some blankets and a pillow so I could really get into my comfort zone. Honestly the flight was made super enjoyable by the staff, they even got us off as soon as they could because I think they could see a few of us really needed our beds.
Overall my experience in LA was fabulous, I really wore myself out with all the activities I did, I felt like I needed another holiday from the holiday I just went on. The whole experience was great and I would love to return to LA again because I really felt I still had so much to see and do when leaving. I traveled in September and would love to return again in August/September because I felt it really was the perfect time in the year to go, the weather was just fabulous and was nice changed from cold snaps we get in Ireland. I would love to give a great big shout out to Aer Lingus for making the journey such a pleasure and to all the staff who made each flight very relaxing and comfortable.
I hope this helps anyone who is planning a trip to go to Los Angeles, I couldn’t recommend it enough and you would know that if you have been around my offices recently, it’s all I’ve been ranting and raving about. As the years have gone by I have been so lucky to tick more and more places off my list and I’m so exited to keep ticking them off year after year.
I wish all of you safe travels on your next adventure!
Aer Lingus offer four direct flights a week
Each flight is an eleven hour direct flight to LAX
Average return flight from Dublin – LAX in Aug/Sept costing €780
Aer Lingus offer the option of pre-booking online or pay by card at the Dublin lounge reception for as little as €30
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Lisa Cannon is best known as a presenter on TV3's hugely popular movie show, Box Office. She blogged all about the lead up to her Big Day in Italy in September 2015.