After four days at Disneyland and a day and a half in San Diego, we boarded Amtrak and headed north to Los Angeles. For the next two and a half day of our trip to California, we spent touring Los Angeles (Sept. 3rd – 5th). Because we have friends in LA, we were feeling a little more comfortable about the sight seeing. Our friends, Sean and Scott, picked us up at the Union Station train station, and we immediately hit the ground running!
First stop, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Now when I sent Sean the list of places we would like to visit, many of them had a notation that we only needed a picture of the sight, no touring needed (either too pricey for the tour, or not that interested in a more detailed view). Well this was a surprise! The Walt Disney Concert Hall was open for free tours on the day we were there. Yes, Please! What an amazing architectural and acoustical palace. Both inside and out there are architectural feats that make you say Wow! How did they do that? Here is a slideshow of pictures from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
From the top levels of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, we had a great view of the Los Angeles area. We could see the Hollywood sign (don’t worry, we will get closer!) and Dodger Stadium. In this picture, in the distance, is Dodger Stadium.
After touring the Walt Disney Concert Hall, it was time for a quick bite to eat for lunch. While walking to lunch we were able to see City Hall and the LAPD. These were on my list for just a photo, so check that off!
On our way to our next location, we passed the Staples Center where the LA Lakers, LA Clippers, and LA Kings play.
After lunch, we did something that I had been planning for on this trip months before. We headed to the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor on display. We didn’t spend much time in the other areas of the science center. We made our way straight to the shuttle.
The Space Shuttle Endeavor is housed in a large warehouse outside the main science center. Having been to Kennedy Space Center and seeing the shuttle trainer, I thought I was prepared for what I was about to see. I was wrong. It was breath taking! As a child that grew up during the shuttle program, I watched every launch, mission, and landing. To be this close to a shuttle that has been in space was amazing.
You were not prevented in anyway from the shuttle, you had full access to walk around and under it. It was suspended in the air about 15-20′ off the ground. You could read the serial numbers on the re-entry tiles on the bottom of the shuttle. I plan to travel to all the sites to see each of the shuttles on display. Their plan is to eventually build and mount the shuttle vertically on a mock Launch Complex 39, but that will be at an astronomical price, so I don’t see that happening anytime soon. What a great experience this was.
After leaving the Science Center, we headed to Hollywood. We were able to see the famous Hollywood Sign, The Chinese Theatre, the Capital Records Building, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If you have never been to Hollywood, it is quite an experience.
The Chinese Theatre
The Capital Records Building
During the Walk of Fame we realized there are a lot of stars on the ground, over 2,500 in total. There are stars on about 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard, and another 3 blocks worth on Vine Street. We did not cover this complete area. We took lots of pictures of people we were familiar with, and then specifically went on the hunt for a few individuals, Walt Disney & Ronald Reagan. Finally, we made a point of finding Robin William’s Star which was still a mock shrine by passerby’s.
While walking and checking out the stars on the Walk of Fame, there are odd people dressed up in costumes. These are just people with costumes walking around taking photos with unsuspecting people. We were prepared. These people are not endorsed by any major company. We saw the likes of Bubblebee (Transformers), a bad Marilyn Monroe, Jack Sparrow, several Spidermen, and last, and most saddening, a bad Minnie Mouse. She, or it, was super creepy! We just ignored them and admired from afar. Also, have a look in the store front window of the Playmate’s Shoes establishment. Those aren’t shoes unless you now wear bongs on your feet. The stairs that look like piano keys, had sensors, and would play music as you stood on the keys (steps).
It was a great, action packed first day in LA. We then headed to our hotel, got checked in, and then went to dinner for seafood at Bluewater Grill in Redondo Beach, our friend’s home town. This was probably some of the best seafood we have ever had, and we leave on the coast!
On day two in LA, we slept in a little to get some rest. As you seem we did not schedule in much free time. Our friend Sean picked us up around 9am, and we went to another cool place for breakfast. It is called Pann’s in Ladera Heights, and was the diner scene location for the movie “Pulp Fiction.” It was all the standard breakfast items, and really good. We spent a long time there, taking in the nostalgia.
After breakfast, we drove down Rodeo Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and the Beverly Hills & Hollywood Hills areas. We saw all the famous shops the celebrity use. I was able to keep my wife in the car the entire time. Success!
Afterward we had an appointment to meet another friend, Greg, of Why I RunDisney, at noon, at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. Greg works at the studios, and arranged for us a private tour. Since this was such a rare opportunity, I am dedicating a entire blog post to the tour.
After touring the Studios, we drove out to Santa Monica to see the Pacific Ocean and to walk the Santa Monica Pier.
The Santa Monica Pier
The Pacific Ocean
After leaving the beach, we did some shopping, and then headed to dinner to meet my friend Joanna, who ran with me in Charleston, and is now a Hematology Fellow at the Mattel Children’s Hospital. She made us a reservation to meet at the Ladies Gunboat Society. It was country fixin’s in Los Angeles. It was really good.
On the third and final day is Los Angeles, we did not do much, since we had a flight out of LAX to San Francisco around 1:00 PM, so we had to be at the airport around 11:00 AM. Sean picked us up around 9:30 AM and then we went to breakfast at Good Stuff in El Segundo.
After breakfast, on the way to the airport, Sean had one more surprise for us. Since he works for the airlines, he knows all the ins and outs of LAX, so he took us to this overlook where we could see all the runways, skyways. So we hung out and watched planes taxi, take off, and land. It was a good finale to our time in Los Angeles.
Stay tuned for more this week, as I am planning post on our Walt Disney Studio – Burbanks Tour, San Francisco, and the Walt Disney Family Museum.