hollywood boulevard at sunset, travel blogger in LA

As I mentioned in my post 'what I thought of San Francisco', LA was my favourite place we visited in California during our big USA road trip. Everyone told me it would be San Francisco, but I preferred my time in LA by a mile, despite everyone's warnings. All we heard in the months leading up to our trip were "LA is so dangerous", "I know someone who was mugged in LA", "stay away from Hollywood" and "don't go out at night". I have to admit, hearing this over and over got me a little worried, but within a few hours of pulling into union station we were already drinking tequila in a dive bar on Hollywood Boulevard with strangers we'd just met in our hostel, so those concerns quickly went out of the window. My advice? Dive right in and try some of these things to do your first time in LA.

mary kate and ashley olsen star on hollywood walk of fame from travel blogger

neon sign for men's drive in, Hollywood, travel blog post on Los Angeles

It's fair to say Hollywood is a tourist trap. It's the Picadilly Circus of LA, sure. But, I don't know, maybe unlike others, I didn't have this sparkling clean image in my head of what Los Angeles would be like. I didn't expect it to be glamorous or with celebrities on every corner. Like pretty much every city on the planet, LA has a darker side, and that's okay. Keep this in mind on your first trip to LA. I say darker side, but my experience staying in Hollywood was no worse than living in some of the roughest areas of Liverpool and Manchester, in fact, everyone was really friendly. Whether that be the guys trying to sell you tours, fellow tourists or locals hanging around on the street, we never encountered anybody rude or threatening. Well, until the last night, but I don't think he was an LA local...
travel illustration of Venice sign at Venice beach LA
skateboarder at Venice skate park, Venice beach in LA by travel blogger Allie Davies

Despite spending a whole week in LA, we still didn't get to explore the city as much as we would have liked. In fact, we didn't even make it near downtown or get to Randy's donuts (an apparent must-try for your first time in LA). My favourite part of LA that we did see, was Venice Beach. When we eventually get back to the West Coast, this is where I'll be staying. Just look at some of the hotels on the beach! Venice Beach is everything that I dreamed it would be and more. You see it on tv, with the skaters and the stoners, and think it must have been like that once, but since it's on tv it's just pretend, right? Wrong. Just like the rest of California, it is exactly as you would imagine. Of course, seeing skaters practice in the sunshine was the ideal way to start any morning, but topping it off with a bike ride to Santa Monica pier? Perfection. Venice Beach was an actual dream come true for me, actually seeing and getting involved in what I had grown up watching on the tv, always dreaming that I could be that cool. Turns out I was pretty uncool cycling though, I crashed. But we'll pretend that never happened. If you do anything on your first visit to LA, let it be this.

first impressions of Los Angeles by travel blogger Allie Davies, ft. Santa Monica Ferris wheel, David bowie walk of fame, LA street art, Paul smith pink wall on melrose

travel blogger photo of view from Griffith observatory towards Downtown LA

Of course, with it being both mine and Beth's first time in LA, we had to do the obvious. We did go on a celebrity homes tour (honestly, a waste of $35, but we just laughed about it and we did get to stop on Mullholland drive to get an incredible view) and we did go on a tour of the Warner Brothers studios, too. That day was genuinely one of the best of my life so far, so much so, I'll be doing a whole post dedicated to it, so if you're not already, make sure you're following me on Twitter or Instagram to know when it goes live! We also did the walk of fame, the Chinese theatre, Griffith observatory, ~the pink wall~, Rodeo drive, etc. because when that's all you see on TV growing up, you just have to see it for yourself, right?

view of downtown LA and the 101 highway from Mulholland drive viewpoint

Whilst we did the usual tourist Los Angeles things, there is so much more to this massive city than that. Los Angeles has tonnes of cool museums and galleries, most of which we didn't even get to go to because there was so much to do (sob, see you soon The Broad), but we did get to the Getty. Overall, I was a bit disappointed by the Getty, I expected it to be cool and a bit different, but whilst the surroundings are absolutely beautiful, I felt like I was on a slightly boring school trip. This may be because I'm more of a modern art gal, but basking in the museum's architecture, seeing a random deer in the hills and then getting into a, shall we say, bizarre Lyft ride, it was definitely worth it. You know that scene in Family Guy where Peter is an Uber driver, driving a Prius (omg that stereotype is SO true) then he's a Lyft driver, with a giant furry moustache on the car and blasting the Offspring? Yeah that's pretty accurate.

collage of photos from Beverley hills and melrose, Los Angeles

I love that side of LA. The stereotypes are fairly true in that everyone's a character. You'll have bizarre Lyft drivers, share uber pools with actresses rehearsing their lines, be handed mixtapes on the street and your waitress is more than likely trying to get a career in showbiz. It's an excitable place, where everybody has a dream, a bit like New York. A lot of people see this in a sceptical way, but I'm ever the optimist, and really like the positive attitude that feels almost infectious in LA. That all American dream paired with Hollywood's grittiness just makes LA all the more interesting to me.

Of course I can't really give you a guide to LA, because we only experienced a small slice of it. Man, is that city big - expect to drive or get ubers everywhere. For a more comprehensive guide of what to do in LA, check out the Lonely Planet guide. But after ticking off all the usual suspects, we will definitely be back to Los Angeles to experience more of what this city has to offer. I will be cycling along the beach again though, no matter how uncoordinated I was the first time around. See that, and more of our first trip to Los Angeles in my LA vlog! If you want to experience it for yourself, having a look on TravelSupermarket can't hurt, can it?

Edit: we are headed back to Vegas this winter, so you can bet your ass I'll be headed back to LA if only for a day!

Have you ever been to LA? What did you think? I know there are so many polarising opinions on this place! My friend Codie is one of many who prefers San Francisco to Los Angeles, read her reasons why and let us know what you think.

Good vibes guys ✌🏼

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