Being my first trip to Los Angeles, naturally, there were so many things I wanted to see and do packed into just a short amount of time.
Researching full day tours of LA, I came across We Love LA Tours, which are a private tour company that packs in so many of the top highlights I wanted to see all in one day.
It was a match made in heaven.
They are the top rated, number one tour on Trip Advisor for a reason, as their full day tour was absolutely fantastic, and despite the fact that it was a rare rainy day in LA - the tour was one of the best I've ever done.
Read on to find out what I got up to in the City of Angels and what makes this tour company so outstanding.
Venice Beach & Santa Monica Pier
We started our day at 9 am where my mum and I were picked up promptly at our hotel by our wonderful tour guide for the day, Bruce. The vehicle was very comfortable, clean and spacious and we were provided with complimentary water and even umbrellas to help keep us dry (a necessity!).
As it was quite drizzly, Bruce made the decision to visit the famous beaches first, as he heard the Hollywood sign - originally first up on the itinerary had poor visibility. We had the hopes that the day might clear up by the afternoon.
It was a twenty minute drive to our first stop and Bruce introduced himself and talked about Los Angeles along the way. We drove slowly through the Venice Canals which were very stunning, before being dropped off at Venice Beach to stroll around leisurely at our own pace.
The beach was very cool and I loved the vibes. I have seen it so many times in pictures and video but with blue skies and crowded with people! One good thing about the rain was that it kept most of the crowds away.
|Cool street art|
|The famous Venice sign|
We had at least half an hour there to do as we pleased and Bruce waited patiently for us to take us to the next spot: Santa Monica Pier. Again, it was apparently very quiet for a Saturday so I didn't mind the rain at all!
I got my photo taken at the End of the Trail Route 66 sign and enjoyed browsing in the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co souvenir store (the pier is where Forest Gump ran to before he turned around).
|Route 66 sign|
|Outside the Bubba Gump store|
We had ample time (over 45 minutes) to stroll the whole pier and I even grabbed a sweet snack for morning tea at the Food Market set up there.
|Fun park at Santa Monica Pier|
|A happy selfie|
|Delicious donuts! I tried the X-Ray Speculoos|
Holmby & Beverly Hills
Next up we drove to Holmby Hills to see some famous Celebrity houses. We saw Aaron Spelling's mansion (TV producer who helmed Charlies Angels, Beverly Hills, 90210 etc.) called The Manor which is 5.3 acres and has 27 bathrooms. It's the largest in the Los Angeles area and it's even bigger than the White House.
We drove by the old Playboy Mansion, one of Ellen Degeneres' former homes and even the house where Michael Jackson passed away.
|The gate to the old Playboy Mansion|
In the Beverly Hills area we stopped at the very unique Spadena House, nicknamed 'The Witch's House' which was very cool to see. We saw the old and iconic tree in Beverly Garden Park which looked like it was straight out of a Disney movie.
I even asked Bruce if he could take me to The Beverly Hills Hotel for a photo in front of it and he didn't mind at all! It turned out to be my favourite photo of the day.
By then it was absolutely pouring with rain and I was so glad to be nice, dry and warm inside the car and still get to see these incredible sights! I really enjoyed driving through Beverly Hills, the tree lined streets are so beautiful.
Farmers Market at The Grove
We drove down Rodeo Drive - where the rich and famous shop, before heading to the famous Original Farmers Market at The Grove for lunch. We had a full hour to enjoy lunch and browse a few shops.
|Dylan's Candy Bar at The Grove|
The market offers over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants in an open-air setting so there were a lot of delicious kinds of food to choose from. I went for a traditional American hotdog, because - I love trying local food! We then spent the rest of our time in Topshop where I bought a couple of things...
|Shopping at The Grove|
Next up was something I was super excited about: exploring Hollywood Boulevard!
We began in the dazzling Dolby Theatre - the permanent home of the Oscars since 2002, before heading out to the boulevard dotted with over 2,500 stars.
Bruce showed us the TCL Chinese Theatre and helped me to find Sir Peter Jackson's star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame before leaving us with free time to walk the stars on our own.
I was so happy to get a picture with Sir Peter Jackson's as I'm a huge fan and a very proud fellow Kiwi. Tom Hanks' star was my other favourite of the day as he is my all-time favourite actor. I had a fab time running around and spotting everyone's stars!
We finished up in La La Land, a huge gift store with some great souvenirs in there, before hopping back in the car to our final two attractions of the day.
|Rainy Hollywood Boulevard|
|Inside the La La Land store|
The best view & the sign
We drove to the Mulholland Overlook which boasts the best view over the Hollywood Bowl and Downtown LA. Sadly, as it was still terrible weather we could only see cloud/fog.
This is what it looks like on an ordinary day for reference (not my photo obviously!):
And sadly, we also missed out on seeing the Hollywood sign - something I've been dreaming of for so long! It's such a shame because the We Love LA Tour has a fantastic spot to see it right up close. Nevermind, it just gives me even more of an excuse to come back!
|Pretending I can see the sign anyway!|
We headed back to our hotel in the late afternoon and were dropped off by about 4 pm, very happy and satisfied after a full and excellent day of sightseeing, even with the rain!
The tour: We Love LA Tour: Los Angeles Full Day Private Tour
Time: Pick up is at 9 am and drop off is 4 pm.
Price: Depending on the group size, please check the pricing here.
Reviews: 5/5 stars from 574 reviews of Trip Advisor (and the number one tour in LA).
I couldn't have imagined a better day tour of Los Angeles, it was the abolute perfect way for first-timers like myself to be introduced to the best and iconic sites of the city.
We never once felt rushed and had plenty of time at each place, the whole day was extremely well organaised.
What made the tour all the more special was our incredible guide Bruce, who went out of his way to give us a memorable and fun day. He shared countless great stories and facts about the city and his passion for what he does really shone through. He was also a wonderful photographer for me (thanks Bruce!).
Doing a private tour is without a doubt the best way to see LA, we could personalise it to how we wished and it was very convenient and comfortable.
We didn't need to worry about driving, parking, where to go or being one of thirty others in a big group. We got to do the tour on our own schedule and I loved how flexible it was.
They also offer half-day tours if you don't have time to do a full day and they do fully-customisable tours as well where you can design it all yourself.
I couldn't recommend We Love LA Tours highly enough - they are outstanding in their field and I would book again with them in a heartbeat.
Don't worry about the weather either, I happened to tour on the 1% of days it decides to rain. The odds of coming on the other 99% with blue and sunny skies are a lot better!
|End of the tour! My guide Bruce and I|
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