We Love LA Tour: The BEST way to see Los Angeles


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.

Venice Canal
Venice Beach

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.

Rodeo Drive
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


Hollywood Boulevard

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.

Mulholland Overlook

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!

Boo!
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 Details

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).




Final Thoughts

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

Have you been to Los Angeles or is it on your Bucket List?

Happy Travels,

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Packing List for North America: How to Travel Light in Hot & Cold


As you may have heard me gushing all over social media - I am off to North America very soon (two days - aah!).
It's my first time there so I am incredibly excited - if you couldn't tell. For a peek into my itinerary and where I'm heading, head to this post here.

As I am going in early March, it's a bit of a tricky one packing-wise. I love to travel as light as possible and usually do so with no problem at all.
However, I will be going there still on the tail-end of winter, and while some of the places will be relatively nice and warm (Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Florida), I am also heading to places where it could still be potentially snowing! (Chicago, Ottowa, Quebec City, New York).

So how do you pack lightly for both summer and winter for an entire month away?

This will be my 15th trip overseas in just the last few years, so I'm pretty sure by now I am a packing master.



Let's begin with a few tips before I dive into my packing list:

✽ Layering is key
Try to choose really versatile pieces to bring that you can mix and match and layer if need be. Most of my clothing tends to be darker and complimentary colour-wise.

✽ Wear your bulkiest items on the flight
Wear your jeans, boots and jacket, even if it's not cold. Bring a pair of light cosy pants and fluffy socks to change into on the plane.

✽ Merino for the win
Clothing made from merino wool is super-lightweight, keeps you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather and you can wear it for days on end and it still won’t smell. Winner!

✽ Bring your own washing powder
Fill a small snap-lock bag with washing powder, which is enough to last a few weeks.
This allows you to rewash your shirts and underwear whenever needed which means you can bring less with you.

✽ Take minimal toiletries
99% of places will have the basics so save space by only bringing the minimum.
I bring everything in miniature form, enough to last a week or two and will repurchase once I've run out over there.

✽ Roll 'em
Roll your clothes instead of folding them. As well as saving space, you'll avoid wrinkles.

That's enough tips for now and I'm sure you have probably heard it all before anyway - on to the list.

Here is everything I have packed for four weeks away in potentially all seasons:

Shoes:


1 pair black leather boots (A necessity for the cold - will wear on the plane).
1 pair Nike sneakers (Comfortable every day walking shoes).
1 pair jandals/flip flops (For the warmer days and hostels).
1 pair sandals (Again for warmer weather and can be dressed up if need be).

Clothing:

Bottoms:

2 denim skirts (one black, one blue - wear with tights and boots if cold)
1 pair denim shorts
1 pair black stockings/tights (not pictured - in undergarment bag)
2 pairs denim jeans (one blue, one black)
1 black comfy pants (used on long-haul flights and as pyjama bottoms)

Tops:

5 shirts 
(one for sleeping)
2 singlets (one for layering if cold)
1 long sleeve merino top (for layering - not pictured; in wash)
1 checkered button-up long-sleeve shirt
1 nice jumper
1 zip-up sweatshirt

Coat & Jacket

1 light zip-up coat (will wear on plane)
1 waterproof rain jacket (also has a removable merino shell lining)

Extras:

1 bikini top and bottom
1 pair light boardshorts
Underwear for five days
Incl. 2 pairs merino socks


Accessories:


1 backpack (Used as carry on bag with laptop in it)
1 beanie/woolly hat
1 pair fingerless gloves
1 scarf (will also take as carry on)
1 pair sunglasses
1 small umbrella
Basic jewellery - a few of my bracelets I collect from my travels and one necklace
1 smaller everyday bag (I use a small leather side satchel)

Toiletries:


Very basic makeup - light foundation, powder, mascara, eyeliner, concealer, 1 lipstick
Chapstick
Small comb
Cotton pads (for cleansing water)
Small moisturiser
Mini facewash
Mini cleansing water
Mini shampoo & conditioner
Floss
Toothbrush and small paste
Small packet makeup wipes
Hand sanitizer
Razor
Small soap
Packet of tissues
Deodorant (roll-on)
Panadol
Plasters
Small tube antibacterial cream
Any prescription medication

Electronics:


Cell phone - Samsung Galaxy S7 (not pictured, took the photo)
Laptop (small and light Samsung notebook)
Camera - Sony RX 100 iv
2 SD cards - SanDisk Extreme Pro 64gb
1 spare camera battery
Headphones (flight necessity)
Portable charger (so handy for travel)
GoPro - Hero4
Any required cables/chargers
Universal travel adaptor (not pictured)

Extra Stuff!:


Canvas bag (for shopping/groceries/beach)
Earplugs and eyemask
Boost multivitamin tablets
Sweetener tablets (for my coffee)
Seasickness bands 
Hair ties 
Small lock
Small tin with USB stick, mini sewing kit, safety pins and bottle opener
Ziplock bags (for storing toiletries, dirty laundry etc.)
Washing powder
Notebook and pen
Packing cubes (not pictured but such a great way to organise and save space)

And of course the obvious...

Travel Essentials:


Passport
Approved ESTA before you go
Wallet - including some American Dollars

Cash Passport (a handy preloaded card used like a Mastercard without the fees)
Travel insurance
Travel documents - locked and loaded online, a copy given to relatives or friends

And for those wondering, what's specifically in my

Carry On:


Eyemask and earplugs
Laptop
Headphones
Blow up neck pillow
Sunglasses
Passport
Wallet
Facewipes
Gum
Cellphone (loaded with books on my Kindle app)
Tissues
Portable charger
Comb
Hand sanitizer
Chapstick

And that is everything that I am packing! It all fits nicely into my lightweight suitcase with plenty of space left if I decide to do any shopping over there.


The clothing is stored into three packing cubes on the left (undergarments/ swimwear, tops and bottoms). Shoes (in the green plastic bag), toiletries, electronics and extras are on the right.


I'm all set for my next adventure! Feel free to follow along on all of my social media channels (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) to keep up with my travels.


Let me know if there's anything else you would pack too in the comments below.
See you in my next post which will be from Los Angeles!

Happy Travels,
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