VPWriter is a local to LA and has a great one-day program planned out to take advantage of the city without breaking the bank. Read on for a fantastic 1 day itinerary in Los Angeles for under $100.
I’ve lived in Southern California since I was 10 years old, and it’s still one of my favorite areas. Those of us who live in the Los Angeles area know that the term “Los Angeles” is a difficult label to define. The actual city of Los Angeles is mostly a downtown area filled with live theatre venues, a Cathedral, and business offices, not to mention some unsavory sections mostly (sadly) devoted to the homeless.
So instead I’d like to focus on areas that are still technically under the umbrella of Los Angeles but are more like subsidiaries. They’re also much more fun and entertaining. Because of our usually warm and pleasant weather many of the activities will keep you outdoors under the sunshine. They will also involve some light walking.
Most visitors have a trip to Hollywood on their wish list, so most of these recommendations will focus on that particular area or close neighbors to Hollywood.
Breakfast and Shopping at Farmer’s Market
First stop – breakfast. A Hollywood institution is Du-par’s Restaurant, celebrating 70 years of success. There are several locations of the restaurant but the one at Farmer’s Market, at the corner of West Third Street and Fairfax, is the one to try. It’s just been renovated yet has retained its 1930’s-style décor. It’s open 24 hours a day but breakfasts are fantastic.
Pure but very fresh comfort food is what Du-par’s specializes in. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, hand-peeled hash browns, and omelettes including a veggie delight offering, are all staples. But pancakes or French toast are a must in the opinion of regulars. You’ll spend a little more than at the average coffee shop but Du-par’s is a legend – anything but average. See www.du-par.com for details.
Cost: about $11.
You’ve already parked at Farmer’s Market to enjoy your breakfast and it’s the site of your first exploration of the day. This is another classic experience. It began literally as a way for farmers to display and sell their fresh produce more than 50 years ago. Today there are rows of stalls featuring delectable and reasonably-priced fruits and vegetables from the ordinary to the exotic. You’ll also find a gourmet and specialty food store, a candle shop, kitchen gadget store, jewelry store and a fun nostalgia museum here, among other offerings. A highlight is Dylan’s Candy Bar, a trendy candy shop owned by designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan. This colorful place is fun for young and old, with classic items and new candy sensations.
You can move right from Farmer’s Market to a newer add-on, The Grove. This location is all about high-end shopping at the likes of Coach, Barney’s New York, and Michael Kors for example. There’s also an amazing American Girl Place that will have young female visitors drooling over the dolls and accessories.
You can walk to The Grove from Farmer’s Market (most people do) or hop on a free trolley that runs back and forth between the two locations. Even though the emphasis is on shopping, there are some nature-related touches including some pop-up water spouts, statues interwoven among greenery and a lovely bridge overlooking a little pond. Fans of the popular television show “Extra!” will love attending a taping of the celeb gossip show Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. out in the open near the bridge. More information on The Grove can be found at www.thegrovela.com or Farmer’s Market at www.farmersmarketla.com. Parking with a validation at Farmer’s Market is free for the first 2 hours, $4 for the third hour and $1 each additional 15 minutes. Insider secret – get the Farmer’s Market validation, exit after two hours and move to The Grove parking lot, where you’ll get another one hour free with validation.
Thus far, your Farmer’s Market/The Grove experience is free unless you buy something, and I’m guessing you will, whether it’s candy or fresh fruit or some trinket you can’t live without. So let’s figure you’ll spend something.
Lunch and a Stroll through Beverly Hills
You’ll have worked up an appetite by now so move on to another popular, must-see destination – Beverly Hills, which is only a brief drive away.
Plan on lunch at Nate ‘n’ Al’s Delicatessen, a Beverly Hills institution for 64 years. It’s located at 414 N. Beverly Drive, between Santa Monica Blvd. and Brighton Way.
In addition to being a celebrity hangout, it boasts a nice little deli store attached to the restaurant, and deli food that’s mouth-watering. Munch on a hot dog for $7.50 or try their corned beef sandwich served on rye bread that’s baked daily (about $12.95). You can sample many other sandwiches for $8.95-$13.95, soups from $4.95 to $6.75, salads from $7-14. Their cole slaw or potato salad is amazing and included with most sandwiches. Great way to star gaze and enjoy a filling meal. Visit www.natenal.com for details.
Cost: about $18 on average with tip and beverage.
Walk off your meal by visiting the highlight of Beverly Hills – Rodeo Drive, a stretch of several blocks off Santa Monica Boulevard. Here are high-end shops with names most people only dream of – Gucci, Pucci, Versace, Prada, Harry Winston Jewels. Picture Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” as you stroll up and down the street, only you won’t have Richard Gere’s credit card to help you out! It’s still a beautiful area and dreaming costs nothing. It’s a great way to walk and enjoy the warm weather. Via Rodeo is a cobblestoned area running off Rodeo Drive that is reminiscent of an Italian street – fun to wander. Parking is complimentary on some nearby streets for a maximum of two hours but otherwise you might find a closer meter or lot. Maximum you might spend will be about $3. Go to www.lovebeverlyhills.com for details on the area.
The Heart of Hollywood
No trip to Hollywood is complete without a walk around Hollywood and Vine. This includes seeing the bronze stars on the Walk of Fame – a several-blocks-long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard. These stars, or plaques, honor those in various areas of the entertainment arena. Walk the few blocks and you’ll end up in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where footprints, and other body parts and signatures, of the famous have been preserved in cement for more than 50 years. It’s fun to wander the courtyard of the theatre and think that once upon a time, the stars immortalized there actually knelt where you are to leave their imprints. Many a red carpet has been rolled out at Grauman’s for film premieres past and present. Go to www.tclchinesetheatres.com for more information.
While on Hollywood Boulevard, you might want to wander past Hollywood and Highland and see the Kodak Theatre, where recent Oscar ceremonies have been held. Best to avoid spending time at the shops in the complex, though, as you’re probably shopped-out by now. The location has gotten so much press in the past few years, though, that it’s nice to return home and say you’ve been there. If you’re out for sightseeing, thus far you’ve spent nothing on this experience except parking, which can be had in a nearby lot or on the street if you’re lucky.
Let’s call the cost for parking $5.00.
Dine at a Legendary Eatery
Dinner will be the biggest expenditure but also the biggest treat of the day. Wander to 6667 Hollywood Boulevard and experience a true Hollywood legend – Musso & Frank’s, also known as Musso’s to locals.
In addition to “normal” residents of the city, the locals since 1919 have included the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Johnny Depp and Keith Richards. The restaurant is Old Hollywood at its best – dimly-lit in golden tones, rich leather booths and food that is elegantly prepared and served. It’s pricey, and many dishes are a la carte so you’ll need to add on extras like vegetables or sometimes even potatoes, for about $4-8. But you’ll experience culinary Heaven. Fish dishes run $16-30, steaks are $35-45; their famous short ribs are $31. Lighter fare includes sandwiches of cheese or chicken for $7-30, Caesar or Chef’s Salads for about $15. And leave room for decadent desserts. A particular favorite of mine is the Musso & Frank Neopolitan, layered with strawberries, fresh whipped cream and strawberry sauce, a somewhat reasonable $7.
Musso’s serves Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and validated parking is available at the rear of the restaurant. Visit www.mussoandfrank.com for more details.
Cost: about $45 if you splurge on the food…and you’ll be glad you did.
There are many layers to the Los Angeles area. Hollywood and Beverly Hills may not be the most cultural or nature-loving parts of the environs, but they are almost certainly “must-sees” on any visitor’s list. It’s a fun way to ogle and dream for a day.