a VirtualTourist member from Little Rock
I am traveling with two German friends and need suggestions as to best neighborhood for a home base for 3 days. We will have a rental car and leave from LAX on the 4th day. There are so many things to see but would like recommendations for best of the best as travelers probably won't return. They enjoy a variety of things and want to experience California.
Welcome to VT! I saw your question and though I haven't lived in LA for a long time I thought I'd start you off with a few ideaa until others with more knowledge show up here.
Are your German friends young and wild or more mature and conservative? Do you have an idea of what they consider "Californian?" Having the answers to these questions might help us give you good ideas.
For "Movie Star" sightings a fun tour is the TMZ Tours. The bus tour is much like the TV program and everyone I know of who have taken it was really happy with the experience. Not everyone saw a Star, but quite a few have.
The Getty Center is a huge Art Complex and the Admission is free. Besides all Art in various mediums, the views and gardens are really awesome. There is a smaller one in Malibu, The Getty Villa. It's more of a tradtional Art Museum and the view is of the Pacific Ocean.
Venice Beach was once really famous and it is a wild and wacky place to go. Old Hippies love it and so does the younger set.
Santa Monica is a touristy place, but the locals like it too and there is lots of shopping and dining to choose from besides the beach activities.
I personally like Manhattan Beach better. It's more of a normal California beach to me. Like a "locals beach." Not wacky nor touristy, just fun.
The Comedy Stor is a great place to go in the evening. Many famous comedians started at this one. Sometimes they return to visit too.
Well that's good for a start.
Hope it helps.
I agree with G, I'd stay up in the Santa Monica area and it will give you access to a lot without a lot of driving. I used to visit a couple of times a year and stayed near LAX and that was not an ideal location for anything except visiting my family. And I used to get really cheap hotels by bidding on Priceline.
Some people like to come and do the big things-Disneyland or Universal Studios, those will take a whole day. But if those aren't on the list, I would recommend having a look at the Getty Center or Getty Villa, taking a drive on Sunset from the 405 east, stopping in Hollywood to see the walk of fame and the Chinese theater (yes it's touristy but it doesn't take a lot of time).
I usually stop at the Farmer's Market for lunch, you can park for free with validation at the Grove which is the shopping mall next to it or in their lot if you can find a spot. Another nice drive is to the top of Griffith Park, you can stop for a short time and take a photo of the Hollywood sign, it's a pretty drive up to the observatory.
I also agree that you don't want to stay in downtown LA but if you enjoy history and architecture, the LA Conservancy has wonderful tours, one of which focuses on art deco LA which I particularly enjoyed. They take you past some of the old theaters and into some of the art deco buildings, one of the places you can pop into is the Bradbury Building which was recently used in the film "The Artist" and also in "Blade Runner"
Another place close by that I've visited a lot is Pasadena, there's a huge flea market at the Rose Bowl once a month, there's the Norton Simon museum, the Huntington Library (which is more botanic gardens than library) and old Pasadena which is a shopping district.
And of course take a drive along the coast, up towards Malibu I stopped at a couple of casual local fish places along the beach, you can park and take a walk in Malibu along the beach, you can also do that in Santa Monica. Stopping in Malibu would fit nicely with a visit to the Getty Villa (reservations required for the villa, not the Getty Center)
I enjoyed reading Giampiero's reply. He made great suggestions. Los Angeles has a lot to offer and it's a BIG city. Definitely, you need to rent a car. Staying by the beach would be ideal though March is still too cold to enjoy the water but you have wonderful views. One of my favorite places is Pasadena. The hotels might be more affordable there. West LA is great - close to Beverly Hills. Also, Long Beach might be a good consideration though Santa Monica is probably nicer. I think it all comes down to how much you want to spend because there are some expensive places to stay in some wonderful neighborhoods. What you want to see while you are here may also be part of your consideration.
Hope you enjoy your trip!
Billy, staying in Wasco, Ca. would make it a long commute for them. It's more than 130 miles from Los Angeles.
I would consider Hollywood. Hollywood has lately seen a robust resurgance and makes a great base since there is so much to do in the area (night clubs, restaurants, sights). Also, it is connected with a subway which makes it convenient to quickly commute to areas like downtown and Universal Studios. West Hollywood and Beverly Hills if just a short drive.