July 29, 2015

Top 10 Things to Do | Los Angeles, California

Top 10 Things to Do in Los Angeles

(Yes, there are a million things to do in LA, but here are some of the iconic DOS that never fail.)

1.  Get a Photo of the Hollywood Sign
You know you want it!  It is iconic for a reason.  You can get some pretty nice photos from the Griffith Observatory, Hollywood & Highland (the mall has a viewing platform), or you can research hiking trails that will get you closer, just beware of trespassing laws!

2.  Go Behind the Scenes
You're in the show businesses capital of the world!  There are many things you can do to get in the action and learn more about the industry.  My favorite thing to do is attend a taping of your favorite show.  It is SO much fun and did I mention, free?  Some other options include the tours at Universal Studios and Warner Brothers lots.  You can also visit famous filming locations, like the American Horror Story house (we did!), the Pretty Woman fire escape, or anything else that interests you.

^Me, Charles, and my sister at the Tonight Show taping when Conan hosted it.  (I'm next to Charles in the yellow/gray striped shirt.)

3.  Checkout the Getty Center
The Getty Center is home to the famous Getty Museum, beautiful gardens, and incredible views of the city.

4.  Visit Griffith Park
Griffith Park is massive (over 4,000 acres), but in my opinion the highlight is the Griffith Observatory (you can read about our visit here), which features space and science displays and another great view of Hollywood.

5.  Bike from Santa Monica to Venice Beach
Rent a bike and ride from the Santa Monica pier to Venice Beach.  I can say from personal experience that it is a total blast and an easy way to take it all in.  Don't forget to pop in and see the Venice Canals.  After returning your bikes, enjoy a stroll down the pier.


6.  Pay Homage to the Departed
So maybe this option isn't for everyone, but there are great "death tours" of Hollywood and LA (I posted about my experience here), as well as gorgeous and haunting cemeteries where your favorite stars are buried.  These include Hollywood Forever and Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial, where Marilyn Monroe was laid to rest.

7.  Enjoy Live Music
LA is home to some great music venues running the gamut of your interests.  These include House of Blues on Sunset Strip, the Greek Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, Disney Concert Hall, and more.  Many are outdoors so you can take in the year-round near perfect weather.

8.  Hit the Iconic Streets
Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, Melrose, Hollywood Boulevard, and more.  The list goes on!  Take the time to stroll and people watch down these famous promenades.

9.  Drive Down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu
This really is an epic and awe inspiring drive, just avoid rush hour!

10.  Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The stars go on for miles, but there is a great stretch around the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, in front of which the famous hand prints sit.  To me, this is iconic Hollywood.

Other Los Angeles posts:
ALL of Hollywood
Ultimate Hollywood Getaway Weekend
The Santa Monica Pier
Biking Down Venice Beach
The Griffith Observatory
Dearly Departed Tour
Pantages Theater
The American Horror Story House 

Happy exploring!

July 24, 2015

Sunrises and Wildlife | Arizona

The primary reason behind our road trip to Arizona was helping my parents move into their new home and get somewhat settled in.  It is in a lovely area complete with a mountain range framed backyard and abundant plant and wildlife.

Isn't it amazing how much flourishes just in their backyard?

My Mom and I picked out some patio furniture before heading out and it ended up working perfectly.  I love the turquoise color.

Since I was on dog duty I caught a beautiful sunset fourth of July morning from their patio...

It was almost worth waking up so early.  (Almost!)

July 21, 2015

Southwest Road Trip | California to Arizona

Fourth of July weekend we took a road trip to Arizona to see my parent's new home outside of Tucson and finally got to take Zora along on an adventure!  It was eight hours in the car, and we weren't sure how she would do, but it turns out she is a complete DREAM road tripper.  She slept most of the way and barely made a peep.

I think she was just SO excited to be included when the dreaded suitcase came out.

We started out in the wee hours of the morning and watched the sun rise over Palm Springs...

Our last minute decision to stuff Zora's bed into the back seat was genius.  Isn't she the best/cutest road tripper ever?? I am so biased.

We were almost there (7.5 hours of travel in) when we got stopped for about half an hour at a train crossing.  The conductor was trying to couple with another part of the train and kept backing up, pulling forward, and doing it all over again, time and time again.

Obviously I took the opportunity to take some photos of the gorgeous area.

And my cute pup...


And husband...

And all of us together...

(As you can see we clearly had some free time!)

Once we FINALLY got going again we let Zora get some fresh air and Charles got some gorgeous shots of her in the Arizona landscape.  (Aren't those segora cacti fantastic?  I am obsessed.)

Sensory overload!  Arizona showed us a great time, but this road trip was extra special with our sweet girl.

July 13, 2015

W New Orleans French Quarter | Hotel Review

While in New Orleans for Mardi Gras earlier this year we stayed at the W New Orleans French Quarter.  Thanks to my parents being amazing and having Starwood points I could use, we got epic views and an insane location... something I did NOT take for granted when the city was already so crazy. 

I absolutely fell in love with the hotel and its modern decor, but my favorite part was opening the shutter windows of our room and looking out into the French Quarter.  We even threw some of the beads we collected out to the people passing by!  It was a once in a lifetime experience.

The decor inside was bright, innovative, and modern.  I think my only complaint would be the see-through bathroom door in the room (a problem since we were sharing to save money!), but it was a relatively small price to pay for the wonderful location and view.

Here is proof of said bead throwing to the people passing by...

I also enjoyed the hustle and bustle on the street outside of the hotel.  We constantly felt like we were a part of it all!  Mardi Gras is a living, breathing entity in New Orleans and the excitement is palpable. To be able to step out the doors of our hotel and immediately be immersed in the joy de vivre was priceless.

^Isn't that chandelier amazing???

The photo above may be my favorite shot of New Orleans, taken from my hotel room window.  Such a beautiful window into a warm and inviting city!