Sightseeing a new city on holiday is my favourite part of a holiday. I love seeing the main sights and recognizing places from TV shows and movies. Sightseeing in LA and Hollywood is a must do. We had one day allocated for sightseeing and booked a private day tour with Scott from LA Insider Tours. I would say this is the BEST way to sightsee LA in one day.
Every day on our US holiday was a great day, but this tour was a highlight. Scott was fabulous. Hands down, he made our tour so much fun and interesting. His experience working within the animation industry allowed him to share so much information and I honestly did have stars in my eyes after the tour.
Booking this tour meant our family was the only one in the vehicle and it allowed us to relax and take in the sights while being driven around.
My mum gave the itinerary of where we wanted to visit. I was happy to leave this in her capable hands because it was one less thing for me to think about.
The main place I wanted the girls to see was the Hollywood sign. I remember seeing the sign in the distance 20 years ago, but I wanted to get a family picture in front of it.
The best thing about this tour is we got that and so much more.
How to Sightsee LA in One Day
Our first stop was the obligatory selfie in front of the Hollywood sign to get that out of the way.
Did you know it was originally to advertise Hollywood Reality and never had the intention of becoming a tourist landmark? I loved the history and Scott was amazing because he knew the best place to get the ideal photo. The location is not known to the public and if you want to know where to get that ideal photo, you will just have to book a tour and keep the secret like we have. This stop was brilliant. And the photos speak for themselves.
After visiting the Hollywood sign, we went to the California Science Centre to see the Endeavour Space Shuttle. I have vague memories of this space shuttle landing and the exhibit shows how the Endeavour travelled through the streets of LA to make its final resting place at the California Science Centre. This was amazing. Absolutely mind blowing to see the shuttle in life. It’s massive. I had no idea this was part of the tour but I found the history fascinating.
I even learned about plumbing in space – how astronauts go to the loo. A bit more technical that on earth. No such thing as aiming straight in space as one has to make sure the connections to their anatomy is correct to ensure effluent doesn’t float around in the shuttle.
After visiting the California Space Centre, we headed to Santa Monica Pier. It’s very touristy and there are a lot of pigeons and seagulls which always worry me as their aim always lands on my head. Never the less, we grabbed a coffee and baked goods and sat down at a picnic table to draw in the atmosphere.
We didn’t go on any rides as we had been to Universal Studios the day before. There are cheap markets on the side of the pier but nothing to spend your money on. I was happy to get back on the tour after being here.
We did a bit of driving around after the Pier. We drove through Beverly Hills to sight see stars’ homes and get the history of who lived where in the past. It boggled my mind how much my mum knew! We also drove past buildings used in movies too. I didn’t take too many pictures because I wanted to take everything in. We did the famous drive down Rodeo Drive. That was all we could afford to do down that street!
I did take a photo of this building which was used in Pretty Woman. I’ve never seen the movie so will need watch it.
An interesting plumbing fact in Beverly Hills – because it’s known as an affluent area the water hydrants are painted silver/platinum. Everywhere else in LA, they are yellow. In Australia, our water hydrants are underground in the street. This allows the fire brigade to access water when responding to a fire.
A must see in LA is The TLD Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. This area can be a bit scary for young children and it is certainly a place where if you are oblivious, you can get taken a ride with your cash. Hold your kids’ hands so they aren’t drawn to the dressed up characters who take a photo of your child and demand money for the photo. It wasn’t as bad as we had been warned but it’s something to be wary of.
Tourists flock to this area for the history and seeing the star sidewalk honoring the celebrities names. The process of getting your star on the sidewalk is no easy feat.
Nominations have to be put in and then a committee decides who gets a star and then the nominated celebrity has to pay the $40,000 for the ceremony. Most celebrities will time the ceremony and cost with the release of a movie as extra PR for their upcoming movie.
The girls loved placing their hands in imprints of Shirley Temple in the concrete. Make sure you have plenty of wet wipes!
We also walked through the shopping mall arcade which is the entrance to the Oscars.
Each movie that wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards has their name listed on a pillar inside the entrance of the mall. I took the opportunity to get my photo taken under Rebecca, a film by Alfred Hitchcock which won an academy award for best picture in 1940.
This is where the tour gets blurry… I can’t remember when we saw the Tar Pits in LA, but we saw them… may have been after Santa Moncia Pier. The museum costs extra to get in. The tar pits were another fascinating site. It’s a National Natural Landmark in LA. The movie Volcano featured the Tar Pits in the 1997 film.
The last stop of our tour was as the Griffith Observatory. Again it’s another popular tourist attraction, giving a close view of the Hollywood sign and views over LA. The ‘close view’ is nothing compared to the view we had that morning.
The Observatory has been the set for many movies. The most recent I had seen was La La Land. It’s free to enter the facility, which has a range of space and science related displays. By this stage of the tour we were a bit overloaded with information.
We took in the view of LA and the Hollywood sign in the distance and then made our way back to the hotel.
If you ever get the chance to do a tour of LA, I’d recommend LA Insider Tours and specifically Scott as your guide for your tour. Nothing was too difficult and the sheer amount of knowledge Scott has of LA and Hollywood made the tour amazing. He also took the family photos for us so we could capture memories from our visit.
We wouldn’t have seen all that we did in one day if we hadn’t of been on LA Insider Tours. Absolutely worth spending the money to do this tour.
Have you ever been to LA? What was your favourite spot to sightsee?
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to checkout this post on spending one day in Universal Studios Hollywood.