“Let me welcome everybody to the Wild, Wild West. A state that’s untouchable like Elliot Ness,” – 2PAC
After a long Summer hiatus, I am back in the driver seat this week for another hugely entertaining “Tuesday Ten!” It’s no secret that we here at Joyful Miles are huge Disney buffs, and are heading out to the left coast next week to run the Dumbo Double Dare at Disneyland. However, as big of a fan that I am of all things Disney, I am an even bigger fan of the great state of California. So I thought I would highlight some of the reasons that make it a “must-do.” We are, after all, also about traveling and having a good time, and according to 2PAC, “California knows how to party.”
People are always judged on how good their California adventures are by the number of celebrities they see. I don’t usually go “ga-ga” over celebrity sightings, but I admit, it’s part of the fun and excitement that surrounds visiting “La-La” Land. I didn’t have many on my journey, but I did have a very unexpected one. We were out to an early (very early by LA standards) breakfast at a very busy spot on Sunset BLVD, the Griddle Cafe (which certainly is a spot you must hit). As we were waiting outside to be called, I noticed a very convincing troupe of LMFAO impersonators. It was only after they walked by us, that our friend, a California resident and Industry insider, let it be known that it was, indeed, the real LMFAO. You just never know when or where you will have a sighting, so best be on your guard!
9. Studio Tours
I know this is all sounding very “touristy” so far, but trust me on this one, these are cool! You have a ton to choose from, but the one we did and can recommend highly, is the Warner Bros Studio tour. Warner Bros is steep in its history of great films and television shows, and this tour is excellent. You also get to see the iconic Water Tower up close, as well as working sets (we toured the set of the Mentalist at the time), back lots, and even the Central Perk set from Friends is on exhibit. They also film constantly, and you never know who you will run into. Johnny Depp was actually there the day we were, but we never crossed paths. He must not have heard I was coming…
8. TV Tapings
If you can be lucky enough to score tickets to a TV taping, I suggest you do it. We were lucky to attend two while we were there. Once we knew we were heading to California, we knew attending “The Price is Right” was a must. That was one of my childhood dreams that I just had to fulfill! After all, I spent many a sick day with Bob Barker when I was a kid. We even made new friends while waiting for the taping, and one of them just happened to be the big winner that day, and they allowed us on stage to celebrate at the end! This meant we got to meet and shake hands with Drew Carey (which we got to meet twice, but more on that later) You can see the ending here! The other one we attended, we just happened to stumble upon. After we finished our WB Studio tour, we were asked if we wanted to attend that day’s taping of “Conan O’Brien.” Since we didn’t have any real plans, and I am a huge Conan fan, this was a no-brainer! This also allows you to see the different celebrities featured on his show, and being a huge “Seinfeld” fan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus was the main guest that day! The one thing to know about all of these different shows, is that they can be huge time commitments. The Price is Right shoots 2 episodes daily, and the first one is early meaning you have to get there super early and just hang out while they screen contestants and prepare the show. Conan required us to first get tickets, and then come back around 2 hours early for his taping. However, this is seriously time well spent, and you get to see a lot of the behind the scenes stuff, which I really enjoy.
7. Hollywood BLVD
This is truly a sight you must see to believe. This was our first stop after settling in to our hotel, and it was here that we realized, “We are here!” You will see some of the more recognizable icons such as the Chinese Theater, El Capitan Theater (where Jimmy Kimmel shoots his nightly show), and the Walk of Fame. You will also see a melange of people trying to make a living or get their name out there, while making a buck along the way. Knock-off characters from Elmo to Mickey are on the prowl trying to have you pay them to take pictures with them. People roaming around with their demo cds looking to charge you if you take one. If you’re trying to make it in Hollywood, you start at Hollywood BLVD.
6. Santa Monica
Everyone always thinks of the pier at Santa Monica, and that is a definite “must-do.” However, Santa Monica is actually made up of about 8.5 square miles of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The fact that you can park and tour pretty much on foot, makes it a great way to spend an entire day. You can also find famous hot-spots like the end of Route 66, or re-enact your favorite scene from Rocky 3 (which is something we at Joyful Miles are going to try and do in the coming days)!
Malibu is another fun spot to just hang in or try and find some celebrities hanging out around their multi-million dollar mansions in the hills. I love Malibu for a good hike. Being from the northeast, we have huge 40,000 footers that can be quite the chore to do. Malibu’s hills don’t scale even close to that, so it’s something you can do in only a couple of hours, and then head over to Santa Monica for some lunch and shopping. Plus you can get some great views of the aforementioned mansions owned by the elite of entertainment.
The one thing LA can safely tout is its weather. It was rainy and cloudy everyday we were there (we were assured by our local friend that “it’s never like this”). That didn’t stop us, however, from tooling around the West Siiiide in a convertible. Ours happened to be a bright neon blue that we aptly named “The Blue Bomber.” One thing that can honestly be safely said is: LA traffic is bad. You might as well enjoy it in style. Plus, it was pretty cool getting reactions out of all of the valets we used. Because when you have a car that awesome, you have to throw your keys to someone as you say,” Put it someplace nice,” and slip them a crisp George Washington. Just check the mileage in case they go all Ferris Bueller on you….
3. Griffith Park
Heading to the top of Griffith Park to see the famous Observatory, and catch a glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign is a great experience. Unless the weather is crappy, and the view stinks so you can’t see said Hollywood sign (which our friend swore never happens). Still, the Observatory is a cool spot. It can get very crowded, so parking can be a pain. Most will park along the winding path leading up to the top. But Griffith Park also boasts hiking trails, horse riding, and a theater. You will also find the famous tunnel used in movies such as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” and one of my personal favorites, “Back to the Future 2.”
2. San Diego
San Diego is truly worth a drive down the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway to the layperson) to check out. It is absolutely beautiful, and the weather actually is great (first time we saw the sun the whole trip). Yes it has the famous Zoo, which I absolutely think is worth checking out. Just not a whole day trip. It also has Sea World, which pre-“Blackfish” would be a great way to spend another half day. The highlight for me, however, was the U.S.S. Midway. This is a tour anyone calling themselves an American must do. There is also a ton of great dining spots and entertainment options. We had to see a Padres game from Petco Park, and got to see our new BFF, Drew Carey, perform at a comedy club. Seriously, do yourself a favor and spend a few days in San Diego.
1. The Stuff You Don’t Get To Do
One of the things that constantly draws me back to Walt Disney World is the fact that you can never do it all. Part of what I love about visiting a place is the allure to come back and explore it further. That is exactly what California is for me. From visiting other areas, like San Francisco or Wine Country, or stupid stuff, like finally getting over to In-And-Out for a burger off of their “secret menu.” California will always have something for me to do that I have yet to experience. As our friend 2PAC said,” From Oakland to Sacktown, The Bay Area and back down, Cali is where they put they mack down!” So put your mack down, and go visit California. And if you see Drew, tell him I said, “Sup?!”