5 Things to Do in LA – For Travelers

So you’re finally making the trip (or the flight) to Los Angeles,California to visit the city the entire world has heard of. You’ll definitely enjoy the weather,the people and the history,and while you’re at it,you’ll probably find a respectable souvenir or more to flaunt to your friends.

Here’s a list of some of the big stops you almost need to hit if you’re visiting from anywhere further than 100 miles away.

1. Visit Hollywood

It was called Tinseltown for a reason– the piece de resistance within this movie buff’s paradise is Hollywood and Highland,the famous intersection where nearly everything is designed to glamor visitors. From a towering complex of designer stores to a crowd of costumed street performers,to a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex poking its head through the roof of the Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not museum,this area can provide a busy afternoon. Especially if you venture further south and west to check out the area’s vintage stores (like Wasteland),cult restaurants (Pink’s Hot Dogs) and historical attractions (the La Brea Tar Pits). The numerous shops and tourist attractions along Hollywood Blvd add to the fun,as do the holiday decorations of you are available in December.

2. Go to Universal Studios

Not far from Hollywood,this hive of fun tourist activity (100 Universal City Plaza,Universal City) combines theme park rides and a carnival atmosphere with a movie-studio feel that almost puts you inside your favorite flicks. On the famous Backlot Tour,you can take the Jaws ride to see “Bruce” (the shark’s nickname) charge out of the water at you,see the New york city set where Manhattan-based movie scenes are filmed,and see how a heavy rain storm is created. Or you can go on rides designed after your favorite movies,where you could be taken up and swept along with the plot,then probably dropped from a staggering height. Only a 9.5 mile ride from Los Angeles

3. Hit the Beach

Santa Monica State Beach offers a nice,tourist-friendly getaway,though it can get crowded and hectic on weekends. The bright side is it’s right beside the Santa Monica Pier,a well-trafficked theme park area where you will find an abundance of food,entertainment and more costumed performers. This beach could be found along Ocean Avenue at Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. For a more relaxing beach hangout,Manhattan Beach is about 30 minutes south,where a paved walkway makes it good for sightseeing. Or you can set about 40 minutes north to get to El Matador Beach near Malibu for a more secluded,scenic beach.

4. Go to a Dodger game

Catching a baseball game is a great way to spend a sunny afternoon,and the local team exists to entertain visitors and rabid fans alike. Baseball fans can find Dodger Stadium at 1000 Elysian Park Ave Los Angeles,and the area’s public transport is an easy way to arrive without spending for parking. Ticket prices range from $9 for upper-deck seats to around $70 for most other seats,for full-priced adults. More ticketing information could be found on the Dodgers Website (Dodgers.com). Just beware,because Dodgers fans are fiercely passionate about their team,and they also like to drink huge cups of beer.

5. Go to Disneyland

It’s what every major athlete does after scoring a touchdown or hitting a home run. Disneyland (1313 S Harbor Blvd,Anaheim) isn’t only for kids (even though it tends to send them into ecstatic spasms),as the park offers the biggest,brightest and most complete theme park experience you’ll find outside of a dream. The rides last longer,the park-wandering characters are happier,and even the customer care folk are more helpful than any other park,despite the crowds. Explore the park’s many themed “lands,” see the light parade and jump onto the newest rides,as well as the nostalgic classics like Pinocchio and Small World. Of course,Pirates of the Caribbean never ceases to amaze – keep an eye out for Captain Jack Sparrow sightings,which can seem surreally lifelike.

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Desert Adventures: The Best Things to Do in Phoenix,AZ

With it’s signature red rock landscape,crystal blue skies and endless sunshine Phoenix is a city where life is best lived outside. Whether you’re traveling to Phoenix for a business trip or to Scottsdale for a girlfriend getaway,the proximity of several mountains,the Sonoran Desert and a small number of lakes and rivers means you’re never too far from some outdoor adventures. So if you want red mountain hikes,crave a little culture or desire nothing more than to lounge in a poolside cabana in Scottsdale; there is no shortage of outdoor activities in Phoenix Pack your bags and take a look at a few of the very best things to perform in Phoenix,Arizona.

Hiking in Phoenix

There is no doubt Phoenix provides a few of the very best urban hiking in the country. Where else can you hit the trails during the day with lots of time for a poolside cocktail at night? Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale is perhaps the very best known hike in Phoenix but the nearby Usery Mountains,Tonto National Forest and Superstition Mountains have miles of trails waiting to be explored. While beautiful the desert can also be brutal; ensure you stay on marked trails,watch out for wildlife (a snake bite is a sure way to ruin your day) and drink lots of water (ensure to bring along an eco-friendly reusable water bottle). With countless trails ranging flat and wheelchair accessible to 2,000 foot climbs that require scrambling and boulder hopping,a few of the very best hiking in Phoenix is only minutes from downtown.

Laze by the Pool in Scottsdale

When the Arizona sun brings temperatures into the triple digit range the only thing you really want to do is lounge by the pool with a fruity drink in hand and naturally Phoenix has elevated lazing by the pool into an art form. Scottsdale is well known for it’s top quality luxury resorts featuring over the top pools that are the perfect antidote to the blazing Sonoran sun. The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale features a 2.5 acre aquatic playground with 10 pools,20 fountains and a three-story tall tall high speed waterslide (take a look at my review for the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale); while the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess features six pools including one that has a 9,000 square foot white sand beach.

Horseback Riding in the McDowell Mountains

For a true taste of the wild west,cowboy up with the folks at Fort McDowell Adventures. Atop your trusty steed explore the sun-baked hills dotted with saguaro cactus and mesquite while real-deal cowboys share the history of the Yavapai Indians and tell tales of long lost gold mines. We-Ko-Pa Resort,a family friendly resort operated by the Yavapai Nation that boasts a pool with views of the nearby Red Mountains along with a cozy spa and an awardwinning casino,is the perfect place to rest your haunches after a day in the saddle.

Stand Up Paddle Board in Mesa

When you consider Arizona adventures stand up paddle boarding probably isn’t the primary thing that comes to mind but when the desert temperatures climb there is nothing like a day out on the water. With six lakes and a small number of rivers the Phoenix area offers ample opportunity to get out on the water. Pick up your rental board from the friendly folks at No Snow Stand Paddle in Mesa on your way out to Saguaro Lake. This two square mile lake,with views of the Four Peaks mountain range,towering sandstone cliffs and namesake saguaro cacti lining the shores is one of the most stunning places I’ve paddled. Lake Pleasant,a 10,000 acre lake popular for windsurfing and waterskiing,is just a 45 minute drive from downtown Phoenix.

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Phoenix

A hot air balloon ride tops many bucket lists and with over 300 days of sunshine per year and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert stretching out for miles Phoenix is one of the very best places in the US to make your ballooning dream a reality. Watching the sun rise from behind red rock mountains while gliding as much as 5,000 feet above the desert landscape is equivalent parts thrilling,magical and surreal and with a champagne brunch after you land this flight with Phoenix Hot Air Expeditions is one experience you won’t mind getting up early for. If you’re a first timer be sure to take a look at my tips for your first hot air balloon ride.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Including an architectural tour on a list of outdoor adventures may seem a bit odd,but hear me out. Taliesin West,the winter outpost of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright,is where the architect’s signature brand of organic architecture is on full display. The home is equivalent parts Flintsones and mid-century modern while the history of Frank Lloyd Wright,his family and students (Taleisin West continues to serve as an architectural school to today) are fascinating. Time your visit to Taleisin West for the evening for magnificent sunset views over Scottsdale and the surrounding McDowell Mountains.

Spend a Day Out on the Farm in Queen Creek

The deserts around Phoenix hold many surprises and one of the biggest for me was discovering the rich agricultural heritage of the farming communities near Mesa,Arizona on the Fresh Foodie Trail. Queen Creek Olive Mill,Arizona’s only working olive grove,offers a true farm-to-table experience using it’s olive press and cafe. At their Olive 101 class you can learn more about (and sample) the olive oil pressed on site then dine on casual Tuscan-inspired fare at the Mill’s onsite eatery. When it concerns peaches Georgia has nothing on Schnepf Farms,Arizona’s largest organic peach farm that has been run by the Schnepf family for over four generations. Over 250,000 visitors come by Schnepf Farms for juicy peaches straight from the tree,fresh baked peach pies and peach cinnamon rolls from their bakery,along with the numerous festivals the farm hosts throughout the year.

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