We got up early on Friday morning. After we finished packing, we left The Grand Californian and headed back to LA. Our hotel was in El Segundo…which is really close to LAX. We had a few hours before our LA tour would start, so we decided to explore a little. We quickly made our way to the El Segundo beach. There were a lot of surfers out that morning. The kids played in the sand and we watched the surfers for a little while.
We went back to our hotel to wait for our driver. We had arranged a private limo tour with VIP Tours. I highly recommend them if you are looking for an LA tour company. They also do group/bus tours around LA, but it was so nice to have a private tour…limo or not. Our driver’s name was Lee. He was a really nice man who made sure we did and saw as much as possible during our 5-hour tour.
This was Zachary and Taylor’s first time in a limo. Taylor was really impressed with the lights in the ceiling.
Our first stop was Venice Beach. Lee drove us through the private residential area of Venice so we could see the “nice” side of Venice and the canals. It was beautiful.
Then, we drove on towards Venice Beach…
Let me tell you…there was some culture there. The picture below does not do the whole scene of this man in his red diaper justice. He was in what looked like a really baggy red speedo with tennis shoes on and he was holding an 80s model boom box while waiting in line to use the nastiest restrooms in the world! I know this because Taylor had to go to the bathroom really bad and we went in. Still makes my skin crawl.
We saw the famous Muscle Beach. Which wasn’t nearly as big as you would think.
Some of the stores along the Beach area. There were “Green Doctors” everywhere trying to get people to buy marijuana. Very interesting. We had to then explain to Zachary and Taylor what they were doing. Everywhere you went, there were people trying to shove CDs in your hand or anything to get you to buy what they were peddling. It was really dirty. I guess I’m glad we saw it, but I don’t think I will ever feel the need to go back to Venice Beach. It was kind of sad with how dirty it was and all the homeless people.
After leaving Venice Beach, we were going to go to Santa Monica Pier, but the fog/smog was so bad, that we couldn’t hardly see anything. While we had been at Venice Beach, we couldn’t even see the ocean from the store area.
So, we headed towards Beverly Hills instead. Lee, our driver, made sure to point out buildings where different movies had been filmed or where different movie stars had been arrested. He was a wealth of knowledge!
Taylor heading back to the limo…
After pictures at the Beverly Hills sign, we drove down Rodeo Drive. We didn’t get out, but it was fun to drive down it and see all of the stores.
The Beverly Wilshire Hotel…you know, Pretty Woman.
After leaving the Rodeo Drive area, we drove to the Farmers Market. It was really neat. A lot of high-end stores as well as food vendors from all over the world.
We saw Santa’s house at the Farmers Market. He was inside, but the line was a 2 hour wait to meet him.
We walked around The Grove at the Farmers Market.
After we left the Farmers Market, we made our way towards Hollywood. On the way, we passed by CBS.
Also saw the Famous Pink’s Hot Dog Stand.
Drove by Kat Von D’s tattoo shop from LA Ink.
Then, Lee told us something very exciting. That we were about to drive by the Muppet’s Studio. This was a complete shock and surprise to me. If you know me well, you know I LOVE the Muppet’s.
We arrived at Hollywood. That was another experience. It was so crowded. We didn’t walk around a lot of Hollywood, but naturally one of the first stars we came to was none other than MICKEY MOUSE’s star!!
We walked by the Chinese Theatre. When we got back to the limo, Taylor told Lee that we had found the Chinese Theatre but we didn’t have time to go in and ride The Great Movie Ride…haha! I had to explain to her that this was the real one and that the one at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios isn’t real and that is why there is a ride inside. No ride in the real one. There were so many people around it, that we didn’t stay around for too long. We were on a mission…to get a good view of the Hollywood sign.
Lee told us that we had to go to the Kodak Theatre…you know the one that most of the awards shows (like the Emmys) are filmed at. So, we went to the Kodak Theatre, walked up the stairs and found our way to the viewing area of the Hollywood sign!
Across the street from the Kodak Theatre is the El Capitan Theatre. This section of the Kodak Theatre is a shopping mall.
While we were waiting for Lee, we saw Ed O’Neill’s star.
Hollywood was very crowded. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there to look around because our tour time was almost up and it was starting to get dark. Lee did drive us down Sunset Blvd. on the way back to the hotel. We saw where Happy Days was filmed and saw the gates and entrances to a lot of the big Hollywood mansions. He also pointed out the comedy clubs and dance clubs and which celebrities frequent which clubs.
Before we got even half way back to the hotel, the kids were out like lights!
We said our good byes to Lee and thanked him for a great tour, woke the kids up and headed out to IN-N-OUT Burger for dinner. Yum!! Best hamburgers!!! The one we went to was close to our hotel, so it was close to LAX. The drive thru line was wrapped around the building. We had to stalk someone for their booth, but it was worth it. We even bought the cheesy t-shirts before we left!
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up on Saturday morning and decided to pack up the car and then head back to El Segundo Beach one last time. It was not as foggy, so we were able to see the ocean a little better.
Then, we headed to LAX and said goodbye to Disneyland and California. We had a great trip and can’t wait for the chance to go back!!
Just a few shots from the plane.
This was something we saw once we were up in the air for a while. We think it is Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona. Anyone know for sure?