Emily M. DeArdo

writer

California Diary: Recommendations

travelEmily DeArdoComment

Hotel

Doubletree by Hilton LA--Westside

6161 W Centinela Ave, Culver City, CA

("West" in LA parlance means "south" to the rest of the world.) 

This hotel is really close to Sony Studios, hence the reason we stayed here. Lots of business travelers but I also saw some families. There's a pool and hot tub that are open year round (the pool is heated), and towels are provided there. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the room service menu is great. There's also a fitness room. The "business center" is two computers and two printers in the lobby. The people in reception also serve as concierges. 

Restaurants

Bouchon, Beverly Hills (Restaurant, bakery, bar) : Great wine list, classic French bistro menu, and the macarons are divinity. Be sure to stop at the bakery and pick up some yummy treats because they'll be closed after dinner! (They close at 7 PM, while the restaurant starts dinner seating at 6 PM) A great place for a nice dinner, and apparently kid-friendly-there were several people who had brought their kids to the restaurant. (Obviously, make sure your kid can handle a nicer restaurant before you do this.) 

Killer Shrimp, Marina Del Rey. This is a local chain, and it definitely had a neighborhood bar feel to it, but I liked that. It felt less touristy, you know? Coconut shrimp is amazing. 

Bubba Gump, Santa Monica Pier. Locations across the country. You don't have to know anything about Forrest Gump before coming here--I didn't. Fantastic view of the beach. 

Santa Monica Seafood, Santa Monica. They have a VERY small eating area, so you might want to eat on the earlier side. We were there around five, and got right in. 

Ghirardelli Soda Shop, Hollywood. This is also a sort of Disney Store. Pins are its main bread and butter, I think--the special Soda Shop pins can only be purchased here, and the line can be out the door and around the block when new pins are released. That said, the store sells tickets to Disneyland (get them here!), DVDs/Blu Rays, stuffed animals, some clothing, and things that tie into the most popular/newest Disney releases. But really, it's all about the pins. 

The Soda Shop has a very large menu and everything sounds amazing. 

 

Places

Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood (When you see the walk of fame, you'll see a lot of other things too, like the Chinese theater, the Dolby theater, etc--if you're in the "main drag" section--the Chinese theater has all the footprints, etc displayed outside so you don't need to pay to see them) 

Dolby Theater, Hollywood. Where the Academy Awards take place every year. See all the best picture winners on the pillars inside. Go up the steps and you'll find a shopping center that will, eventually, take you to a spot where you can see the famous Hollywood sign. 

The Getty Center, Brentwood --free admission, $15 parking fee. The Getty is great for all ages--they have a lot of stuff for kids and families, including a family center and a kids' gift shop. The cafe is impressively diverse and you have great views of the city from the dining room. There's also a pricier restaurant, but the menu is a lot smaller--just go to the cafe! The permanent collection is also supplemented by various special exhibits--check before you go to see what's on. 

If you're taking Uber or RideShare, there's even a special place to wait when you're ready to leave--a nice bonus, I thought. We got to the benches marked for Uber and called the car from there. 

Disneyland , Anaheim--more below 

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica--restaurants, gift shops, fishing, beach, carnival rides and games on the pier. 

 

Disneyland

Ticket prices here. They vary according to the season. 

Food: Carnation Cafe (Main Street), Naples (in Downtown Disney, adjacent to the park, and I do mean adjacent--it was literally right out the park gate, to the right), Mickey beignets (French Quarter), Dole Whips (by the Tiki Room--to save time, get in line on the Tiki Room side; order your Dole Whip of choice, eat it, and then "ride" the Tiki Room--the line is MUCH shorter this way!)

Downtown Disney has restaurants, shops (including a large Disney store), and a movie theater. It's a nice place to relax after your Disneyland adventures. If you're going to get an Uber from here, you might want to go over to the hotel that's next door--it's easier to give them a location that way. 

Transportation

Uber--we used Uber almost exclusively (a few cabs) and had absolutely no problems with it--it even took us to Disneyland and back. The Disney trip was the most expensive: It was $40 each way, but given that it took an hour, that's not terrible. You pay $50 in NYC going from the airport to midtown.  Most of our trips around LA and environs were much more reasonable--anywhere from $8-14 each way. The app is  great, but do not call the car until you're at the pick-up spot, because they come fast! I saw a group of tourists sprinting from the elevator to the front door of our hotel because their Uber driver was waiting for them.  

There are plenty of cabs at the airport for you to grab to take into the city, and we used cabs after each day of taping--the producers would actually call one for me, which I thought was nice. But the rest of the time--Uber.