View of Los Angeles from Griffith Park Observatory. Image©thingstodot.com

View of Los Angeles from Griffith Park Observatory. Image©thingstodot.com

For several years now, I have been traveling to Los Angeles at least once a year. From sampling coffee at Trader Joes and swimming at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, to shopping at the Grove and meditating in the SRF gardens in Pacific Palisades, it has become one of my favorite holiday destinations in the world. Here are some of the things that you can do in L.A. when you are there.

1. Shopping

Shopping in LA, Anthropologie. Image©thingstodot.com

Shopping in LA, Anthropologie. Image©thingstodot.com

I love shopping in L.A.! I love that I can buy a $300 Michael Kors bag on sale for $150 from the Michael Kors store at The Grove! Some of my favorite places to shop in L.A. are Old Pasadena, Americana at Brand, Glendale Galleria, The Grove, Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and the Beverly Center Mall. I also like visiting the Citadel Outlets where I can buy a pair of $300 True Religion jeans on sale for just $100, or the Desert Hills Premium Outlets which is an hour and a half drive from Los Angeles, and from where I love to shop designer handbags at great outlet prices. 

Read my post on Shopping Centers & Malls in Los Angeles

2. Eating & dining

Cheesecake Factory, Pasadena. Image©thingstodot.com

Cheesecake Factory, Pasadena. Image©thingstodot.com

The first restaurant I ever visited in Los Angeles was the International House of Pancakes, stylized as its acronym, IHOP, the American multinational pancake house/fast casual family restaurant chain that specializes in breakfast foods. It is a casual restaurant chain famous for pancakes. 

The Cheesecake Factory is exceptional for cheesecakes, while Le Pain Quotidien offers baked as well as vegan meals and desserts. 

At Soup Plantations you can have an all-you-can-eat buffet comprising of a salad bowl, soup and dessert for $10. I love their Columbia coffee that comes with the meal. 

If you are vegan, you can decide between a number of good vegan restaurants like Real Food Daily, Cafe Gratitude, My Sweet Vegan, Crossroads Kitchen and Gracias Madre.

3. Griffith Park Observatory

Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

Known as Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos, the Griffith Park Observatory offers spectacular views of the city of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign. You can look through telescopes, explore exhibits and also see live shows at the Planetarium. It is located on Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. I have visited there twice - once at sunset time and then again at sunrise - it has been magnificent both the times, even though the crowd during sunset hours can be a bit overwhelming!

Admission to the building, grounds, and parking is always free. The following are the opening hours of the observatory. 
Tuesday - Friday, 12:00 Noon - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

However, I strongly recommend going there at sunrise time - the view of the rising sun over the city of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign is just breathtaking!

Read my post on Griffith Park Observatory

4. Huntington Gardens  

Japanese Gardens at Huntington Gardens. Editorial credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Japanese Gardens at Huntington Gardens. Editorial credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

The Huntington Gardens are spread over 120 acres of specialized botanical landscaped gardens and include a ‘Japanese Garden’, a ‘Chinese Garden’ and a ‘Desert Garden’. Breathtakingly spectacular, me and my friend spent many hours wandering around the gardens the last time I was there. You can also visit the Huntington Library and view Art Collections from 18th and 19th century European art, as well as 17th-20th century American art. The Gardens are open from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays and the admission fees for adults is $23 per person on weekdays and $25 on weekends. Members can take one guest free of charge. 

5. Universal Studios

If you are a Hollywood fan and a film freak like me, you cannot miss Universal Studios on your trip to L.A. It is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios still in use. Tickets are available online from $105 and the park is open for visitors all 7 days of the week. 

6. Disneyland Park

I love Disneyland! Located in Anaheim, California and originally called Disneyland, it is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. Tickets start at $99 and the park is open 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. everyday. You can take a train from Los Angeles Union Station and arrive at Anaheim in 40 minutes. From Anaheim, you can catch a shuttle bus to the Park. 

7. Farmer's Market

Farmer's Market, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

Farmer's Market, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

The Original Farmer's Market at W. 3rd St. Los Angeles, has been operating since 1934 and is famous for food stalls, sit-down eateries, prepared food vendors, and produce markets. The  Grove, which is the high-end shopping mall of L.A. is located right across the Farmer's Market so you can plan to visit the two places together. 

Farmer's Market, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

Farmer's Market, Los Angeles. Image©thingstodot.com

8. Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway Beach. Image©thingstodot.com

Pacific Coast Highway Beach. Image©thingstodot.com

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most scenic drives in California. With stunning coastal views, beaches and restaurants, it is a must-do drive in L.A. You might want to stop at one of the beachside restaurants for dinner and enjoy the catch-of-the-day as your main course while the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean.

Read my post on Pacific Coast Highway & Dinner at a Beach Restaurant

9. SRF Lake Shrine Meditation gardens

SRF Lake Shrine meditation gardens, Pacific Palisades. Image©thingstodot.com

SRF Lake Shrine meditation gardens, Pacific Palisades. Image©thingstodot.com

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine lies a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, on Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades, California. It was founded and dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of  Yogi. The 10 acre site is a natural amphitheater with lush gardens and a spring-fed lake surrounded by hills from all sides. This is my favorite spot in L.A. where I can spend hours walking around the lake, meditating in the gardens or just sitting and watching kids as they feed the swans, turtles and ducks in the lake. It is said that Elvis Presley was a regular visitor and used to ride his bike the entire length of Sunset Boulevard to get here. 

The opening hours of the gardens are: Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm, Sunday: 12:00 noon - 4:30 pm

Read my post on SRF Lake Shrine Gardens

10. Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena

I do not like to give up my fitness routine even while I am traveling and afternoons in L.A. find me swimming at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The facility has two Olympic size (50 Meter x 25 Yard) pools out of which one is a warm water pool. There are two hydrotherapy spas, good locker and shower facilities and an exercise and a weight room. After a 40 minute intensive swim session, I almost always get in the jacuzzi which is followed by an almond butter Gainer Smoothie at the Rose Bowl Cafe. 

I still have to visit the Kodak Theatre, walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, check out the Santa Monica Pier and go skiing with my friends in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Hopefully, I can do them in my next trips to L.A.!

Read my post on Pasadena

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