I just got back from Kuwait a week and a half ago and I planned a mini trip to Cali. I went to LA last June but felt my trip was too short. I decided to go back so I could do more. I did a couple of Airbnb experiences and stayed in an Airbnb for the first time. I explored the Getty Museum and LACMA and spent a day at Universal Studios.
Staying at Airbnb
This was my first time to stay in an Airbnb and highly recommend it if you are trying to save money. My number one tip is to check the listing thoroughly to make sure it has everything you need. These places are people’s homes and each one offers different amenities, so read all the rules and things that are provided carefully. I believe booking here is better than a hotel because it is cheaper and homey. My host was pretty responsive and made sure check in was smooth for me. Everyone is different so it is important to read reviews as well.
Photo Tour experience with Airbnb
Not only was it my first time booking a home through Airbnb, I also did a photo tour and a hike. I did the photo experience because it sounded exciting and it killed time before I checked in. As soon as I landed in LA, I took an Uber straight to the meeting location for my experience. When I got there I had 30 minutes to grab a bite to eat, I went to McDonald’s because it was right across the street. The host was very friendly, but there was a guy yelling profanities at anyone who came across his path. He was all talk but I don’t think he was crazy enough to actually do anything.
Anyway, even though I booked the tour on my own I was with a group of people. Everyone was from different places, Australia, Brazil, Las Vegas, and Houston. Our first spot was the Hollywood sign. We went to a location where we could get good pictures from a distance without hiking. I always feel super awkward taking pictures so that makes my pictures come out awkward. I had a lot of weird pictures in the beginning, but towards the end I got more comfortable. After the Hollywood sign we did Urban Lights, Beverly Hills Sign, street of Palm trees, pink wall, and angel wings, not exactly in that order. This experience is a must if you visit LA and like posting on IG.
I have a friend that lives in LA and I stayed with her last year for my stay. This time we planned on going to Universal together, but I still had two days before and she still had to work. I spent a lot of my time on public transportation because I wanted to save money. The place where I stayed was a little further away from Hollywood and would have cost me about $30 each time. That is not bad for the distance, but coming and going each day can add up. I have the money to spend, but I like to save when I can so I found my way around on the bus and the subway. I got lost a couple of times and lucky for me I was not on a schedule so it was ok. The first time I took the bus was when I left the Getty Museum. I wanted to go back to Urban Lights to get pictures at night. The host from the photo tour recommended it and warned it would be lots of people. It was easy to get from the Getty to Urban lights because there was a couple pretty much going in the same direction as me. When I got to Urban Lights at night it was lots of people and hard not to get people in my photos.
I thought I would like LACMA more than the Getty, but Getty was better because there was more to explore. My favorite was the Cactus garden because the desert holds a special place in my heart. At LACMA I thought the Metropolis II was really neat. It is a kinetic sculpture created by Chris Burden modeled after a fast paced modern city. There are more things to explore at both museums these things were my personal favorite. The Getty is also free and I do suggest the walk instead of the tram, but I took the tram because I didn’t have the right shoes. With the walk, you can get good pictures of the mountains.
I was really excited about the Universal Studios studio tour. I decided to go all out and book the VIP experience and it was worth the price. This ticket included park entrance and the tour itself. It also included the fast pass, valet parking, and lunch. I went with my friend Cortnee who lives in LA. When we first arrived we were bumped up to 8:15 because we got there early. We ate a nice complimentary breakfast which included sandwiches, pastries, fruit, juice, and coffee. They also have water that was included. We also got little things like sunscreen, lip balm, mints, etc. My tour guide told us to take as much as we wanted, but I was being generous and only took one sunscreen and pack of mints. Later that day I wished I got more.
We started our tour on time and headed to the trams. The difference between the regular studio tour and the VIP experience is you get a closer look at sets. Our first stop was the soundstage where Super Store is recorded. It looks exactly like a supermarket, but the difference is most of the food is fake and the shelves have wheels so they could be easily moved for shots. We saw the set of Desperate House Wives, Amityville Horror, Jaws, Whoville, and Bates Motel. We got a closer look at the plane wreck from War of the Worlds and took pictures. This scene was also used in Nikki and Rihanna’s music video Fly. There was a western being shot, but we couldn’t know the name of it because of a nondisclosure agreement.
After the studio tour, we had lunch at a buffet. The food was average, but I had the best chocolate chip cookies, they were better than they looked. After lunch, we rode a few rides and watch the Water World show. I was glad I got to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for myself. I tried some ButterBeer which was really sweet and a nice drink to help cool off. We went to the very front of the line with our tour guide with us. He stayed with us for most of the day. Our last ride was the Minion ride, which is cute and you get turned into a minion. After that, we went to the special effects show, which I really enjoyed. By this time it was time for us to head to our hike.
The hike was another experience I found on Airbnb and originally I was nervous about it. My host from the other tour said there is a lot of dirt and it was hard. She hyped it up to be an intense thing. Even on Airbnb the host for the hike did not recommend it for anyone who is afraid of heights. I almost didn’t do it because of those things. On top of that, I was nervous because we were walking around Universal all that. But as with most things in life you have to experience it for yourself. If there is something you really want to do, do it for yourself and do not let negativity stop you from doing it. I enjoyed my self on this hike and met two new friends. One of the girls I met was from the middle east, what are the odds of that? Getting to the top behind the Hollywood sign was really worth the hike and I’m glad I tried it for myself. It was a basic hike and not half as hard as others tried to make it.
I am glad I went back to LA to see some of the things I missed last time. I may go back next summer and do more. My next vacation is the Island of Barbados, the hometown of Rihanna.