Malibu and Los Angeles: Fun in the Sun

 

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The famous Hollywood sign was at the top of our list of sites we wanted to see.
A while back, Mike, the boys and I headed to Californ-i-a for a vacation.  Mike’s promise to the boys was that when they turned 16 he would take them on vacation to the place in which they were born.  The oldest scored a great trip to Hawaii, but the youngest was feeling robbed by the hour’s drive to Plano!  Mike gave him the opportunity to choose his destination, and he chose Hollywood!

A mural outside Manuela Restaurant is the backdrop for outdoor seating, vegetable and herb gardens and chicken coops.
A mural outside Manuela Restaurant is the backdrop for outdoor seating, vegetable and herb gardens and chicken coops.

 

 

After scouring the internet for a vacation rental, we selected one located a bit north of Malibu which had views of the ocean.  Perched on a hill, Villa Bella had a beautiful vertical garden that could be enjoyed from every level of the house.

An amazing sunset was our after dinner treat following dinner on the deck of our vacation rental home.
An amazing sunset was our treat following dinner on the deck of our vacation rental home.

 

All four of us enjoyed the home.  It was peaceful, beautiful, inspiring, spiritual, relaxing and intriguing.  Sometimes, where one stays while on vacation is not always an important aspect, since it is mostly just a place to sleep.  During this vacation, we bookended our trip with nights in Long Beach and  Los Angeles so that we could do some different things.  For those stays, we booked convenient hotels.

The view from the back of our vacation rental house.
The view from the back of our vacation rental house.

 

While at the vacation rental house, we took day trips, walked the neighborhood, grilled out, took naps on the long porch, read magazines, watched the ocean and vegged-out.  Our favorite part of the rental was the daily visits of the green parrots and the hummingbirds.

The two little dots at the top of the hill are Mike and his son.
The two little dots at the top of the hill are Mike and his son.

 

For me to tell you all the fun things there are to do in Long Beach, Malibu, Hollywood and Los Angeles would nearly be impossible.  I think most people have something they want to see and/or do in that part of California.  We had a few goals and found some really nice surprises.  We wanted to have our photo made with the Hollywood sign, go to Universal Studios, and take a stars tour.  Our plan for accomplishing all of this was interrupted by traffic, but we ended up with a better use of our time, and I learned a few things in the process.

This is Graystone Mansion. You may recognize it from starring roles on both the big and small screens. Anyone remember Chilton from the Gilmore Girls?
This is Greystone Mansion. You may recognize it from starring roles on both the big and small screens. Anyone remember Chilton from the Gilmore Girls?

 

While in Malibu, we had planned to go in to Los Angeles on Tuesday for Universal Studios and Thursday for a stars tour.  On the drive in on Tuesday, we got a late start and then hit standstill traffic.  We were going to miss half the day at Universal.  So, we did an internet search for celebrity tours and found a company named Glitterati Tours.  The great thing about their tours was that they were totally private.  The SUV contained our tour guide/driver, water and snacks and us!

Rose petal, Cognac and Lavendar Macarons at Laduree at The Grove.
Rose petal, cognac and lavender macarons at Laduree at The Grove.

 

We headed to The Grove for lunch.  We selected Laduree and sat out by a pond.  We walked around a bit before meeting our driver, Paul, in his black SUV.

This is Paul's foot. I failed to get a photo with him, so this is all I have to remind me us of him. This was taken at the lookout spot for the Hollywood sign.
This is Paul’s foot. I failed to get a photo with him, so this is all I have to remind me of him. This was taken at the lookout spot for the Hollywood sign.

 

One thing about Los Angeles…everyone you meet is an actor.  Paul was no different.  He was so nice and cute!  He sings, dances and acts.  The tour took us to the best place to see the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Bowl, Greystone Mansion, the Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Hills, etc.  Paul and the boys talked a lot about the video game, Grand Theft Auto, and the places represented in the game.

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This was taken at The Grove, which is a cool shopping and dining area in Los Angeles.
The tour was a bit pricey, but it really was worth every penny.  We got to see and do what we wanted to see and do.  We got to ask our questions and spend time on the things we enjoyed most.  We chose the Essential Los Angeles tour.  We did not get lost, have to look for parking, or miss any of the main sights.  We were admitted to places that if we had been on our own we would not have been allowed to enter.

The famous Hollywood Bowl.
The famous Hollywood Bowl.

 

We rescheduled Universal Studios for Thursday.  There were three options from which to choose:  general admission, front of the line and the VIP experience.  After a bit of research, we decided on the VIP experience.

This is the throne from Snow White and the Huntsman. I was told to look mean. I really just wanted to giggle!
This is the throne from Snow White and the Huntsman. I was told to look menacing. I really just wanted to giggle!

 

If you have kids, you probably already know that you can pay extra to not stand in line at theme parks.  This was news to me!  I must admit that I like it.

We started our morning with a free breakfast.  Then we met our tour.  The tour group was small, but it wasn’t just us.  We had been told that we could have up to 16 people in our group, but we ended up with 11.

Our guide, Natalie, took us to the studio tour, tour of the prop building, all but one ride, and the Water World show.  The six-hour tour included a complimentary buffet lunch, which was actually nice.  Also included in the price was valet parking.  All in all, I think it was a pretty good value.  Oh, and, Natalie, too, was an actress!

This art installation outside Mauela in the Los Angeles Arts District is illumnated underpants.
This art installation outside Manuela in the Los Angeles Arts District is illuminated underpants.

 

One other highlight of our trip was visiting with a sorority sister and actress, Julie (although we called her Hulie in college).  She drove out to Malibu one night for a visit.  She is from Princeton, Texas.  On another night, we met her for dinner in Los Angeles at a restaurant named Manuela.  It, too, is owned by a guy from Princeton, Texas.  It was a really cool location, great food and a “must see” sort of place.

Malibu Seafood is a great place to eat.
Malibu Seafood is a great place to eat.

 

We also went to see a movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, at Dolby Theatre (above Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) and experience the D-Box seats.  The seats move, rattle, shake, etc. with the action on the screen.  Thankfully, the movie goer could alter the intensity of these movements.

My three beachcombers.
My three beachcombers.

 

Fun things we did in Malibu:
Drove the Pacific Coast Highway
Ate at Duke’s, Moonshadows, Malibu Seafood, and Neptune’s Net
Spent time on the beach
Looked for celebrities (I think we saw Dorit and Paul Kemsley  in the rose gold Bently while on the PCH)
Looked at the interesting houses on and around the PCH

Have you been to Los Angeles, Malibu, Hollywood, and/or Long Beach?  If so, what did you see and do that you would recommend to others?

Bonus Information:  To learn more about Paul, click here.  To learn more about Julie, click here.  To learn more about Villa Bella, click here.

 

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