The euphoria of the occasion hit me from the very moment I set foot outside LAX. The air was humid, sun blazing, palm trees appeared as if placed by hand amidst a beautiful backdrop of the famous Los Angeles hills. The atmosphere was in stark contrast to what I had become accustomed to in London, it was simply beautiful in and of itself.
LA has a lot to offer in terms of attractions, Far more than I could imagine to fit into my short stay in Burbank. As I drove past famous film studios, production companies and the stunning homes of Hollywood A-Listers. I could tell I was right in the middle of where shows and movies I so dearly loved were remarkably created. I knew from that very moment that this excitement and attraction that had brought me to Los Angeles was only going to grow exponentially while I was out here.
My stay started with a trip to Earle’s on Crenshaw. For those of you who don’t know, Earle’s has been in LA for around three decades and is famous for amazing hot dogs and veggie burgers. While they boast an amazing menu, a massive celebrity clientele, and outstanding ‘Playas Punch’ (you really have to try it). What struck me most about Earle’s was the exceptional service that this family business had to offer. I loved getting to know the co-owner Dwayne Earle and some of the staff while we had a great time filming our very own #InMyFeelingsChallenge video. Customers come into Earle’s for great food and leave part of a community. Shout out to Earle’s for the exclusive t-shirt and hat, I will most definitely be back.
Fast forward to my first proper evening in LA and I couldn’t imagine a better place to spend it than at Mosaic church on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard. Now, I didn’t really have it on my mind to attend church as much as I did while I was in LA but when you encounter a community of Christians serving God like I did, it’s no wonder I attended this church 5 times in the space of 10 days. Not only does Mosaic have an amazing worship team, super welcoming volunteers, and an amazing building, what really stuck with me was the diverse community they had built that welcomes and caters for all. The church welcomed different ages, races, genders, sexual orientations you name it, you really see firsthand how they obtained the name ‘Mosaic’ by personifying a piece of artwork built from many different (often broken) pieces. Whether it was a midweek service, Sunday baptism or a dinner party, I loved every minute spent fellowshipping and meeting so many Mosaic members, once again, I will surely be back.
Thrill-seeking has never really been my cup of tea but boy did I receive it in abundance during my stay. Starting my adventures Go Karting at Racer’s Edge (they have amazing weekday prices from Mon-Thurs), followed by a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, my need for speed was most definitely satisfied.
Universal Studios Hollywood is an absolute must for all first timers in LA, an attraction that will literally take the entire day (and maybe more) to explore. The famous city walk boasts over 30 amazing restaurants such as Bubba Gump Shrimp, Johnny Rockets and Hard Rock Cafe, as well as a range of shopping outlets and a 19 screen IMAX theatre. This only begins to scratch the surface of what the park has to offer. Blockbuster attractions including Jurassic Park, Transformers 3D and the Simpsons will leave you speechless. But if that’s not enough the world-famous studio tour is something you cannot afford to miss out on (I did it twice!). I felt like a big kid, giddy with excitement being on the set of where a number of Hollywood classics were filmed such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and my guilty pleasure – Desperate Housewives. Universal Studios really needs no introduction, and following the theme of this trip, you know I’ll be back!
Now I tend to shy away from beaches as I unashamedly can’t swim. But Newport beach and Santa Monica Pier now hold a special place in my heart as the only beaches I have ‘willingly’ been to and would love to visit again. Whale watching out of Newport County and the fun of ‘Muscle Beach’, once again gave me a unique opportunity to enjoy my summer in a way I hadn’t before in London. Maybe because our weather is way too sporadic, maybe because we don’t have whales, who knows? It’s a real shame I didn’t get to witness the pier at night as I’m told it is an amazing sight, I guess that only gives me a reason to visit again.
Food was a recurring theme of my stay in LA, yet one which I wish I had explored more. Whether it was a giant turkey leg, In-N-Out, Chick-Fil-A, Earle’s, Shake Shack, Taco’s, the list goes on. I absolutely loved trying everything from Pink Lady Kombucha to Milk Duds. Hopefully, on my next trip, I’ll try a lot more of the smaller, local restaurants. In the meantime, leave me suggestions!
While the city of LA holds so many amazing sites and attractions, the magic of it all is really held in its people. The people of LA are like none other that I’ve ever encountered before and I loved my conversations with each and every one of the people I met. They often started with individuals noticing my British accent, then attempting to mimic met (to varying degrees of success), finally culminating in us both exchanging why we’re in LA. One thing that is apparent is that LA is a city of highly talented, passionate, dream chasing people. Whether it was a group of sisters moving across the country to start a business, my fellow Brit who I met at the movie theatre pursuing an acting career or a young music director who had come to LA on vacation with his parents and simply decided to stay. Everyone had their story as to how they got here and why this was exactly where they needed to be. It was both inspiring yet inwardly challenging as I asked myself whether I was doing all I could to chase my dreams like these brave individuals I was meeting. People’s stories, humour, and ambitions have stuck with me as I hope to one day meet so many of these people once again, past their Instagram profiles and Whatsapp conversations.
If there were three lessons I learnt from my time in LA it would be these:
- Feel the fear and do it anyway. Traveling alone to LA was daunting enough for me, how much more relocating there? Achieving our dreams and goals often comes at a cost, that cost may just be your comfort. Do all that you can, while you can, to enjoy this life to the fullest – in the face of fear.
- Take the time to find out people’s story. While it seemed that everyone had an amazing story to tell in LA, I began to ask myself whether the same could be said for those back home in London and I just didn’t know any. Maybe I had become comfortable settling for the synopsis of the lives of those around me.
- Never stop learning. One thing that LA taught me was that I didn’t have the slightest clue just how vast and exciting different arts and creative industries could be. It reminded me to always be willing to learn outside my comfort zone, to travel and find out more, to test just how much the world has to offer. If there’s one thing I now know, it’s that I know nothing.
My trip ended with a morning hike through the hills, a scenic walk down Hollywood Boulevard and a journey to downtown LA where I visited the Broad Museum. A dazzling collection of art from world-famous artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol made this a pleasant end to an unforgettable trip. While I can’t begin to note every experience, memory or question that I had (like, what makes it a boulevard?), I hope that this piece gave you a snippet into just how much LA has to offer. Who knows, I may have moved out there by the time you come to visit.
cover image by @jamiemci88