Don't visit the Hollywood Museum of Death
This maze-like museum is flooding with items surrounding death: coffins, EXTREMELY graphic photographs of crimes undertaken on victims, taxidermy animals, hundreds of skeletons and artwork and letters from serial killers. I'm a fan of horror films so when my friend suggested we visit the Death Museum located on Hollywood Boulevard I was actually really enthusiastic. My excitement quickly turned into regret once we stepped foot inside and walked amongst those eerie artifacts. I certainly felt an unusual presence following me and held onto the cross around my neck. Maybe I was being dramatic but the atmosphere inside is indeed spine-chilling. Definitely do not visit this place if you're squeamish; there were moments where I even felt as though I was going to throw up, especially upon seeing photos of decapitated heads. The price is $17, quite high, probably because they know that no one is going to come back for a second time...
Photo by Jennifer Boyer
Don't pay for the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
I'd generally recommend the Hop Off Hop On bus tour in most major cities, especially in Europe, but because LA is just so darn big I'd avoid it. Here, the tour is split into two different routes covering sections of the city. Sitting on a bus for most of the day is what you'll get and a lot of what you see is basic, concreted streets lined with endless palm trees. As certain tourist attractions are in completely different areas, that are miles apart from each other, it may seem as though you are rushing to make the most of seeing the city when taking this particular bus tour. You don't want to have to rush to see Rodeo Drive when the bus leaves in 20 minutes to go to Santa Monica. My advise is to take a local bus and pay $1.70, your surroundings will be the exact same as on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour just at a cheaper price and at least times are more flexible. Otherwise grab an Uber each day and target a specific area to explore on foot.
Photo by Prayitno
Forget Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive, pronounced Row-Day-O not Row-Dee-O, has been seen as the shopping destination for the rich and famous for years. It's a great place for celeb spotting or gawking at insane price tags but if you're only in LA for a few days I'd say give it a miss if shopping ain't your style. The stores are laid out beautifully, designed to perfection, my favorite being the Gucci store and Two Rodeo Drive featuring European styled boutique buildings. But this street of high end shops isn't really that long and you will get bored after awhile. Shopping wise, you'll be spending your child's college fund so head to The Grove, or Century City Westfield which is about a 5-10 minute drive.
Give the Hollywood Sign Hike a miss
At the beginning of the year a friend and I conquered the Hollywood Sign walk, it was around 3pm when we decided to ascend and as we lost track of time watching the sun set over the city, our phones died from the cold wind, and we were left to walk back down anxiously in the dark. It was quite a memorable adventure to say the least. However, it's probably best not to undertake the hike when the sun is going down. Overall the walk was fairly easy (we did The Mt. Hollywood Trail). The views of the city are magnificent but you can also get those exact same views from Griffith Observatory, which I believe has much nicer hikes nearby. The wired fence barricading the sign is also a turn off making it tough to see the sign from different angles, and if you do want to take photos then you'll absolutely need a wide enough lens to fit the entire 106 metre sign in shot.
Don't swim at Santa Monica Beach
If you're wanting to spend your summer days swimming every Saturday and Sunday then head further down to a more secluded, less populated beach such as Malibu, home to two of my favorites: El Matador State Beach and Point Dume State beach. If you don't own a car and Santa Monica is closest to you then at least try to head further along the shoreline, up north towards Pacific Palisades. The Santa Monica Pier gets around 6 million people per year, as you can imagine with that many people in one area the surrounding beaches struggle to stay clean. I see hundreds of tourists swim along the beach near the Pier with no issues so perhaps the water is cleaner than I think. But I just remind myself of all the times I've witnessed leftover chip packets floating over waves or forgotten board shorts and bathing suits strewn along the shoreline.
Photo by An Aussie Broad
Don't spend more than an hour on Hollywood Boulevard
You absolutely can visit Los Angeles without paying a visit to Hollywood Boulevard but I do understand that many just want to tick it off the bucket list, so fine, go check it out, just don't spend more than an hour there. Hollywood Boulevard is home to the Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, countless museums, the Dolby Theatre and El Capitan Theatre, to name a few. The downside is it's considered a massive tourist trap: over populated with people, pickpockets, cheesy street performers, not so great food and cheap souvenirs. Spend an hour, snap your photos, and then get away from the congestion. Avoid the heart of Hollywood Boulevard especially during the summer months and weekends.
Avoid In-N-Out Burger
Ok, I'm prepared for the onslaught with this one. A Californian staple offering your classic range of burgers, fries and shakes served by cheery employees wearing retro hats and matching uniforms. For a burger joint it doesn't get more American than that. In-N-Out is so sought after by locals and tourists that there is even one located right outside LAX so you can alleviate your jetlag with a feast of fatty foods. I don't have a problem with fast food. I love it. Probably a little too much but for some reason I can't seem to stomach In-N-Out's cheesy fries. To me, they taste a little bland, and that's probably because I'm so used to over-salted french fries, you know, the ones that make your blood pressure skyrocket. I'm salivating just thinking about it... Where was I? The burgers are good but I still wouldn't rave about them either. For me, it's a miss. But go ahead and give it a try. Let me know what you think!
Don't see the Sunset Strip during the day
During the day, you'll spot closed nightclubs, cafes, eye-catching billboards, and venues getting ready for the evening ahead. Basically, you'll wish you had come here at night when Sunset Strip actually comes to life. You can start your evening by dining at Tesse, then heading over to The Comedy Store for laugh out loud acts, followed by late night drinks at Bar Marmont, which isn't just a classy, celeb-spotting hotel, and then onto Johnny Depp's The Viper Room to rock out to some metal and alternative rock music. It'll make for an unforgettable night.
Photo by Jeff Costlow