West Hollywood and San Diego, USA

West Hollywood and San Diego, USA

I recently travelled to Los Angeles and San Diego for work. We were given access to the Air NZ lounge in Sydney which has recently been renovated. It was such a lovely space to wait for your flight. As our flight was in the morning there was a range of breakfast items available both hot and cold, champagne flowing or coffee made to order from an ipad- a great way to start the journey! The Air NZ flights were great with very good service. The new aircraft and the sky coach is amazing for young families or couples to share if they want to good rest without the price of Premium or Business.
On arrival in LAX, we were transferred by Karmel Shuttles to the Ramada West Hollywood where we would stay for the next 3 nights. The rooms at the Ramada have been recently renovated, I was in a one bedroom suite, Marilyn Munroe themed with separate lounge, kitchenette and balcony looking over Santa Monica Boulevard. The room was very spacious and can sleep five people, kids up to 17 stay free which is a bonus.
The West Hollywood area is very central to all on offer in Los Angeles. Our hotel was walking distance to Melrose Ave, the Beverley Centre and many restaurants such as PUMP, SUR and the infamous Abbey nightclub plus some of LAX’s hottest rooftop bars including Johnny Depps Viper Room and the Monterey. Health food shops line the streets, the local people are very friendly. There is a great restaurant two doors down that serve fresh Lobster rolls (this was discovered on America’s Shark Tank TV show)! Next door to the Ramada is a 24 hours food outlet serving breakfast, lunch dinner and drinks until 2am. The breakfast here are huge, with lots to choose from, or you can get a healthier option from the Health Food shops..
We used Uber to travel to Universal Studios. Harry Potter World, Simpsons and the Backlot Tour is a must, which is a train ride through various movie sets plus a 3D interactive tour featuring scenes from Fast and Furious and King Kong. It is also advisable to get a front of line ticket so you do not have to wait in line.
In the afternoon we visit the Citadel Outlets for an afternoon of shopping. We were treated to the VIP experience where we started with a glass of champagne and shown a lovely room where people can stay if they are flying out later that night. The VIP experience also gives you discount vouchers for certain outlets. There are many bargains to be had here, and even though our dollar isn’t strong, the shopping is amazing.
We enjoyed a special dinner at SUR restaurant, owned by Lisa from Beverley Hill’s Housewives. It is such a lovely place, we were given a room to ourselves and the food and staff were wonderful. We then visit the sister restaurant PUMP for a drink and stopped in at the Abby for a dance.
The next day joined an Urban Adventure tour with Intrepid. We did the walking tour of Hollywood Stars, saw where the Academy Awards are held and the sights of Hollywood Boulevard. We then caught a local bus to the Farmer’s Markets which offer all cuisine and organic food shops.
We took another local bus to Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica. The beaches down this end of town are very nice with lots of atmosphere and a carnival type feel. We then rode bicycles to Venice Beach which took about an hour. This was great as we were able to see the area in a unique way, and you felt more like a local that a tourist.
Next stop was San Diego. We travelled by train which was a lovely way to travel. Amtrak trains are all quite new, offer wifi, comfy seats and a great view down to San Diego. The whole journey took 3 hours travelling right beside the stunning coastline.
In San Diego we stayed at the Handlery Hotel, this hotel is not on the water or in the centre of town, however it is central to everything. SAN Diego is such a diverse city, ranging from the Spanish Gaslamp area, with great food and restaurants, to Old Town which reminds you of Mexico and going back in time. We had dinner at a lovely Tapa’s Spanish restaurant in the Gaslamp district and were taught some Spanish dancing steps.
Sea World, San Diego was very similar to Sea World on the Gold Coast except it has penguins and is home of the Orcas. Watching the Orca’s play and performing tricks was such an amazing experience. We were also lucky enough to experience the Dolphin encounter where we saw dolphins do tricks and then got to pat them as they swim by.
Shopping in San Diego was great, Ross Dress for Less and JC Penny were full of bargains. My shopping docket said you have saved yourself $267 USD, it was awesome, all brand names at discount prices.
We had dinner at La Joila, a beautiful seafood restaurant on the water. It was very nice area and the food was amazing.
We did a quick tour of San Diego Zoo to see the Gorilla’s, Panda bears and a ride on the gondola before catching the train back to the airport for our flight home. A tip at Airports in USA is to get your makeup done at MAC to freshen up!
Although my time on the West Coast of America was short I would definitely go back and highly recommend all the places we visited!