In the city of angels – visiting Los Angeles

Los Angeles

I had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles twice during my USA trip. On our first visit, my team and I spent a day exploring the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Griffith Observatory.

At the end of the trip, my boyfriend and I spent 5 days in LA, where we focused on experiencing the thrill of Disneyland and Universal Studios. While we didn’t get to visit as many landmarks this time around, we had a blast exploring the theme parks and immersing ourselves in the magical worlds of our favorite movies and shows.

What do I think about the city? It was a surreal experience to see places I knew from movies in person. Despite the familiarity, being there felt distinctly different.

It’s an undeniably massive city, with everything located at least 40 minutes away from each other. Most of the time, we stood in a traffic jam. The highways are on a completely different level compared to Europe. I often found myself missing my exit as my 5-lane highway suddenly became 8-lanes, and I struggled to change lanes fast enough, with gazillion cars overtaking me on both sides.

I was also taken aback by the extent of homelessness in the city. Seeing people living in tents, even near highways, was disheartening. To be honest, I’ve never seen so much poverty in a well-developed country before.

What to see

Los Angeles is a city filled with iconic landmarks attracting millions of visitors annually. We tried to visit the most popular ones but also detoured to less-known places.

Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is an internationally recognized symbol of Los Angeles and the entertainment industry, perched high above the Hollywood Hills. With its distinctive white letters, I doubt there is a person that hasn’t seen it at least once in a movie.

We decided to drive up to the Griffith Observatory for a closer look. The observatory offers not only excellent views of the sign but also panoramic vistas of the entire city. However, finding a parking spot nearby proved challenging, and we spent 30 minutes driving around before finding a free space.

For those who want to get even closer to the sign, the hike from Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign on the Mt. Hollywood Trail is a popular option. While it’s a challenging 10 km round-trip hike, the trail offers stunning views of both the sign and the city (or so the internet told me). Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to tackle the hike, but we captured some impressive photos from afar. Keep in mind that there are other trails available, but the Griffith Observatory route is the one recommended for its breathtaking views.

Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame is another iconic location that should be on any traveler’s to-do list when visiting Los Angeles. The sidewalk is lined with more than 2,600 stars, each bearing the name of a famous actor, musician, or other celebrity. Although it can get quite crowded, it’s a fun activity to search for your favorite star and snap a photo. Taking a picture with it, without other people in the background that’s another story.

While strolling along the Walk of Fame, keep your eyes peeled for celebrities. You might get lucky and spot a famous face or two. Unfortunately, I didn’t have such luck.

In addition to the stars on the ground, there are plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, and other attractions nearby. Don’t forget to visit the TCL Chinese Theatre, which features handprints and footprints of famous actors in its forecourt.

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is a historic landmark that’s full of fun and adventure. It’s mostly known for its iconic amusement park, Pacific Park, where you can take a spin on the famous Ferris wheel or ride the historic carousel. Every time I think about it, I see some scene from a movie where the pier was destroyed in some cataclysm or so 😛

There are also plenty of food options, ranging from classic carnival fare to seafood restaurants with ocean views. But the pier isn’t just about amusement rides and food. You can also visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, which is home to a variety of marine life, including jellyfish and octopuses.

Be sure to check out the Route 66 End of the Trail sign, which marks the end of the iconic cross-country highway—a great ending to our road trip.

Be prepared, though, as with all iconic places, the pier attracts many visitors. While it’s a great place to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere, be prepared for crowds, street performers, and sometimes, preachers. During one of our walks, we encountered a range of voices and opinions, from someone shouting that “Allah is our savior” to another person proclaiming that “without Christ, we can’t live”. We even came across someone warning that Covid vaccines will kill us all. It was a bit of a wild experience, but it’s all part of the eclectic energy that makes the pier such a unique place to visit.

One of the best times to visit Santa Monica Pier is during the sunset. The orange light illuminates the lifeguard stations, and the mountains and ocean in the background create a jaw-dropping view. It was one of the best sunsets I’ve seen, and I loved it so much that we visited the beach three times during our trip.

Beverly Hills

No trip to Los Angeles would be complete without visiting Beverly Hills, the most luxurious and glamorous district, synonymous with wealth and opulence. There are maps on the internet showing which celebrity lives where, though you won’t be able to see any famous mansions due to several meters of tall bushes and massive gates. While you may not be able to see inside the gated estates, it’s still exciting to catch a glimpse of the luxury vehicles parked on the streets or cruising by.

Make also sure to stop by the Beverly Hills sign and snap a picture for your travel album.

Rodeo Drive

One of the most iconic attractions in Beverly Hills is Rodeo Drive, a three-block stretch of boutiques and designer stores that is a wealthy shopper’s paradise. Even if you’re not in the market for high-end fashion, it’s worth strolling down Rodeo Drive just to take in the glitz and glamor of this famous street. You might even be lucky and spot a celebrity!

Battleship USS Iowa

My colleague’s interest took us a bit off the beaten path and led us to a Battleship USS Iowa – a historic naval ship located in the Port of Los Angeles. It was commissioned in 1943 and served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Cold War. Today, it has been turned into a museum and is open to the public for tours.

While walking on the ship’s decks, we explored the bridge, gun turrets, and living quarters. We saw some interactive exhibits giving us a glimpse into the ship’s history and the lives of those who served on it.
One of the tour’s highlights was visiting the captain’s cabin and seeing the table where President Franklin D. Roosevelt sat when he visited the ship during World War II.


Chinatown is one of Los Angeles’ most vibrant, culturally rich, and interesting neighborhoods.

One of the highlights of our visit was the Chinatown Central Plaza, a lively gathering place in the heart of the neighborhood. Here you can admire the ornate architecture, browse the shops selling everything from tea sets to silk dresses, and see the statue of Bruce Lee.

Foodies won’t want to miss the chance to sample some of the delicious Chinese cuisines that Chinatown has to offer. From dim sum to dumplings, noodles to boba tea, there’s no shortage of tasty treats to try.

Pro tip: If you are looking for parking, drive towards the center of Chinatown. There are plenty of 5$ parking lots around. We made a mistake a parked at some expensive place, paid by the hour.

Little Tokyo

A stone’s throw away from Chinatown lies little Tokyo – the heart of the largest Japanese-American population in North America. Interestingly enough, it is one of only three official Japantowns in the United States.

As huge fans of Japanese culture, my boyfriend and I were eager to explore this neighborhood and immerse ourselves in its unique charm. As soon as we arrived, we immediately set out to explore the neighborhood’s many shops, browsing through a wide range of Japanese snacks, souvenirs, and clothing. It was like being transported back to our own Japan trip!

As we wandered through the streets, we were excited to learn that some friends from Denmark were also in town and keen to meet up for a night of karaoke. With its many bars and lively atmosphere, Little Tokyo was the perfect place to indulge in some karaoke fun.

But the highlight of our visit was undoubtedly the delicious yakiniku – Japanese BBQ – that we stumbled upon. My boyfriend, a huge fan, was in heaven as we savored the tender meat, perfectly grilled to perfection.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park and movie studio with rides and attractions based on popular films and TV shows. And what better place to visit Universal Studios than right at the heart of Hollywood?

One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Studio Tour. This tram ride takes you behind the scenes of some of Hollywood’s most famous movies and television shows. You’ll see real sets and props from blockbuster hits like “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” and “War of the Worlds.”

Taking full advantage of the limited time in the amusement park can be challenging, so check out my guide to “How to make the most out of Universal Studios Hollywood “.


We love amusement parks, and we couldn’t skip Disneyland, located in Anaheim. Adding to it my recent obsession with baby Yoda, a fanboy obsession of my boyfriend with Star Wars, and the recently opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge part of the park, the visit was the obvious choice.

It’s also worth noting that there are two parks located in the Disneyland compound – the traditional Disneyland Park as well as the California Adventure Park. Both parks offer a variety of experiences and attractions, making it easy to spend multiple days exploring everything the resort has to offer.

Read more about our visit here.

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