Los Angeles, CA - Griffith Observatory at dusk

LOS ANGELES, CA: Reality vs. Expectations

As I mentioned in my Santa Barbara post, I have never been to California before. When I think of Los Angeles I think of beautiful people, movie magic, and warm, sunny weather. We’ll see if my expectations align with the reality of my vacation.

Getting There

EXPECTATIONS: Flying into Los Angeles from Chicago. This seems like the only option for getting there, since a road trip would have required about 2 weeks. I’m not opposed to one day taking that time to travel Route 66 from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA, but now wasn’t the time for that adventure.

REALITY: It was pretty painless flying from Chicago to LA. It was also easy getting the shuttle to the hotel and renting a car from there.

On our way to California
On our way to California

Sites

EXPECTATIONS: As usual, I have a pretty ambitious list of sites to see in LA: Getty Museum, Huntington Library, Griffith Observatory, and Walk of Fame. I’ll only be there for one day.

REALITY: As usual my itinerary was a bit too ambitious and we never made it to the Getty Museum. From what I hear we probably could have spent one full day in the Getty Museum. We were able to see the Walk of Fame, the Huntington Library, and the Griffith Observatory. Out of everything we saw I didn’t expect the Huntington Library to be so cool, fun, and engaging. You could have spent most the day just there like we did. Yes, it was a library and I have a soft spot in my heart for libraries, but it was also a huge botanic garden with art galleries and small museum exhibits spread around the campus. It was my favorite place we saw.

Japanese Garden at The Huntington - I could have hung out in this peaceful garden all day
Japanese Garden at The Huntington – I could have hung out in this peaceful garden all day

Weather

EXPECTATIONS: I have the same expectations here as for Santa Barbara. Mid 80s with a cool sea breeze.

REALITY: Mid 80s…HA! Cool sea breeze…double HA! It was about 100 degrees without a cloud in the sky. What did this genius pack to wear you might ask? If you guessed only jeans, you’d be correct. Check the weather of the places you are traveling to folks, and then still pack for any possible weather.

It's important to stay hydrated - this delicious drink from The Huntington was a ginger watermelon lemonade
It’s important to stay hydrated – this delicious drink from The Huntington was a ginger watermelon lemonade

Transportation

EXPECTATIONS: The plan is to use a ride share service from destination to destination in LA.

REALITY: Before vacation all we had heard about was the awful LA traffic, so we decided to return the car we rented for Santa Barbara and just ride share everywhere. It was VERY expensive, but there was a ton of traffic that neither of us wanted to drive in so maybe it was better? The jury is still out on that one. There was also the incident where you couldn’t find a ride share leaving Griffith Observatory so we needed to take the DASH bus down to a gas station where we could then get a car easier. Remember to always have cash and some change on hand for emergency bus rides. I’m the millennial that doesn’t always have this on hand and relied on my mom for the bus fare…oops.

Just a taste of the crowded streets filled with cars and pedestrians in LA
Just a taste of the crowded streets filled with cars and pedestrians in LA

Food

EXPECTATIONS: I plan to finally try In-N-Out burger!

REALITY: Yes! I finally tried In-N-Out burger. It was really tasty, but don’t get mad…it seemed overhyped. It’s a good burger that tastes fresher than some (most) fast food places and it seemed reasonably priced, but I wasn’t blown away. Maybe I just need to try it again?

Finally did in fact try the infamous In-N-Out burger
Finally did in fact try the infamous In-N-Out burger

Atmosphere

EXPECTATIONS: I imagine LA as a very artsy, eccentric place that seems to have a vibrant culture, with a sprinkle of hustle and bustle.

REALITY: LA was not as artsy as I had expected. It just felt very crowded, touristy, and dirty. I guess what I’m saying is, it just felt like a normal big city. I romanticized this city in my head and it didn’t turn out that way at all. There were great touristy spots, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t somewhere that I could see myself living. It didn’t have that fun, eclectic, artsy vibe I had expected.

LA mural
Mural we saw while riding around LA

Have you been to LA? If so, I’d love to hear about your trip in the comments.

Happy Travels,

Laura

You might also like:

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Top10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Vacation

SANTA BARBARA, CA: Reality vs. Expectations

ROUTE 66, USA: Top 5 Surprising Things I Found

HAVANA, CUBA: 30+ Tips I Wish I Knew Before Vacation

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