A Weekend in Hollywood, Sun, Stars, Harry Potter & Heavy Metal
Richard and I love TV and film and what better place for our first taste of the USA than Hollywood! We spent a weekend here as part of a longer trip to the West Coast, flying Manchester, UK to Los Angeles LAX with Thomas Cook.
We took the FlyAway bus from LAX to our hotel in Hollywood – The Redbury @ Hollywood & Vine.
A local helped us find the bus stop once we got out of the terminal and once we were on the bus we found out that you cannot pay in cash, card only, something to be aware of if you normally carry cash on holiday.
The journey takes around an hour and the drop off point was less than 5 minutes walk from our hotel which is ideal after a long haul flight like ours, with time different it was around midnight for us at this point. On the way we saw our first film being made;
there was a group outside of a Cafe kitted out with a boom mic and a decent sized camera filming a group of men holding a toaster – apparently the time machine was ready!
The Redbury @ Hollywood & Vine was awesome and a great start to our trip with our first experience of American customer service, we were checked in by a very friendly and helpful check in clerk. We had a room on the top floor with a view of the Capitol Records Building from our balcony.
You can’t go to Hollywood and not seek out film and TV attractions. We visited Universal Studios, and we got there early, just after opening which was great we were in in 5 minutes.
“Not only do we love TV and films but we really love food. First stop of course was breakfast!”
The Harry Potter attraction had recently opened and I was really looking forward to it. We had breakfast in the Three Broomsticks, which is attached to the Hogs Head. Richard had a traditional breakfast and I had eggy bread with a pumpkin juice. Considering this is a theme park the food was pretty good – and this early it was quiet as well.
We visited Hogwarts after breakfast – how could you not? We queued for 15 minutes or so for the Forbidden Journey. It’s so well done, it’s basically a simulator ride, as are most at Universal Hollywood but the details were brilliant.
Don’t miss the backlot tour at Universal, although you don’t get out of the trolley you’re escorted round in there’s still a lot to see and plenty you’ll recognize. It is a bit dated so there’s a lot of nostalgia as well.
“I still remember seeing the adverts for Universal as a kid and some parts of the backlot tour are just the same!”
We visited Springfield, including Moe’s Tavern. We tried Duff Beer here, I had the Duff Light and Richard had a regular Duff, being craft beer fans we were disappointed with these – where’s the flavour? Moe’s looks just like you’ve walked into the cartoon though the detail throughout the park is fantastic.
There are numerous live shows you can watch in the park, we chose the Special Effects Show. This was a fun show, and we were pleased to be inside out of the heat for a while. The highlight of the show for us was definitely the fire stunt after they explained how they can set stuntmen on fire safely, it was quite a sight.
You can take food into the shows with you and it was lunch time by now, we grabbed nachos with beef from Bumblebee Man’s truck. Portions are big here, one was enough for us both.
One of our last stops was another new attraction to the park and one of our favourite shows – The Walking Dead. This is a walk through attraction with a mixture of real actors and robotics. Again attention to detail helps bring this to life and gives you the feeling you could be in the show. Our only disappointment with this is that we thought it would have been longer.
Hollywood and Universal City are well connected by the metro. From the Hollywood & Vine station across from our hotel it was just 1 stop (Hollywood & Highland) before arriving at Universal. You take a tram nearby where you exit the metro stop to the top of the hill to enter that park which is free.
We took some time exploring the Walk of Fame, part of which is right outside the Redbury. We followed the stars to the Hollywood & Highland Centre where you can see all sorts of people dressed up as characters from films waiting to get their photo taken with you – for a price.
It is hectic at Hollywood & Highland, it doesn’t seem to matter what time you go. We had a look at the hand prints outside of the Chinese Theatre before catching a film – Blair Witch, which we wouldn’t bother going to see again but it was great to watch something while in the hometown of film!
We’re big fans of heavy metal and rock music and a visit to Hollywood couldn’t be done without a visit to the nearby Sunset Strip. We took an Uber from Hollywood & Highland to the Rainbow Bar & Grill. We found Uber really useful to get from Hollywood to Sunset. Although parts of LA are well connected by the metro system not all of it is so you need to plan for this.
The Rainbow lived up to all our expectations, such a cool place. We had dinner here, Pepperoni Pizza, which was pretty good. However if you’re seeking out the Rainbow I doubt you are doing so for the food. The atmosphere and memorabilia in here is not to be missed by any metal fan coming to LA.
We walked back up Sunset after leaving the Rainbow and on our next visit we’ll definitely check out some of the other famous places here, the Whiskey a go go and the Viper Room can both be found on Sunset.
On our last morning we had a quick bite to eat at the Starbucks across the road from the Redbury. For all the hype about American portion sizes Richard ended up with the smallest breakfast/morning roll we had ever seen – certainly not enough for his appetite!
A quick note about LAX before we finish, this is like no airport we’ve ever been in before. We had a flight out from terminal 6 on a Monday afternoon. Expecting to grab a bite in the airport we were surprised to find an array of every supplement you could imagine and several you couldn’t. Little choice in the way of actual food. We also had our first experience of Artisan water – it tastes just the same as the regular stuff, although you don’t get much change from $10 for a bottle, but it was all that was available.
What are your tips for spending 3 days in Hollywood? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Until next time!