Our California Road Trip Adventure started and ended in Los Angeles; specifically, Hollywood. We flew Flair Airlines into Hollywood Burbank Airport. The descent into this airport was one of the most striking I’ve ever seen. The landscape abruptly changed from flat grids of farmland into gorgeous mountains with unbelievable hilltop mansions. The weather was perfect. Unfortunately, and with travel, there are always hiccups, we were delayed an hour in Edmonton and then waited another hour on the tarmac in Burbank. By the time we deplaned, it was dark, and we lost most of our evening in this new city. We made the best of it, heading to our Koreatown hotel and finding the nearest ramen joint– we were starving.
We stayed at Shelter Hotel in Koreatown. It was very affordable and super fun. The rooms were standard and comfortable, but the lobby was vibrant and eye-catching with lots of fun photo ops. We didn’t spend much time there, but based on our limited experience, I’d recommend this hotel to anybody.
We spent our first morning in the Golden State strolling around Los Angeles, waiting for our scheduled pickup time with Escape Campervans, which is located in Inglewood, near LAX. We Ubered from our hotel to The Walk of Fame, which is extremely overrated but a good dropoff point to explore Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Dunkin Donuts in hand, we started walking until we ran out of time. We spotted the Hollywood Sign (sadly we didn’t have time to get a better view or do the hike), The Palladium, and the Capitol Records Building.
Once we had our van and filled our bellies with In-N-Out Burger, we headed to Santa Monica Pier for a quick sightseeing stop before hitting the PCH North to Santa Barbara. Our first glance of the Pacific Coast gave me such an energized feeling. I felt so ready for the next ten days. Even the tourist trap that is Santa Monica Pier couldn’t dull the positive vibes.
Fast forward to the last night of our trip. We are headed south through the Mojave Desert, completely fulfilled but completely burnt out. One last night in the Los Angeles area, and so many fun activities to choose from. Six Flags? Warner Brothers Studios? A ball game? Universal? We did none of these. We went to a movie. American-sized bucket of popcorn and glass of red wine in hand, we watched Nicholas Cage’s new movie, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”. It was actually our first time at a movie theatre since the pandemic began. I can say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
We found ourselves in a Santa Clarita Walmart parking lot for the night and in the morning we dropped off the little van that treated us so well. With drop-off at 10 am and our flight at 6 pm, we had time to burn in LA. We decided to spend our day at Wi Spa in Koreatown which ended up being the best possible decision we could have made. We were feeling gross after 10 days of van life, so for $30 each, we spent hours rejuvenating ourselves before our flight. We relaxed in the saunas, ate a healthy meal, showered, put on clean clothes, and just chilled until we had to go. Wi Spa is a very cool experience, and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re feeling an urge to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Overall, we have mixed feelings about Los Angeles. It was fun because of all the pop culture icons– around every corner, you see something that makes you say “I saw that in a movie!” But, it is easily the dirtiest city I’ve ever visited. Unbelievable amounts of litter. Rundown buildings on the most iconic streets. Anti-homeless architecture. So many rats. I am extremely grateful for my visit to Los Angeles, but I’m in no rush to head back.