Monday, September 5, 2011

I (surprisingly) Love L.A.!

Had I not been summoned to California to appear on Wheel of Fortune, I would likely have never made a trip there. I've never had any desire to visit the Golden State, assuming it was filled with smog, fault lines, snobby people and excessive traffic.  True, So. Cal. is plagued by an abundance of traffic, poor air quality and, of course, land that is is ripe for major quakes; however, there is much, much more to this West Coast wonderland!  

First of all, I feel I must apologize to you Californians for clinging to my misconceptions about you for so long.  I hate to admit my small-mindedness, but I really thought that Cali was a state filled with weird, botox loving, liberal extremists.  I thought I would feel terribly out of place as a chubby, very white, small-town, Christian gal.  Well, I was absolutely wrong.  The people were warm and friendly everywhere we went!  Everyone we met went out of their way to be helpful and extra nice to us.  The other cool thing about Cali is the diversity of her people.  Walking down the street in LA you'll hear dozens of languages being spoken. There really is no such thing as a "typical Californian".  

Diverse is also the best way to describe the neighborhoods and topography of So Cal.  While driving along the lengthy avenues and boulevards you'll soon notice that every 10-12 blocks you feel as if you are in a new city because the landscape, architecture and "vibe" have completely changed. 

The beaches are diverse and beautiful, too.  For an East-coaster, it's just amazing to see the cliffs drop off and turn into the shore.  Several of the beaches we saw were very wide.  I'd guess Venice Beach stretched over 1/4 mile from the beginning of the sand until the ocean.  Venice Beach was insane, a haven for hippies, skaters, tourists and pot-heads alike.  The boardwalk is lined with shops and restaurants.  Many of the shops are "Doctor's offices" where patients can be evaluated and prescribed medical Marijuana.  The beach also boasts a really cool ocean-front skatepark and the famous Muscle Beach gym.


A little further up the coast is Santa Monica Beach and the famous Santa Monica Pier.  The beach is large and lovely, and a better place for families than Venice Beach.  The Pier, which also marks the ending point of historic Route 66, offers several fun diversions for your family.  Enjoy an ice cream cone or an old-fashioned egg cream while your kids take a twirl on the antique carousel.  The more adventurous members of your group can catch a few thrills at the small amusement park a little further down the pier.  There's also an aquarium, along with plenty of dining and shopping available on this 1/3 mile long stretch of historical, ocean front property. We especially enjoyed lunch at Big Deans Oceanfront Cafe located at the base of the Pier.  It's extremely casual, the food was above average and the prices were very reasonable.






















A friend recommended we visit Malibu to enjoy a meal at the "Reel In".  I'm so glad we took her advice.  It's a casual restaurant overlooking the beach offering only the freshest of seafood, cooked to your specifications. The food was simply fantastic and we enjoyed the view which allowed us to be entertained by dozens of surfers catching late afternoon waves.




 
Speaking of restaurants, if you get to Cali you MUST make a trip to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. We ate there for my Wheel of Fortune victory dinner and it was so, so good.  Just load up on the lipitor before you go because there's not much on the menu that won't take a few years off your life. 
But, it's worth it.   





A couple of attractions we managed to squeeze in while in LA were the LaBrea Tar Pits and Universal Studios, Hollywood.  It was my Aunt who wanted to visit the Tar Pits, and to be honest, I wasn't expecting much more than a giant, stinky pool of muck in the middle of the city.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the big, stinky pit is only one part of the LaBrea experience.  The museum and educational center is really quite interesting, and if you go at the right time, you can actually watch as archaeologists extract ancient fossils from their goopy graves. 


Universal Studios Hollywood was also a real treat and a must-see if you are headed to the area.  The backlot tour alone is just about worth the price of admission. You'll see where scenes from many of your favorite TV shows and movies were filmed, like: Desperate Housewives, Ghost Whisperer, Jaws, Psycho, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Bones, and more.  And, the tour also includes some exciting elements like a 4-D King Kong Experience, an encounter with a great white shark, a simulated earthquake and you'll even find yourself in the middle of a downpour and flash flood.  In addition to the super-cool studio tour, Universal offers 4-D movie experiences, a few thrill rides, live action shows, and a huge array of dining and shopping options.  You definitely need the better part of a day to make the most of your visit here.

































True, I did win gobs of money on Wheel of Fortune, which may have colored my view of California.  But, honestly, I really belive I would have left fully satisfied even if I had only taken home the $1,000 consolation prize.  I'd love to go back and take my hubby and kids next time.  Maybe, someday I'll nab an appearance on Jeopardy and have the chance to pay another visit to sunny California. 

"What are...things unlikely to happen in this lifetime, Alex."




1 comment:

Bev said...

what a grand adventure! thanks for taking us a long for the ride via your blog! :)

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I have three extremely cute kids-Andrew is 14, Carley is 12 and Laura is 9. My husband, Alton, is a delivery driver by day with dreams of one day publishing his own comic book. Yes, he is a geek, but I love him anyway. I have been working at WBFJ since September 2004 when God threw me out of the boat I was riding in and set me on a new and wonderful course. I love co-hosting the morning show, although the lack of sleep does make me a bit loopy at times.