I am a person who enjoys traveling to places all across the country. I’ve been to New York City over five times, I went to Las Vegas last year, and have traveled to Orlando a few times. One city that is totally different than all of these cities is The City of Angels, otherwise known as Los Angeles. The trip started after landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is the second busiest passenger airport in the country, according to a 2015 study. A rental car in this city is a must-have, especially if you plan on going to places throughout the city.

Manhattan Beach was the first location we traveled to, due to its close proximity to the airport. Its not as much of a tourist-packed beach as not many hotels are nearby. Manhattan Beach is small compared to its neighbor, Venice Beach. Venice Beach is tourist-packed and definitely a place you don’t want to go to at night. Some of its most well-known attractions include its boardwalk, the skate park, and muscle beach.

The next day we left our hotel early in the morning and drove up to this place my mom wanted to see called the Vasquez Rocks, which was a filming location for numerous TV shows and movies. Along the way numerous exotic cars passed us, from Ferraris to Lamborghinis. From there we drove to a park called Red Rock park, which is a very remote park about two hours away in the middle of the Mojave desert.

We drove back down to the city, but the only difference is that we were staying in a different hotel on a different end of the city. It is probably a good idea to stay in numerous hotels across different days due to the immense amount of traffic the city has. Fifteen minutes away from our hotel in Glendale was Griffith Park, which is like the Central Park of Los Angeles. The park is home to both the Griffith Observatory, and of course, the famous Hollywood sign, as well as the Los Angeles Zoo. However, the part of the park with the observatory was closed due to the park being at maximum capacity, so we visited the next morning.

We woke up at about 8 AM to be sure that the park was not too crowded yet. For being considerably early in the morning, the park was still crowded, but presumably not as crowded as the evening before. An interesting fact about the time that we visited is that the surrounding area was burnt to a crisp in a wildfire just three weeks before our arrival. We then drove to a place called Bronson Canyon, where the bat-cave is in the 1960’s Batman series. The area the cave is located at has a great view of the Hollywood sign, which is not too far away from the park.

Then we went to Hollywood. If there’s one place I would compare Hollywood Boulevard to, it would be Times Square in New York. After being in New York and Las Vegas numerous times before going to Los Angeles, there is one important thing I learned: ignore all of the street vendors and artists. Do not look them in the eye; they will chase you down and try to get your money. One guy was trying to give me a “free” copy of his music (which was probably just a blank CD) and I just kept walking straight ahead. From there we drove past Rodeo Drive, and then down to Anaheim for the next two nights.

As soon as we entered Orange County, the county to the South of Los Angeles County, we noticed that everything is brand new, rather than many of the filthy buildings in Los Angeles. Many people know Anaheim as the place where Disneyland is, as well as the Anaheim Convention Center where conventions such as VidCon are held every year. We then drove to Orange to go to my favorite restaurant, Raising Canes (which I can’t wait to open in Boardman, by the way). I hadn’t been to a Disney park in ten years so this was a cool experience. I got to ride on all of the coasters that I was too little to ride on before. Another cool part was Cars Land, which is Radiator Springs from the Cars movies, put into a real life city with LOTS of details. One detail is that at the traffic light in the center of the town, every third light blinks slower, which is a reference from the movie.

After our two days was up at the park, we drove farther down the coast to San Clemente, which is right between Los Angeles and San Diego. It is essentially the “vacation spot” for people who live in Los Angeles looking to get a break from the city. After a few hours on the beach, we had to drive back up the coast to get back to the airport. We still had about 10 hours until our flight departed, so rather than taking all the freeways back up, we took California’s scenic Route 1. Along the route, we stopped in Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and finally at the Port of Long Beach.

The port is where the Queen Mary ship is docked. The ship is a retired British ocean liner that is now a hotel. We weren’t staying for the night, but we got a “ghost tour” of the old ship. The tour went through many of the halls, staircases, and rooms that people have had paranormal experiences in. The tour also highlighted some of the incidents that are connected to the paranormal sightings, such as a collision with another vessel.

We drove the rest of the way up the shore to Manhattan Beach again. We stayed there for a few hours until sunset. Then we had to return our rental car and return back to the airport and fly back to Pittsburgh.  Without a doubt, traveling throughout the United States is both educational and exciting.


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