America is a truly unique country when it comes to travel options. Many foreign visitors are surprised by the sheer size and variety of experiences found in the states. However, those of us that live in the US often go our whole lives only seeing a small fraction of the country. With so much space in the middle, it is easier to start with the larger, more famous cities found on our coasts. Since we are already near the eastern side of the equation here in Acadia, we should turn our attention westward to the Pacific coast. While Washington and Oregon have plenty to offer, it is impossible to ignore California. Spanning two-thirds of the western sea board, California is the third largest land area and most populous state in the union. It is basically impossible to see all the state has to offer in one visit, so it is better to focus on one area to start. For many travelers with California on the brain, the first thing that jumps to mind is Hollywood, the home of the stars in Los Angeles.
Californians have a reputation of being laid back, living life at a slower pace. One visit to LA will show you the cause: the traffic. It takes at least 30 minutes to an hour to get anywhere around LA because most of your travel time is spent on one of the main highways; that is why Californians refer to them as “The 405” or “The 101.” Once you relegate yourself to this fact of life, though, it is fairly easy to plan around and stay relaxed. When you do make it off of the highway, the various cities that make up the greater LA area are dominated by long boulevards that stretch from one side of the valley to the other. This makes it fairly easy to actually get around a given area; the trick is getting there first.
It is easy to tell when you are in Hollywood because of the famous sign overlooking the valley. It is hard to resist a trip down the Walk of Fame to find the footprints of your favorite stars of the movie or music variety. Nestled in the hills is the Hollywood Bowl, one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world. If you have a chance to see a show there, take it. There is not a bad seat in the house because the natural acoustics carry the sound all the way to the back rows, and the bowl shape gives everyone a direct view of the stage. Nearby, you can drive through the neighborhoods in Beverly Hills. There are several vantage points that offer stunning views of the valleys on either side of the mountains, as well as the often stunning homes found on the drive up. These famous neighborhoods, along with Bel-Air, Silver Lake, and several others, are connected by Sunset Boulevard, which runs from Downtown LA to the Pacific coast.
Once you are able to break yourself away from the staggering amount of sightseeing, shopping, and eating opportunities in LA, you can quickly find even more in the surrounding areas. Burbank is the home of several major studios, most notably Warner Bros. Entertainment. If you sign up in time, you can get free tickets to a tapping of some of your favorite shows, such as Conan O’Brian. Two great coastal options are Venice Beach and Santa Monica. The Venice Beach boardwalk is a mecca for bodybuilders, street basketballers, and souvenir shoppers. At one end of the boardwalk is the famous Muscle Beach and several basketball, paddle tennis, and volleyball courts. The rest of the promenade is dominated by vendors of every stripe selling kitschy t-shirts, jewelry, artwork, and other good, along with musicians and performers surrounded by spectators. Santa Monica, located at the end of Route 66, is known for its eponymous pier, featuring amusement park rides, snacks, and even more souvenirs. It also offers a beautiful view of the California coast overlooked by an impressive mountain range that almost seems to touch the water’s edge.
If you are excited about the prospect of traveling west, please visit the Acadia Travel Concierge here for options to customize your experience.