…was amazeballs! Let me expand on that. I’m a New Yorker to the fullest. I hail from a little town called (note: intense sarcasm) Brooklyn, live in Staten Island, spend weekends in Long Island and work in Manhattan. I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to California until now, and being that it's still chilly in New York, it’s the perfect time to get away. My Cali dreams only consist of palm tree pics and tales of the star-studded, easy-breezy lifestyle. Plus, last year when the “Wolfpack” (I will explain in a moment) and I took Las Vegas, we vowed that we would return to the West Coast to explore L.A.
If you’ve seen The Hangover (or The Hangover Part 2 or 3), then you know the Wolfpack crew of besties in the movie and their wild (to say the least) adventures in Vegas. My Wolfpack (Tasha, Marissa, Kim and myself) went wild during our first trip to Sin City last year and now, this year, it's off to Los Angeles.
Sadly our “Bradley Cooper” (Hangover reference) of the group, Kim, can’t make it, so it looks like we’re a trio. She'll be missed, but our trip must go on. We're staying in Hollywood and plan for four days of fun. We seek suggestions from everyone we know on spots to hit during our trip. Our itinerary includes the Hollywood sign, hiking at Runyon Canyon, Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios and In-and-Out Burger (I was told this beats McDonald’s any day).
We land at Los Angeles International Airport. I’m immediately on celeb patrol. I always see the stars getting photographed at LAX and I would die if I saw, let’s say, Ariana Grande. But no celeb sightings this time. Sigh.
Oh, and this is L.A. done on a budget. So think of this also as a guide on how-to-not-to-get-totally-ripped-off-while-vacationing-in-LA.
We pick up the keys to our temporary wheels and we’re off. Yup, we rented a car and coincidentally, five minutes later, we hear Tupac’s classic tune “California Love” on the radio. Forty minutes later, we pull up to our humble Hollywood Hotel. I didn’t expect much since we weren’t staying at L.A. Live or the W, but our new digs are impressive. Our hotel has a gym, heated pool, sauna, free continental breakfast and a terrace on each floor. And our rooms: two queen size beds, a balcony and cool decor. I mean, hellooo, our room just screams for a Beyoncé "7/11" video to be made. By the time we settle in, we decide to take a drive and get the lay of the land. It's an early night to bed because tomorrow we’ll be waking up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise at the Hollywood sign.
Rise and shine. We wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for our 20-minute drive to the Hollywood sign. Did you know that you can’t actually get anywhere remotely close to the Hollywood sign like in the movies? The 45-feet tall letters sit atop a hill fenced in far below. Even if you could get close, the only way to get the entire sign in a pic is from afar. There are many places to view the sign. We watch the sunrise and have a mini photo shoot at Griffith Park Observatory. Not only does the sign amaze me and the sunrise take my breath away, I can’t believe I’m up this early!
Next stop is a hike up Runyon Canyon. Now, this is where everybody who’s anybody hikes in LA. A celebrity sighting is sure to take place here, no?
A cooler filled with bottles of water greets us at the entrance of Runyon Park with a can next to it that reads, “Bottle of Water $1, Please use the honor system." We don’t have cash on us, so out of respect for the honor system that is apparently still alive and thriving, we pass on the waters. Bad, bad move. We were told this was a low intensity hike. Well, let me tell you “low intensity” is the understatement of the century. It’s hardcore. I hit the gym when I can, but a hiker I am not. Between the blazing sun and the perky runners that pass us by, I’m discouraged before we even start going up the hill. And it’s completely uphill. We make it to the top in an hour or so, exhausted and sweaty and desperately in need of water. At the top, the whole city lies before you — a beautiful sight to see. The walk down is a lot scarier because it very steep, but we make it down alive and break into song and dance to celebrate our accomplishment.
That was just the morning. After breakfast and a nap back at the hotel, we head to Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica Pier is pure happiness. It’s like the Jersey Shore, just way more attractive. You can walk up and down the boardwalk overlooking the beach, check out the shops, eat a churro and get on amusement park rides. We do a little bit of everything, and then continue our adventure to Venice Beach, where we indulge in selfies and plenty photos of the dreamy California backdrop.
Tonight, we check out Boosty Bellows, a hot spot on the club scene here. We were advised to arrive at 10:30 p.m. because Boosty has a reputation for exclusivity. We roll up early and decide on having pre-party drinks at Boa, the restaurant/lounge across the street. As we wait outside of Boosty Bellows, we see the bouncer pretending not to see us and several groups (who rolled up after us) get in. This is not going to be easy. Basically, you need to be somebody or know somebody who’s somebody to get inside. We wait to no avail for one torturous hour in 4-inch heels. But, it isn’t a complete bust. We spot our first celebrity — reality queen EJ Johnson! We're happy, chuck up the deuces to Boosty, call it a night and hit the hotel sauna.
Today, DAY 3, we get a much deserved late start, but we still plan to do a lot. First, record our very own “7/11” video shoot. That’s right. Our very own "7/11" video.
Next, our first stop, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
This is not at all what I pictured. In my head the Walk of Fame was something like The Yellow Brick Road — wonderfully special. Not at all. It’s just a street like every other street, except there are stars. You can definitely identify the natives from the tourists by how they walk down the street, appropriately named Hollywood Boulevard. The natives are walking and the tourists are stopping traffic, bending down to get a selfie with their favorite star. This area is like NY’s Times Square and I feel slightly guilty for acting like the tourists I loathe back home. Oh well, it doesn’t stop me from getting my selfie on with Marilyn Monroe’s Hollywood star, which sits directly in front of McDonald’s. If only Ms. Monroe knew.
Universal Studios is next on the agenda with a quick stop at In-and-Out Burger first. The fact that the drive-thru is out the parking lot is a good sign. I order a cheeseburger, cheese fries and strawberry milkshake. My mouth is watering. The verdict: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE In-and-Out Burger.
Let me just put it out there, that this isn’t my first time a Universal. But it is my first time at Universal in California! Universal is different from most theme parks because mostly all the rides are indoors, which is perfect today because it's drizzling. We purchase ponchos in the park and begin our mission to hit every ride before it closes. To name a few: Despicable Me, Shrek, Jurassic Park and The Mummy.
Tonight, we’re off again to try the club scene once more. This time we do Supperclub. This is a much better experience because, well, we get in. If you’re looking to get away from the snooty clubs that crowd LA and hit a good hip hop club, Supperclub is it. It was the perfect night to end our stellar weekend.
The Verdict Is In!
My time in Los Angeles was short, but a great experience. I’ll start with the cons: 1. L.A. clubs close at 2 a.m.! This is way too early for a girl that can barely make it back "home" before 12 a.m. 2. When it comes to bottles of water before you hike up a canyon, screw the honor system. It does not apply if you’re from NY. Take the water! 3. Renting a car is a must-do and the best thing ever. We were able to go wherever whenever we wanted. (Walking everywhere is not an option and bumper-to-bumper traffic is guaranteed.) 4. Seeing celebs is likely, but not really. 5. When booking a hotel, make sure it has a balcony because recreating the "7/11" video is so much fun.
So, hop on a plane, train or automobile and give it a whirl, girl! Comment below to tell me about your experience or reach me on social media. The Wolfpack takes LA, did that!
'Til Next Time,
(Photo: Jazmine Ortiz/BET)
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