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An aerial view of the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles is Live for

Our Private Tour

Our guides and their fancy digital SLR cameras are regularly seen in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels in downtown Los Angeles.  Many of our private Los Angeles tour guests stay here and for very good reasons.  The hotels are located in the midst of L.A. Live, a remarkable entertainment and cultural center evolving in the southern part of the downtown city core.  Surrounded by the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Staples Center as well as the principal elements of L.A. Live – the Grammy Museum, the Nokia Theater – there are all the shops, restaurants and businesses serving the public in this dynamic quarter of Los Angeles.  Why, even our own favorite restaurant, the Original Pantry, is right there.  Two major freeways, the Blue Line light rail system, as well as buses, taxis and limos make transportation in the area a snap.  The views from the top of the Ritz-Carlton are as good as what we see on a helicopter tour of the city such as the custom tour that allowed us this shot.

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You can only see the Hollywood Sign this way in a helicopter

Add a Helicopter Flight to Your Private Tour

It is said around Hollywood that the quality of a film is inversely proportional to the number of helicopters seen in the movie.  While we disagree most of the time (APOCALYPSE NOW, BLUE THUNDER are notable exceptions to the rule) we are certain of one thing, a helicopter flight as part of a private Los Angeles tour guarantees an unforgettable sightseeing experience in our favorite city.  Imagine hovering in front of the Hollywood Sign to get photographs that none of your friends or family are likely to ever take or skimming just above the ocean along the Malibu coast waving at surfers and porpoises.  Our custom luxury tour guests really appreciate the size and scope of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods as they circle around the city and its mountains and shoreline observing the network of freeways and major thoroughfares connecting the studios and the fabulous celebrity homes in Beverly Hills, downtown skyscrapers and beach boardwalks.

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A walk on the stars' beach

The Tide is In for our Private Tour to Malibu

A winter storm over the ocean nearby bypasses the Los Angeles coast so we get no rain but the dramatic tide is a sure sign the storm is a big one.  Our private Los Angeles tour guests were treated to a good look at the tidal surge as we escorted them along the rocky shoreline above where the sandy beach would normally be.  You can bet that the folks owning these fabulous beach homes along the coast enjoy their view of the roiling sea (and the sound of crashing waves) just below their cantilevered decks.  Our guests are always impressed when learning that Malibu is really a 26-mile long strip of southern California coastline and that most of the homes and businesses are situated in a long narrow area nestled between the beach and the Santa Monica Mountains along the Pacific Coast Highway.  The coast, the mountains and the highway make for a dramatic sightseeing experience for visitors to Los Angeles.  We urge our guests not to limit their tour to Hollywood and Beverly Hills because there is so much more to Los Angeles than those glitzy and glamours neighborhoods.

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3:00 27 January 2015

Time to Think of the Dolby Theatre

The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood

A Major Destination on a

Private Tour in Hollywood

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members are earnestly watching nominated films right now it will soon be time when our private Los Angeles tour guests will be noticing the activity buzzing in and around the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.  Home of the Academy Awards since the 2001 Oscars the modern facility allows for outstanding coverage of the live television event and its extravagant performances.  Equally important is the fact that the celebration of films and filmmakers belongs in Hollywood where the industry and the recognition began.  Born across the street at the Roosevelt Hotel, then at Grauman’s Chinese Theater next door, the Dolby Theatre is the perfect place for this much anticipated global event.  Ray Dolby, the engineer behind the Dolby sound system for whom the theater is named, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (ceremony begins at 21:30).

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The beach is warming up this winter

Our Private Tour Guests Wear Shorts in January

This is not global warming.  This is typical January weather in Los Angeles.  In fact, most of us who live here have on long sleeves and socks, maybe even a light jacket.  But our private Los Angeles tour guests from colder climes find our low 70s temperatures to be downright balmy and they are dressing for their custom luxury tour in shorts and t-shirts and directing us to soda fountains for ice cream snacks.  The beaches, while nearly empty during this off season, are perfect for strolling and just sitting and reading a book, catching some sun, watching the waves.  Truly, it is perfectly comfortable being outside anywhere in the city at this time of the year from Santa Monica to Hollywood.  The Grove and the Original Farmers Market are perfect outdoor shopping and eating destinations for all of us.

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The view of downtown Los Angeles from Jennifer Aniston's house

Our Private Tour Guests See the

Views from the Hills

We are so pleased that Jennifer Aniston is the talk of the town this award season. The multi-faceted actress is impressing critics and audiences in the touching and thoughtful film CAKE The film poster for CAKE with Jennifer Anistonwhich is in theaters now.  While we all loved her in Friends she has matured into a real treasure for Hollywood stretching both her comic skills (HORRIBLE BOSSES) while demonstrating to everyone that she can command the screen in smart dramatic performances as well.  We conduct an informal poll by recounting how often our private Los Angeles tour guests ask if we can show them where she lives and talking about her performances as we head up into the hills to the little Bel Air vineyard she calls home.  And the results of our poll?  Jennifer Aniston is as popular as ever and our guests of all ages, from all over the world, are curious about her when they are sightseeing in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

 

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The Zep Diner was part of a crazy time in building design

We Find Fun Diners for Our Private Tour

Sadly, the Zep Diner is no more.  Gone along with America’s fascination with dirigibles and blimps.  With the exception of the Goodyear blimp moored in Carson just south of Los Angeles and the regular visits of several other television camera-equipped, sporting event covering floating airships, our skies are much more filled with passenger aircraft and police and news helicopters.  But back in the day (1920s, 1930s) massive airships like the Hindenburg, the Graf Zeppelin and the U.S.S. Los Angeles captured our imagination and inspired our art and design.  One manifestation of this inspiration was the Zep Diner, home of the “Hinden Burger,” which sat on a major road leading into downtown Los Angeles coincidentally near a Goodyear tire manufacturing plant.  There were a large number of programmatic (or mimetic) structures (designed to look like common objects) all around Los Angeles (like Mother Goose giant shoe and the Brown Derby).  There are few of these structures remaining today though our private Los Angeles tour guides do know where they were located and can talk about this with our guests.

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3:00 21 January 2015

The Cars of Beverly Hills

Unusual car seen near the Beverly Hills Hotel

An Unexpected Private Tour Sight in Beverly Hills

Our guide and office staff do not even know where to start in trying to identify this vehicle.  Our private Los Angeles tour was passing by the Beverly Hills Hotel when out popped this red roadster and a couple of cool dudes enjoying a sunny January afternoon.  Readers of our blog know that we capture photos of all kinds of automobiles and conveyances on the streets of Beverly Hills and Hollywood.  Many are the latest models of luxury cars, some are imported roadsters and sedans not seen often on U.S. streets, and then there are the vintage vehicles kept meticulously and in perfect working order decades after they were manufactured.  And, we should not forget the cars and machines made famous in television and movies which show up from time to time on the streets of Los Angeles.  You can view our “car” blogs by clicking this link.

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Bridge over a Venice (CA) canal

Walk Along the Venice Canals on a Private Tour

The big bus tour companies never allow an opportunity to walk placidly, decorously (or wildly with abandon) along the attractive canals remaining in a quarter of Venice, CA.  We make sure our private Los Angeles tour guests have an opportunity to explore what remains of this community first conceived in the early 1900s by Abbot Kinney, an early Los Angeles developer.  First imagined as the “Venice of America” he created a system of canals plied by gondolas and small boats that served restaurants, hotels, entertainments and homes.  Time and the growth of Los Angeles made way for roadways paving over the canals and the loss of the wooden piers and dance halls that drew the Hollywood and downtown folk to this happy beach community.  Fortunately a section of the old canal system remains and a bohemian spirit resides in the remaining homes.  Sidewalks and bridges let us take our guests along the waterways to observe the homes and wildlife, sometimes the ducks and geese.

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3:00 16 January 2015

Where Paramounties Enter

Studio employee entrance for Paramount Pictures

Our Private Tour Visits Paramount Pictures

While we always make a point to feature a good look at the Melrose Gate entrance to Paramount Studios, the magnificent public entrance to the esteemed film and production facility in Hollywood, sometimes we take our guests around the corner to see where the ordinary working people who keep the studio humming enter on their way to work.  This is the Gower Gate.  Not much of a gate but as you can see it is on Gower Street.  An employee parking structure is right across the street.  The studio began as a joint operation with Adolph Zukor, Jesse Lasky, Samuel Goldwyn and Cecil B. DeMille behind the filmmaking.  History and business saw a number of developments as the studio prospered and suffered and prospered again.  At one time this entrance was part of Desilu (Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Star Trek).  The RKO globe remains on the corner of Gower and Melrose to remind entertainment historians of those early days of radio and television.  We will tell you the whole story on your private Los Angeles tour as we visit the major studios of Hollywood.

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