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May 2016
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Lunch with the Hollywood folks at the Ivy in Beverly Hills

Private Tour Lunches with the Stars

Sightseeing can be hard work.  All those great Los Angeles sights to look at.  All the history to understand.  All the funny stories to laugh at.  A private Los Angeles tour is a lot like seeing the city through the eyes of a trusted family member who knows where everything is and is a part of the Hollywood scene, an entertainer.  We stop regularly as we drive around to  explore the places of interest in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, downtown and even out to the beaches from Venice to Malibu.  If we start our custom tour in the morning then by lunchtime we might have some big appetites to contend with in a city full of fine places to stop for lunch.  So we do.  One of the most requested lunch stops made by our guests who so often seem to know exactly where they wish to eat is The Ivy on Robertson in Beverly Hills.  Why this particular restaurant?  Well, they know from following the gossip out of Hollywood that this place is popular with the glitterati, the stars and the people behind the scenes and the dealmakers of the entertainment industry.  Plus, the food is excellent.  An outdoor patio bordered by a white picket fence gives our guests a chance to see all the faces of passersby and those entering the restaurant.  The funny thing about Hollywood is that everyone looks like a movie star even when they aren’t.  The fine food is just a part of the enjoyment of stopping for lunch at The Ivy.  Our custom tour allows our guests to enjoy a fine meal along the way anywhere they wish.  From “A List” to “D List”, above-the-line to below-the-line, we know places to go to restore our strength for an afternoon of touring in Los Angeles.

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3:00 23 May 2016

Can’t Forget Marilyn

A Marilyn Monroe impersonator on Hollywood Boulevard

Our Private Tour Folks Still Like Her Hot

Marilyn Monroe was a star of stars and continues to imbue the air of Hollywood with her beauty and style.  She has been gone now more than 50 years yet we can expect almost daily questions about her from our Los Angeles private tour guests.  We not only know much about her but we can take our guests to see the homes where she lived, where she succumbed to a drug overdose, where she is buried, where she met Joe DiMaggio, where she filmed Bus Stop and many more interesting places around Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Along Hollywood Boulevard we might even run into a Marilyn Monroe A bench at the cemetery where she lies in peacedoppelgänger happy to pose with visitors walking the Hollywood Walk of Fame in exchange for a couple of ducats.  A girl has to make a living, after all, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend.  She has a star on the famed sidewalk.  Nearby her handprints in the Grauman’s Chinese Theater courtyard are unquestionably the most touched and photographed.  Her grave in a tiny cemetery not far from Hollywood is always decorated with  flowers, mementos and lipstick kisses on the granite face of her tomb.  She is never forgotten.

 

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In a field below the Hollywood Sign our private Los Angeles tour guests jump for joy

Our Private Tour Guests Love to Goof Off

Sightseeing is fun.  It is supposed to be an enjoyable way to learn about someplace you visit.  On a private tour in Los Angeles, however, our guests REALLY have fun.  This is not just a factor of our tour guides all being from the performing side of the entertainment industry though that might be a part of it.  Always ready with a joke, funny anecdote or a quick bon mot, each guide makes certain that their passengers are entertained as well as informed and excited about the sights and people they get to see as they navigate Hollywood, Beverly Hills, downtown and the beaches.  The warm sunny weather most days of the year brings out the joy in our guests.  The smiles all around them as Los Angelenos go about their daily business contribute to a fun atmosphere for their luxury tour of the city.  And maybe it is partly caused by the snacks we serve aboard our luxury SUVs.  Perhaps it is the fact that we are photographing our guests everywhere we go and making subtle suggestions that they forget about the usual family poses and let their inner-child come out.  We once had a physics student suggest that the gravity might be lower in Hollywood.  Now that would explain everything and why the “Hollywood Jump” is such a popular response to “smile for the camera” when we arrive up at the Hollywood Sign.

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Our young guest at Mickey Mouse's Walk of Fame star

Our Private Tour Caters to Kids

Most of the 2,500+ stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are known only to our more mature private Los Angeles tour guests.  Folks who have been around a while (at least since 1965 when the first stars were placed in the now famous Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk), seen lots of movies and television and remember the great stars of those, and earlier, days smile and reminisce as we walk along.  Kids, however, do not have the advantage of time and find so many of the stars, well frankly, dull.  We, however, know where the stars are that will excite our young ones sightseeing with us.  Even though Mickey Mouse is as old as the hills he is a regular friend of all children and they delight in finding this star.  Godzilla, the Munchkins, Big Bird, Kermit the Frog, Bugs Bunny, Snoopy and Snow White are a just a few of the Walk of Fame stars we can be sure to pass as we are exploring Hollywood.  Even when we are in the courtyard of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater we can take the children to see the handprints of young movie stars recognized in their day and talk about them, maybe even get them interested enough to watch an old movie.  What little girl doesn’t like Shirley Temple, after all?

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3:00 18 May 2016

What To Do at L.A.’s Ocean

Windsurfing and parasailing are things to do at the beach

Our Private Tour Visits the Beaches of Southern California

Summer is just about here and the weather is fine and clear all along the Southern California coastline including right here in Los Angeles.  Just ahead is the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer when the beach crowds, growing already, will explode.  We have extraordinary beaches from Malibu to Playa del Rey and beyond.  In fact, there are grand beaches all the way to San Diego.  On our private Los Angeles tour we love to get our guests not only out of the car to see the beach front properties but right to the shoreline for some walking in wet Pacific Ocean sand.  From here we can admire the swimmers and surfers.  Some beaches will also have windsurfers skittering across the water out beyond the waves.  Parasailing is also a popular activity on some of our beaches along the Santa Monica Bay.  It seems that every year brings new toys to the beach so we are eager to see what inventions will come along this summer.  A very popular sightseeing stop for our custom tour guests is Venice Beach with its boardwalk, skate park, sidewalk cafés and shops and all kinds of arts and information stands.  Oh, and entertainment running the gamut from musicians to jugglers, magicians to psychics, comedians to opera singers.  Eat, drink and be merry!

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L.A. Live is a giant people magnet drawing crowds to downtown Los Angeles

Our Private Tour Guests Love L.A. Live

Some of our Los Angeles private tour guests even stay here in the heart of downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)L.A. Live is more than a slick name and logo it is a considerable force in the renewed life of a once failing downtown core.  Grand hotels (including the Ritz-Carlton), movie theaters, the Microsoft Theater for live performance and many of the award shows seen by millions on television, the Staples Center which is home to four professional sports teams (Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks) as well as a regular concert venue for mega stars (Selena Gomez and Carrie Underwood coming up later this year), the Grammy Museum for lovers of all kinds of music and the L.A. Convention Center all are part of this redeveloped quarter at the southern end of downtown.  We can easily spend a half of a tour day exploring and enjoying what L.A. Live has to offer.  We also like to show our guests the historic parts of town, too.  Old Broadway (undergoing its own renaissance right now as former movie palaces become entertainment showcases once again), the great downtown library, Pershing Square and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, the former banking zone now an arts district of creatively reused office and business space, Chinatown with its important contributions to the history of Los Angeles and the birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street – all of these sights and destinations and many more can impress any visitor to Los Angeles easily as much as Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the neighborhoods where we showcase celebrity homes and hangouts.  Just so you know, this is a photo taken from a tour helicopter as we came through downtown and will be a part of the tour photo album our guests will have by the end of the day.

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It looks like Tower Records has returned to the Sunset Strip in W. Hollywood

Our Guests on Their Private Tour Remember the Halcyon Days of Tower Records

The great music store is long gone and well remembered.  Tower Records was once a focal point of musical activity on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood but it is now just stories, books and a well-received documentary by Colin Hanks (All Things Must Pass).  As a part of the festivities surrounding the premiere of the film the currently unused building was repainted in the grand yellow and red banner so familiar to anyone who bought music during the 45 years that Tower reigned in music sales.  Begun in Sacramento, the business by the late 60’s was in major cities around the U.S. and soon thereafter in countries all around the world.  The Sunset Strip store is probably considered the most iconic of the stores located as it was in the heart of the Hollywood music and entertainment scene.  There were impromptu concerts and appearances by music greats.  You never knew who you would bump into in the stacks of records and later on CDs.  Our private tour of Hollywood had aboard this day some folks who were so excited to see the store and then so disappointed to learn it was just an empty building where Tower Records once flowed with the rhythm of rock ‘n roll.

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This is an aerial view of Dodger Stadium early on game day

Dodger Stadium – Impressive Even to Our Private Tour Guests Who Aren’t Baseball Fans

Those of us who do appreciate America’s National Pastime think of Dodger Stadium as the home of Vin Scully and lots of incredible baseball history.  There are Dodgers games and players we were fortunate enough to see in person and those we read about or saw for the first time in a documentary film.  Everyone knows that the team began back in New York, in Brooklyn, as the Trolley Dodgers way back in the earliest days of professional baseball.  We are talking the late 1800s.  But as the nation grew and the baseball market expanded there was an opportunity for the team to move to the west coast in 1958 and the Los Angeles Dodgers were born.  This gorgeous stadium was built in Chavez Ravine, just north of downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) and right off the Pasadena Freeway.  Cozily nestled in this verdant valley, the freeway and the Arroyo Seco on one side and Elysium Fields and the Los Angeles Police Department Academy on the other, the view afforded to the comfortable crowd is quite special.  We can fly over the field before the crowds arrive so that our Los Angeles private tour guests can look down from our hovering helicopter into the perfect field of play and imagine the dulcet tones of Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully making the game in front of him an integral part of the entire history of baseball.

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3:00 12 May 2016

All Things Disney Start Here

The front gate to the Walt Disney Co. in Burbank

A Private Tour of Movie Studios Brings Us to Disney

There are five major movie studios in the world that anyone can likely name: Universal, Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers and … Disney.  Ask a young person to name the major movie studios and you probably only get one name back.  Yes, Disney.  We grew up with Disney in our parents’ days and the same for most grandparents around today.  Of course, young folks have even more Disney films, television, music and products than ever before.  When we have a family on board enjoying a private custom tour around Los Angeles we get lots of Disney-related questions from the youngsters.  Often that means we will journey to Burbank and drive around the The Walt Disney Co. studios.  We can point out the features of the lot that speak to our young guests and impress their parents with stories, facts and statistics that make this studio facility stand out.  This particular studio has been the home to Disney films since 1939, constructed with the profits from Walt Disney’s hugely successful first full length animated motion picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Last year revenue for the studio exceeded $50 BILLION.  That’s incredible when you think of Walt’s modest start in a Los Feliz garage (ask and we will take you to see that).  Disney really is everywhere in our lives and especially around Hollywood.  Of course, Disneyland is less than an hour away.  Yes, we like to think of ourselves as an “E-ticket” ride through Disney’s world.

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3:00 11 May 2016

Lollipop Trees in LA-LA Land

Perfectly coifed trees line this portion of a Bel Air road

A Favorite Bel Air Road on Our Private Tour

Bel Air is a neighborhood in Los Angeles.  A very nice neighborhood.  Mansions, swimming pools, gated driveways, security guards, prep schools for the rich and famous and a favorite destination on a Los Angeles private tour.  Sure, Beverly Hills has celebrity homes that we often take our guests to see.  Beverly Hills has wide palm tree-lined avenues city parks and the Golden Triangle, the business and shopping district that includes Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard.  Bel Air, on the other hand has the Hotel Bel Air, distant and secluded, a beautiful and fancy hideaway for the five-star hotel crowd.  Otherwise, we show off narrow twisting streets passing by homes of historic Hollywood importance.  There are also fabulous gardens and lollipop trees.  Join us on an inspection tour when you visit Los Angeles and we will see where Fresh Prince lived, the home of Ronald Reagan, where the Beverly Hillbillies lived (sorry, not in Beverly Hills at all), the ruins of the estate of Johnny Weissmuller and many other great homes and gardens to go along with all the stories our guides can share of the residents, then and now, of Bel Air.

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