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January 2017
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3:00 24 January 2017

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Enjoy a tour of Warner Bros. in the middle of your private Los Angeles tour

Some of Our Private Tour Guests Enjoy a Studio Tour, Too

Access to the major movie studios is tightly controlled as you would expect.  Sony/MGM, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. all have well organized guided tours of their facilities and we recommend them all.  Each is somewhat different from the others when considering the size of the tour group and the time spent walking and riding but they are also all quite similar in terms of visiting backlots and studio interiors as well as other departments involved in television and movie production (props, sound, editing, costume, etc.).  When we are asked about which studio to visit to see the art and craft of filmmaking we ask questions of our guests and make recommendations depending on their interests, schedule and budget.  Many of our guests like to combine a studio tour with their private sightseeing tour of Los Angeles with us.  We gladly accommodate their arrangements and can begin a custom luxury tour of the city at the studio or leave our guests at the studio after seeing the city.  We also often incorporate the studio tour into the middle of our time with guests if that works best.  Warner Bros. (above) has a 2-hour guided tour (that generally lasts 3-hours) that starts at times throughout the day and fits nicely into a 3-4 hour sightseeing adventure in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  They also offer a Deluxe Tour that lasts much longer and includes lunch in the commissary (it is always a treat to eat with the people making the movies).  Whatever our guests wish to do we will make sure happens for them in the best way.  Call or write us today for more information about a combination studio and private city tour.

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3:00 23 January 2017

Angels Flight Before La La Land

Archive photograph of Angels Flight in Los Angeles

A Private Tour Can See Angels Flight But Not Ride

It seems that the quick and meaningful glimpse of Angels Flight railway in the critically acclaimed and much appreciated new film LA LA LAND is as close to enjoying a ride on the tiny railroad (298′) as we can expect to get in the near future.  The long and interesting history of this funicular (def: two cars counterbalanced on a railway track pulled by rope or cable) is at a standstill now awaiting approval by state agencies to return to business.  A romantic shot from the film La La Land on Angels FlightIn fact, the use of the railway in Hollywood film production is apparently included in the prohibition so the LA LA LAND filmmakers were lucky to get their shots completed.  However, there is pressure to return the fully-repaired and inspected Angels Flight to public use – perhaps this year.  Our private tour of Los Angeles always makes a stop at Angels Flight when we arrive in downtown Los Angeles to see the city’s Our tour photo of Angel's Flight Railwayhistoric core and recent renovations that are part of its ongoing metamorphosis.  The railway was very much a part of the beginning of the resurgence of downtown Los Angeles when it was dismantled and moved from its original 1901 location (shown above in this archival black & white photograph) to its current location a half block away.  The old transportation system is a cherished look back at earlier (and slower) times.  We hope that we will once again ride the wooden cars (Sinai and Olivet) with our guests as a part of their sightseeing in and around Los Angeles with us.

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3:00 20 January 2017

Sightseeing is Really Relaxing

This is the sunset view from Malibu Rocky Oaks estate

Stretch Out on this Private Tour with Wine and Sunset

One of our many wine tasting destinations right in Los Angeles is Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards (“MRO”).  This beautiful home in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu is surrounded by wine grape growing acreage.  A sightseeing adventure in L.A. can mean the usual expedition to Hollywood historic sights and Beverly Hills movie star homes but then, after all that history and glamor (and fun) expect a relaxing rest by the infinity pool overlooking the mountains as the sun sets at MRO.  Do not forget that you will be plied with the estate’s finest wines as you breathe in deeply the mountain and sea air.  Of course you will have an opportunity to wander through this Tuscan-style mansion where countless movies and television shows have been filmed and parties and gatherings for the biggest names in the entertainment industry are regularly hosted.  Feel like the VIP you are so close to a major metropolitan city and yet in a quiet wilderness where you only hear the gurgling of the pumps in the spa of the infinity pool and perhaps and occasional sea gull or raptor calling.  You may not want to leave…ever.  Oh, by the way, if you are in Los Angeles for a special occasion we can plan a very special event at MRO for you.  How about a meal prepared by a private chef?  With a musician or two?  A massage after swimming and a soak in the spa?  Private screening of your favorite film?  The possibilities are endless.  Call us now and begin planning a very special private tour in Los Angeles.

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3:00 19 January 2017

This Way to See the Stars

A sign to the telescope at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory Is on this Private Tour

There are things to see when we arrive at the fabulous Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on a private tour.  Day or night the stars are shining.  And not just Hollywood stars like James Dean whose bust is prominently displayed outside this fantastic science museum along with tributes to great astronomers and cosmologists.  Sometimes we have to remind our guests that the observatory is not named for either Melanie Griffith or Andy Griffith, both of whom assuredly walked around on this promontory overlooking Los Angeles at one time or another.  Rather, it is Col. Griffith Griffith who bankrolled the facility.  He is the same wealthy father of Los Angeles who set aside the more than 4,000 acres that is today’s Griffith Park wherein the observatory is located.  Another unrelated Hollywood figure who spent time up here is D.W. Griffith, the famous director who was among the earliest creative geniuses making movies what they are today.  For our science and hiking-inclined guests the Griffith Observatory is a very special destination for a custom sightseeing expedition around Los Angeles.  Lately, though, it is fans of the critically and popularly acclaimed movie musical, La La Land, who are urging us up into the Hollywood Hills to visit the location of one of the important musical numbers of the film.

A great view of downtown Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory parapet

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The Santa Barbara Inn - newly renovated

Our Private Tour Guide Recommends the Santa Barbara Inn

You might call it a busman’s holiday but sometimes we at Elite Adventure Tours just need to leave Los Angeles and become sightseers in another city.  One recent holiday by a member of our staff was to Santa Barbara, the American Riviera.  This beautiful Welcome to the Santa Barbara Inncity on the Pacific is less than two hours drive away.  That means a weekend away really means most of the weekend will be spent in Santa Barbara.  Stearns Wharf, State Street, the Santa Barbara Mission, the Santa Barbara Zoo and the shoreline from Montecito up to the University of California Santa Barbara and Isla Vista offer plenty to see and do when relaxing away from the hubbub of Los Angeles.  Like our City of Angels there is swimming, surfing and many different kinds of ocean recreational boating for the adventurous folks who like heart-pounding exercise.  There are also tidepools galore and whalewatching (seals, sea lions and porpoises, too) for those of us seeking more placid recreation.  Now, where to stay?  Our guide says that the newly renovated Santa Barbara Inn is the BEST.  The Santa Barbara Inn is right on the beach, walking distance to State Street shopping and dining and also has its own fine restaurant, Convivo.  Of most importance, we are told, the inn is quiet.  Elegant and comfortable, too, but mostly it is quiet.  Asked if the serenity was Herbert Bayer's Chromatic Gate frames the Santa Barbara Inn on the other side of the parkjust a matter of a wintertime visit we are assured that even at full capacity the design does not transfer sound from the bar into the guestrooms or from one room to another.  Since we are often in Santa Barbara on the way to or from the nearby Santa Ynez Valley for our wine tours knowing firsthand where we can stay on an overnight private tour from Los Angeles is terrific information.  So, if you want to know where to stay when visiting Santa Barbara, we suggest following the recommendation of our own guide and making reservations at the Santa Barbara Inn.

 

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3:00 17 January 2017

Read the Blog, Be the Blog

Mom and dad embrace below the Hollywood Sign

This Private Tour Family Wanted to Be in the Company Blog

While we give thought to having passed 2,000 blogs on this website we thought we might use this moment to divulge a bit of how we do things here at Elite Adventure Tours.  We schedule and provide hundreds and hundreds of tours each year from hotels all around the Los Angeles area.  Sometimes we even meet our guests at the airport or cruise ship terminal, Union Station or at a private home where they are staying with friends or relatives while they visit Los Angeles.  Our guides immediately inform (or remind) them that the sightseeing The kids expend some kid energy in front of the Hollywood Sign on their private tourtour they are about to experience is a custom tour.  Where do they want to go?  What do they want to see?  Hollywood and the film studios?  Beverly Hills and celebrity homes?  Venice Beach and the Los Angeles coast?  There is so much to see and do that part of creating a guided tour is getting to know who is with us in our luxury SUVs.  Then we inform (or remind) them that we have a fancy digital camera and will photograph their tour so they have their own photo album afterwards.  The pictures will be posed and candid and everyone will be in them (no missing dads on our tours).  These are the photographs that make it into our blogs.  Our guests have to give us permission in each case to use their pictures.  Sometimes, like today, our guests not only sign the permission notice but they insist we write about their tour and use a picture or two.  We take special note of that and when that blog publishes we make certain that our guests’ tour guides have the blog link to send to them.  OK, that does mean a lot of blogs about the Hollywood Sign.  We are cool with that because, well, everyone sightseeing in Los Angeles wants us to take them as close as we can (even hiking right up behind the sign).

 

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The sun sets over our private Los Angeles tour

Our Private Tour Is Just Getting Started at Sunset

This fine group of ladies has been enjoying a private tour of Los Angeles that ranged from Hollywood to the beaches…so far.  Exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater was a thrill for them as was learning more about the earliest days of Hollywood when movie theaters were a brand new business enterprise.  They were taken to see our old Hollywood film studios as well as more recent additions to film and production facilities in and around Hollywood.  What they really loved were driving through the fancy neighborhoods where the celebrities reside.  Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, Brentwood, Malibu to name a few of the areas we drove through while offering descriptions and stories from the times of Charlie Chaplin up to Charlize Theron.  We timed it right to be out on the coastline of Santa Monica Bay just as the sun was setting.  Sunset photos are always loved by our guests.  Admittedly they are beautiful times in Los Angeles.  And next – the night time tour begins.  The Sunset Strip will look completely different with all the neon and bright illumination luring us to hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.  Beverly Hills remains elegant with its pretty street lighting and Hollywood looks polished and inviting, too.  Take a look at our Pinterest page to see some of the great photographs we have been getting lately during our tours.  There are some fantastic tour photo albums out there with our guests.

Sunset over Malibu

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This pretty pose is outside the Cornell Winery near Los Angeles

An Exciting Wine Tour in Los Angeles

We have more wineries in and close to Los Angeles than movie studios.  Yes, that’s hard to believe and a terrific discovery for wine lovers.  In fact, we can maintain our “custom” tour philosophy – every tour is different and tailored specifically for our guests with changes to our route and itinerary made along the way – and pick This wine (eye) chart is a novelty to amuse the guests at Cornell Winery and choose from among a large number of fabulous wine tasting destinations.  One special place we like to go is up into the Santa Monica Mountains and to the Cornell Winery and Tasting Room.  With “winery” in quotes, the establishment is now dedicated to the presentation of locally produced wines of which there are many.  It is a super wine tasting room with a lot of local history in an informal setting.  It is low key like the businesses all around are and a fine place for a relaxed drink for Malibu celebrities looking for a quiet escape from the entertainment industry and paparazzi.  If our guests are inspired by a particular winery’s product we can head over to that winery afterwards.  Wine connoisseurs will not be disappointed.  The beauty of this wine adventure staying local is that we can visit more locations in a shorter amount of time.  If time is what our guests have and they fondly remember the novel or film SIDEWAYS, we can drive (or fly) up to the Santa Ynez Valley and spend the day (or days) in a fabulous wine region that rivals Napa-Sonoma in many ways.

 

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3:00 11 January 2017

Los Angeles Grows Tall

A panorama view of downtown Los Angeles with Hollywood just below

Construction Cranes Catch the Eyes of Our Private Tour

Our little city on the sea, Los Angeles, is growing.  Taller it seems.  Where once the U.S. Bank Building was the tallest building west of the Mississippi now there is the Wilshire Grand Center tower just a skosh taller.  From Mulholland Drive behind the Hollywood Bowl looking east the new skyscraper adds a bit of balance to the downtown skyline.  Even though it is not yet open we are already eager to visit the new building.  Just imagine the views afforded by such a majestic height.  In the meantime we can take our guests enjoying a private tour of Los Angeles to the top of the former tallest building (only 81′ shorter, officially) where there is not only a restaurant and observation deck but perhaps the scariest sliding board in the world.  The plastic chute is fashioned outside of the building and runs from one floor to another.  Take about an adventure tour!  Besides the giant skyscraper rapidly nearing completion in downtown Los Angeles as you can see in the photograph above there are many construction cranes in Hollywood.  Downtown Los Angeles has been preserving the old historic buildings for the most part and adapting and reusing them for new businesses and residences.  Hollywood on the other hand is tearing down the old and building new structures.  Progress marches on, as the old newsreels use to say (for those of you who remember newsreels in this age of cellphone notifications and headlines).  We are happy that production facilities and technology will remain in and around Hollywood as it grows into the future.

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3:00 10 January 2017

The Biggest Sign in Hollywood

The youngest member of our private tour today presents the Hollywood Sign

This Private Tour Guest Can Spell Hollywood

You don’t have to be big to enjoy a private tour of Hollywood.  Our littlest guests love the twisty turns of the roads we take up to the great Hollywood Sign.  Like their parents their jaws drop when we take them to our secret spot to first see the sign up close.  Such big letters on the mountainside and they spell them out in grand Sesame Street style (we will take them to see Kermit the Frog when we return to town later).  And, for their parents, we get many good photographs of the kids reveling in the wide panorama of Hollywood and the sea seen from this lofty perch just beneath the landmark sign.  The kids want to know how tall each letter is (45 feet) and how long the sign is (350 feet across).  Mom and dad are more interested in when the sign was erected and why (1923 to advertise a new housing development called Hollywoodland).  Yes, four letters from the original sign are gone (as are the lights) these days and the film industry appropriated the novelty of the attraction for itself.  It was Hollywood, though, that saved the sign in 1978 (thank you Hugh Hefner and friends) with a complete restoration.  Thanks, too, to Sherwin-Williams for a repainting and restoration job four years ago.  According to our young guests all the sign needs now is a giant swing underneath.  Hear that, Hollywood?

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