Archive for the ‘Just the Facts’ Category
Helicopter Tour Reveals the Marvels of the Sunset Strip
We like to fly. We have luxury twin-engine helicopters at our disposal and know Los Angeles as well from the air as we know it driving on the wide boulevards and narrow hillside streets. A private tour combining both an aerial circuit of the city from downtown to the coast plus a ground tour in our smooth driving SUV truly allows our guests to really get to know Los Angeles. One of the fun “pathways” we like to follow as we fly low over the city is along the Sunset Strip. This stretch of Sunset Boulevard between Beverly Hills and Hollywood is famous throughout the world thanks to the countless films, television shows, commercial advertisements and photographs created along this glitzy roadway. The Strip is forever populated by fashionable restaurants, luxury hotels, bars and nightclubs and every block, every building, has a story to tell. Pictured above is the Sunset Tower. A notable art deco structure located on a gentle curve along the famed boulevard it commands your attention as you fly over or pass by. The address and the building was an easy sell to celebrities happy to call it home: John Wayne, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and too many other famous names to list. Opened in 1931 it was THE place to live for a long time…but not forever. The 80s saw a decline in the property that ultimately ended in its conversion to a hotel. That seemed to do the trick and a new cadre of famous players turned out to spend their Hollywood days and nights here. With its charm and excellent location the Sunset Tower is a wonderful accommodation that well suits many of our Los Angeles private tour guests. If staying here is not in your plans at least plan to drop in for a drink and soak up some fine Hollywood history.
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. In 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 historic 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.
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.
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 tour 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).
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.
The Getty Museum Impresses Our Los Angeles Helicopter Tour
Depending on which heliport we depart from on a luxury helicopter tour of Los Angeles (Santa Monica, Van Nuys, Burbank or a downtown skyscraper) we do not see the beautiful Getty Museum atop its mountain ridge in Brentwood until well into the hour-long flight. Our guests have already been impressed with the layout of this vast city (we only see a portion of the 500 square miles of the city proper). We have probably seen (custom tours is all we do so our routes are not determined in advance) downtown Los Angeles with its gigantic modern towers (the brand new and not quite opened Wilshire Grand Center) and now not so tall historic towers (the infamous city hall building everyone remembers from the television cop show Dragnet). Other grand buildings and extraordinary homes have been pointed out along the way. Then we find ourselves following the mountains and there atop a tall ridge overlooking the entire Los Angeles Basin is the Getty Museum. It is composed of a wild mixture of rectilinear and circular structures with beautifully landscaped gardens all around. We see the snaking path of the electric funicular that delivers visitors to the museum from the parking area below. The wide swath of the Santa Monica Freeway curves up through a canyon just to the east of this museum and art conservation facility. And this is just the jawdropping beauty of the outside of the Getty. Imagine what our guests get to see when they visit the museum (either with us or independently) and walk through the galleries. This is what $1.3 BILLION dollars will get you (and that’s 1997 dollars). But since 1.3 million visitors enjoy the museum each year the price was well worth it. Plan a visit next year for the 20th anniversary and see for yourself what everyone is so excited about. We will be flying over and driving over with our guests. Join us.
Vincent van Gogh’s Irises Touch Our Private Tour
This was at one time the most expensive painting ever sold (~$54M in 1987). Painted in 1889 by Vincent van Gogh while he was institutionalized before his death, this painting is part of series painted in the asylum garden. Our Los Angeles private tour guests were especially moved by this beautiful work as so many of the 1.3 million visitors to the Getty Museum every year find themselves to be. We appreciate that so many of our guests understand that a private custom tour of this magnificent Southern California city can (and we think should) include visits to any number of our impressive museums. Besides the two campuses of the Getty Museum (the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades), major art museums include the Broad Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Hammer Museum and the Norton Simon Museum. There are many more fine art museums and galleries as you would expect. In fact, there is a whole art district in downtown Los Angeles. Besides art museums, there are science museums, natural history, ethnic origin and Hollywood history museums. We like to say there is a museum for everyone, even a kids’ museum. We suggest a visit to a museum of interest to you as part of your private tour so you do not have to worry about driving, parking or timing. We take care of that for you.
LAX – Gateway to Los Angeles and Start of Private Tour
Think about it – 75 Million people in and out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) last year. Talk about busy airports. LAX is the largest and busiest airport on this side of the country and handles domestic and international flights from all over the world. With its four runways and six main passenger terminals the airport is a major hub of activity all hours of the day and all days of the year. It can be a bit intimidating to less experienced travelers on the best of days. Considering there are constant construction projects and you can understand why passenger flow and traffic in and around the terminals can be daunting. We offer to help our guests who manage their arrival time to also be a start time for a private tour of Los Angeles. That way we can meet them at the airport, show they the best parts of the city, and at the conclusion of their tour drop them and their luggage at the hotel where they are staying. We make these arrangements often because our guests appreciate the service. We can also plan the converse where we pick up our guests and baggage at their hotel, go sightseeing, and then drop them off at the airport before their return flight home. Since our guests also arrive in Los Angeles by cruise ship and train we can make similar pick up and drop off plans at Union Station or the Cruise Ship terminals in San Pedro and Long Beach. When these arrangements work out just right it is absolutely the best way to go. See you at LAX.
The Art of Bodybuilding on Display for Our Private Los Angeles Tour
The life of Venice, one of the beach communities of Los Angeles, ranges from high to low, from esoteric to mindless, from artistic to athletic. Walking along the boardwalk allows us to talk about the history of this community that evolved from the ideas of one man, Abbott Kinney, to turn Venice, California into a west coast version of Venice, Italy. The grand canals, gondolas, magnificent palaces of hospitality were all conceived and constructed during the city’s heyday. The wooden piers were home to dance halls and carnivals. Hollywood filmed here and vacationers reveled here. Venice has changed from those halcyon days of full body bathing costumes and paddle balls, bicycles with two different sized wheels and dance marathons. Today we see modern stores and boutiques as well as booths hawking sunglasses, t-shirts and souvenirs. Fine art abounds from henna (on skin) to acrylic beach landscapes and then to kiln-fired clay kitsch. And, of course, lots of food and drink. And then at one end of the boardwalk there is athleticism on display. The basketball, handball and paddle tennis courts built along the bikeway lead us to Muscle Beach. Here our Los Angeles private tour guests watch in awe as the bodybuilders work the exercise machines in full display of everyone passing by. The stage is lined with awards recognizing the princes and princesses of this age old expression of physical perfection. Most of our guests recognize the names of Jack LaLanne and Arnold Schwarzenegger but there are more names to know. The grunting and sweat results in a full-blown Adonis.
English Country Gardens Impress Our Private Tour Guests
The Greystone Mansion (or the Doheny Mansion if you want to be historically correct) is a Beverly Hills city park favored by the Hollywood filming community wishing to have open access to a mansion, grand staircase, driveway, portico and gardens for a setting befitting wealthy and successful characters. The residence and garden are also used continuously for fundraising events and special festivals. In between all these activities the exquisite park and gardens are open for visitors. Our Los Angeles private tour will almost always pass by the mansion so we can talk about some of its illustrious history (infidelity, suicide, unsolved murder) as well as its famous architect (Gordon Kaufman) and purchaser (Edward Doheny for his son Ned) up to its eventual purchase by the City of Beverly Hills to prevent its demolition by the then current owner, Paul Trousdale. In 1928 when the 46,000 sq.ft. home was completed it was the most expensive home in California ($4M). The park and grounds are open for visitors when not in use by a film production crew or other function that helps the city defray the costs of maintaining this beautiful facility. Are you interested in visiting the home? We can talk about making that happen.