Archive for the ‘Things To Do’ Category
Get a Great Look at the Hollywood Sign on Your Private Tour
This particular road sign is increasingly popular around Hollywood these days. Understandably there are neighborhoods and neighbors who dislike the convoys of tour buses chugging up and down their streets in an effort to get their customers to a good vantage point to see the famous Hollywood Sign. We sympathize as we ourselves are neighbors in Hollywood and find ourselves sitting in tourist traffic when we have important errands to run. Keeping that in mind we avoid the most traveled routes when we can and take advantage of a smaller vehicle (our luxury SUVs only carry six passengers) and our intimate knowledge of the roads and paths all through the Hollywood Hills. We drive as close as we can and walk the rest of the way if our guests are willing. We even encourage our hiking tours to enjoy a walk up a dusty service road along the side of Mt. Lee that ends up above and behind the tall white letters that everyone is so excited about. Even more important, our guides know the best places and poses for photographs with the sign in the background. Talk about a perfect souvenir of a private tour in Los Angeles. Individual and group pictures will fill our guests’ tour photo album, pictures they can share on the favorite social media sites and images that can grace their next holiday season card. By all means let us do the driving (and photographing) while you just sit back and relax and enjoy the sights of Los Angeles.
Big Music Buildings Impress Our Flying Tour Guests
As any of our guests will tell you when they arrange a helicopter tour of Los Angeles with us, seeing man-made structures from above is completely different from nature’s landscapes. They are really surprised when they see what we captured in this aerial photograph over downtown Los Angeles. The odd structure of Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street from the traditional architecture of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Both theaters host classical music concerts like the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as the L.A. Opera and ballet. However, the range of music hosted at these two venues far exceeds the confines of classical music. New symphonic works, jazz, world music – the range is considerable and there always will be something here for all musical tastes. The Walt Disney Concert Hall extends the opportunities for theatrical culture with its proximity to the Music Center which, besides the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, also includes the Broadway-style Ahmanson Theater and the more intimate Mark Taper Forum. The presence of these music and theater venues so near Grand Park create a wonderful focus of activity in the newly reinvigorated downtown. With this activity in the north part of the downtown area and L.A. Live occupying the southern portion there is so much more to see and do right in downtown Los Angeles there is almost no reason to leave…except maybe to visit Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the beach communities on our custom private Los Angeles tour.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 city 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 just 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.
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).