Archive for September, 2015

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 30 September 2015

The Marilyn Monroe Bungalow

Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow associated with Marilyn Monroe and JFK

Not All Our Private Tour Guests Stay Here

but They All See It

While we love pulling up to the portecochère at the beautiful Beverly Hills Hotel to meet our guests ready for a private luxury tour of Los Angeles, we also make it a point to at least drive by with all of our tour groups while sightseeing in Beverly Hills.  This distinguished hotel has so much history associated with the beginnings of Hollywood and Beverly Hills that no sightseeing excursion is complete without stopping by to admire the architecture and landscaping so fitting for its grand setting on Sunset Boulevard.  Oh, the stories our guides tell of the famous guests and residents of the “Pink Palace,” its storied past, and all the reasons to not only visit but to make arrangements to stay in the hotel when in Los Angeles.  We regularly recommend to our guests wanting to dine somewhere loved by celebrities and Hollywood movers-and-shakers that they enjoy a fabulous lunch at the Polo Lounge.  Driving up into the hills along the hotel property gives us a good view of a number of the private bungalows including this one where Marilyn Monroe entertained President John Kennedy on one of his visits to Los Angeles.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 29 September 2015

Santa Monica Here We Walk

Walking along the palisades in Santa Monica

A Stroll Along the Santa Monica Palisades

with Our Private Tour

The Santa Monica Bay curves in front and behind us as we walk along the palisades in Santa Monica.  Beautiful residences, restaurants and hotels line the far side of the boulevard.  The sandy cliffs on the other side lead down to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) and the wide clean beaches running up to Malibu and beyond in one direction and down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula (about 40 miles) in the other.  The bay is blue and full of life…both sea creatures and people.  We easily convince our private Los Angeles tour folks why the movie stars in the new town of Hollywood back at the turn of the last century built their first beach homes right below us.  As much time as it might have taken us to drive here from Hollywood with traffic it was a much longer journey back in the days when horses were still a form of conveyance and automobiles had to be hand cranked.  Brand new street cars could be said to be rickety in those golden days of the first feature length movies and movie palaces but those trolleys rumbled from downtown and Hollywood to the beach so fully dressed residents could escape the inland summer heat and jump into the ocean.  Homes still occupy the beach all along the Los Angeles coastline, some magnificent and others just ordinary homes (that cost a whole lot of money these days).  Our guides stay abreast of local real estate and have many answers to the questions their guests ask when we explore the coast on a luxury tour.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 28 September 2015

Los Angeles Tour View of Pt. Dume in Malibu

This view of Pt. Dume in Malibu from our Los Angeles tour helicopterA Helicopter Tour up the Coast

Takes Us By Pt. Dume

Sailors, surfers, sea lions and seals get to enjoy this spectacular view of Pt. Dume in Malibu which is just one of a whole lot of treats we provide to our private Los Angeles tour guests who wish to see our city from the air as well as from the ground.  The clear blue waters frame the glorious coastline along which are celebrity homes on the beach as well as the very scenic Pacific Coast Highway.  We fly low along the waves to watch the surfers and see any whales frolicking near the coast on their way back and forth between feeding and breeding grounds thousands of miles away.  Even the 50 miles of California coast we might explore on a helicopter ride around L.A. gives us much of the glorious geology evident along the more than 800 miles of California coastline: pristine sandy beaches, steep palisades, river mouths, coastal mountains.  Imagine all this shoreline beauty so close to a major city that also enjoys magnificent weather all through the year to enjoy beach activities and shoreline hiking and rock climbing, tidepool wading and whale watching – it’s just not fair to other cities.  Whether our custom tour guests fly and drive or just drive, we promise an experience in Los Angeles they will never forget.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 25 September 2015

The Skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles

Our private tour helicopter approaches downtown Los Angeles

Our Private Helicopter Tour Passes Through

Downtown Los Angeles

Flying in a helicopter is always a treat even for those generally used to traveling in these small urban aircraft.  Our pilot is always busy talking with aircraft control personnel and watching for police, news, film production and other choppers flying the Los Angeles airways.  We, however, get to marvel at the abundant blue skies bordering the tall buildings that make up our urban core.  The tallest building in the west is the U.S. Bank building and the very unusual silver cylinder set is the lovely and hospitable Westin Bonaventure Hotel (we recommend it to our guests wanting a great place to stay downtown).  As we wend our way through the canyons of steel and glass there are more skyscrapers heading south including a new tower that will soon replace the U.S. Bank building as the tallest, the Wilshire Grand Center (by 25 meters).  This is a busy city downtown with an important financial center.  There is also a garment district including the very enjoyable for shopping Santee Alley, a jewelry district, an arts district and a Broadway theater district.  Served by subway, bus and trolley yet eminently walkable we prefer to fly over and through downtown on our way to see other parts of a very large Los Angeles….all the way to the beach.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 24 September 2015

Hollywood Sign Kid

Even our youngest guests love to pose with the Hollywood Sign

Our Young Private Tour Guest Loves

Her Hollywood Sign Visit

You are never too young to enjoy a visit to any of our favorite Hollywood Sign spots.  Sure, there is a giant word on the side of the mountain but more important, there are dirt trails and a large green park with doggies and throw toys.  There are big rocks to climb on and jump off.  Can we go visit the lake below (Lake Hollywood behind the Mulholland Dam)?  There are wild animals all around (deer, raccoons, and skunks that we regularly see, bobcats and coyotes that we rarely encounter).  Flutterbys and bumbly bees are everywhere throughout the year.  What’s that bird running over there with a doodad popping up from his head (quail)?  Who is Madonna?  Is Bugsy Siegel a rabbit?  Where is Sesame Street, that must be somewhere around here?  I want to see Miss Piggy’s celebrity home.  So, yes, mom and dad, you do not have to be so big to have fun on a private Los Angeles tour with us.  We will be delighted to explain all these references to you in grown up terms.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 23 September 2015

Underground Art in Los Angeles Might Mean the Subway

There is a subway train to Hollywood

Transit Art for Our Private Tour Guests

Means a Train Ride

Visitors to Los Angeles, even local residents, do not immediately think of subway trains when they consider the idea of public transportation in our city.  Even trolley cars seem foreign despite the popularity of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.  All you see in our city are cars and buses.  You really need to know where to look to see our growing rail system.  Thankfully, many of our private Los Angeles tour guests are interested in how we move around the city.  Or….they are interested in public art.  That is one of our favorite topics as our readers know and the Metro Rail system is a hugely fun way to experience the work of some very special artists.  The Metro Rail system consists of two heavy train lines (Red, Purple) comprising almost 23 miles of rail (and it’s growing).  We have almost 50 miles (also growing) of light rail line, just so you know.  What is fantastic is that a living artist was assigned to the design team of each underground station (and several above ground stations of the light rail system) providing Los Angeles and Hollywood with beautiful works of art to enjoy at each stop.  The entire station is that work of art.  Different media and presentations run from the surface to the tracks.  How “artistic” is this enterprise?  Regular docent guided walking/riding tours are scheduled throughout the year to see a number of stations just as an art lover would experience in an art museum.  Our guides are familiar enough to lead their own tours when their guests wish to get out of the SUV and ride the subway.  For obvious reasons we like the Hollywood station the best.  All aboard!

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 22 September 2015

Where to Buy Hollywood History and a Good Watch

Wonderful antique store in Hollywoodland

Time and Money Together for Our

Private Tour at Hollywoodland Antiques

Hollywoodland today is an adorable village setting just inside the giant stone portals that were erected back in 1923 to welcome residents to a new real estate development – HOLLYWOODLAND.  You couldn’t miss the road up Beachwood Canyon to this location.  All you needed to do was look up at the giant illuminated sign comprised of 30′ tall letters.  The original real estate company office remains just inside the portals along with a tiny commercial district to serve the hillside community just above Hollywood.  One business, there since 1996, is Hollywoodland Antiques.  Jeff Meyer and his wonderful staff present a wild assortment of high quality items and memorabilia representative of Los Angeles and Hollywood since the first movie star arrived.  The store also specializes in time… exotic and vintage watches and timepieces adorn the shop where they each have stories to be told to our private Los Angeles tour guests with whom we venture in for some fun exploring.  Food, shopping and a touch of Hollywood history are part of what we experience on our way up to take pictures of the Hollywood Sign.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 21 September 2015

Los Angeles City Hall – Tower of Power

Los Angeles City Hall, it's tallest building, under construction in 1928

The City Hall Building in Downtown Los Angeles

Familiar to Our Private Tour Guests

Downtown Los Angeles (we refer to it as DTLA) has been undergoing a significant metamorphosis in recent years as most cities do in their lifetimes.  A cycle of boom growth is followed by stasis and then dereliction before a new period of redevelopment takes hold.  L.A. Live in the south part of the city has rejuvenated the city as has adaptive reuse of some of the old office buildings and renovation of the Broadway theaters.  Downtown Los Angeles is happening once again.  The tallest building downtown before the modern era was the 32-story City Hall building.  Made with concrete that used sand from each of the state’s 58 counties and water from every historic mission on El Camino Real (the Royal Roadway) the building was the highest point in the city until 1964.  Even more important is the recognition the building receives from movie lovers and television watchers who have seen the impressive exterior from all angles over its entire history.  Whether playing itself or substituting for the municipal center of an unnamed or different city, the filmography of Los Angeles City Hall is as impressive as the cast of characters who have run the city over the course of its relatively short history.  Our private Los Angeles tour guests interested in downtown can visit City Hall and its wonderful observation deck to look over the north part of the downtown core where they can see Japan Town, Chinatown, Olvera Street and Union Station.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 18 September 2015

Venice – L.A.’s Cool Hood

Venice (California) welcomes you

Our Private Los Angeles Tour Guests Enjoy

Venice Day and Night

When we time just right an all day or just a late afternoon custom luxury tour of Los Angeles we can get through Hollywood and Beverly Hills, even downtown L.A., before heading to the beach to watch the sunset.  That means we get to explore Venice after the sun goes down when the cool evening breezes carry the aromas of ocean and food along the shore.  The boardwalk closes down and the crowds head back inland but the night people emerge to fill the sidewalks, food stands, cafés and restaurants.  The lighter traffic means that music can be heard everywhere, much of it live from street performers and some within businesses or just pouring out of the open windows of nearby residents.  Our hungry guests can decide to visit a Zagat-rated Venice restaurant or we can remain on the beach for deli at Danny’s or walk along to choose between the Figtree’s Café and Grill, the Sidewalk Café or the Venice Ale House.  The sea gulls settle onto the perches as we walk along the remaining canals and look into neighbors’ houses and completely enjoy a romantic promenade over arched wooden bridges through the waterways left from Abbot Kinney’s dream of a playground on a Los Angeles beach.

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Luxury Tours of Los Angeles - 3:00 17 September 2015

Tour or Stay at Malibu Rocky Oaks

We approach Malibu Rocky Oaks estate and vineyard in our tour helicopter

Our Private Tour Guests Can Also Arrange a

Weekend Away at Malibu Rocky Oaks

Our exclusive private tour access to Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate and Vineyard up in the mountains northwest of Los Angeles allows us to drive or fly (note the helipad to the left of the infinity pool) to this fabulous estate with our Los Angeles tour guests for private tour and wine tasting of MRO label varietals.  We can also arrange for our guests to enjoy a private cooked meal while musicians fill the air with music or have masseuses waiting beside the pool for some deep relaxation.  Even better, we can arrange for an overnight (or more) stay up here in the Santa Monica Mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of  Hollywood and Beverly Hills in a location often used by filmmakers and party planners to stage special events (take a look at this recent Mercedes promotion).  The clear air and warm sunshine is perfect for growing grapes and the solitude and beauty is perfect for enjoying the fruit of the vine.

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