Archive for April, 2016
Our Private Hollywood Tour Learns Where the Romance Is
There are fine restaurants all over Los Angeles. We maintain a list of those most sought after by our guests enjoying a private tour of Los Angeles with us. But few of those fine restaurants offer such comfortable and exotic ambiance and spectacular views as does Yamashiro Hollywood. The stories this building could tell would make enough movies to support several film studios. The building itself has been in numerous notable films over the years. What is most important for our private Los Angeles tour is to arrive early in the day, long before the restaurant opens (5:00 p.m.), to enjoy the jawdropping views of Hollywood all the way to downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) in one direction and Santa Monica Bay in the other. We walk through the beautifully landscaped garden to enjoy all the angles this elevated perspective offers of the Los Angeles basin. Oh, the romance of this spot. In the evening, as the sun sets, sitting on the deck with a cocktail or wine, this is a destination of destinations for lovers and friends. The historic building, once a home, offers a number of different “rooms” to enjoy the restaurant’s cuisine so that each visit can be a wholly different experience. From May through August there is a farmers market from 5-9pm which allows shoppers to enjoy the mild weather and extraordinary location while they purchase farm fresh fruit and vegetables.
Flight to Catalina Is a Great Way to Begin a Private Catalina Tour
Avalon Bay is like a welcoming jewel as our twin-jet helicopter streaks across the 23-mile wide channel separating Santa Catalina Island from Los Angeles. The tiny bay is nestled in the arms of steep hillsides, some rising to almost 2,100 feet, mountains really, but Avalon faces the mainland so the waters are generally calm. The island feels almost like a protective barrier keeping the wild Pacific Ocean from harming the great metropolis to the east. We have many ways to enjoy a visit to this, the largest of the eight Channel Islands which rise from the sea from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Besides the beautiful flight and arrival at our helipad near the water, we can board a golf cart and sightsee throughout the town. A special place to visit is the old Avalon Casino, the largest structure on the island. Now a museum and community auditorium there are often special programs and films available for our private Los Angeles tour guests. Art and film festivals are organized throughout the year. The city offers quaint lodging, fine restaurants and shopping. Our favorite island artist, Porschia Rene Denning, has recently opened a new art gallery, Rain Dance Art. We enjoy showing off Porschia’s murals as we amble around town. For our more adventurous guests wishing some physical outlet during this custom luxury tour of Catalina, there is hiking, swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Oh, and for those who really want to get their adrenaline pumping there is a five level zipline with an ecology theme and incredible views of the island and sea. Herd of buffalo? Why yes, in fact, we can visit the island buffalo, too.
Private Tour Sees Hollywood Movie Premiere Prep
Timing is everything. Our private Los Angeles tour group arrived in Hollywood as the preparations for a big movie premiere were finishing up just before the arrival later that afternoon of the stars of the film and many of Hollywood’s biggest players. The movie was Captain America: Civil War, the next epic episode of this ongoing Marvel film series. Our family learned that a Hollywood movie premiere is as big as the Hollywood movie itself. The entire block in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Dolby Theatre (where the premiere was hosted), Disney’s El Capitan Theater and the Jimmy Kimmel theater was taken up by structures, props, lights and a whole lot of red carpet. An army of technicians and a swarm of media folks occupied the street while we and hundreds of other interested bystanders eagerly observed all the activity. Needless to say, our guests where thrilled and excited and will probably be first in line at their neighborhood theater when the movie opens on May 6th.
Popular Private Tour Lunch Stop – Pink’s Hot Dogs
When our guests begin their private tour of Los Angeles in the morning it more often than not runs past lunch. There is that much to see and do in L.A. and our custom tour approach means we can take our guests sightseeing anywhere they want. When hunger strikes, though, it’s time to find someplace to eat that is particular to Los Angeles. We know a number of great lunch time stops throughout the city. When we are in Hollywood, though, the top of our list is Pink’s. The large food stand is always crowded in its central location near the shopping mecca known as Melrose and on a major thoroughfare into and out of Hollywood. For non-vegans it is good food at reasonable prices with a strong flavor of celebrity and history. From a small walking cart parked at the same location back in 1939, Paul Pink has created a landmark. Known not just for the small building adored by the world of Los Angeles lovers but for the food. Kosher hot dogs, hamburgers and fries are what is on the menu. The toppings are creative and tasty. The line moves quickly but not so fast our guests can’t enjoy the celebrity headshots lining the walls everywhere. Everyone eats at Pink’s at one time or another. For those of us who live here and go to late shows anywhere near Hollywood then Pink’s is great because it stays open until 2am (3am on weekends). While we maintain a list of fine restaurants, hip, chic, fancy places that our guests use to plan their dinners while they are in Los Angeles, when it comes to lunch time we are more inclined to lead them to places like Pink’s which they will really enjoy and they will always remember.
When Our Private Tour Gets to Hollywood
We never know who we are going to run into when we get to Hollywood. Superheros by the boatload inhabit Hollywood Boulevard near Grauman’s Chinese Theater whenever school is out. Spring break recently saw practically every member of the Avengers walking the boulevard and saving our young private Los Angeles tour guests from boring pictures with their parents. Our tour guides understand how the kids need cool photos to show their friends back in school. Photographs with movie stars like Spiderman. Iron Man. The Hulk. Homer Simpson.
Our Private Tour Knows Where They Are
There is as much looking down as looking up when our private Los Angeles tour arrives in Hollywood. We are, of course, talking about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 2,600+ stars embedded in the sidewalk along 17 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Talk about a stroll down memory lane….wow, this is it! We know where a good number of the stars are so if a guest mentions a beloved favorite we can get them to the star for a photograph and some adoration. If we do not know the exact location then we can quickly find it (there’s an app for that). At the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue (above) we are also at the Hollywood & Highland Center. So as not to forget where we are the city has marked the sidewalk in brilliant gold letters. For other looking at our feet activities here in Hollywood there is the Road to Hollywood, an art installation through the Hollywood & Highland Center leading from the Walk of Fame to the shrink’s couch with a view of the Hollywood Sign. Do not forget Grauman’s Chinese Theater courtyard filled with hand and footprints of movie stars throughout history. The nearby Rockwalk at the Guitar Center has the handprints of famous musicians. Thankfully, because of the all the looking down the sidewalks are always kept clear and clean. That’s a noteworthy accomplishment in a major American city.
Our Private Tour to the Koi Pond
The celebrated pond in the Will Rogers Memorial Park is full of large (fat?) koi. Lots of them. These gold and white bottom feeders live an opulent life in the center of Beverly Hills. Located on Sunset Boulevard across from the Pink Palace (Beverly Hills Hotel) this is a wonderful stop for our private Los Angeles tour as we make our way from Hollywood into this famous city located completely within Los Angeles. The park is a perfect place to stretch our legs, take photographs of the glorious pink building across the boulevard, and observe the natural wildlife of Beverly Hills. We see all kinds of birds including escaped parrots and other exotic birds now living a feral life amid the lush and varied landscapes of the manicured gardens surrounding us. The young folk with us are always fascinated by the giant goldfish, the koi, who live for 50 or more (sometimes many more) years. We teach them that koi and goldfish have common carp ancestors but that koi were bred in Japan and goldfish in China. We show them that little fleshy mustaches (called barbels) easily distinguish koi. The park was once readily accessible from the hotel but as Sunset Boulevard became almost a major highway connecting downtown Los Angeles to the ocean getting there from the hotel involves a bit of walking and waiting to cross at the nearby intersections. We like to drive here and park near the public restrooms which sometimes are pointed out as the location where singer George Michael was arrested for a public indiscretion. For some of our guests that might be worth posing for a photograph for their tour album.
Who Loves Harry Potter? Our Private Tour Family Sure Does
They were here for the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. The day before their visit to the movie-based theme park they joined us for a wonderful private tour of Los Angeles. They saw a number of famous movie studios that do not have rides but do have a lot of history and are exciting to see and talk about. We explored throughout Hollywood and then ventured with the family into the hills of Beverly Hills and Bel Air and pointed out the homes of the celebrities they knew. The family learned much about the history of Hollywood and the movies as well as saw how contemporary stars landscape their mansions. The high point of their sightseeing adventure was driving high up along Mulholland Drive. From various scenic vista points we looked over Hollywood all the way to the ocean. From other stops we could enjoy the panorama of the San Fernando Valley. In this photograph for the family’s tour album you can see the Disney and Warner Bros. studios. Most important is seeing Universal Pictures and the Hogwarts Castle rising up in the background. We are certain the family loved the rides, the shops and the other Harry Potter inspired activities.
The American Idol Host Is Always a Part of Our Private Tour
Visiting Hollywood as part of a private Los Angeles tour means walking various stretches of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Our guests oooh and aaah at the names of famous stars, performers and celebrities who they recognize and admire. Our guides generally have a good idea of which stars to bring our guests to see based upon conversations in the car before we get here. The beauty of a private custom tour is the personal conversation with the guide and the ability to shift directions quickly and easily. Many of our guests, as you might imagine, are American Idol fans. As such, we head to the Dolby Theatre stretch of the famous sidewalk and find the star belonging to Ryan Seacrest, the show’s host all these years. His star is so popular we sometimes have to wait our turn before taking an unobstructed picture. Even going forward without this grand musical show after 15 seasons we will still have Ryan Seacrest to think about…and listen to. He is, after all, a host for a nationally syndicated radio show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
A Tour within a Private Tour of Hollywood
When our guests get to Hollywood we extol the beauty and exhibition wonder of several of the historic movie palaces we will show them. While we strongly urge them to make time to return after their private Los Angeles tour with us to see a movie presented in these great theaters sometimes that opportunity is not available for our new friends. Fortunately, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Egyptian Theater and the El Capitan Theater have guided tours available throughout the day (between showings of their films). If our timing is right we can join one of these tours and visit inside these great theaters. These theaters were all built in the very late 1920s as Hollywood became the capitol of filmdom…Tinseltown. Sid Grauman was the showman/businessman behind the Chinese and Egyptian theaters. Charles Toberman, the Father of Hollywood, was the prime mover behind the storied El Capitan. Disney film lovers are thrilled to be able to see a presentation inside the theater known also for its beautiful waterfall curtain and giant Wurlitzer organ which rises up before the movie to provide joyful music to the audience as they find their seats. During certain times of the year there are pre-screening shows full of singing and dancing Disney characters before every presentation. The theater tour allows our guests to get a peek inside and learn more about the early days of Hollywood and this architectural wonder that is so much more than a black box with seats and a movie screen. Does Disney premiere its movies here? You bet they do (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).