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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
Our Private Tour Guests Think It’s a Fine Neighborhood
While the kids may not exactly recall the shtick of Rodney Dangerfield most adults fondly remember his bug-eyed quips and his silly movies and TV specials. His opening line for his standup routine was often, “I get no respect.” We have to say that when we bring one of our Los Angeles private tour groups to the best little cemetery in the west, Westwood Village Memorial Cemetery, Rodney Dangerfield’s headstone epitaph elicits at least smiles if not outright laughing and he still gets plenty of respect all these years after his passing. There are a number of funny and meaningful “last words” here in this intimate stone garden just behind a Wilshire Boulevard movie theater. Many names bring pause to our guests as they reminisce about moments spent in movie theaters, watching their television sets or just listening to music and enjoying the work of some of Hollywood’s most illustrious artists. Peter Falk, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe…it’s a very long list of familiar celebrities in such a small area. Contrary to Mr. Dangerfield’s quip it is a very nice neighborhood. Enjoy a beautiful day in this neighborhood on your custom tour of Los Angeles.
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.
A Sad Visit to Grauman’s Chinese Theater for Our Los Angeles Private Tour
There were three locations in Hollywood where memories were being shared of both Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher. We spent time on a custom private tour through Hollywood thinking back to all our fond film memories of Debbie Reynolds when we arrived at the famous movie palace where stars are honored with handprints in the cement of the theater’s forecourt. Her ceremony there was almost 51 years ago. There is also a formal wreath on display above her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Carrie Fisher does not have a formal place where we she was honored, however, an informal star on the Walk of Fame has been created by fans right next to her mother’s. This has been a sad beginning of the new year but we are pleased to have the opportunity to share memories with our guests. In the near future we will be able to visit the gravesites if our guests wish to remember them in that way. We might not be Singin’ in the Rain right now, but there is A New Hope that old fans and new will enjoy their works far into the future.
Include a Visit to the Los Angeles Zoo on Your Private Tour
With all of Los Angeles available to our private tour guests we can include in their sightseeing around the city, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the beaches, a chance to see the Los Angeles Zoo. Sure, movie stars are great but when you are in a major metropolitan area you also will find a collection of wild animals available to watch and examine. Unlike the movie star homes we slowly drive by while the guide explains details and tells stories to make the house interesting, the zoo is curated by animal and conservation specialists so there is a lot of educational material to absorb for anyone interested. For example, the name flamingo comes from the Spanish “flame-colored” and there are four species of this avian wonder in the Americas. At the flamingo pond there is no mention of John Waters’ unusual 1972 film PINK FLAMINGOS despite Hollywood film mavens’ ongoing fascination with the strange movie classic. We might also get a strange look from Hubert the African lion or his companion Kalisa. While Hubert is not Leo from the MGM logo he sounds just like him. His roar certainly gets our attention which might have been Louis B. Mayer‘s intention when the film logo was designed. Keep in mind that on a private custom tour of Los Angeles we can stop at the zoo, botanical gardens, museums and any other attraction that our guests wish to see. Forget driving and parking for we will handle that. There is much to see and do in our large city and we can help you get the most out of your sightseeing adventure.