Santa Monica and Los Angeles
Our final day of this Pacific Coast Highway adventure was upon us. We touched down in San Francisco, California just six short days ago. Today we headed out to see a whole other side of Southern California—Los Angeles (“LA” or “The City of Angels,” as the Spanish coined it).
Getting a fresh start
LA is home to the famous, the dreamers and the go-getters. That’s one of its many appeals—offering anyone and everyone the opportunity to start over and go for it, or even be discovered. Enter the “Dogtown Z boys.” While sipping piping hot cups of micro-brewed coffee at Dogtown Coffee in Santa Monica, we learned of the young skateboarders who changed the face of their sport forever with their raw, fluid style that began by skating in empty swimming pools. We were inspired and caffeinated, and ready to get going to our first stop.
Cut to Universal Studios, Hollywood, California
Our friends from Japan were excited to get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of this film and entertainment company. We drove onto the amazing sets from classic films, wound through TV sets, and even got a glimpse at current projects being filmed here. After being a part of the movies, we were ready to ride the rides. We hit the thrilling Transformers 3-D Ride and laughed (and screamed) our way through the Simpsons virtual roller coaster. This is one destination the whole family will enjoy!
By now we were famished. We wanted a taste of LA fare—Umami Burger did the trick. (Our Japanese friends were impressed that we even knew what Umami was, and that this flavorful concept has carried into California cuisine.) They take locally raised beef, add exotic (and mouth-watering) ingredients and pair it with gourmet sides that explode with “perfect mouthful” flavor. The food, the cool décor and “SoCal” (short for Southern California) energy made this lunch a memorable one. Even without our having a celebrity sighting.
The Grammy Museum
We had heard about the revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles and had no idea what an entertainment center it really is! Like the Times Square (in New York City) of California, LA LIVE is an entertainment mecca. We opted to check out the 27,870-square-meter Grammy Museum. We were surprised and delighted to discover how engaging this museum is—for music lovers of all forms. We saw costumes and instruments from some of music’s biggest stars, like Michael Jackson. We spent time at the interactive listening stations exploring the origins of different types of music, and we had an impromptu jam session with the instruments they make available to play! We don’t know how good we sounded, but we had a blast.
Did you know?
The Grammy Awards—what the museum is based upon—recognize outstanding achievements in the music industry. The televised ceremony is enjoyable to watch for its celebrated performances, by popular and venerable musicians alike.
Winding down, 15 stories high
Hmm, where do we go for our farewell meal? How about to the rooftop bistro of a skyscraper, to “float above the skyline?” This describes Perch. Wow, is this a showstopper of a restaurant. We had beautifully concocted drinks and an array of top-notch food set to the soundtrack of live music. The panorama of unobstructed and breathtaking views that it offered us of Downtown LA was the perfect setting to toast to the memories of our Pacific Coast Highway road trip.
Next we set off (to eat our way) down the Texas BBQ trail. Check back for the juicy details…
Even if you don’t want to invest in the dinner menu at Perch, it’s worth going for a drink at sunset. Who knows, you might even spot a celebrity while you’re there.