The Perfect Day with LA Insider Tours

LA insider tours

At first glance Los Angeles looks like a immensely vast urban oasis, sprawling as far as the eye can see in any given direction with no end in sight… It’s overwhelming, particularly for a first-timer. As soon as you arrive, you ask yourself: where do I start?! Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Malibu or Venice Beach? Even in every neighbourhood, there is so much to see and to explore! If you are a little at a loss, a day tour with LA Insider Tours could be your best bet to sample some of the best things Los Angeles has to offer._DSC9832 copyLA Insider Tours is a premier tour company, providing fully customisable private tours perfect for an in-depth introduction to the City of Angels, particularly if you are limited in time. They will taylor the itinerary to your interests and needs: do you want to see the iconic sites or secret off-the-beaten-path spots? Or a mixture of both? Is there a certain part of L.A. you are dying to explore? You can spend as long or as little in each place you visit. Your wish is your command. Simply sit back and enjoy the city._DSC9853 copyI can be called somewhat of an L.A. veteran – this being my (according to my father) fourth visit – but for some reason, recollections of my previous L.A. visits are very blurry. I wanted to explore it afresh and see some not-so-touristy sites, so I was really excited to see what kind of itinerary LA Insider Tours would come up with for me!_DSC9818 copySo let’s see what I did during my day with LA Insider Tours …

Silver Lake_DSC9749 copyKevin from LA Insider Tours, a personable young man and an L.A. native, came to pick me up from my hotel, Petite Hermitage in West Hollywood, bright and early at 9am. Our first stop was at Intelligentsia Coffee in Silver Lake for a quick coffee – I was particularly in need of caffeine kick due to jet lag – before embarking on a tour of LA. _DSC9752 copySilver Lake is where all the cool kids hang out and live. Silver is a charming “hipster” neighbourhood, with quaint shops, bars and eateries lining Sunset boulevard. Some call it the Williamsburg of Los Angeles.  _DSC9740 copy_DSC9732 copy

Echo Park_DSC9789 copyA short ride from Silver Lake is Echo Park, another L.A. hipster neighbourhood, albeit a little less gentrified. We stopped for a short walk around its placid man-made lake surrounded by palm trees and jacaranda trees.
_DSC9799 copyEcho Park is also known for L.A. historic gem: Victorian-era pocket neighbourhood, Angelino Heights. This quaint neighbourhood is a joy to stroll through and you are bound to recognise a couple of houses. Apparently, it also extremely popular with trick-or-treaters on Halloween._DSC9813 copyFirst up, is “Charmed House” , used for filming Charmed TV series. I used to be an ardent fan of the show when I was younger, watching many episodes more than once. I am sure quite a few women my age grew up with it!thriller michael jackson houseUp next is the most famous haunted house, the star of Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller music video. In real life, it is known as the Sanders House originally built in 1887.

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Downtown LA

Afterwards we make our way downtown, home to many secret and exciting LA spots, as well as a plethora of architectural gems.
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Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpieces, and perhaps my favourite building in Los Angeles. I actually came here for a wonderful classical music concert the night before.
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We drive slowly through downtown, admiring many of its historical buildings. Kevin tells me that the Eastern Columbia building (in the photo above) is his favourite in DTLA. This stunning Art Deco building completed in 1930, stands out with its turquoise terra cotta tiles.

LA Flower District_DSC9874 copyI have a penchant for photographing flowers, since they are one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations, so we make a brief stop in LA Flower District. The downtown district sells flowers and fronds in bulk and at wholesale prices.
_DSC9869 copy _DSC9882 copyAmerican Apparel Factory_DSC9909 copyI have always been curious about where American Apparel clothes are actually made. I knew it was somewhere in downtown L.A., but it was actually facscinating to see the largest sewing facility in North America in real life!

_DSC9905 copy _DSC9899 copy_DSC9918 copyWe continue exploring DTLA. There is a proliferation of exuberant street art throughout the district.

Los Angeles River_DSC9943 copyAfterwards, we make our way to the once free-flowing Los Angeles river. Nowadays, all you can see is a feeble trickle of water flowing through an expansive concrete channel, which limits absorption of water into the earth. Once upon a time, L.A. river was the only source of fresh water in the city. The river might seem a familiar sight to many, since sites along Los Angeles river have been featured in numerous films, television programs and music videos: Transformers, Drive, Gone in 60 Seconds and the Italian Job amongst many.
_DSC9935 copy_DSC9931 copy_DSC9959 copy_DSC9972 copyThe facade of the bar “Its always sunny Philadelphia”… _DSC9980 copyUrth Caffé, a local favourite vegan restaurant.

Grand Central Market_DSC9995 copyBy noon our tummies started rumbling, so we made our way to the legendary Grand Central Market,  a downtown landmark for almost a century, bringing together the cuisines and cultures of LA. _DSC0022 copyFood markets are my favourite places to sample local food and are perfect for people watching. _DSC0024 copy

I start my lunch at The Oyster Gourmet, which offers ecologically sustained seafood.  _DSC0026 copyTuna poke, a Hawaiian dish which seems to be particularly popular in Los Angeles_DSC0049 copy

Belcampo Meat Co claims to make the best burgers in Los Angeles, and let me tell you they are bloody good! They pride themselves on using the best possible meat available.

Olvera Street

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After lunch, we head to Olvera Street, a Mexican neighbourhood and the oldest part DTLA’s. Here, you can find some of the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. _DSC0067 copy _DSC0078 copy

Los Angeles Union Stationunion station dtlaA stone throw’s away is Los Angeles Union station, the city’s main train station and the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. In the photo above is the Original Ticket Lobby. toraja_land1-7 copyHere you can catch a train going as far as Chicago or New Orleans!
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Mulholland Drive

We finish our with a drive through Mulholland Drive, a two-lane 21-mile road following the ridge line of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills and home to some of the most exclusive and most expensive homes in the world. From Mulholland the views are spectacular and see many famous people’s houses – Katy Perry, Will Ferrel and Justin Timberlake to name a few –  along the way. The perfect ending to such a fun-filled day! I certainly learnt a lot from Kevin, and saw some places I would not have thought of visiting myself.

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