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LA is renowned for being the creative capital of the world, the home of Hollywood and the place where Walt Disney arrived in 1923 with just $40 in his pocket. Whether it’s behind the scenes or with some VIP treatment, no trip to Los Angeles is complete for us without these larger than life experiences.
Back Lot Tours
We love to get a peek behind the smoke and mirrors while winding through the active back lots of Paramount, one of Hollywood’s historic studios and one of the most prolific in the business. Tour groups are small and the sights change based on what’s being shot but it’s always memorable. Catch a glimpse of your favourite TV show or a hot upcoming movie – this is a great experience for the whole family. Warner Brothers, Universal, and other studios offer similar experiences. Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90038, +1 323 956 1777, www.paramountstudios.com/special-events/tours.html.
When we want to see Los Angeles in a different light, we take a dinner ride on horseback at Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables. This romantic four-hour ride traverses five miles of trails in glorious Griffith Park. Among our favourite views are the sparkling shores of the distant Pacific, an up-close-and-personal peek at the Hollywood sign, and a dramatic starlit cityscape. Knowledgeable guides regale you with fascinating titbits of LA history and trivia, and there’s a stop for dinner at Burbank’s Viva Fresh Mexican Restaurant (price not included). 3400 N. Beachwood Drive, Los Angeles, +1 323 469 5450, www.sunsetranchhollywood.com. Rides leave at 4, 4.30, and 5pm nightly.
VIP Shopping Experience
When LA brings out our stylish side, we let celebrity stylist Alyson Scott up our glamour quotient. In a three- or six-hour session, Scott guides you through the deluxe boutiques of Rodeo Drive – she has relationships with most of them, guaranteeing you VIP treatment. If Rodeo’s not your scene, she’s also got connections on Robertson, West Third St, Melrose Place, La Brea, and Vintage. The shopping trip is preceded by a personalised consultation, where you’ll discuss your personal style. After a day with her, we always look like a million dollars. www.stylechicla.com.
We’re always hoping for a good celeb spot, and one of our favourite Hollywood experiences is seeing our favourite sitcoms and talk shows being filmed live. As part of the studio audience, we’ve found our enthusiasm and participation creates the excitement and amusement that encourages the talent to perform their best and keeps the TV audience glued to their sets. www.tvtix.com.
Helicopter Tour of the City
For us, there’s nothing like seeing LA from the air, and Los Angeles Helicopter Tours is the operator we go with for our aerial adventures. They offer a variety of tour options, but if none suit your fancy just ask for a customised version – they’re happy to oblige. Our highlights include Topanga Canyon, the Malibu coast, Downtown, the Sunset Strip, and more. Flights leave from Van Nuys, Burbank, and El Monte airports, and all are flown by FAA certified commercial pilots. +1 818 859 5500, www.los-angeles-helicopter-tours.com.
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About the author: KatieKatie Manning
Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning