We are staying pre-cruise in LA for 3 days at the end of January and we are renting a car with a GPS system. We would appreciate some advice on the following:
We would like to spend one day driving north up the coast. We would like to stop somewhere nice for lunch looking over the ocean and possibly stop at a winery or 2 along the way. Also, we have never been to LA before and are not sure how far up the coast we can reasonable drive in one day.
Another day we would like to do the typical tourist thing and do a Beverly Hills tour, studio tour and possibly see some shows such as Jay Leno and Ellen.
We are staying at the Hilton in Long Beach. Recommendations for restaurants would be great.
Any suggestions and advice on all this is appreciated. Even if you can only answer part of my questions. Thanks
Can't remember if it's called the Long Beach Cafe or the Long Beach Diner. In any event it's right on the corner where the main drag meets the freeway coming down from LA. One of the best Greek diners in CA, it is a must for breakfast and/or lunch. Very near your hotel. Come hungry.
If you want an interesting place to visit, I'd recommend the Getty museum. It's north of LAX on the 405 freeway. Wonderful gardens, wonderful art, amazing architecture, free admission, nice restaurants. On a clear day you can see Catalina. Costs something like seven bucks to park, free tram up the hill to the museum and, as I said, free admission. You could easily spend a day, but if you go plan on a half day anyway. Take a tour with one of the docents.
It sounds like you have not been to CA before. There are no decent wineries right on the coast in Southern California. You would need to go to either the Temecula wine country or the Los Olivos wine area (north and inland from Santa Barbara) to get decent wineries. Temecula is inland about 80 miles from Long Beach, and Los Olivos is about 125 miles north. Both would make a long day of driving if you want to be back in LA for your hotel. Traffic can be a problem for both, 7 days a week.
Jan. is also the rainest month in CA, so you may need to alter your plans if we get the kind of rain we had last year. There were mud slides and flooding in both these areas.
If you want to eat on the coast, I would suggest some of the nicer restaurants in the Santa Monica area, or drive south to Newport or Laguna Beach. A little further at Dana Point there is the Quite Cannon, which has decent food and a spectacular view.
I would also recommend the Getty Center as a great place to visit right in the city. You might also look into Huntington Library and poking around in Old Pasadena for shops, galleries, and great restaurants. It is not on the coast, but can be very pleasant in the winter (hot in the summer). Farmer's Market is also fun, and the La Brea Tar Pits are also excellent, and can be combined with any special shows at the LA Art Museum.
The Long Beach aquarium is decent, although not as good as the Monterey Aquarium.