Country Living...Island Dreaming

November 21, 2016

Los Angeles Trip - Day 3 and 4

We tried to pack in as many fun family activities as we could during our long weekend in Los Angeles.  Today, I will share Days 3 and 4.
Day 3
Paramount Studios Tour

Before leaving for our trip, I booked our tour of Paramount Studios for Friday morning.  This was one tour we didn't want to miss because my kids are huge fans of a couple of their shows - The Thundermans and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn.  I thought that choosing a weekday over a weekend for our tour would give us a better chance at catching an actor or two.  I also knew that Paramount Studios is rich in Hollywood history and I had a feeling we all would enjoy the tour.

The Paramount Story - the beginning of the studio tour

We arrived for the first tour of the morning and were able to spend a few minutes in the lobby while we waited for our tour guide.  The lobby was filled with movie memorabilia and interesting facts about Paramount's history.  We loved reading the Paramount Story wall.

From the second our tour guide, Tyler walked in the room, I knew we were in for a great tour.  It was apparent by his enthusiastic personality that he loved his job and was determined to give us a memorable experience.  With only 7 of us on the golf cart, the tour felt so intimate and personalized.
Bronson Gate - Paramount Studios
This is the iconic Bronson gate you probably recognize.  I cropped out the fountain you normally see in front of it because it was covered up due to repairs.

Tyler drove us around all the lots and explained so many different aspects of movie magic.
Parking Lot used for ocean scenes at Paramount Studios
This may look like just a parking lot but actually this area dips down in the center and has been used for many ocean and water scenes over the years.  They filmed the parting of the Red Sea in the Ten Commandments here along with many other movies.  To the right is a fake sky used in various backgrounds as well. 

This is known as Lucy Park named after Lucille Ball.  She had the park built to resemble her backyard so she could have publicity photos taken of her children here on the lot.  Those buildings to the left were the dressing rooms of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Lucy Park - part of Paramount Studios Tour
The park was also used as a backdrop for several TV shows.  Greg from the Brady Bunch smoked his first cigarette here in an episode!

We were able to stop by the Dr. Phil set but photos were not allowed inside.
Dr. Phil soundstage door at Paramount Studios

Photos were not allowed inside the Grace and Frankie set either.  I hadn't heard of this Netflix show until the tour but based on the gorgeous set, I am going to start watching the show!  The set house was designed to look just like producer, Marta Kauffman's beach house.  Luckily, one of my favorite blogs, Hooked on Houses gave a full tour of the house last year so be sure to check out her post!  Let me know what you think!

That was just a sample of the many things we saw at Paramount.  The studio tour was definitely one of my favorite highlights of our trip and I highly recommend it if you are in the area!

Since we were in Hollywood, we had to head over to the ultra touristy Walk of Fame. 
Dolby Theater in Hollywood
This area reminded me of Times Square in New York with its crowds of tourists and annoying, pushy street peddlers all trying to sell you something.  None of us were that interested in staying there very long.  

We followed along the sidewalk spotting a few stars we liked...
Sting's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

And walked over to the Chinese Theatre to see the hand and footprints of the famous Hollywood stars.
George Clooney's footprints in Hollywood
I am sharing this one for one of my favorite bloggers - Preppy Empty Nester!

We didn't spend too much time being harassed along the streets of Hollywood because we were hungry by that point.
Cabo Wabo - Sammy Hagar's restaurant
Cabo Wabo, the restaurant owned by rocker Sammy Hagar seemed like a fun place to go.  Great nachos!

Now, I know you are not supposed to go to Griffith Park in the middle of the day because the place gets ridiculously crowded but we were so close by...
Hollywood sign viewed from Griffith Park
And yes, there was absolutely nowhere to park!  My husband ended up dropping the boys and I off so we could walk to the top.  He stayed in the car and made some phone calls for work while we explored around.  That's the Hollywood sign in the distance.  I guess I should have zoomed in...

But the views were beautiful...
View of Los Angeles from Griffith Park
You can see downtown LA way off in the distance.  If we ever go back, I would love to spend more time up there.  We just have to remember to go very early!

By late afternoon, we were tired and had some time to check out the pool at the hotel.
Bonaventure Pool
The pool is located on the 4th floor deck and had great views of the city.

You could really appreciate the architecture of the hotel from there too!
Westin Bonaventure

That evening we headed to the Hollywood Hills for my favorite dinner of the trip...
Cavatina Restaurant at the Sunset Marquis
We met up with my husband's college roommate again and this time his wife joined us.  We had dinner at Cavatina, a gorgeous restaurant tucked away in the Sunset Marquis Hotel.  This place was such a find!  The beautiful gardens and glistening lights made us feel like we were on a tropical vacation somewhere...Apparently, this place is popular with the rock and roll crowd but we didn't recognize anyone.  We just enjoyed our evening with great friends and delicious food.  A truly memorable experience!

Day 4

Universal Hollywood
I knew visiting Universal on a Saturday could have us battling crowds again so we made sure we arrived at 8:00 am when the place opened!

Universal Studio Tour
According to my research, you should take the studio tour first because the lines get bad as the day goes on.  Needless to say, we were almost first in line!  (Great view, huh?)

The boys loved all the cars from Back to the Future and other movies...
Back to the Future cars at Universal Hollywood

And the movie sets were cute...
Jaws set at Universal
This is the fishing village from Jaws.  I think this has been a permanent fixture on the tour for a long time.  I remember it from when I took the tour about 20 years ago!

It's always fun when they drive us down Colonial Street to see the houses used in numerous movies and TV shows.
Houses on Colonial Street - Universal Studios Tour

My kids love the Grinch movie so it was fun to see Whoville!
Whoville set at Universal Studios
Actually, I love the Grinch movie as well.  Jim Carrey is hilarious and my kids and I always repeat lines from the movie - "You're 8 years old and you have a beard!"...

My kids especially loved all the special effect parts of the tour where they got to wear 3D glasses and be involved in chase scenes.  Overall, it was an exciting interactive experience!

Sure enough, when we stepped off the tram from the studio tour, we noticed the lines of people already waiting to get on for the next time slot.  From there we headed to the rides.  
Harry Potter Castle at Universal Hollywood
The whole Harry Potter section was pretty amazing.  My kids haven't gotten into the novels yet but I have a feeling once they do, they will love them like everyone else does!  How awesome is this castle?  We never made it on this ride though, because the lines were long and then even longer as the day went on.

But my kids were willing to wait, a couple times actually, for the Jurassic Park ride!
Jurassic Park Ride - Universal Studios Hollywood
I think this one was their favorite with its 84 foot drop at the end!

Another must-see attraction at Universal is the Waterworld stunt show!
Waterworld - a must see attraction at Universal
So what if we got a little wet because we sat in the "soak zone"!  It was a spectacular action packed show with explosions, water chases and all kinds of special effects - everything that would appeal to two tween boys!  Definitely one of our favorites of the day!

My boys, who are 10 and almost 13 were at the perfect age to really appreciate all Universal had to offer.  We spent the entire day there and I am sure they would go back in a second!

We had a little time to relax and get dressed for dinner by the time we got back.  For once, the traffic heading into downtown wasn't too bad.  I guess because it was Saturday...
Westin Bonaventure
You really can't miss our iconic hotel as you drive up to it.  My kids loved riding the glass elevators each day and they also loved knowing that the Bonaventure has been used in many films over the years.

I took photos of all the posters at the hotel to remember which movies were filmed there...
Movies filmed at the Bonaventure

Movies filmed at Westin Bonaventure

Movies that used Westin Bonaventure as location
You might remember Arnold Schwarzenegger riding a horse through the lobby fountains in True Lies.  Yes, that was the Bonaventure Hotel!

Now I think we have to watch a few of these with the kids so we can see the hotel.  Too bad many of them are rated R.  I guess they will have to wait awhile for those!  Either way, it was exciting for them to see how many times the hotel was used in movies!

That night, we had dinner at Il Fornaio, a bustling Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills.  I read great reviews on the restaurant so I was not surprised when we loved the place...fabulous food, great wine selections and a friendly staff.  The perfect way to spend our last evening!

The next morning we had a leisurely Sunday brunch at the Lakeview Bistro in the atrium of the hotel and then headed to the airport.  We were all sad for the vacation to end!  And my kids were even sadder when they had to get up for school the next day after arriving home at midnight!  They  managed though and were excited to tell their friends all about their trip. It was definitely one of our favorite family vacations!

In case you missed the first two days of our trip to Los Angeles, you can find that post here - Los Angeles Trip - Day 1 and 2.

What are your favorite family vacation destinations?

Joining these parties:
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
The Dedicated House - Make it Pretty Monday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The Sits Girls - Saturday Sharefest
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
Take Me Away



  1. OMG Shelley! I don't know whether I am more jealous of you seeing George Clooney's hand and foot prints or the set of Frankie & Grace! I LOVE that show. I'm not surprised you never heard of it because it is geared towards the over 50 set. Not that I would know anything about that... What a fabulous trip!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for taking that pic for me.

  2. So much fun Shelley! Happy for you all! I've been to LA several times but never been to Paramount, it will be on my list next time for sure! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  3. Wow, you really packed in a lot in four days! Great pictures! I haven't taken the Paramount tour either, and I've been to LA at least a dozen times. Now that I am on the east coast I don't see it happening, so I really enjoyed your tour. I watched the first three episodes of Grace and Frankie and was bored out of my mind, didn't care for it. Sad because it has a fabulous cast.

  4. Oh I am so glad you had a great time. Living there has kind of made some of these things "standard", but I agree with the kids, I love Universal Studios. We were there when the opened for the first time and that water ride was later changed. We were totally soaked to the toes, so some people complained so much they changed it a little later on.

  5. Shelley, your trip was a whirlwind of activity and high energy, but with two boys you have to keep them active. Your tour of Paramount really interested me, I would love to do that. I think you made great choices for dinner, hotel, and what to see. Thanks for taking me along!

  6. I hope this finds you and yours doing well. May we display your header on our new site directory? As it is now, the site title (linked back to its home page) is listed, and we think displaying the header will attract more attention. In any event, we hope you will come by and see what is going on at

  7. You certainly had a wonderful funny how Lucy and Desi replicated their back yard for photo shoots...

  8. Sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. My daughter live in LA for years so we had many opportunities to see all of the attractions.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,

  9. Wow - you really packed it in for four days! Thanks for sharing details! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! xoxo

  10. My niece moved to LA to years ago. This makes me want to visit her even more! Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Please come back next week and share what you have been working on!


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