An Evening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA was designed by the great architect Frank Gehry and is home to the LA Philharmonic Orchestra.  The venue feels small and intimate, and the acoustics are hailed as one of the best in the world.

The iconic building is both great to just see, tour, or attend a musical event.  Events include classical, jazz, world music and other chamber music.  You can have an evening with Beethoven and Mozart, or chamber music with strings only, or perhaps watch a classic Halloween movie like Nosferatu with a live organ!  All of the different types of events provide a very unique LA experience.

If you want to just view or tour the building, you can join a group for a free scheduled guided tour or wander on your own or get a free self-guided tour with a complimentary audio device.  Just note that tours do not include entering the auditorium since there is a constant flow of rehearsals and performances.  The tours take about 1 hour and are very worth your while if you want to learn about the Walt Disney Concert Hall's creative history from conception to completion.

Click here to check hours tour schedules.

The concert hall is only a 15 minute walk or a short taxi ride away from Jerry's Motel.  If driving there, you can see parking options here.


Street Food Finds: Tacos Al Pastor

Driving through Los Angeles anytime between the early evening to the wee hours of the morning, there will be no shortage of Mexican street food.  You can find tacos and burritos sold out of food trucks and makeshift food stalls set up in vacant parking lots or even just a side walk.

One of our personal favorite street dishes is tacos and burritos "AL PASTOR".  "Al pastor" is spit-grilled pork meat marinated with dried chilies, an array of spices and to add a pinch of sweetness, pineapple!  It is very similar to shawarma, Turkish doner kebab and Greek gyros.  This delicious meat style originated in central Mexico, where it was adopted from Lebanese immigrants.

It is tender.  It is juicy.  It should be something you try at least once.

One of the most delicious spots is luckily located near Jerry's Motel.  If you make your way north about 10 blocks to the corner of Glendale Blvd. and Temple Street, you will see a food stall on your left in the parking lot of a local car wash.  $5-6 per person will get you a sizable, affordable dinner. Make sure you try a few salsas to find the perfect one for youa.

The stall is set up everyday of the week starting at approximately 7pm, but we recommend you go after 9pm to ensure the al pastor is fully cooked.  See map below to get there.


Free Guided Walking Tours of Downtown Los Angeles

Free LA Tour provides free walking tours of Downtown Los Angeles.  They currently provide 2 different tours (Historic Core and Union Station to Pershing Square).  Each tour provides a great introduction to the downtown areas history, cool architecture and public art displays.

Each tour requires about 2 miles of walking and lasts approximately 2 hours.  Both tours are available every day of the week, except some holidays (check their website).  Tours start at 10:00am and 3:30pm.  If you do both tours you will get a really great feel for Downtown LA.

PLEASE note that although the tours are free, you should ALWAYS donate a minimum tip/contribution of $10 per person.  This allows these great folks to continue to provide such a great service.  Trust us, even with this small tip, these tours are an amazing bargain.


Downtown Eats: Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market in Downtown LA is a historic open air market that originally opened in 1917.  During the last two years, the market has been reinvigorated and new trendy gourmet stalls have opened and operate alongside the traditional produce, spice and taco spots.

Be sure to visit the iconic market with it's cool neon signs and great food spots.  Prices are very reasonable and the choices are great.

Grand Central Market is located at 317 South Broadway, just 1 mile from Jerry's Motel (20 minute walk).  1 hour of free parking is available with a purchase of $10 or more.  Make sure you save your receipt!

Market is open from 8am-6pm Sunday-Wednesday, and 8am-9pm Thursday-Saturday.

Highlights of popular eateries include:

  • Egg Slut - Egg-centric breakfast menu.
  • Berlin Currywurst - Comfort German street food includes bratwurst and paprikawurst 
  • DTLA Cheese - Serves domestic and imported cheese plates, sandwiches, salads and craft beers and wine.
  • Belcampo Meat Co. - Butcher shop with a retro tasty food counter serving meaty favorites like the Marrakech Cheesesteak and the Belcampo Burger. 
  • Sticky Rice - Serves Thai street food like beef panang and mango sticky rice.
  • Wexler's Deli - Traditional Jewish deli with great pastrami on rye and pickled herring.
  • Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria - 10-inch artisanal wood fired pizzas, focaccia salads and beer.
  • Press Brothers Juicery - Organic fresh juices pressed daily.
  • G&B Coffee - High end coffee shop hailed by the New York Times as having the best iced latte served in a cute chilled mason jar.  What makes it so delicious is their house-made almond macadamia nut milk.      
Happy eating!


Modern Art in Downtown LA

If you are a modern art buff, you will have two great museum choices in Downtown Los Angeles thanks to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

MOCA Grand Avenue

First, there is MOCA Grand Avenue.  MOCA is the only museum in the city that features only contemporary art.  The collection includes Minimalist, Abstract Impressionist, Post-Modernist and Pop Art.

Make sure you plan ahead, since the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Thursdays are FREE from 5pm-8pm.

MOCA Geffen Contemporary

The Geffen Contemporary in the Little Tokyo district of downtown is home to a collection of more unwieldy and playful collections and exhibits.  Like the Grand Avenue museum, Geffen is also closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and free admission is available on Thursdays from 5pm-8pm.

Click here to see current pricing and hours of operation for MOCA.

In other exciting news, The Broad Museum will be opening soon in 2015 and will house post-war and contemporary art collections.  Best of all, admission will be free.


Dodger Game Time: Getting There

Jerry's Motel is conveniently located approximately 2 miles from Dodger Stadium.  Although pretty close distance-wise, we do not recommend you walk to Dodger Stadium.  Unlike stadiums and arenas in other cities that are located in the thick of the city, Dodger Stadium is awkwardly tucked away within a park on a hill.  Trust us, once you make your way there, you will understand what we mean.

Be sure to experience a game if you are in town during baseball season.  Several game nights include free giveaways and souvenirs like bobble heads, beach towels, backpacks and more!  Additionally, not only are Dodger games a great LA experience, but Dodger Stadium is one of the best looking stadiums in the country with its classic mid-century modern design.

Best Options

Drive:  Parking is cheap!  Only $10 for regular sized cars if you purchase it online in advance.  $15 at the gate.  Playoff games are subject to higher rates. 

Taxi:  A taxi ride to the stadium will cost about $12-$15 each way. We provide a few phone numbers for taxis in your hotel guide located on your room desk.  You can also just dial "0" and we would be more than happy to call a taxi for you.  Just be prepared, the taxi line after the game can be long.  

Bus: Take Metro Bus 16/316 toward Downtown LA and get off at 6th/Broadway. Walk to 5th/Broadway and catch Metro Bus 4 toward "West LA - Sepulveda Blvd."  Get off at Sunset/Elysian Park - Dodger Stadium.  Once off the bus, make a left on Elysian Park Ave. and walk about 1/2 a mile.  If you will be taking the bus, just give yourself enough time, as this total trip will take about 40 minutes to get you there.  

Griffith Park Observatory DASH Weekend Shuttle

The Griffith Park Observatory and its surrounding grounds are great for views of the city and the Hollywood sign.  One of the best times to visit is before sunset, so you get a day time plus a nice evening view of the lights of LA.

The Griffith Park Observatory building is open Tuesday-Friday (12 noon-10pm) and Saturday-Sunday (10am-10pm).  The Observatory is closed on Mondays, but the surrounding grounds to enjoy the views are still open until 10pm.

Entrance to the observatory building and the grounds is free, but there is a small fee to watch the show in the Planetarium.


For those of your exploring the city without a car, there is a Dash WEEKEND Observatory Shuttle Bus available.  But remember, it is ONLY AVAILABLE SATURDAY AND SUNDAY.  The shuttle operates all weekends of the year, except the following holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.


1) Take the Metro Red Line from either 7th St/Metro Center or Pershing Square and get off at the Vermont/Sunset Station.
2) You can then catch the DASH Observatory Shuttle from the northeast corner of Vermont and Sunset.

Fare: $0.50 (exact change required - fare as of 10/2/14).  If you have money loaded on your TAP card, you can use those funds for this trip.  But do note, the Metro Day Pass on your TAP card does NOT cover this ride.

Hours:  Rides to the Observatory begin at approximately 10am.  Last ride back to the Vermont/Sunset Station leaves at approximately 9:56pm.  Buses make stops about every 30-40 minutes.  Schedules can change, so be sure to click below to check for any timetable updates.

Click here to go to the DASH site to review timetables, see route maps and more.

Make sure you allocate time to visit.  No visit to LA is complete without it!


Best Place to See the Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign is a must see for most first-time LA visitors.  Although you cannot walk right up to the sign, you can get great views and pictures from a distance.  Here are some ideas on some of the best and easy to get to spots.

1)  Hollywood & Highland Center - This shopping mall is located on Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Avenue in the heart of Hollywood.  There is a patio on the top northeast corner of the shopping complex that provides a perfect view of the Hollywood sign.  Best of all, if you will be driving, they offer affordable $2 parking for 2 hours of parking (with validation from participating shops, restaurants and night clubs).

2)  Griffith Park Observatory - The observatory provides sweeping views of the entire city, as well as the Hollywood sign.  Several guests enjoy visiting around dusk to get a day and evening view of the city.

Happy picture taking!


Metro Fare Increases As of September 15, 2014

Metro bus and rail rates will increase as of September 15, 2014.  Please note that fares will be:

BASE FARE: $1.75 (Includes 2 hours of transfers ONLY when using money loaded on a TAP card)
7 DAY PASS: $25

Day Passes can be purchased and reloaded right on the bus or from a ticket vending machine at Metro stations.  For additional info on using and loading a TAP card, read our blog post on this topic or click here to visit the official Metro site.

Mulholland Drive Scenic Route

If you want to get a taste of glamorous Hollywood Hills homes and great views of the city, the Mulholland Drive scenic drive can be a great experience.  Be aware that some stretches of road are very windy/curvy, so drive safely.

One of the best highlights of the tour is the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, which is best accessed when traveling from West to East.  It will be easy to stop at that point since it will be on the same side of the road you are driving on.

Click here to visit LA Tourist for additional tips on where to access Mulholland, and a full Mulholland Drive scenic route map.


GPS is Essential in LA

When renting a car in Los Angeles, it is absolutely essential to use GPS to make your way to your destinations.  The city is huge, so having guidance will help make your trip easier and much more enjoyable.  Even LA residents oftentimes rely on GPS when venturing to new areas.

You have the following options for getting GPS:

1) Rent a GPS through your rental car company. Depending on how many days you have your rental car, this can be the most expensive option.

2) Purchase a GPS system at a retailer located near Jerry's Motel like City Target (at FIGat7th) in downtown, or a nearby Best Buy.  

3) If you have a GSM smartphone, you may want to consider adding an international data plan to use Google Maps while on the road.
4) You can also purchase a SIM card from mobile stores like AT&T or T-Mobile and add a data plan to your smartphone. 

This is very important, so make sure you have this in mind when creating a budget for your trip.


Bargain Shopping on the West Side of LA

Shopping in Los Angeles is great.  Best of all, there is a place to shop for any budget.  So whether you are looking for high-end or bargain shopping, there is a place for everyone.

Another great option for bargain shopping in particular is the Beverly Connection shopping complex in Beverly Hills.  Located across the street from the upscale Beverly Center mall, Beverly Connection has stores like Nordstrom Rack, TJMaxx, Marshalls and Ross for bargain shoppers.  These stores carry brand name and non-name brand clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories at discounted prices.  Most items are from past seasons, discontinued items, and overstock or clearance items from other stores.  So if you are ok with this, these stores can be a great option for shopping.  Just be prepared to sort through racks and racks of clothing.

Happy shopping!


Hop On, Hop Off Tour of Los Angeles

Hop On, Hop Off Tours (or HOHO) are a great way to visit LA's most popular tourist destinations. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out what to see and makes trip planning a little easier.  These tours are especially great for visitors who will not be renting a car.  You can purchase a 1 day ($44), 2 day ($59) or 3 day ($74) pass.*

You are provided with headphones to listen to a narrator (multiple language available) telling you all about the areas you drive through on a red double-decker bus.  Best of all, you have the freedom to get off the bus, explore, and then jump back on and continue at your own pace.  This type of tour is a great alternative to guided tours that limit the amount of time spent at each location.  Click here to see a map of all routes.*

The closest HOHO bus stop to Jerry's Motel is located just 5 blocks away at the nearby Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  This location is part of the PUPLE route that runs through Downtown LA.  Be sure to visit the Starline website to see timetables if you want to get dropped off in downtown when you return.  If you want to stay out longer, no problem!  You can easily return to Jerry's Motel from Hollywood via the Metro Red Line by getting off at the 7th St/Metro Center or Pershing Square stops.

Remember, Los Angeles is huge, so you have a lot to see and although it's typically not possible to see everything, doing some research ahead of time and deciding what you definitely want to see and what you think you can skip will help you organize your trip and thoughts ahead of time.  By doing this, you will save extra time that you can use to explore the city.


*Prices and information are current as of August 2014.  Visit starlinetours.com to see updated information.


Tasty Cupcakes in LA

The cupcake revolution started in Los Angeles a few years ago, and transformed a traditional cupcake into an amazing gourmet treat.  Sprinkles Cupcakes started it all with their first cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills.  Since then, they have opened locations across the country, and one conveniently located near us at FIGat7th in downtown Los Angeles.  Make sure you stop by and try a tasty classic flavor like red velvet or limited time delicious flavors like S'mores or Raspberry.

Trust us, you'll love it.

Getting From Santa Monica to Venice Beach

Santa Monica and Venice are conveniently located close to one another.  You can either:

1)  Take a nice walk from one location to the other (2 miles, approximately 30 minutes walking).

2)  Take the short bus ride outlined below.  This bus ride will take about 15-20 minutes and is on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus.  Note that the fare is $1 (as of 6/24/14) and Metro Day Passes/Tap Cards are not accepted on this bus.

3)  Rent a bike.  The bike path is straight, flat and very easy to ride while taking in the sunny Southern California weather.

If you're starting in Santa Monica, you can rent a bike at Sea Mist Rentals.  Rates are $7 per hour or $18-20 for an all day rental of a basic bike.  Beach Cruisers and tandem bikes are available for a little extra.  Make sure you get a lock from them (it's included in the price) so you can lock your bike and explore the eclectic Venice Boardwalk shops and eateries.  A deposit is required and they only accept cash, so make sure you are prepared.  They also hold on to your ID until you return your bike, so make sure you have 2 ID's with you if you plan on visiting local bars, and preferably leave a drivers license with them instead of your passport.

If you're starting in Venice, you can rent a bike from Venice Boardwalk Bike Rentals or any other rental locations located right on the boardwalk.

4)  If you will be driving, you may just want to drive from one location to the next, and park again if you want to maximize your time. But it will all depend on your sightseeing pace and how much time you have to spare.