We love Los Angeles. The people are friendly, the climate is good, the shopping is great and there is always the chance of spotting your favourite celebrity.
Not everyone seems to love LA as much as I do but I think with every city you need time to find the places that fit with your personality within that town. LA is more than a gateway to Universal Studios, Disneyland and Hollywood.
In the USA we had wanted to get an airport transfer instead of getting off the plane and having to deal with airport traffic. Our travel consultant couldn’t find any transfer companies that would take a wheelchair that didn’t fold.
I have used the airport Super Shuttle service when I travelled by myself though and it was very good. I would check with them directly to see if they can accommodate your chair.
WHERE TO STAY
I like to stay at Santa Monica which is a beach side area about 40 minutes from Hollywood (depending on the traffic and the time of day you make the trip). Santa Monica has a lot to offer with shopping, entertainment on the pier, restaurants and a great beach atmosphere. It is easy to access activities or other areas up and down the coast without getting involved in the worst of LA’s traffic. If you don’t have a car this might not be the place for you as it won’t be central to all the main attractions. We have stayed at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Santa Monica and loved it. See the page devoted to Santa Monica for more information.
Staying in the Hollywood area seems really popular and for the convenience, particularly if you don’t have a car, I can see why. We haven’t stayed here as a family but I have noticed the Loews Hollywood hotel (formerly the Renaissance Hotel Hollywood) is very central and modern. You would need to make enquiries to see what their accessible rooms are like. It is well located and within an easy walk to all the local attractions and shopping.
Beverly Hills is another popular area with tourists. This area is nice and level so it would be easy with a wheelchair. We visited this area but didn’t choose to stay. I think my husband would have had the credit cards permanently hidden in the safe without giving me the combination with so many high end shops on our doorstep!!! Santa Monica was also more child friendly in my opinion.
This is an area that is extremely popular, so my tip is to visit early in the day. It’s much easier to get around with a wheelchair without the crowds.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre forecourt is where everyone is drawn to compare the size of their feet and hands to their favourite Hollywood legends. Some of the iconic Hollywood actresses from the past had the tiniest feet ever! For an actor to have their hand and footprints here their movie must premiere at Grauman’s Theatre. They are running out of room in the forecourt so if you dream of getting your prints here you had better start those acting classes you’ve been putting off!
Touring the home of the Academy Awards/The Oscars
The Hollywood and Highland Centre is one of the best places to see the Hollywood sign and get a photo of it. Head up to one of the upper levels for the best view. (This photo has actually been taken at the Griffith Observatory. The Hollywood sign is clearly visible from Hollywood and Highland but not this close. If you don’t have the opportunity to get to the Observatory Hollywood and Highland is best place to get a picture.)
EATING IN HOLLYWOOD
This is a favourite with our family. It has a true American diner feel about it with booth seating and juke boxes on the tables. There is a large American menu covering breakfast through to dinner and snacks in between. They have a fairly typical children’s menu and the meals come served in a car box with a Mel’s reuseable drink cup. It is very convenient and a lot more fun than other burger chains in the area. It’s accessible but not as roomy if you want one of the tables with a juke box. Trust me, for our family the juke boxes are worth being a little more squashed! They don’t have a separate disabled toilet facility.
California Pizza Kitchen – Hollywood and Highland Center
This is a good family restaurant which is part of a chain that can be found all around California. We’ve had lots of CPK dinners in our travels! They have a kids menu, a variety of pasta, salads and pizza. They also have some rather scrumptious desserts if you leave room!
Although it is a restaurant chain we’ve always found their food to be fresh and good value. The entry to the restaurant is accessible and there are some outdoor tables as well.
Disney Soda Fountain
This Disney store and cafe is located on the opposite side of the road to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and beside the beautiful Disney theatre El Capitian. We’ve only ever had light refreshments here but the kids like the shopping and it is definitely child friendly. It is an old fashioned ice cream parlour with counter service and the other side of the store is is filled with Disney toys, dvds and other Disney items. Tinkerbell and other Disney characters have their stars here on the Walk of Fame. Many of the other stars were unknown to our kids so they were excited to find someone familiar.
SHOPPING IN HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood and Highland Center and surrounds
There are plenty of chain stores in this area and souvenir shops galore. If you are limited with your shopping time you will find lots of shopping here. In the US there seems to be a GAP store on every corner but this one is quite large and has a good selection. When we travelled we signed up to the Highland’s Center loyalty card, The Elephant Card
The Elephant Card gave us a discount at this particular GAP, other stores and even Disney’s Soda Fountain. The discounts would change constantly so you would have to check out what discounts are on offer at the time you travel. The loyalty card is free to sign up to and you print it out at home.
This GAP also has a very large accessible toilet on level one at the back of children’s wear. There is a lift upstairs but you do need to ask for a key. They are more than happy to oblige.
Hollywood and Highland Center has stores like Sketchers.
There is also a Zara and H&M store on Hollywood Boulevard.
I love a bargain and CVS has some good bargains. Make up, vitamins and other items can be found in this pharmacy chain. It is just up the road from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. This isn’t a huge CVS but if you are time poor or not going to other areas this might be your store! If they offer you a loyalty card, take it for extra benefits!
There are so many places to buy your Academy Award/Oscar trophys with best mother, best grandparent, best teacher and everything else you can imagine. There are fake walk of fame stars to personalise, tshirts, pens, posters etc etc. It’s a little overwhelming. The Grauman’s Theatre have a small shop out the front which has a good range and with the Elephant Card (at the moment anyway) there is a discount available. It is small though so a little more difficult with a wheelchair.
I like a shop which is opposite the GAP on Hollywood Boulevard. It has a good range and it is also relatively easy to get the wheelchair around in there. It isn’t as pokey as alot of these types of stores.
PARKING IN THE HOLLYWOOD AREA
The easiest place to park, in my opinion, is the Hollywood and Highland Center. They have disabled parking it is right in the heart of the Hollywood area and they have a flat rate of USD10 parking rate for the day. You can also park by the hour if you are only staying a short amount of time. It is such a convenient place to park and easy with lift access to the Highland Center and Hollywood Boulevard area!
I think this is one of my best discoveries.
Griffith Observatory must have the best views of Los Angeles! It ‘s really just up the road from Hollywood, well not far anyway. As well as having a working telescope and many space related exhibits inside it is just a spectacular spot to take in the whole of Los Angeles. We attempted to visit in the afternoon and watch the sun set but we got caught up in LA traffic and didn’t make it before sunset. It was the only time we really experienced that gridlock that you often see in the movies and it was quite an experience. The first time we visited it was evening due to that traffic jam and we queued up for the telescope. Our son wouldn’t have been able to look through the telescope even if it was accessible but the nature of the telescope means you have to climb up a small ladder. The rest of the observatory is accessible though. The view outside had me totally mesmerised though. Inside there are fantastic displays that really need quite a bit of time to explore properly.
The second time we visited in the morning and I was really interested to see Griffith Park which you drive through leading up to the Observatory. This is also the spot where I have got the closest to that iconic Hollywood sign. My ideal would be to get there mid afternoon, go through the displays inside and watch the sun set. That way you would get to see the view from there in the light and in the evening.
Parking and entry are both free.
PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM
Cars and LA kind of go hand in hand. Having a husband that likes his cars this was an obvious spot to stop for our family. The girls would have quite happily gone shopping and left the boys to it but we visited the Petersen while we were on a Hop on Hop off bus tour of LA so we stuck together. My husband thought this place was wonderful and would have spent far more time here if he was on his own I’m sure! There is a hands on kids area which shows the basic mechanics of how a car works. The gift store is a great place to grab a gift for a car lover at home.
Wheelchair accessible and great for the boys (or girls if they are car lovers!)
There is a Johnny Rockets diner next door if you are needing a bite to eat before or after and we found this fine with the wheelchair.