Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier

 

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier are probably two of the best-known beach areas in the world, simply due to the amount of exposure they receive in movies and tv series. Both beaches are quite different, Santa Monica’s pier area is far more family-friendly tourism. Venice Beach, on the other hand, is quite a unique experience where you will meet and see some very interesting people, stores, and performances. The Santa Monica Pier offers restaurants, a small amusement park with a roller coaster and small nicknack and souvenir stores along with a few more traditional performers and artists. You will probably want to spend about an hour (or two if you have children) there. Venice beach, on the other hand, can provide an entire afternoon worth of entertainment. Walking along Venice Beach’s esplanade you will find every manner of souvenir store, particularly t-shirt shops which the beach is well known for. You will also find plenty of places to eat, a large number of tattoo parlors, marijuana dispensaries and small galleries. What the beach is most famous for though are its performers, artists and small stall owners. You will see everything from classic dance performances and magic shows to people on rollerblades wearing amps shredding heir way along the beach and people who simply play music, pretend to be statues and then scream uncontrollably when someone gives them money. As far as store owners and artists go, one of the most famous things for sale on the beach are hand painted Mexican skulls in all shapes, sizes, and colors, these normally go for a reasonable price. Then, as always with touristy areas in the US you will have struggling and up and coming musicians trying to sell you their mixtapes in everything from jazz, hip hop, rap to rock and RnB. Venice Beach is also home to the famous Muscle Beach, which moved from its original location on Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach and is where world famous bodybuilders and athletes such as Arnold Schwarzenegger have worked out and trained. If you have time I highly suggest paying a visit to these beaches, especially as they are only a 5-minute drive apart.

 

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Beverly Hills/Downtown LA

Beverly Hills is a whole other level of Hollywood within Hollywood itself. This is where the Hollywood elite lives and shops. Almost every store in this area is boutique/luxury shopping and most of the homes are mansions. This is home to the famous Rodeo Drive, a hub of designer brands and sports cars. While in Hollywood it is definitely worth visiting, even if you just walk down Rodeo Drive or drive through the suburbs of Beverly Hills to see how some of the wealthiest people in the world live. Downtown LA is not a far drive from Hollywood has enough to do and see to spend an afternoon there. I personally as a music lover spent my time at the Grammy Museum which features artifacts from artists such as Michael Jackson, Elvis, Bob Dylan, the Ramones and Daft Punk among others. The museum always features one special exhibit so it’s worth seeing who is on display before going. At the time of my visit, the special exhibit was The Ramones and so the museum had a fantastic collection of their merchandise, instruments, outfits, and posters. While visiting that area, I suggest you also pay a visit to the famous Staples Center and its surrounding courtyard areas.

 

Hollywood

Hollywood is a place that needs no introduction, it’s a brand that sells itself to the world without even needing to try. Hollywood Boulevard is probably one of the best-known streets in the world and attracts millions of visitors every year. I won’t bother going into detail regarding what and where Hollywood is, aside from saying that it is a suburb of central Los Angeles and the central hub for most of the worlds media. I would suggest spending at least a full day, maybe two exploring Hollywood Boulevard and the surrounding suburbs. On the Boulevard itself you can find famous theatres such as the TCL Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre and Disney’s El Capitan Theatre amongst others. As well as these you will find the world-famous Walk of Fame, the strip in Hollywood featuring the stars of celebrities throughout Hollywoods history deemed worthy of recognition. In addition to these, you will find high-end wax museums, Ripleys Believe it or Not, Hard Rock Cafe and other great ways to spend a day. If you are looking to do some shopping, the Hollywood and Highland Center is the place to go, the mall features a three tory replica of the Babylon scene from DW Griffiths 1916 masterpiece Intolerance. Make sure to soak in the atmosphere of the  Boulevard and the people that you see and meet on this street. You will find everything from low budget spidermen and Elmos, to high-end Star Wars characters, from street artists who are selling their wares to struggling rappers trying to get their mixtape out there; not to mention doomsday protestors and Scientologists amongst others. If you leave the central area of Hollywood you will find the famous palm-lined roads throughout the surrounding suburbs. I suggest visiting the La Brea Tar Pits for a taste of something different. The tar pits have naturally existed in this location for centuries, the oldest material found in the pits dates back 38,000 years. If you enjoy archaeology, paleontology or just like mammoths and other animals from the glacial period then this is something you will enjoy. Additionally, if you are still interested in shopping then The Grove near La Brea, is the mall that you should visit. This is an extremely high-end shopping experience and features a fantastic outdoor food market. A key attraction of the area is Universal Studios which will be discussed further in another article. Overall, I think that at least once in a person’s lifetime, they should visit Hollywood and see where movie, film and music’s magic happens.

 

Darwin

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory and the largest city in the state. The thing that separates Darwin from other Australian capital cities is that it doesn’t feel or seem like a capital at all, it feels like a small city or even a large town. Within the city you’ll find the state parliament, library, museum and all other things you would expect in a larger political city. The ocean view from the coastline is stunning, due to how tropical the water is, palm trees and mangroves line the coastline to match. The architecture found here is more rural frontier style than urban which gives the city a unique feeling. It’s almost hard to believe that the majority of the city was destroyed in 1974. Darwin for me was a very humbling experience, due to having not one but two strangers help me financially after losing my bank card on my way home from SE Asia. The first gentleman saw that I was scraping for change for the bus fair from the airport to the city and without even asking me if I needed help paid for my fair. The second person heard my story about how I had lost my bank card so couldn’t access money and loaned me $20 for breakfast until the banks  opened. I found out shortly before paying him back that he himself was homeless and living in a shelter in town. I was in Darwin on a 22 hour stopover and had been travelling for almost a solid day with stopovers and delayed flights so spent about 3 hours of my day there asleep in the public library pretending to read a book in the back corner. The people that I met in Darwin stuck in my memory and I can honestly say that they are unique to that place and outgoing on a level that I have yet to experience. I wish that I had more time and money to explore the city but for me it was a very interesting experience.

 

 

Deckchair Cinema

http://www.deckchaircinema.com.au/

This was by far my favourite experience in the city, the Deckchair Cinema is something uniquely Territorian. An outdoor cinema using deckchairs with a buffet style food service and cold beers in the tropical 33 degree evening weather is the perfect way to end your day up north.

Brisbane

Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland Australia. The city itself  the third largest in Australia with a population of roughly two and a half million. The city is one of my favourites on a personal level due to its pleasant climate, beautiful city center, cleanliness, safety and large variety of things to do. The city has a fantastic music and art scene and an excellent selection of different cuisines. The city has a  river running through its center, which is used as an additional form of transportation with the use of small water taxis. The riverfront area is one of the central social hubs of the city with cafes, bars, museums, markets, music venues and a man made beach and a ferris wheel built along its banks. The Queen Street area is another central hub, being the primary shopping, nightclub, restaurant area in the city and housing the Brisbane Casino and Queen St Mall.

http://www.mustdobrisbane.com/features/waterfront-dining-brisbane-bay

 

Street Art/Statues

Brisbane is full of street art and statues, depending which area of the city you are in will determine what theme the street art will have.

 

Live Music

Brisbane has an excellent live music scene, featuring countless local acts, as well as being visited by constant international acts. Ma Watt’s House of Music (formerly known as the Hifi) and the Tivoli are two of the cities most popular music venues and normally put on a fantastic show.

http://www.maxwatts.com.au/brisbane/

http://thetivoli.com.au/

 

Queensland Museum

Queensland Museum houses fantastic travelling exhibits, such as Dinosaur Discovery, as well as a fantastic local collection, featuring a large amount of native wildlife.

http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/