Day 4 of our trip was intended to be a more cultural day where we would explore some of the museums and attractions of Los Angeles rather than the more fun based attractions. In order to visit the 4 attractions, we wanted to from the Pass we would need another early start and cover a fairly vast distance around the City.
An uninvited guest would hamper our progress both today and for our flight tomorrow. We still however achieved all we wanted to and in plenty of time.
La Brea Tar Pits
The Tar Pits have been on my list for many many years as a must visit location and I was very excited to finally get here. I can’t really explain why but these have fascinated me for years. Kate was far less interested in visiting a stinking pile of old bones but I persuaded her we should make a quick stop.
Traffic was incredibly light for some reason and we arrived in plenty of time. The Park itself is FREE, however, we began the endless battle of the day with L.A’s dreadful parking situation. Parking in LA is plentiful but it is certainly not Cheap and we had already racked up over $100 in parking charges over the last couple of days plus the Hotels charge and were determined to minimise this today. The Excessive parking Charge to park in the Pits lot got us off to a bad start. However, we hunted around and found some free short stay street parking on 6th street so got off to a great start.
While the Park is FREE the Museum is not. TBH it’s quite a hefty fee of $15 which considering the size of the Museum is quite steep. As it’s included on the Go Card we got in for FREE. As we strolled round very leisurely we realised just how small the place is. It’s a fine exhibit with some incredible exhibits of the preserved Skeletons of Ice Age beasts recovered from the Pits. It really is a small Museum, but we are glad to have visited. Even at a slow pace it only really took around 30 Mins to see everything, there are some films to watch but these are extra and we don’t really come on holiday to watch films.
We then headed out and explored the pits properly. This part of the park is free to all and the best bit really. The Large lake Pit is the highlight and shows the traps the Animals fell into all those centuries ago. There are large models of Animals set up around the lake to show how the creatures met their end. The Lake was in a very Lively mood when we visited gushing gas and gunk out at regular intervals and there were large amounts of tar Visible and the whole area smells like a newly laid road.
We then leisurely wandered around the other Pits and excavation sites which are a little less exciting than the Lake Pit. It’s an incredible place to visit and very odd it’s right in the Heart of the LA Megatropolis. It might not be for everyone Kate was certainly less enthralled with the Park than me but still enjoyed it. Although without my insistence she would certainly not have visited. It was around 10 am and we hoped back into the car for our short drive into Downtown to the OUE Sky Space Observation Deck.
OUE Skyspace LA
As we neared Downtown we were amazed at how well things were moving the traffic was flowing freely and everything going great. Until we hit about half a mile from Downtown and everything ground to a complete halt. As we inched nearer to our destination we realised several main roads were completely shut! and we noticed Helicopters circling above! Something big was going down…We later realised a certain Mr President Trump was in town for his first trip to California since his inauguration. He does seem to follow us about he was in both New York and Florida during our last trips…Lucky us.
As we inched around town growing increasingly frustrated we found the “recommended” Parking and nearly choked at the cost of $40. We knew downtown Parking would be bad but had no idea it was going to be This high, honestly we nearly just left when we spotted a small lot offering $18 Valet called Paragon Parking.
Safely parked only a short walk from the tower we headed off. The Morning gloom beginning to lift to reveal a lovely sunny day. The Entrance to the Tower is a little hard to find and we ended up in the bank’s main lobby. The Friendly receptionist pointed us in the right direction and we wondered how many times a day she was required to divert guests to the correct entrance.
The Queue for tickets was practically zero and we were in the lift in no time up to the Exhibition floor. Here there are multiple exhibits about the tower and its construction and use. All fairly interesting but shouldn’t take up too much of your time. A few of the exhibits are minimally interactive but we hurried through and headed for the main event.
The final lift whisked us up to the observation level. The Observation Deck is two levels with 360 Degree views of the city. There are also two Outdoor areas also providing Almost 360 Degree Views of the City. The SkySlide also connects the two floors and is a pretty intense if very short experience.
The Views from out on the two decks is incredible. However, in comparison to some observations decks, we have been on is a little less fantastic. While the day had brightened up there was still plenty of Murk about making the views off to the hills and mountains very hazy. L.A is also a huge urban Sprawl but is quite devoid of landmarks so you are not really sure what you are looking at. It’s not like being in New York. We ended up resorting to Google maps to try and pick out what it was we were seeing.
So while the Views are not that interesting they are beautiful and we spent a good while just gazing out taking in the endless Sprawl of the City.
The Skyslide is not included on the LA Go Card but is only an $8 add-on so I took up this option, however, Kate was uninterested in seeing the City hundreds of feet below her through a thin pane of glass. I, however, am not quite so intelligent! Really it though nothing of it. I knew it would be perfectly safe and it’s only a short ride between the floors. However once on the Slide ready to push off, I was suddenly struck with the horror of the drop below me. A few deep breaths and a few choice words and off I went. Once sliding the Horror passes and you are out the other side in no time.
It’s a really neat experience but probably overpriced for the few seconds of adrenaline but it’s a pretty unique ride so I don’t feel too shortchanged. After a bunch of Photo’s including the Angel Wings photo-op, we were ready to go. However, we were pretty ahead of schedule so decided to make use of the Bar. It’s not horrendously overpriced and we enjoy a few minutes relaxing at a window table with one of the best views in the City. A bar is something we feel the New York Observation Decks really lack.
We then headed back down and braved the Crazy Trump induced traffic chaos as we headed to Our next location. Long Beach. Which is actually quite a trek from Downtown despite how it looks on a map.
The Queen Mary
We Both wanted to Visit this iconic Ocean Liner as it is quite a piece of history but it is also has a special meaning to Kate as her Granddad sailed to America on the Ship during WW2 when it was converted into a Troop Carrier for the War so it was very meaningful for her to visit.
The Ship has been docked in Long Beach for a good few years now and serves as both a Museum and a Hotel. The Go Card Grants you access to the Museum portion of the Ship which is pretty much everything of interest. We spend a good while just wandering around the many decks, ballrooms, Bars and the Engine Rooms. It is a truly Massive ship and feels very Titanicy.
The Entry also includes entry to a free Exhibit and we chose the Princess Diana Exhibit showcasing the life and fashion of the late princess. Here I feel Kate got some revenge for the Tar Pits and I really wasn’t very enthralled but She really enjoyed the Exhibit.
There was a guided tour available but we didn’t feel the need for such an in-depth look at the ship, the tours seemed to explain every little detail such as the designers who crafted the murals in the each of the ballrooms and other endless facts which we were likely to forget instantly. Instead, we enjoyed just exploring the ship.
After a while exploring we had seen enough and made our way back to the car. Parking at the Queen Mary was annoyingly not free. The first hour was free but we had spent a lot longer than an hour so we grudgingly headed to the gate ready to cough up once more. Fortunately, the gate operator looked at our ticket then just waved us through. A very pleasant surprise and finally some free parking. We find it pretty annoying we are expected to pay in the first place, to be honest. The QM is in the middle of a dockyard with nothing but space and wide open areas around and nothing to see BUT the QM so we tend to feel parking should be included in the ticket.
We headed across the river and on to our final attraction of the Day and of this L.A Trip.
Aquarium of the Pacific
I love Aquariums. Anything that involves underwater and fish is right up my street. Kate isn’t quite as keen but happily tags along helped somewhat by spotting creatures from Finding Nemo. Really we were not holding out very high expectations of this particular aquarium. It looked pretty good but hardly a world-class exhibit such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is pretty hard to beat. Still, we figured it would be good to see the more pacific orientated exhibits showcasing the wildlife of the area.
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised at both the quality and quantity of both exhibits and sea life on display. The Aquarium was much bigger than we first expected and there were some very impressive exhibits. There were a number of mammal exhibits with sea lions, seals and Sea Otters. These are always fun to watch. There were some Puffin and Penguin Exhibits. Underwater there were some large tanks containing pretty excellent specimens including Sea Turtles, Giant Trevally, Tuna, Rays, and Sharks along with thousands of smaller fish and invertebrates.
Outside was a shark Tank with some pretty sizable specimens including a very large and fierce looking SandBar Shark. The size of some of the fish showed how healthy everything was and overall we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibits and it was quite a surprise to see just how varied and wide-ranging the exhibits were. There were also a lot of touch pools for the kids but after getting told off for being too rough with a jellyfish we left those to the little ones!
Ok, it’s never going to compete with the Monterey Bay Aquarium but it really is a worthwhile visit. Certainly up there with anything we have in the UK.
Upon leaving we asked to have our Parking Validated. The Aquarium offers fixed rate parking for $6 which is pretty reasonable but the guy doing the validating explained it would be cheaper for us not to validate as we hadn’t run up enough time to make it $6 yet. Better still we were planning on eating at a nearby restaurant who would validate up to 2 hours free so even cheaper. in the end, we only paid $3 for 3 hours of parking so we got another parking win.
Our last meal in LA would be in our favourite restaurant. Hooters! We know it’s so cheesy and maybe soon to be a thing of the past but the girls are certainly not why either of us loves the place. It’s the wings. Really it’s just a super cheap and super tasty place to eat that the cheesiness of the place is acceptable. Not for everyone but we like it.
A Big helping of wings later along with beer cheese pretzels and we headed back for our last night in LA. We took the long way back through Palos Verde and then up the PCH back to Santa Monica which was slow going but more interesting than the freeway.
It had been a pretty epic 3 days in L.A and we had crammed a whole lot in. We were properly looking forward to hitting Maui and doing very little for a bit. The forecast was not looking great though. Cloud and rain for the next few days at least. The weather gods were not being overly kind on this trip.