A spectacular Los Angeles Tour, Presidential Libraries & LA Museums

Published: June 14th 2017
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Many travelers around the world have Los Angeles on their short list of places to visit mainly due to the romance of the movies, endless sunny days and surfer dudes hitting the beaches. Los Angeles California is a small city of 4 million people, however the metro area is said to have more the 19 million inhabitants, which makes it the 2ndlargest U.S. city. A stream of entertainment must be available to keep all of these people busy. Having been here only a few short months causes one to try and get a good feel of what LA has to offer turns out to be quite a large city….especially area-wise.

There in lied the struggle on whether or not to publish a blog about the museums and places we’ve visited as it is hard to describe what you’ve seen and not sound like a boring guide book written by some dolt working for the chamber of commerce. But alas, museums are part of the travel experience; and LA has some wonderful and some quirky locations that are worthy of a visit.

Living in LA has afforded us an opportunity to get together with friends who live locally and has
Hollywood SignHollywood SignHollywood Sign

Iconic Sign
allowed lured friends from San Francisco and San Jose to come our way.

Touring LA

When we are not working or traveling we enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction. One of our favorite authors of fiction is Michael Connelly who writes crime stories about an edgy LA cop. Trouble always seems to have a way of finding Harry Bosch, the primary character of these books. Harry Bosch loves his hometown of LA and makes you want to live in his city. Bosch can make the dark underside of this city sound appealing and sometimes romantic.

We were lucky enough to find an LA tour guide Jasmine Jia who weaves details of these books into her LA tour. It was fantastic!! If you don’t have interest in Harry Bosch she offers several tours of LA and will cater to your wants and desires. Jasmine is a terrific guide and wants to ensure that you see everything you want to see while in LA on her 5 ½ hour tour. We think Michael Connelly should subsidize Jasmine, as her tours made us want to go back and re-read all of his books. Certainly his
Downtown LADowntown LADowntown LA

Yeah....they got some gleaming skyscrapers...
book sales increase after one of her wonderful tours.

We stopped often to get out and explore the sites Jasmine took us to; so we could take photos and hear more stories of Harry Bosch and the history of LA. Our tour took us to the Veteran’s Cemetery and past the FBI building. We had lively conversation with the recent firing of the Director of the FBI. Touring Westwood and Beverley Hills, we drove past a bank robbery scene from one of the books. This path allowed us to view a few movie star mansions before we headed to the Hollywood Bowl Overlook on Mulholland Drive, Bosch’s home on Woodrow Wilson Dr., Lake Hollywood and great views of the Hollywood sign and Mulholland Dam.

Until now we didn’t realize you could walk up the streets very near the famous Hollywod sign and even above it. Lots of people were making this hike. The views of the city and the dam are amazing. One of Madonnas’s past homes is in this area – yes a great view. We also didn’t know Lake Hollywood existed. This would be a great place for a picnic. You may know that originally the
LA BabyLA BabyLA Baby

Hollywood sign was a marketing and advertising ploy to gain attention for a new housing development that was for sale back in the 1920’s….guess it worked.

Even though Michael Connelly is a fiction writer he loves his city and uses as many legitimate local places in his books. We stopped by Musso & Frank Grill for a drink. It is a well known LA stop that opened in 1919 on Hollywood Blvd. It is full of Hollywood history. This restaurant was frequented by studio executives and screen writers—many deals and contracts signed in this location. It still has that ambiance and we look forward to going back for a meal.

We googled a list of restaurants that are in the Harry Bosch books and intend to spend a Saturday eating our way through the town at Harry’s favorite dives and diners. We drove past the Beverly Hills and Hollywood police stations which are featured in many of the books. We saw the Beverly Hills library and it is recommended that we go back in the future and check it out.

The tour took us to downtown LA, where we saw Angel’s Flight, a funicular in the middle
View of afternoon traffic View of afternoon traffic View of afternoon traffic

Not bad today - view from Getty Museum
of the city. There are few left in the U.S. We love riding funiculars so we were sad to find it is closed, but were told it may re-open in August. We strolled through the Bradbury Building and the Grand Central Market. The architecture of the Bradbury Building is stunning. Very few places like it on the west coast.

Jasmine had a little surprise for us when she took us to the Westwood Village Memorial Park. This tiny little graveyard is in the middle of the city and is a who’s who of Stars. Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Rodney Dangerfield, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe….and the list goes on. We’ve seen bigger backyards at friend’s homes than this cemetery, which is literally tucked in the middle of some very tall buildings.

You won't regret giving Jasmine a call for a tour. La La Tours

Freeways and Gridlock

Unless you are a “city lover” you may want to quickly get in and out of LA after visiting the tourists sites—but the people who live here seem to love this city, the surrounding area and California in general. California is larger than some countries so there

One of over 2600 stars on the "walk of fame."
is an endless list of things to do and see.

An interesting tidbit from our perspective is LA county has 508 miles of freeway to help these 19 million people move about their daily business. It seems that everyone…..and we mean everyone drives in LA. If you’re looking for public transportation, this is not the model city for that. The California Department of Transportation reports that over 217 million vehicle miles are driven daily…..yes daily. Yikes…….. think about that.

As you can imagine the California highways can be a traffic mess waiting to happen. In LA you can be flying along on 6 lanes of traffic heading in one direction and then boom it cuts down to 3 lanes. As you might imagine this snarls the highways. Our experience has been that drivers are ignoring all traffic laws and posted speed limits generally the locals are driving 80+ miles per hour—often times weaving in and out or traffic is at a near standstill and you are traveling at a mere 10 to 20 miles an hour wondering if the slow down is due to construction, a traffic accident or a high influx of people trying to live their
Spring is in BloomSpring is in BloomSpring is in Bloom

Getty Museum
life. We’ve included a couple of photos of snarled traffic and would point out that none of these photos were taken during rush hour.

When we head out to explore, we generally plan on 30 miles per hour in our head so if we have a 60 mile trip we will allow 2 hours to get there. Sometimes that is not needed and you arrive early with plenty of time to explore. Other times…..well….it is LA.

Our experience is if you are heading south to San Diego double that time. Who knows where all these people are going but they are doing it very slowly.

Presidential Libraries and Museums

One our life goals are to visit all the U.S. presidential libraries and museums. For the record, there are 14 (soon to be 15) of them. So far we’ve made it to Truman’s and Clinton’s. California has allowed us an opportunity to visit Reagan’s and Nixon’s. Even though Reagan and Nixon belonged to the same political party they were two very different people and their museums demonstrate those differences.

Ronald Reagan has been treated well historically as he ended the cold war, tax reform, and rebuilt the military. Before the election many who opposed his election were worried he would press the nuclear button and end the world, as we knew it. As all know now those worries were unfounded.

The Reagan library was almost shrine-like. It spared no effort to aggrandize “The Gipper,” with display after display highlighting this man’s career.

Reagan Museum Reagan

Richard Nixon was a loved President until he wasn’t. His dishonesty disgraced his presidency and this country. He was the first American president to resign his presidency. The years have proven his ego and paranoia lead him down the path of no return. His library was a bit understated compared to some of the others we’ve seen.

Nixon Museum Nixon

We were a bit surprised to learn that both libraries host a slew of wedding year around. While we were at the Nixon library we watched one ceremony. It was lovely

Other LA Museums

The Getty Museum Getty Museum

The Getty family was richer than rich due to their investments in oil. They amassed a fortune and fortunately the world
Musso & FranksMusso & FranksMusso & Franks

Historic Restaurant....wonder how many deals have been made here?
benefits from the richest by visiting the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa. It is an amazing museum with stunning architecture…..with extraordinary city views and luscious gardens.

We liked the museum so much we went twice. The first time was in February with our friends Denise and Galen who came down from San Francisco. The gardens had not been planted yet and the trees were not in bloom. Our return visit in late April rewarded us with amazing colors—the grounds were in bloom and many were having picnics. What a lovely setting above the city. There are also rotating exhibits within the Getty which complement the permanent exhibits that include some of the masters.

The Museum of Broken Relationships. Broken Relationships Museum

The Museum’s concept was born when an artist ex-couple in the midst of their own breakup wondered what people did with objects that had been meaningful in their relationships. In 2006 they had their first exhibit and the Museum has since toured internationally, amassing an amazing collection. They opened their permanent museum in Zagreb, Croatia in 2010.

This museum is an interesting concept of love gone wrong or simply faded.
Getty MuseumGetty MuseumGetty Museum

The Masters
We were surprised that many of the vignettes were of short term relationships. We expected many of the exhibits to be relationships of 20+ years but many were only a few months old when they ended. The museum is a wide-open space. As you wander the display cases reading each story you can’t help but analyze symbols of past relationships. The foundation of this museum is that once the love is over some people didn’t know what to do with the memorabilia…we’re not sure that was ever an issue for us.

Death Museum Death Museum

Hollywood California offers something for everyone. If your thirst runs toward the macabre then this is the museum for you. This is a fascinating, twisted, gruesome little museum full of details, photos and information on serial killers, and whackos like Charles Manson. There was an interesting use of space to create to increase the intensity of what you were looking at; this museum is made up of several small rooms and tight hallways that force you to be close to strangers as you view all of the gruesome details of murder and mutilation. One of the first rooms you enter has a small TV screen perched up in the corner where you are watching a real embalming as you move around the room. It is rather eerie as they have all the implements of autopsy and embalming laid out in the room. Some are old fashion and some of the tools more modern day. Each room and each crime story seemed more ghastly. One couple was stupid enough to take photos of their handy work and crime spree and got caught because they took the film to be developed. The kid in the film lab knew something was wrong when he saw the chopped off heads and reported it to police. No one ever said criminals are smart. Speaking of that, there was a whole room featuring Charles Manson and his crazy deranged crew.

The Grammy Museum Grammy Museum

This interactive museum is a must see for all music lovers. It traces the cultural significance and the historical progression of music through the decades. And…it is a great deal of fun. One of the great things about this museum is it may introduce you to musicians that you knew little about
Veteran's Cemetery Veteran's Cemetery Veteran's Cemetery

Beautiful setting
but who have had influence on musical evolution. They had an excellent special exhibit on John Denver.

It is located near some good restaurants so eating is a good idea while you are in the area.

Additional photos below
Photos: 37, Displayed: 31


Slowing going traffic 6 lanesSlowing going traffic 6 lanes
Slowing going traffic 6 lanes

All those break lights....5 mph
Denise & Merry JoDenise & Merry Jo
Denise & Merry Jo

At the Getty
Denise & GalenDenise & Galen
Denise & Galen

Enjoying the sites of LA!
The MastersThe Masters
The Masters

Getty Museum
Dave does the GettyDave does the Getty
Dave does the Getty

Amazing architecture
Echo Park LakeEcho Park Lake
Echo Park Lake

Downtown LA
Condilizza RiceCondilizza Rice
Condilizza Rice

Book signing at Nixon's museum
Marilyn MonroeMarilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Lots of flowers and kissy lips left by admirers

14th June 2017

LA Museums
It is quite a few years since we explored some of what Downtown LA has to offer; indeed it was many years ago when we had children in tow!. However, I'm sorry to say that we didn't visit any of the fabulous museums you mentioned. Many thanks for pointing out some very good reasons why we'll just have to return!
14th June 2017

LA Musems
LA really does offer some nice museums. As you would imagine the Getty is amazing and the Presidential Libraries Museums well worth a visit but the smaller ones have plenty of interesting facts to offer.
14th June 2017

Hi Guys, Good to know you're real people doing the things real people do- as well as being traveller supremos. We occasionally get to do a museum - some of our favourites are in Washington of course. We were in the 'Herring Museum' in Iceland this week! (Blog to come) Thank you for representing us at the Tara memorial. We travel and we blog for what we can leave behind for others to savour, now, and when we are gone. David
14th June 2017

Real people doing real things.....yes. Museums have so much to offer...even the odd ones. It is a crash course in history and generally several perspectives. Thank you for commenting. Tara will be with all of us. I like the idea of leaving behind things for others to savour. Happy travels and eager to read your next blog.
14th June 2017

Not a word about Disneyland
Great writing about some unusual things to see and do. You two always mine wherever life takes you.
14th June 2017

Not a word about Disneyland
You are right as this was a museum blog. Look back a couple of blogs and you'll see we wrote one about Disney. :)
14th June 2017

Jasmine Jia Tours
Thanks for telling me about Jasmine Jia's tours. I too am a big fan of the Harry Bosch books, and the tour you took sounds like it would be fun.
14th June 2017

Jasmine Jia Tours
You will not regret taking one of her tours. Tour guide extraordinaire. They are fantastic. Taking a Harry Bosch tour was fun and he goes all over the city so it was great fun.
14th June 2017

Enjoyed reading your blog about your trip to LA. I did not know about the U.S. Presidential museums and do hope you manage to get around them all.
14th June 2017

U.S. Presidential museums and libraries are very nice. You will want to add them to your list. Thanks for commenting.
14th June 2017

You'll have been to Santa Fe and visited the Georgina O'Keeffe exhibition no doubt. Here's what she said: 'Where I live now and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.' That too, was in Taras' bible.
14th June 2017

Yes Santa Fe is wonderful and Georgia O'Keeffe was wise beyond her years. And yes Tara understood that as well as anyone. Thanks for following and commenting.
16th June 2017

Morbid Fascination
I think most people have a deep-down morbid fascination of the taboo! The Death Museum does intrigue me. We can certainly understand more about human nature the more we delve into the weird things that our race has done. I like the comment about 'not wanting to sound like a guide book by the Chamber of Commerce.' Pretty funny. And what - no blues this time? Dave
16th June 2017

Morbid Fascination
Sadly, no blues this time. I have a fascination with serial killers so I found this museum a good one. The psyche of some of these people... yikes. MJ
21st June 2017
Getty Museum

In LA we went to La Brea Tar Pit
A place I enjoyed a lot in LA was La Brea Tar Pits. I would have enjoyed the Harry Bosch tour. I might take up on that. I would also like to see the water canals from Terminator 2. Some of the museums you saw I have to check out if I ever come to LA again. /Ake
21st June 2017
Getty Museum

La Brea Tar Pits
We have the La Brea tar pits on our list for next weekend and the Griffith observatory. Hope you make it back to LA.

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