I have to say…upon first arrival to Los Angeles I was left with the very bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth, and this is totally my own fault.
If you’re staying in L.A., it is imperative to ask a local (if you know any of course) or do your research way in advance for where to stay and what the overall area is like. Much like my Seattle experience, my naiveté from being a clueless Midwesterner who had only seen L.A. from its glamour scenes in movies set me up for utter failure.
My first time in L.A. was the summer of 2021. I had been invited to attend a swanky red-carpet book premiere and signing by my incredibly fabulous and generous author mentor – New York Times bestselling author, TV personality, TEDx speaker, podcast host, and owner of Legacy Launch Pad Publishing Anna B. David.
(Want to know how I befriended and persuaded this incredible woman to become my mentor? Check out my podcast episode with her!)
Anna (pictured with me below) was hosting this event for one of her clients, author Sarah Birnel of the book Something Better Brewing: What I Learned from Prison, Parenthood and Pouring Coffee. So I decided to make the trip into a long vacation weekend where I would be able to explore all the places I had dreamt of visiting since I was a little girl: Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, and UCLA. Quick side note on that…
Why UCLA, you might ask? At the start of college, before I had decided to make the Take It Trilogy into a book series, I had originally written the first two books as a screenplay. At the time, I wanted to be a film director and screenwriter, so I added Film Studies as one of my minors, took classes like Directing and Screenwriting with the nearby all-girls liberal arts school Stephen’s College and applied to UCLA and Chapman’s Film Directing Graduate Programs. While I never heard back from Chapman, I did get to interview with UCLA my senior year.
But as fate would have it, I completely bombed the interview (at first due to technical difficulties and then out of being completely flustered from said technical difficulties). I accepted that as a quick sign from the universe that film school was just not meant for me and that I would have to find another route to make the Take It Trilogy eventually into a movie series. Being able to visit UCLA was just a way for me to find “closure” and to also see if I was really missing out on anything special at all (to be honest, the campus is quite beautiful, but being that close to Rodeo Drive and the beach would have gotten me into way too much trouble, and probably a lot of debt too).
Visiting L.A. taught me a lot of things, like how grimy and un-celebrity-filled Hollywood actually is, and how showing up only two hours before a departure at LAX with a rental car you have to return will actually lead to missing your flight (seriously, if you don’t already have TSA pre-check I highly recommend applying before you even think about flying into this airport). It also taught me how disgusting over-priced motels will actually hide under the disguise of a luxury hotel through pretty pictures on their websites and leave you at the lobby-less, drive-up front window with broken dreams and tear-stained eyes.
But there are also a lot of great attributes to boast about sunny California and the Greater L.A. area like the beach (of course) and all those hidden gems that only locals seem to know about. This city has its perks for sure, but only if you know where to go and which neighborhoods to avoid.
Check out some of my blogs to get to know my favorite (and the worst) places in Los Angeles!