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Five nights with children in Los Angeles – including a visit to Universal Studios

Universal Studios
The Universal Studios Hollywood where a Must for us.

During our six-month long-term trip, a long-held dream finally came true: the western United States. Max in particular had had visiting this destination at the top of his bucket list since he was a teenager and had correspondingly high expectations of California and its surrounding states. This long-awaited tour began in Los Angeles at the end of April 2024. A personal travel report. (Max)

Venice Beach, melodious surf punk bands, a great feeling of freedom and endless hours of sunshine - these images of the metropolis on the west coast and all of California fascinated me as a teenager and shaped my entire youth. Back in the 1990s, we tried to copy this lifestyle. By the gloomy winter months at the latest, we had to be content with what we had. It was still nice to live this longing. I had to be almost 48 years old to fulfill the great dream of the West for the first time. But this time really!


Traveling through the western United States in a motorhome

After we had decided on our long-term trip, it quickly became clear: the USA had to be back on the list. After our New York and Florida tour, i.e. the east coast, a must - just for the sake of completeness. We wanted a colorful mix of cities, national parks and a real road trip feeling, which is exactly what this part of the world is for many people. Same for us. After intensive research, we decided to fly from Panama City to Los Angeles to start our tour there. We wanted to dedicate the first five of around sixty days to the City of Angels. It was to be the starting point for our very first motorhome trip. What an adventure.


First time in Los Angeles

L.A. is not a conventional city, but rather an urban region with astonishing sprawl. We also underestimated the distances between the various highlights when planning this city trip. We have a tip for everyone planning a trip to Los Angeles: never trust your first glance at the maps. Think carefully about everything you want to see and plan twice as much time as you would in other cities. Actually, this applies to the entire USA.

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This size is just one reason why opinions differ in L.A. Some love this city, others hate it. There is little in between. Anyone who spends time in the relevant US travel forums while planning their trip will quickly notice this. Even I had doubts about the many negative reports. You hear a lot of horror stories. L.A. is dangerous. L.A. lacks a city center and is therefore boring. There would be a lot of homeless people living in L.A. and populating the streets. After our first visit we can confirm it: all of these stories are true and not true at the same time.


L.A. is dangerous

True, L.A. has dangerous corners, like the infamous Skid Row in Down Town, but you can still travel this city without fear. It always depends on how you behave as a tourist. In this sense, every city has its dangerous aspects. We spent the first three nights after our arrival in a cheap city hotel downtown and were asked in a forum how we could do that with children. Everything was completely harmless on site and we never had the feeling of insecurity.


L.A. is boring

The accusation that L.A. lacks a center is also absolutely correct. Does that make this city boring? No. It doesn't always have to be historic old towns that a tourist stumbles through. L.A. is full of exciting and well-known places, you just have to make the effort to overcome the sometimes long distances. The history of this city as the world's film metropolis alone makes L.A. and Hollywood in particular a great travel destination. Especially for a huge film fan like me.


L.A. is full of homeless people

There are a lot of homeless people in the city on the west coast, that's true. But the pictures of the streets full of tents that you can find on the Internet - Hollywood Boulevard was also affected - are likely to be a thing of the past, at least there. We didn't see any major tent cities during our visits. The city administration has probably put a lot of energy into solving this problem in recent years. The question that we inevitably asked ourselves was: has the problem of homelessness just been postponed or are people without a home being offered sustainable help? The fact is: the streets are relatively “clean” for tourists – as harsh as that may sound.


Our L.A. trip at a glance

The hotel:

We spent five nights in Los Angeles and didn't see nearly everything we would have liked to see. We stayed in the simple city hotel Super 8 Downtown by Windham for the first three nights and were very satisfied despite the blood-curdling warnings from some Facebook users. The rooms were simple but clean and quite spacious. Breakfast was typically American: there were bagels with cream cheese, waffles with syrup and apples. Strengthened like this, we were able to make the city unsafe, or even more unsafe, even with two children. 😉

We we felt safe at the Super 8 by Wyndham. Also Downtown there are good places.

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The Super 8 Downtown by Windham is located on busy Sunset Boulevard and when booking you should definitely choose a room with a view of the annex building - it's not a great view, but the result is much quieter nights. Just a few minutes from the hotel there are two small mini markets and liquor stores across the street. There's everything you need to get started here, although it's a bit expensive. On the same side of the street it's only a three-minute walk to a branch of Dominos Pizza - we ate here twice because it's good and comparatively cheap.


Out and about in L.A.

We arrived at LAX, the largest airport in Los Angeles, in the early evening and took a large UBER to our hotel. Uber is a good way to get from A to B in this huge city without having to rent your own vehicle. We also recommend installing the Lyft taxi app - it pays to compare prices before every trip. We were lucky with our first UBER in L.A. and got a spacious vehicle with a starry sky. Of course, the taxi apps in L.A. aren't exactly cheap either.

On our first day in L.A. we were lucky again. We met a couple from Toronto with whom we were able to share two Uber rides. So we got to our first two desired destinations, the Griffith Observatory and the Walk of Fame, comparatively cheaply. Teaming up with other tourists is always a good solution to save money.

Griffith Observatory and the Griffith-Park are important places to see in L.A.

After the first two stops, we did something that internet forums had also advised us not to do: we took the public bus and it was an experience. About a 20-minute walk from the famous Walk of Fame - you have to walk through a safe residential area - you come to a bus stop on bus line 4. This line leads in one direction exactly to our hotel and in the other direction to the Santa Monica Pier its rides and to the adjacent Venice Beach.

Despite warnings, we never felt unsafe on the public buses, even if there were some strange characters among the passengers - which is what we are used to on the Vienna subway. The only thing that took some getting used to was the length of the bus journeys. We drove about two hours one way from the Santa Monica Pier back to our hotel, but at least we didn't have to change trains.


What trips did we take in L.A.?

There is an incredible amount to see in Los Angeles and the atmosphere of this city captivated us. The film locations in and around L.A. alone are a reason to travel there. I have decided to dedicate a few days to these special places on my next visit. But the City of Angels also has a lot to offer. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't looked closely. The list of our must-sees didn't get any shorter during our stay there, on the contrary, it grew. We were able to visit the following sights with the children:

  • Griffith Observatory: Griffith Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. It offers great views of the Los Angeles Basin including downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. It is a popular tourist attraction with direct views of the Hollywood sign and an extensive selection of space and science-related exhibits. It is named after its donor, Griffith J. Griffith. Since the observatory opened in 1935, entry has been free in accordance with the founder's will. We were very impressed by the great view of the city and we walked for another hour through the beautiful Griffith Park. The drive into Griffith Park alone is impressive, as the street is lined with some of the most beautiful mansions in the area. There's apparently a lot of money here, next to Beverly Hills.  

  • Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame: Hollywood Bouevard is probably the most famous street in L.A. It is home to, among other things, the Walk of Fame, which runs 2.1 kilometers from east to west and 600 meters from north to south on Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard. According to a 2003 report by market research firm NPO Plog Research, the Walk attracts about 10 million visitors annually - more than the Sunset Strip, the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman's and also on Hollywood Boulevard), the Queen Mary and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

We had so much fun discovering the stars of countless stars and strolling through the colorful shops on the boulevard, such as the great souvenir and nerd shop La La Land. In our opinion, a must-see in L.A.

  • Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach: The bus ride here was an odyssey, but it was worth it. The amusement park on the pier has great charm and the atmosphere on Venice Beach is unique. This is how you imagine California!

Venice Beach will see us again for sure. It's one of the best places in Los Angeles.

  • Universal Studios: Since we were in Florida two years ago without visiting a single typical American amusement park, we had to make concessions to our children this time. We spent two days in one of the most famous theme parks in the USA, Universal Studios Hollywood. These are the first Universal Studios theme park. The park was initially just a starting point for the popular Studio Tour, but over the years it has been developed and expanded into a sprawling theme park. It is now one of the 10 most visited amusement parks in North America. The site is divided into two areas – the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot. Both are connected by the world's largest and tallest escalator construction, which extends over several levels. In the lower area there are only a few attractions such as the Jurassic Ride or the crazy Super Mario world, but here you are right in the actual film studio complex. Universal Studios surprised us more than positively. The waiting times were bearable (in the off-season) and we rarely had to wait in line for longer than 15 minutes. Many rides work on the basis of driving simulations - so you often don't actually drive, but instead move through 3D animations, which only increases the fun. The studio tour is an absolute blast and you definitely shouldn't miss it - although smaller children shouldn't be in the car with you. It's best to see for yourself.

Our tip: We bought our tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood on the website There are always great special offers for all kinds of amusement parks here. We bought our two-day tickets at the same price as one-day tickets and saved around 50 percent off the regular admission price.

  • Elysian Park and Dodgers Stadium: Since our city hotel, the Super 8 by Wyndham Downtown, is practically right next to the Dodgers Stadium and Elysian Park, we also took a walk there. The stadium itself isn't much of an attraction from the outside, but Elysian Park is a great place to relax, watch dogs play and even use one of the numerous grills.

Here is a selection of other attractions in and around L.A. that are still on our list:


  • Getty Center

  • Warner Brothers Studio Tour

  • Beverly Hills

  • Walt Disney Concert Hall

  • Einkaufszentrum The Grove

  • Runyon Canyon Park

  • Malibu

  • Das Hollywood-Zeichen (noch nahe)

  • Disneyland

  • Topanga State Park

  • Manhatten Beach:

  • Hermosa Beach

  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area:

  • Point Mugu State Park

As you can see, there is an incredible amount to do in L.A. We picked up our RV for the next seven weeks at Cruise America L.A. on the day between our two Universal Studio days. How excited we were! In the coming blogs we would like to tell you about this exciting ride through the western USA.

We will never forget California und L.A. We will come back.



Los Angeles and especially the Hollywood district were certainly even more interesting to visit in the heyday of film studios and cinemas than they are today. It may be that the city on the US West Coast has lost some of its flair. One thing is certain: we felt very comfortable in Los Angeles and will definitely visit this city again. What you definitely shouldn't underestimate when traveling to L.A. is its size. If we have our way, you'd better plan one or two more days than originally planned. If you want to get around a lot, it's best to rent a car or take Uber or Lyft (it's best to work out which is cheaper). But a ride on the public bus is also a (long) experience. And one final thing: Visit Venice Beach and let yourself be enchanted by the charm of this stretch of coast.

We're happy if you've read this far and hope you follow our travels on Facebook and Instagram,

Steffi and Max from Reisenhochzwei

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