Since we are in Florida, a direct flight to Hawaii would take 13 plus hours. I don't think that I could handle that. We fly from here to LA, then to Hawaii, and back LA before heading back home. Not only does it break up the flight, but it also helps us to adjust to the 6 hour time difference a little better. Plus, it gives us an excuse to gorge ourselves on In-n-Out!
I had reservations for an economy car at $118 for the 2 days through Costco (outrageous!) and a hotel room at $226 for 2 nights. I ended up using Hotwire for the car rental and received a compact for $52 less a $10 rebate from the Entertainment Book. We received our rental from Enterprise at LAX. Fantastic staff, quick service, and clean cars. Can't ask for more.
I decided to bid on Priceline for the hotel hoping to get the Hawthorn Suites or Residence Inn in Manhattan Beach or something similar. I bid $37 for a 2 1/2 star in the M.B or Redondo Bch area. My offer was accepted, but not for what I hoped. I was upgraded to a 3 1/2 *. I received the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach. I personally do not consider it an upgrade. My total came out to $95 including taxes. But, they charge $22 per day to park, they charge for internet, and you have to walk a mile from the parking garage to your room. We've stayed there before, it's clean, the beds are comfy and it's in a nice location. But the parking deal is really steep! Especially for the area. The Best Western across the street offers free parking, free internet and free breakfast to boot!
We did save $163 between both the car rental and hotel so that's a plus!
The second part of our LA stay worked a little different. I had booked the Hawthorn Suites in Manhattan Beach for $328 for the 3 nights. They later ran a special, so I canceled and re-booked for $228. An extra 100 bucks in my pocket!
The car I booked through Costco/Alamo. I booked it really early for $50 for the 3 days. Never went lower. Actually, it went up about an extra $60. So I was safe.Groupons for Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum in Hollywood for $14 total for both. I also had two complimentary tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood from My Coke Rewards. Sweet! My Diet Coke addiction pays off!
The Metro takes you to Universal City. From the station, you cross the street to catch the free Universal Shuttle up the hill to the park. Saves you the $15 parking, gas and traffic. Park at a free Park & Ride lot and take the Red line. You can also take the Metro to the Hollywood & Highland station and save on parking too. This really only helps if you can park for free at a red line station or if a station is close to where you are staying. On the other hand, parking at H&H is $10 max. If you buy something at H&H, get your ticket validated and parking is only $2 for the first 4 hours. They nail you after that though, at $1 per 20 minutes up to the $10 max.
Mdm. Tussaud's Wax Museum was just blah. Three floors with wax figures. I think only one floor had current celebrities. I believe they normally charge $25 pp and at that price, it's a total rip-off in my opinion. Since we just paid $7 each, I didn't really feel crushed by the tourist trap.
We are in Florida and we have a Universal Studios Theme Park here in Orlando. The park in Hollywood seemed very small. The lines weren't very long, about 30 mins max which was a good thhing. Their Studio Tour totally trumps the one in Orlando, big time! Plus we drove through Wisteria Lane! The rest of the attractions are just ok. City Walk in Hollywood also beats the one in Orlando by a landslide.
Mama D's in Manhattan Beach is great! Small family-run Italian restaurant, great staff, & delicious food!
When I was a kid, we celebrated many birthdays at Farrell's. It was the best place for kids. In the early 80's, they closed the one near my house. I later learned that all Farrell's had been closed. I was so sad! During our last visit to Hawaii, I found out that there was a Farrell's at the Windward Mall, so we made sure to go. It just was not the same. The decor and the atmosphere was off and not like I remembered. Then I heard that Farrell's had opened a restaurant in Mission Viejo. So I knew we would be making the trip out there. This one was so much fun! They had tons of birthday parties and the Zoo made it's run around the restaurant several times. The food was just ok. But this was nostalgia at it's best.