Visit to LA

It was ski week a few weeks ago. The girls were out of school all week and Tom and I took time off of work to entertain them. We normally go to Colorado to ski, obviously, SKI WEEK….or we go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. But this year we decided to stay local and check out some California sites and take a visit to LA. Believe it or not, after living here for 14 years, I have never really toured LA.  We went to the Grove (a mall up in LA) a year or so ago for Payton’s birthday….the main attraction of that trip was a visit to the American Girl doll store, which nearly had us filing bankruptcy when we left. So after that sticker shock visit we got the hell out of LA as fast as we could.

It was time to try again. So we planned a trip with some time in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Universal Studios.

We started our journey in Beverly Hills and stayed at the Beverly Hilton. As soon as I alerted Tom that I had booked a room there, and how proud I was of myself for figuring out where to stay, (there’s a LOT of advice out there online about parts of town to avoid….too much traffic, too many homeless, too far, too close, too expensive, too cheap) he fired back with a text that had Whitney Houston’s face as the leading image.

I think the picture that came with the text looked something like this.

Image result for whitney houston

But the story that went with the picture leads me to believe that the correct image should have been more like this.

Image result for whitney houston

Yes, I unknowingly booked us into Whitney Houston’s death hotel. The place where she overdosed and killed herself in the bathtub almost 4 years ago to the day that we were staying there.


Unbeknownst to me, this was kind of a big deal for Tom. He had the heebie jeebies about staying there. Oh relax I said. It’s not like we are staying in her room!! As long as we don’t stay on the 4th floor he told me. That’s the floor she died on.

Flash forward to the check in desk weeks later, they hand us our keys to our room on the 4th floor. I thought Tom might have a heart attack right in the lobby. I think Whitney’s ghost came and hugged him, welcoming him to the cemetery where he’d be sleeping all week. He tried talking to the lady at check in and telling her of all the floors, he didn’t want to stay on the 4th, knowing that’s where she died. She countered back with the fact that they have THREE 4th floors (technically, since there are 3 buildings), but that didn’t really fool anyone. We were in the main building, same as Tom’s friend Whit had been on.  Tom  paces around a bit and leaves to go park the car.   I think at that point the lady takes pity on me. Knowing I’ll watch my husband pace around the haunted 4th floor and look for ghosts all week if she doesn’t do something. So out of the blue she tells me she’d like to put me on the ground floor, “the girls” will love it, as it opens out to the courtyard and they can go right out the back door into the grass. Great! I say.  I’m sure “the girls” would really appreciate that!

Problem solved.

The hotel was awesome. The Oscars were the following Sunday so they had pre-parties in their ballroom all week, famous people all over town, and gorgeous dresses that the girls couldn’t get enough of.  The staff were amazing. There was free car service to drive us where ever we wanted to go within a 10 mile radius. The pool has movies at night. The food was insanely good. I can’t say enough! No wonder this was Whitney’s final resting place!




The original Sprinkles is NOT just cupcakes. Oh no! This Sprinkles offers up 20 different homemade ice creams to go along with your cupcakes or cookies. Outside the girls tested out the Cupcake ATM where you literally order up your cupcake and have it delivered via the dropbox outside.  Unbelievable! Only in Beverly Hills.  And inside they loaded up on ice cream and cupcakes packed into a bowl. Helloooooo sugar high!!!
3 girls outside the Sprinkles ATM in Beverly Hills

We visited the Griffith Observatory which is the closest spot you can get to the Hollywood sign. It’s also the place where my cousin got engaged! We were lucky to meet up for dinner with my cousin Sharla and her husband James who live near Universal Studios. And much to Tom’s surprise and pleasure, very near the Brady Bunch house. We did not allow Tom to take the tour past the house….next time Tom.

2 girls outside the Griffith observatory under the Hollywood sign


One of the best parts of the trip for the kids was the visit to Madame Toussads wax museum. I took a picture of them with EVERY. SINGLE. WAX STATUE.  Many of them the girls did not know. But who cares, more pictures please! I was exhausted by the end of the tour. They loved it though.
Kobe Bryant wax statue


This one is especially for Tom.  There’s your girl!!!

You’re welcome.


She doesn’t know this guy, but seems right at ease with him.
wax museum in LA


She DEFINITELY has no idea who these guys are, but took on their serious affect to play the part. (and remember, I had to take EACH girls photo in EACH scenario!)

Appropriate signage. I’m pretty certain these exact words escaped her actual mouth at least 3 times during our trip. And they were usually shouted, to make sure we could hear her over the din of Harper’s crying! 


Ok, even I don’t know who this is. But it looks like the 2 of them are about to kill someone.

Thank goodness she doesn’t know what this scene is about! I don’t think they even noticed the shadows on the wall where the stabbing is occurring. But her grin and her sneaky appearance in the tub is just creepy. I kind of hate this picture. Freaks me out. Where’s Tom? Is he freaked out?



Famous Rodeo Drive!! We shopped (ha! we WINDOW shopped!) and ate, and tried not to get run over by the crazy amount of traffic with crazy sightseers driving like maniacs!
The steps leading up the best part of Rodeo drive with a pedestrian only walking section that is gorgeous and seems right out of Italy.

And finally, the highlight of their trip, when our friends joined us for a day at Universal Studios.

We forced Tom to go with us on the Harry Potter ride. Told him, “How bad could it be? It’s all virtual reality, not a real roller coaster. You’ll be fine!”

He was NOT fine. And I had my moments too. It was 4 to a ride, so we sat in this order: Tom, me, Harper, Payton. Payton hated that. She wanted to be next to me, but the ride strapped us in so fast we couldn’t move seats once we got in. So I listened to her complain a few seats away (you can’t see anyone’s faces once your seated…and now I know why), and I consoled Tom on my other side.

It seemed all was going smoothly, with the ride definitely feeling like a roller coaster, but if you close your eyes you can rid yourself of about 50% of the nausea you feel.  Until I realized that Tom was not well. His right leg was stuck straight out in front of him. It’s a ride where your legs are normally hanging down from the chair you’re riding in. But I started to focus on Tom’s leg, ramrod straight, not going back to the hanging position. I tried to ask if he’s ok. He can’t hear, or can’t speak. Not sure which. I pat his leg a little, trying to reassure him, and force his leg down. I wasn’t successful with either.  This lasted for at least the last 25% of the ride, maybe more. Then suddenly, as the story seems to be coming to a close, so the ride must be coming to an end, the ride suddenly stops moving and the screen goes gray. I see Tom’s leg go down and I hear him breathe a HUGE sigh of relief. Harper hears something else. And suddenly the ride starts back up again and we’re back to flying through space on brooms with Harry Potter and I see Tom’s leg go back up!

Luckily is was very close to the end. So maybe another 1-2 minutes and it was over. We get off, Tom is green and desperate to find water, and Harper tells me what she heard.

Due to the technical problems that forced the ride to stop, all riders may go the front of the line pass and re-enter for a repeat ride.   I heard a noise from Tom that I’ve never heard before, and he walked away from us to find fresh air.  The girls were ecstatic! They DEFINITELY wanted a repeat ride! I couldn’t handle it. I barely made it through the first go round, certainly can’t do another. Luckily our friend Annie offered to go back on the ride with the 3 girls. I sought out Tom to make sure he had kept down his breakfast. He was looking a bit better, but still haggard. He told me he held his foot out so he could focus on his shoe instead of the screen.  Ok. I guess that makes sense. Not close your eyes? But stare at your shoe? I guess whatever works.

Anyway, all of us survived 1-2 trips on the Harry Potter Hell Ride, but some of us just barely. 


They insisted on trying Butter Beer from Harry Potter world. And wow, it was good!


A tour behind the scenes was one of the best parts of U.S.  This is a plane crash site. Stays set up all the time. Any movie or TV show with a plane crash will use this set. So amazing to go behind the scenes and see how stuff is done.

I loved seeing this! It’s Whoville from the Grinch! I love that it stays as a permanent resident. 🙂



Night swimming at the iconic Beverly Hilton pool. No signs of Whitney.
Rodeo Drive in Beverly HillsBeverly Hilton pool

They were prepping for the Oscars while we were visiting. The Dolby Theatre is not much to look at from the outside. And the red carpet walk leading up to it is actually just a walkway through a mall with stores lining either side. The transformation is incredible! They cover the store fronts with velvet drapes so you have no idea where they are walking through. And the red carpet had already been laid down. We walked on the plastic covering to test it out!


Was definitely a worthwhile trip. If you’ve never seen Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Universal Studios, I highly recommend a visit. Just watch out for the 4th floor…..

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