Fun day exploring Los Angeles

This summer we took an epic family vacation to California. We rented a condo in Anaheim for a week through VRBO.com and spent our time visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, discovering the Los Angeles Angels stadium nearby and seeing a game, and exploring the Los Angeles area.

One one of our “L.A.” days, we visited a few classic Los Angeles spots:

L.A. City Hall – This Art Deco building dating to 1928 offers gorgeous and FREE views of the entire city from its 27th floor observation deck. We saw the Hollywood Sign off in the distance and got to take in a bird’s eye view of the city.

Angel’s Flight – A Los Angeles landmark since 1901, this funicular railway used to ferry commuters downhill from Bunker Hill to their jobs in downtown L.A. It’s a $1.00 fare each way, and the trip only takes a few minutes, but it’s such a piece of history that you just have to hop on!

The Last Bookstore – This unique bookseller offers new and used books and a second-floor gallery space for local artists. The aisles are labyrinthine and full of quirky, book-related art. The vintage book filled bank vault was my favorite spot – I grabbed a vintage cookbook!

The Bradbury Building – A filming location for the original “Blade Runner” movie, this office building opened in 1893. It’s free to visit, but access is only available to the ground floor.

Griffith Observatory – Perched high atop the Hollywood Hills, this astronomical observatory is free to visit and offers exhibits, such as pieces of meteors and a scale model of the moon. Great views of the city are an added bonus!

Forest Lawn Cemetery – A visit to pay respects to some of our favorite musicians and entertainers was a must. At this beautiful cemetery in the Hollywood Hills, we viewed the graves of Stan Laurel, Nipsey Hussle, Bette Davis, Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister, Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, Lou Rawls and Paul Walker.

We packed a lot into the day, but we’re all glad we got to see so much. We were in Southern California for a week, but I feel like we could have stayed the whole summer and still not seen everything we wanted to. I’ll put everything we missed on the agenda for next time!

 

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A Visit to Mayberry

After hearing my late grandmother’s stories about her father’s birth and family in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, I’ve wanted to visit this place where a branch of my family lived during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As luck would have it, this year my son’s Boy Scout troop decided to attend a summer camp nearby, so my mom and I and my other two kids made the four-hour trek from Richmond to spend the weekend in the town made famous by the Andy Griffith Show as Mayberry.

Mt. Airy is just across the North Carolina line from Virginia, and lies near the old wagon road that brought settlers, many of them German, from Pennsylvania into the wilderness of Virginia. After a bunch of research on Ancestry.com, I’ve been able to trace some of my Mt. Airy ancestors to this path – arriving in Pennsylvania from Germany in the late 1700’s and coming down the wagon road to Mt. Airy.

The town is small and charming and lies between Wytheville, Virginia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It has a quaint Main Street with antique shops, restaurants and tourist attractions from the Andy Griffith Show.

We visited the Mt. Airy Regional History Museum to get an overview of the town’s history and to see where “our people” fit in. The museum is housed on the site of a former saloon and later hardware store (which we found out the next night on the Mt. Airy Ghost Tour was haunted by the former manager of the hardware store).

There was a classic car and hot rod cruise-in, with old cars lined up on Main Street, and we walked around and got ice cream at Hillbilly Ice & Creamery.

More to come…