Friday, October 21, 2011

#218: Travel Town

Kids everywhere! Travel Town, located in the northern part of Griffith Park, is just the place to bring out the rambunctious five year old in you. At Travel Town, old trains are like playground equipment waiting to be climbed on.  Hoist yourself aboard, play with the knobs and buttons, and perhaps even have a picnic on one of these vintage vehicles.

Travel Town is free, as is the parking. There's a gift shop, a small indoor photo gallery, and a warehouse with more old vehicles. There's also a cute miniature train that goes around the town. $2.50 buys you a ticket for twice around the track.

Travel Town is also a great place to host a birthday party. There were several going on when we went, and it doesn't cost much to rent a train car (I think it was a little over a hundred for a few hours).

Huge wheels
Vincent stopping the train

Have you been to Travel Town? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#217: Take a Tour of the L.A Central Library

There's lots of crazies here. But don't worry, I don't let the crazies mess with the people on my tour, joked our tour guide. Brad and I were at the Central Public Library in Downtown for their 2 pm tour. It was our first time at the Central Library and we were in awe at all the library had to offer--there was a gift shop, a cafe, art galleries, and even a kids area for shows!  The 1.5 hour tour focused on the art and architecture of the library, while also introducing us to the library's layout. 

Our guide talked a lot about the strange people at the library. When we were about to go into the elevators, he told us we wouldn't go in the elevator if there was a sketchy person in it. We laughed, thinking it was another one of his jokes.

To our surprise, the door opened and there was a man scratching himself vigorously in the corner with a neurotic look in his eye. Our guide gave us the "I told you so" eye and we let the door close. The next door opened and there was another guy vigorously punching the buttons and talking to himself. We let that one go as well. Thankfully, the third one was empty and we hopped in.

If you ever get a chance to ride the elevator (sans sketchy people), check out the walls of the elevator--they're made of old library cards. In one part of the elevator wall, as you go from floor to floor, the topics of the library cards change to the floor you're on. So for example, if you're going to the floor which has all the history books, the library cards that show up will all be for history books!

 Beautiful ceiling

 Another gorgeous ceiling

Brad and I love our local public library, and we check books out there every week, but it's pretty small and sometimes we don't feel like waiting for their library-to-library transfer service. Before visiting the Central Library, I made a list of a bunch of books I wanted to borrow that were only available at the Central Library and I checked them out at the end of our tour. The great thing is that once I finish them, I can simply return them to my own library. Easy! 

I really enjoyed our tour of the library and felt that I had a good idea of where everything was at the end of the tour. Tours are given Tuesday to Friday at 12:30 pm, and Saturday at 11 am and 2 pm. On Saturdays there's also a garden tour at 12:30.  There is ample parking in the underground garage, and with validation from the library, parking is only $1.

 You can take the escalators if you don't want to take the elevator

Have you been to the L.A. Central Public Library? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

L.A. Central Library Tours

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#216: The Hollywood Wax Museum

This place is wiggidy wiggidy wax! 

Did you know that Hollywood has two wax museums within a block from each other? It's a showdown between the old school Hollywood Wax Museum and the newer Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum (#62).  Madam Tussaud's Museum has a lot going for it: it's bigger, the wax figures are a bit more realistic, and it's got interactive props that you can use when you pose with some of the figures. Nevertheless, there's something that I really liked about the Hollywood Wax Museum that I didn't get at Madam Tussaud's--that old Hollywood je ne sais quoi

The Wizard of Oz cast and Johnny Depp greeted us at the entrance of the museum, followed by Charlie Chaplin and a handsome Pierce Brosnan. Next we (ok, just Brad--I was scared and waited outside!) entered the Chamber of Horrors, which had wax figures of Hannibal Lecter, Dracula and Chucky

We then walked into the "celebrity gallery" which featured the likes of Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was funny standing next to each figure and seeing how small we were compared to most of them (not next to Tom Cruise though!).  Some of the figures were incredibly lifelike. The winner was Samuel L. Jackson:

Harrison Ford's beard hair gets honorable mention. Brad was fascinated by how real it looked:

Daniel Craig was pretty lifelike too. He gets a fist bump:

On the other hand, some of the figures were so way off that I had to look at the sign just to figure out who they were. Fans of Jessica Alba, Will Ferrell, Antonio Banderas, Steve Carrell and Jackie Chan will be sorely disappointed. 

I guess Jessica Alba's beauty is really hard to capture in wax because 
Madam Tussaud's version was equally as bad as this. 

As you're walking around, don't forget to read the little signs that accompany the wax figures. They give really interesting background info about the making of each of the movies. 

The wax museum has great hours: 10 am to midnight, 365 days a year!  Imagine how fun it would be to visit on Halloween night and walk through the Chamber of Horrors. Tickets are $13 if you buy them online, or $16 at the door. There are also discounts for children and seniors. 

Another cool thing about the Hollywood Wax Museum is that they offer package deals where for just a few bucks more you can buy entry into the Guinness Book of World Records Museum and the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, both of which are right across the street. We did the double deal and bought entry into the Guinness Museum where we saw video of the world's largest dominos display, replicas of the world's smallest and largest people, and the world's largest vegetables and fruit. 


Have you been to the Hollywood Wax Museum? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#215: Halloween in Los Angeles

photo from

Hello Adventurers! What are you guys planning to be for Halloween? Salt, pepper and cumin Lady, Tramp and the Plate they Ate From? C3PO, R2D2 and that junky red one?  With Halloween a few weeks away, I thought I'd share with you some of the hair raising things to do in our city.


Los Angeles Haunted Hayride
This thrilling hayride will give you a 25 minute non-stop scare as you encounter monsters and evil clowns racing through the woods of Griffith Park. Once your hair has turned gray from the hayride, venture into the haunted maze and the human menagerie (side show). Also don't miss the games, pumpkin patch and "scary go-round". 

photo from beastandbean

Halloween Harvest Festival
This festival is put on by the students at Pierce College. In addition to games, bouncy castles, kettle corn and a pumpkin patch, there's also a corn maze. The maze is divided into two sections--one that's haunted and one that isn't.  In the haunted part, there are lots of creatures hiding in the corn waiting to jump out and scare you. Even scarier (believe it or not) is the Haunted House. You will be having nightmares of evil clowns, zombies and demons after leaving this crazy house of horrors. Click here to read my full post in the festival and to see a video of the beast in the picture above coming to life.

Knott's Scary Farm
Halloween mazes are frightening enough, but Knott's Scary Farm ups the scream factor by giving you the option of wearing 3-D glasses in their mazes. This fright fest features 13 mazes and 4 scare zones.

Photo from

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
Eli Roth's Hostel, The Thing, Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses, Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, The Wolfman and La Llorona are the terrifying attractions at this year's Halloween Horror Nights. Get ready to step into your worst bloody nightmare!

Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest
More creepy mazes, haunted houses and wandering zombies... The rides have also been given a Halloween makeover, including a backward running Colossus, Terror Tracks and Foggy Nights. 

Forget the paper cut-out skeletons and plastic bats from Walmart. Get your real Halloween accessories at this amazing shop on Melrose. Here you'll find freeze dried bats ($25), rattlesnake heads ($28), glass eyes in assorted colors, beautiful gothic parasols ($35), and real spider belt buckles ($20).

Pic from

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
Board this haunted ship and wander through its scary mazes. Food and drinks are available as you dance the night away at their all ages dance party. 

Halloween and Mourning Tours by Heritage Square Museum
This two day event on October 29 and 30th is perfect for the whole family.  Learn about death and mourning etiquette during the Victorian era, participate in a funeral inside one of the historic homes, and have your future read by a fortune teller. There are also period games, crafts and a pumpkin patch for the kids. 

Other Halloween Happenings:

Interactive Haunted Play: Delusion
Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Oct. 22)
Boo at the Zoo
Old Town Haunt in Pasadena
Halloween at Disneyland

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

#214: Hsi Lai Temple

Fried pumpkin, cakes stuffed with custard and sweet red beans, stewed winter melon and bok choy... Mmm, I'm salivating just thinking of my visit to the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights.  A mere $7 buys you access to a delicious vegetarian Chinese buffet.  And that's just one of the attractions of this 15 acre campus. 

A trip to Hsi Lai Temple takes you to another world. Visiting monks pose for pictures next to tourists in front of the majestic main temple.  Behind them, children run around the vast courtyard and adults light incense and offer prayers.  In the gardens, grey stone monks in various poses smile knowingly at the carved Buddhas that line the walkways. 

These little stone monks are everywhere around the temple in different positions

Our friend Kelly, who is a Buddhist born in Taiwan, came with us on this excursion.  She told us that the temple is affiliated with the Taiwanese Buddhist order the Fo Guang Shan, and most of the people who work there are Taiwanese.

We entered the temple complex through a smaller temple, where you can make an offering if you wish.  Behind this smaller temple is a large courtyard area and the main temple.  Walk up the stairs and pay a visit to the main temple, but be aware that there is a dress code to enter. Slippers, shorts, short skirts or tank tops are not permitted. Photography and video recording are also not allowed inside. 

place to burn incense

After having lunch and taking a leisurely stroll around the grounds, we ended our visit at the temple's Art Museum which has rotating exhibits every few months. Admission to the small museum is a $1 donation and well worth it. On our visit, we saw striking photographs from Tibet, an intricate statue of Buddha with one hundred tiny children clinging to him, a case of carved inscriptions that you can only read with a magnifying glass, and a mirrored room filled with beautiful statues. 

The temple is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.  The buffet is open 11:30 to 1:30 Monday to Friday and 11:30 to 2:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Only outdoor photography is allowed. Self guided audio tours are available at the information center, and guided tours are given on the weekend. 

Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the temple

Have you been to Hsi Lai Temple? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!