To the average American or foreign tourist, Hollywood and Disneyland are the only places to visit in Los Angeles, but come with me for a tour of the hidden cultural and historical sites.
Our first stop will be Olvera Street. Originally a small lane named Wine Street, it was extended and renamed Olvera Street after the local judge Agustín Olvera in 1877. No worries, we won't just be driving down some street, we'll be visiting the many shops, stores, and kiosk down this road. Many of these stores sell authentic cultural jewelry, clothing, accessories, and so on. We'll also explore the 27 beautiful historic buildings lining the street such as Avila Adobe, and the Sepulveda House. If we're lucky we'll see one of the celebrations such as the one held for Cinco de Mayo, or the daily Aztec dancer performances.
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Then we'll be breaking for diner down the street at Foo Chow. Not only will you experience Chinese Culture and AMAZING food, but you'll also be at a filming location from the Jackie Chan movie, Rush Hour. Recommendations? My personal favorite is the Red Wine Chicken, but the Orange Chicken and Pork Fried Rice are also exquisite. After consuming the divine food, you are free to explore China Town. Here there are many vendors as well, along with bakeries, cafés, and the Kio Ponds.
After that excursion, we'll take a rather short drive to the San Antonio Winery. To begin our winery experience, we'll be given a tour of the facility. Our tourists above 21 will experience a wine tasting. You will be able to select for wines from a wide selection of "highly limited reserve wines from the Riboli Family’s estates and various imported wines from some of the world’s most prestigious regions." All the wines tasted will be available for purchase if you are interested.
We saved the best for last, The Pike. This coastal section of Long Beach features many attractions such as hotels, piers, a marina, boardwalk and my personal favorite, the Aquarium. With 19 major habitats and 32 focus exhibits, you can spend hours captivated by the marine life displayed. You have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the sharks in the Shark Lagoon, between the touch tanks and the amphitheater where you can get up nose-to-nose with massive sharks through the display windows.
Then, we'll join forces with the Queen Mary's staff (also located at The Pike) for a tour that includes interesting historical elements. The Queen Mary earned its nickname, "The Haunted Ship," from the rumored ghost appearances on the vessel. The ship, retired since 1967, made history in 1942 when it carried a record setting 16,082 soldiers during World War II (the most passengers on one vessel) from New York to Great Britain. On this voyage, the ship was hit broadside by a rogue wave. The ship tilted 52° and was only 3° from capsizing. You can learn more about this experience when we take our tour.
Unfortunately, this is the point of the tour where we must depart. I will direct you to the train which will take you from Long Beach back to our starting point on Olvera Street. Lucky for you, this will include and experience with the Union Plaza before you return to your car. I truly hope you've enjoyed seeing the unexpected and unnoticed places and experiences Los Angeles (and its surrounding area) have to offer. Hopefully the rest of your time in this beautiful city is just as exciting and interesting. Thank you for accompanying me on a tour of this fabulous city.
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