California trip day 1: Hollywood

California trip day 1: Hollywood, Pacific Coast Highway, Yosemite and San Francisco.

Taking our niece to California has been a real treat. We're in the middle of the trip, and it has already provided a lifetime of memories for everyone. We flew out of Orlando, Florida early Tuesday morning and arrived in Los Angeles around 11am. Since L.A. is three hours behind east coast time, we still had plenty of time on Tuesday to accomplish a lot.
It was a short wait for a shuttle from the airport to Enterprise for our rental car. I booked months in advance to get the best rate. I checked a few times after I booked just to make sure the rates hadn't gone down. Boy, were we lucky to get the rate we did! It was almost double by the time our trip arrived. We always book our car from the car company's website. Other travel sites usually tack on a few bucks because they are the middle man.
Next we headed to Burbank to eat lunch at Studio Cafe Magazinno,  a small place near Warner Brothers Studio with fresh sandwiches, soup, and desserts. After lunch, we headed around the block to take the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. This was actually our third VIP tour at Warner Brothers and the first time for our niece. The good news is that this tour was very different from the prior two tours. Each guide puts their own spin on the different sections of the lot and takes you to different areas. This time, we not only drove around to the other sets and buildings, but also got to tour the prop house where people can rent props by the day.
No cameras were allowed on the set where Two and A Half Men is recorded. It's amazing how small and dull the sets look without all of the lights and "Hollywood effects". Visiting the Friends set never gets old for us! We got to sit on the orange couch in Central Perk for a few pictures. 
Being on the Warner Brothers studio lot is like being in Denali National Park for us ... Trying to spot a celebrity among the people and buildings is like trying to see a moose or a bear in the brush. We were excited when we spotted "Raj" from Big Bang Theory hanging outside with some other guys. He was very friendly as he waved and said "Hey guys".
It was an excellent tour and highly recommended anytime you are visiting the LA area. You'll be surprised at how many movies and TV shows were filmed there.
After the tour we were ready to get dinner before our next big adventure. We went to The Counter. It was a nice, clean restaurant in Studio City. We happened to hit it at happy hour when appetizers were half off and mini burgers were $2.00 each. We had the chili cheese fries, sweet potato fries, and the mini burgers. Everything was delicious.

From dinner we proceeded to CBS Studios to see the taping of Last Man Standing with Tim Allen. You can get tickets at for free. The catch is to get there early, because it is first come first seated, and there are no guarantees that you will get in. It's worth taking the chance if you are visiting the Hollywood area for any length of time. After we got seated, they brought out a very funny comedian to get us warmed up for the show and keep us energized during breaks. Just before the taping started, the cast came out for their introductions. The actors did a great job and we were able to witness some great live bloopers. One time, Tim Allen opened the door into his forehead. Another time, "Mandy" had a drink spilled on her. The whole process took about three to four hours to complete. In the middle of the show, pizza was served with water to keep everyone happy and energized. No cameras are allowed on set, otherwise I would have posted one here. It's a great thing to put on your bucket list if you like sitcoms.
That concluded day one, and we were exhausted! Have you seen stars in Hollywood? Do you have an L.A. experience to share?