Universal Studios

Universal Studios

No trip to the San Fernando Valley is complete without a day exploring Universal Studios and the adjacent Universal CityWalk. Once you’ve parked in the lots or made your way on foot from the nearby Universal Hilton, head to CityWalk first for a spot of breakfast – there are better options than you’ll find inside the theme park, including a Starbucks, if you need a morning java.

Once you’re inside the theme park, the entrance is at one end of CityWalk, grab a map and have fun! There are several shows that operate on a schedule so you’ll need to make a note of the times to get in line and get a good seat. Waterworld is a must-see, with action, daredevil stunts and exciting explosions. There are also several exciting rides, including the relatively new Simpsons adventure ride and themed thrill rides like Jurassic Park and The Mummy. Be sure not to miss the Studio Back Lot Tour – a highlight of the theme park, the tram-tour takes through the actual back lots and around the real soundstages of the Universal Studios. See the spots where some very famous movies and TV shows where shot. If you’re lucky, you might even see a film crew in action on a live set!

Finish the day by leaving the park and heading back over to CityWalk, where you’ll find a plethora of dining options, including the western-themed Saddle Ranch Chop House, which offers generous portions of down-home fare, and if you’re brave enough to try it, a chance to ride the mechanical bull. Roaming musicians often provide tableside entertainment and the drinks are large and potent. If you prefer something a little less extravagant, stop at Tony Roma’s for tasty ribs, or head to the Carl Strauss Brewery for a burger and a pint. If you’re in the mood to shop, stop in at any or all of the quirky offerings along the walk, where you can find everything from crazy socks and candy to a new pair of Skechers. For the more adventurous or if you’re just in the mood to play, make your way to IFLY, the indoor skydiving tunnel or head to the bowling lanes at Jillian’s.

There’s no way to see and do all Universal has to offer in one day, so pick your favorites to try first and make a mental checklist of the things you want to do on your next trip. Because you will be back!