Rides for people who just want to get in a Scoot and drive!
Stefan Fagerholm writes:
58. LA’s Most Unique Tour with Michael Hunter From Sunny Day Scoot
Are you obsessed with Los Angeles? Head over heels in love with the city of angels? Well this the podcast for you. At lifehacksLA we hack the best in arts eats and activities in Los Angeles. So join us and become an LA hacker. Baby baby!
Hey what’s going on LA hackers this is your host Stefan and this is episode number 58 of the lifehacksLA podcast. My guest today is Michael Hunter, and as you will hear Michael just loves to have fun, spread positive vibes and just make people happy. So much so that his business is dedicated to just that, having fun and making people happy. He owns, along with his business partner, maybe the most unique tour guide business in all of Los Angeles. It’s called Sunny Day Scoot.
What is Sunny Day Scoot?
Sunny Day Scoot involves these tiny little 2 seater motorized cars that almost look like something that came out of a cartoon, but they actually go out there on the real Los Angeles roads with other cars. This activity does not just involve the fun novelty of riding around in these scooters, the tour itself is actually one of the best you will find in the city. You will see and learn about some incredible LA landmarks on this tour.
Stefan: So our guest today is Michael Hunter from Sunny Day Scoot. How are you doing today Michael?
Michael: I’m well, Stefan how are you?
Stefan: I’m great and I’m very excited to hear more about Sunny Day Scoot. It’s one of those things that I’ve heard about for a long time based here in Los Angeles. But before we get into that I wanted to learn a little bit about you. Where are you from originally and how did you make your way to Los Angeles?
Michael: Well first off I do want to thank you for the opportunity, I love the LifeHacksLA podcast so I really appreciate you having us on for sure. I’ve been all over actually. LA is the final stop but I was actually born in Boston. Brigham and Women’s baby! I mean I’m a dude, and I always thought that was funny when I grew up and found out that I was born at the women’s hospital, but anyway, they’ve changed it. Anyways, I’ve lived all over the country in all four corners, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, New York, again Boston, and ultimately Los Angeles. I mean it’s the best. People may disagree but not you, and not your fans.
Stefan: Oh ya, definitely. You’re talking to the right audience here so you don’t have to convince us. So that’s pretty cool cause you’ve lived in mostly big cities so you can really compare to Los Angeles. It’s different comparing it to a small town but you’re actually comparing it to big cities like you’ve mentioned Miami, Seattle, Boston…
Michael: Oh yeah. There are some pre-requisites man. They gotta be near the water, and have to be like a cultural hub. No offense to anyone, but I don’t want to live where you don’t interact with people who are from all over the world. Because that’s really how you learn and grow and, ya know? So I love to be in cities like that, and that’s really where that artistic creative vibe also kind of migrates to those types of cities.
Stefan: Ya definitely, I feel the same way love the diversity and I love being in the middle of the action. I’ve actually had friends recently discuss with me about the cost of living in these cities and how they wanna move out to the middle of nowhere. And I thought about it and I was like ya know there’s a reason that you pay a lot of money to live here.
Michael: Oh dude, that’s what it is. It’s like culture tax and in this case it’s like weather tax. (Giggles)
Stefan: Oh ya definitely. Cause I was telling my brother, cause he complains a lot about the cost of living here, and I told him, “Ya know if it was cheap then the entire country would live here.”
Michael: I mean everyone’s flocking here even with the cost of living so high. And that’s why everyone’s couch crashing, and sharing the divided living room type of thing or whatever they do.
Stefan: Ya gotta make it happen somehow right?
Michael: Ya GOTTA make it heppne… it’s worth it. I’d rather struggle to live in paradise, than be comfortable in the middle of nowhere.
Stefan: Oh ya, so speaking of big cities; you’ve been here for while so you’re very familiar with this but with Los Angeles, it’s kind of like a lot of cities within a big city right? So what area do you live in right now?
Michael: Well I live in the valley, which mostly I always have, and it’s funny cause when you grow up on the east coast, and you hear a lot of things about LA or California. So there’s kind of this stigma about the valley. Especially that whole valley… and by the way I’ve never me that typical “valley girl” right?
Stefan: Neither have I!
Michael: I know right? Maybe they’ve all moved away to one of those cheaper places.
Stefan: I know, well I’ve definitely met, you remember that movie “Clueless”? Beverley Hills area? I’ve kinda seen people like that. But, I haven’t really every met that typical “valley” person.
Michael: Yeah exactly. People used to say that I look like Paul Rudd in that movie.
Stefan: Oh wow, yeah that’s a compliment.
Michael: I know right? Paul Rudd’s a good looking guy. Man that’s ANTMAN right there!
Stefan: I can’t bring you to my house because my wife has a crush on Paul Rudd.
Michael: That’s ironic right? I don’t think I look like Paul Rudd. Especially as I get older. People used to say I look like Mikey from “Swingers” and Paul Rudd in that movie.
Stefan: You know what’s interesting about Paul Rudd is he doesn’t look any different.
Michael: No, that guy does not age. I recently got a message on facebook from someone I hadn’t seen in like 20 years; and they said the same thing to me. “Do you ever age?” (Under his breath Mike jokes) It’s an old picture. (giggling)
Stefan: That’s a good problem to have.
Michael: It’s a great problem. I did meet Paul Rudd once. He’s super nice, SUPER nice, and really funny. But he said, “Hey man, I really like you.” And I thought, ‘Really? I’ve said two words to you.’
Stefan: Oh ya did you meet him on one of your tours?
Michael: No I wish, I’d be plastering that all over social media… He’s invited though if he’s listening.
Stefan: Yeah really, Paul Rudd…
Michael: He said, “Yeah I like you because usually I’m the shortest guy in the room, but now, YOU are!”
Stefan: He’s got a good sense of humor too huh?
Michael: Oh yeah. Luckily I do too, so I wasn’t offended.
Stefan: So, you mentioned it earlier, and it’s kind of a tough thing to answer cause there’s so many reasons to love Los Angeles, like you said you love the weather, but what are some of the reasons that you settled on LA when you’ve lived in all of these other big cities?
Michael: You know it’s not a tough question to answer at all. Because I had lived here for a few years before moving to New York, and that was kind of my last stop before coming back. So I’ve already lived in these other cities. I love to travel, but at some point you gotta choose where you want to put your roots down. And it was not hard at all, and I’ll tell you why.
Because every other place, in my opinion, everywhere has their pros and cons, but everywhere else you have to really choose the life that you can have based on… whether it be the topography, or the lay of the land, or the weather… Like in Boston, you may love the beach, but you’re only going three months out of the year. You know what I mean? You may love to ski, but if you live in Miami, you’ve got to fly somewhere else to ski.
But Los Angeles man, you can skiing and to the beach in the same day. And smack dab in between both, is this beautiful cultural city that attracts the most talented people in the world. And the vibe of the city if filled with what I call “Brave Citizens” that’s what I always say. Because it takes guts to leave your home. I don’t care if you’re from the middle of Mississippi or you’re from New York City, but it takes guts to drop everything to chase your dream. Whatever that may be… or your art, or your craft, or just relocate anyway. And that type of passionate people man, that’s what makes this city for sure. But, the topography is amazing as well, and of course, last but not least, that weather.
Stefan: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more with everything that you just said, but what really talked to me was what you said about the people. Because, ya know I used to live in Seattle, and I kind of had like that cooperate life. I had a good job but felt like everyday was kind of the same, and if was okay because everyone was doing that. But when I came to LA, it’s like you said with the passion. Everyone’s passionate. Everyone’s got something going on. They’ve always got a side gig. They’re entrepreneurs. And I’ve never really thought about it but, now that I think about what you said, about how it takes that kind of bravery and passion to even have the guts to move to another city like Los Angeles. So it attracts a certain type of person.
Michael: That’s what it is. It’s woven into peoples character here, ya know. And I don’t care if you’re not successful in what your doing yet; it’s the fact that you’re out here trying. That shows so much. All your listeners can probably relate to that. And if you don’t see it in themselves yet, go to the mirror right now because it’s there, and that’s why you’re here, and that’s amazing.
Stefan: Okay this is a great segway into what we are going to talk about today which is Sunny Day Scoot, your business. Which is a very interesting unique business. And I’ve heard about it a lot. I’ve never done it before. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s on my LA Bucket List.
Before I ask you this question I actually went on Yelp and a bunch of tourist websites and you’ve got perfect 5-stars for Sunny Day Scoot! That’s pretty amazing because there’s always someone who complains about something no matter how perfect the business is, so congratulations on that.
Michael: Well thank you, I appreciate that. We’re super proud of our Yelp and Tripadvisor reviews. We’re super thankful for anyone who takes that time to go on and talk about their experience and review us. Especially the positive ones cause that’s amazing. It’s funny that you say that because we talked about the cost of living here, but it’s also really expencive to visit. And we get a lot of people who fly in from all over the world and they’ve done this and they’ve done that. Some of this stuff is top dollar like Disney, and Universal, and all these crazy things. Especially if you drive up the coast and what not. Like people who come in from some of these other countries they get a lot of time off, not like we do. Well, we’re getting the time off now but, (giggles) it’s not for the right reasons. So anyways, they will take advantage of the time and go to Las Vegas and all up and down the coast. We’ve had people who’ve had amazing trips that they tell us about, but after their experience they say that this is the best thing they have done. And even some of the reviews that you were talking about say that. And that just floors me. It’s amazing you know?
Stefan: Yeah, I think part of that is that it’s so unique. So let’s talk about that. We haven’t actually shared with our audience exactly what it is. So you can just give us a general explanation for what Sunny Day Scoot is?
Michael: Yeah, it’s basically a fun outdoor activity company. We feature guided driving experiences. So even though they are driving, we have a guide that they’re following. so they don’t have to worry about where they’re going, they just follow the guide. It’s through the streets of LA, and really the big hook for our company is that it’s based around our really cute two seat mini-cars. People sit side-by-side next to each other. We do stop, and they can both drive trading off. That’s really the hook, people feel like a kid again, it’s vibrant, you feel free when you’re driving these cars, it’s right on the road, it’s youthful. Our whole kind of theme is, because there’s no roof so they are like little convertibles; we like to say that we make driving fun again! It’s great for families and dates. Any time you are looking for something amazing to do or a new adventure, this is what you want to try and do as an activity.
Stefan: Yeah and just for the audience out there if you’re not familiar with it. They are like these little cartoonish looking cars like you’d see at Disneyland. So I think that adds to the magic of it. Because you’re coming to Los Angeles and then you’re getting into this unique vehicle that’s kind of cartoonish looking and you’re on the real road like you said, but then you’re taking them to the spots that they want to see anyways, like these LA landmarks.
Michael: Exactly! So you kind of kill two birds with one stone. I mean the real reason that people come out is because they want that driving experience. But of course we’re gonna show them the best places in the area as well. It really is fun. Our whole thing is to be a kid again. It’s like you said, they’re cartoonsish, they feel silly but in this fun great youthful way. They’re the car that makes you smile. We call them Scoots, hence the Sunny Day Scoot name.
Stefan: Yeah I don’t see anyone taking themselves too seriously when they’re driving these things. Everyone’s got a huge smile on their face.
Michael: That’s what it is man, we spread the smiles.
Stefan: And I gotta ask you Michael, I get a bit of this just from your energy and your vibe and everything, because you just seem like a really positive fun person…
Michael: Well thanks man, I really appreciate that.
Stefan: Yeah, but I gotta ask you. Where did this come from? Because it seems like it would be very challenging to put together a business like this. All the cars, and to get the permits I’m sure. So how did all this come about, and where did the idea come from?
Michael: Businesses are hard. But I’ll tell you, I love to travel and I love new experiences. There was this one trip. I have some business partners, and we were traveling once. And we went in Mexico we went like cave diving sort of thing. Not in the most advanced way as it’s sounding believe me.
This isn’t point break or anything.
Stefan: You sound like a spy right now. “cave diving in Mexico and..”
Michael: (joking) And we had to get into the bank and the vault. (laughing) So yeah, it wasn’t quite that adventurous, but I felt pretty adventurous. I still have some pretty fun pictures to show. Anyways, so we’re on there and I’m super afraid of heights, and it was this combo gig where you have to go up in these trees and do zip lining too. So you go zip lining into these caves… and you kind of go into the pitch black into these caves, which I loved. So I highly recommend it, everyone go to Mexico.
But anyways, these people, they’re strapping you in, with safety harnesses and everything. And at one point, I realized that this is a once in a lifetime amazing experience for me. But this guy, he did this yesterday, and he’s going to do it again tomorrow. And he’s getting paid to do this. This is his job! Imagine that right?
Michael: We went swimming with manatees and dolphins and a lot of different stuff in that trip. But it’s like someone works there. Rarely do you take a step outside of your experience and realize that. I thought, this is just like the perfect job. Giving people fun, meeting people from all over the world, and I want to do this.
And actually, I had recently seen that movie Heartbreak Kid, with Ben Stiller.
He gets that same vibe. He goes down to for his own honeymoon or whatever, and he’s like, “oh I want to give up everything and uh, run a surf shop on the beach.” Right?
Stefan: Oh I remember that movie yeah! It was funny, I don’t remember the whole plot or whatever but I remember it was a good movie.
Michael: It was a good movie. And that was the shtick so at the end it’s just like you were talking about. At the end he gave up his cooperate job and just living this cool life in flip flops and he was just renting surfboards to people.
So that was obviously subtly in the back of my head when I was thinking, “that’s just the perfect job. If I can survive making people have an amazing time… what’s better than that?”
And that’s what I do now. It’s amazing!
Stefan: That’s a great way to look at it. So that was your inspiration, but was there already an existing business that you bought or was it a new concept?
Michael: No no no. It was our brainchild from the get go. It was a process. I mean the interesting thing about what we do is that LA; of all the places that I’ve lived…
Everyone likes to complain about traffic right? No matter where you visit or if you talk to people, and I’m sure maybe you have interviewed people from other placed and they’re like, “oh but the traffic…”
But let’s be honest, LA traffic I mean, you look up traffic in the dictionary and it’s like, “Don’t go to LA if you’re looking to avoid this.”
Oh that kind of sounded like Mickey Mouse, (Michael repeats even more like Mickey Mouse) “Don’t go to LA if you… (giggles) I’m never going to Disneyland!”
Anyways, people do not associate having fun with driving in LA. So we’re like flipping that on its head. It’s really the juxtaposition of it all, I think that’s really what makes people love the experience.
Especially cause a lot of them drive to our meeting locations. So they fight traffic, and maybe they’re in their car and they’re like, “Rawr, harrumph harrumph harrumph.”
But then they get in these cars, and it’s just a whole different vibe, and a whole different thing. So yeah, it really turns it on its head. So I think we picked the perfect place.
And I wanted to pick a place where you could do it year round as well.
Stefan: Oh yeah, the weather helps you do that.
Michael: Oh I mean I think we got rained out maybe eight days last year maybe.
Stefan: But you know California is notoriously hard to get licensing and what not so… You didn’t have any problems getting these tiny little mini-cars on the road and stuff like that? They didn’t look at you like you’re crazy?
Michael: Oh my, well everything’s an uphill battle you know. But that’s just with business. I mean there’s a lot you have to do on the side; like the paperwork side of things. As much as possible I like to deal with guests one-on-one. Because that’s why I got involved in it. But of course there’s this other side to it, so it’s like, “Oh my god.” But you navigate that.
But to be honest, even with officials, when they see our vehicles, everyone loves them. They just want to help us out. They want to take themselves, and their friends, and their families out. Even cops, which I totally appreciate because that my friend is a hard job!
Stefan: Yeah it’s funny that you say that, because I haven’t experienced it myself, but I used to live in Burbank so I would see them out driving and it would always put a smile on my face, and I’d wave, and honk…
Michael: Yeah… Oh the Scoots?
Stefan: Oh yeah well the uh…
Michael: The mini-cars?
Stefan: Yeah the mini-cars!
Michael: Oh that’s awesome!
Stefan: Yeah, so I mean, it’s like you said. People want to contribute to something that’s positive, and brings so much joy to people.
Michael: That’s what it is, and that’s the best part of doing it. You know because you can do anything. You can do anything that you set your mind out to.
It’s not going to be easy and it might not happen right away, and it might not look like you thought it would when you started. But you know with effort comes reward.
But what I like specifically about doing this is that it’s so positive. Like you said that’s really what I personally am all about. I just want people to have a good time, I want to have a good time. Life’s hard enough, you know? And it’s all about about spreading the joy, and for me this business it really is in line with that.
Stefan: Yeah that’s great if you can find something you’re super passionate about. Especially if you’re the one that created it. That’s pretty amazing, so congratulations on that.
Michael: I appreciate that. Well me and my partners. But yeah it really is like you said. Because you can be passionate about your job, even though most people aren’t their own boss, or the creators. I mean most people don’t have their name on the building they go to work into right?
But it really is this added bonus for us to know that we’ve created it. It’s fun!
Stefan: Okay so, we’ve talked a lot about the cars themselves, and the fun of those. But another bonus of taking one of your tours is the tour itself. Can you talk to us about what people can expect to see on these tours?
Michael: Yeah, there’s basically two main options that we have. Because they are all guided experiences. We don’t want people running amok and all that, people feel better, and it’s just safer all the way around when they’re guided. So we have two major options; Rides which are shorter experiences, and Tours that are longer experiences.
The main two differences are the time, and the type of experience you want.
So the Rides which are about an hour, that is where you are in the mini-car the entire time so it’s really a driving experience. So for people who just want to get in and drive, that’s amazing. And, though we do stop for people who want to switch who is driving; because they are two seat vehicles. It is really an hour driving experience to get that adventure of it. And that’s really the activity aspect of it. That’s why it’s super popular for locals as well as tourists.
Then the Tours are longer experiences. Those are anywhere from tow and a half to three hour experiences. There is more driving in those but the biggest difference is that you actually get out at some of the stops and explore and get information. They’re a much more interactive experience because of that.
That’s the main tow differences there.
Stefan: I know that you’re near Griffith Park so what are some of the stops that they can expect on the tour? Or is that something you want to keep a secret?
Michael: No no, I mean it’s always a surprise, (musically singing) “Dun Dun DUN!”
Fun around every corner I like to say.
But I’ll give you a little tidbit. Because all of our activities they do offer different options. But among some of the popular sites you’ll see are the Greek Theatre, Griffith Observatory, THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN, the LA Zoo. We go by some movie studios; that include Disney Animation Studios, Warner Brothers, where The Ellen Show films, we see some movie locations…
So people love our activity because of the driving, and it really brings out the kind of youthful and fun side, but they do get to see these famous LA sights as well and that’s a great bonus.
Stefan: Yeah like I said, I used to live in Burbank, and there are so many great places right there. Like you said the Greek Theatre, The Griffith Observatory; one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles, Old LA Zoo. Just driving through Griffith Park itself is amazing.
Michael: Yeah all of our experiences go through the park because some people just like to be driving in more of that peaceful nature environment so it’s a really great opportunity that park offers you know?
Stefan: Oh yeah. So we’re LA hackers here we’re always looking for interesting fun things to do like this. So I know you get a lot of tourists, but for Angelinos people who are looking for something fun to do; what are some of the special events that you have here? Are they mostly birthday parties or what type of events?
Michael: Well the most popular occasions that people come out to celebrate for sure are obviously Birthdays and Anniversaries. Because people are always looking for a new fun way to treat someone special in their life. So this is so unique. And even though we’re getting the word out, it’s usually a big surprise to the person they are bringing out; which is awesome to see when they pull up. It’s like when they get out [of their car] and they’re like, “What are we doing this is awesome!”
Stefan: You know I’m not single anymore but if I was I think this would make a great date. Because when I was single I was always looking for something that was fun to do so there was no pressure. And this seems like this would be amazing because first of all it’s super unique, and you’re gonna surprise the hell out of whoever you take, and it’s fun.
Michael: You know your significant other would love it! Don’t say if I was single because you still gotta date the person that you’re with. And they’re going to thank me for saying it.
Stefan: That’s right! I’m just giving a tip out there for my single hackers out there and saying this is a great first date idea.
Michael: That’s right! We’ve had everything out from first dates to proposals. And that is amazing, because we love to be part of something so memorable for people.
Stefan: Oh yeah can you imagine you take someone up in through Griffith Park and you have a picnic out there?
Michael: Oh yeah we do that for our Sunrise Tour.
Stefan: What are we talking about Michael? I mean, she has to say YES!
Michael: I know right? This is like ‘HITCH’.
Stefan: We’re doing dating hacks now.
Michael: That’s right, dating in LA. She has to say yes because… the guides are there.
Stefan: Exactly! So lets talk about, you mentioned that it’s tough to have a business in California, and I know that personally but it’s especially tough because of what’s going on right now with what’s going on with COVID. And I know you guys are doing a great job with it, with all the precautions and everything. So can you just talk a little bit about how COVID’s affecting your business and what you’re doing to respond to that?
Michael: Yeah it’s ironic because its been a dramatic few months for everybody, and we are definitely no exception to that. But we are lucky because we have recently been able to open back up after closing in March because of the government COVID guidelines.
So we are super excited to be able to do so. Because we are an outdoor activity, and that is like a game changer. Because we are such a unique experience when it comes to safety measures of social distancing. Because people are in their own two seat mini-cars, and they’re sharing them with the people they came with already.
So they really are not interacting with other people, and also being in separate mini-cars it has well more than that 6-foot social distancing rule kind of automatically built in. So the protection is really kind of automatic for us which is amazing.
Beyond that we’ve implemented an online waiver system so that people don’t have to physically handle that, and we’ve increased sanitation standards across the board. We have sanitizer for all guests for all of our guides wear masks at all times. I like to say that we take safety standards very serious, but that’s what allows us to continue to give people this amazing fun experience.
It really does help that we are an outdoor experience. I like to say that we are COVID friendly.
Stefan: Yeah I mean if you think about it, it makes sense. That’s what they’re pushing for right now as far as restaurants only the ones with patios who can serve you outdoors are they ones that are open right now. I mean as of the time of this conversation. But your business is really fit for that. I guess the only thing you have to do is make sure the cars are clean and that when people get out that they keep social distancing and you’re good.
Michael: Yeah it’s unique that way, and it’s also an interesting time because we are really an activity. It’s a thing to do in LA. A lot of times when people hear tours locals are like, “eh I know the area.” But it’s more than that. It’s really just something to do that is super unique and fun. And now there’s not much open. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot now open for you to go and experience. A lot of people are getting a little antsy and even sad.
But we are really welcoming people to come out. Get out of the house and do something fun because you can with us. It’s not just about finding a place with a patio. Come have an awesome experience.
Stefan: Yeah it’s a really good idea because most people are just going to the park and going to the beach but this is going to be going on for month and months so it’s a really fun activity.
Michael: Oh yeah because even when things start to open up things are going to be different. So we’re really lucky with the type of experience we offer.
Stefan: So I wanted to ask you about, that you have done these tours for awhile in and around Griffith Park which, as I said, is one of my favorite places in LA, and the Observatory, and the HOLLYWOOD SIGN. So are there any good hacks or tips and tricks that you’ve picked up that you can share with our listeners.
Michael: Oh yeah absolutely!
Stefan: Oh great, I’m getting my notebook out.
Michael: Get out your hacking list out. (Again starts singing the mission impossible theme song) Here we go again.
Stefan: My favorite part. Alright let’s hear it Michael.
Michael: So a great tip about the Observatory, and I know you go up there a lot so you might know this, but maybe your listeners don’t, is that it’s really great to go up there even when the Observatory is not open. It’s still beautiful, you have access to the grounds, it’s a lot less crowded; especially when you’re talking about the parking lot up there.
Don’t feel like it’s not worth going if you are not going to go inside the Observatory. Sometimes I feel like going inside the Observatory is its own full day experience, and then going up to the Observatory to enjoy the views and the grounds; that can be its own day too. So that’s one thing to remember.
They don’t charge for parking when the Observatory itself is not open. Usually that’s before noon time. They have started charging for parking when they are open and they never used to, so it’s nice to be able to go up when they are not charging now. Mondays they are usually closed and right now due to COVID they are just closed. But you can still go up and enjoy the area.
Stefan: Do you know if it’s still lite up, even though they are closed.
Michael: Yup it is.
Stefan: Oh wow so you can go up there. When it’s all lite up at night it’s beautiful.
Michael: It’s beautiful, and they welcome people up there. But I do want to let everyone know that the Observatory itself is closed right now. To me that makes it a great time to be there. But it’s a great spot to hike from, and see the Hollywood Sign from there as well. You get views of Downtown as well as Hollywood.
If you haven’t been there, I love it. It’s this great art deco building; it’s timeless to me. I just love it up there.
Another hack to remember is the best times to see the views up there are early in the morning; Like at the sunrise. We do that Sunrise Tour we go up there it comes with breakfast, and that’s when you see the sun rising over the Hollywood Sign all lite up like that. And then at sunset when the sun is going down I just, well
those are the best real view times I feel.
Stefan: There’s nothing like it. I feel like that is one of the handful of places that is just screams Los Angeles, ’Sunset at Griffith Park Observatory.’
Michael: Oh yeah man. And they have done so much filming there. It’s been in so many movies. My favorite was when they did a cartoon version of it in the Chipmunks Sqeakquel movie. Which I’m embarrassed to say I saw. (giggles)
Stefan: I don’t think I’ve seen that one. (laughing)
Michael: Hey listen, “Be a kid again.” I really take that to heart. If it’s not Scooby Doo baby then it’s not.. (continues to laugh)
Stefan: So I noticed on your website; is one of your stops the Disney Studios or the places that Walt Disney….
Michael: So we have a tour that focuses on where Walt Disney used to frequent, and the some of the places that inspired him to to create the theme park and the company. And we go by Disney Animation Studios too. So I think that’s what you are referring to.
Stefan: Oh yeah definitely. For those of you who don’t know, Walt Disney was super inspired by Burbank and the Park area. I mean they have Walt’s old barn in there and I think I read somewhere they have the original merry-go-round.
Michael: It was one of the first things in the theme park. The first two things were the Merry-go-round and the train because he was a super big train enthusiast.
He like had one of those pocket trains, like the ones where you look like King Kong when you’re sitting in on one of them, ya know? Not like one of those you’d have on the table or anything.
Stefan: Yeah, you ride it.
Michael: Yeah, and he had one of those in Carrol Gardens that he built in his backyard. That’s like next to Beverly Hills; where he lived. So that’s why he called his animators “imagineers” because it’s kind of play on the engineer thing from the train aspect.
And the Merry-Go-Round that’s really where it gave him the idea [for the theme park]. Cause he used to just sit there and watch his girls ride the Merry-Go-Round. He loved being with his kids, and they were his pride and joy, but eventually he would be like; kind of bored ya know. So he felt like, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a place where adults could go and be part of the experience with their kids?’ Not like just be at the merry-go-round and watch them have fun, or be at the playground and watch them play.
That’s what originally inspired him to build the park of Disneyland. So his thought was this is where adults can bring their kids and be a part of the experience.
So it’s really cool to be there, cause that’s the Merry-Gp-Round that inspired that.
Stefan: Yeah it’s cool to be in that area where a lot of his inspiration came from. Because he inspires me a lot. Because when I think of the power of imagination and like thinking of something and then making it a reality; I really think of him. What he was able to pull out of his imagination was just crazy, ya know?
Michael: Especially cause at the time he was doing it; he was such a forward thinker. Like I’ve watched a lot of those documentaries on him now that Disney+ has come out. It’s just really amazing how through the 1950’s and all through the 1960’s that he was constantly pushing people… like you said… He would say, “I don’t care how much it costs, if you can imagine it we can build it.” It’s like wow you’ve got someone who’s saying, ‘there’s no limit here let’s just try it.’ That’s amazing.
Stefan: Yeah and it’s like you said earlier about finding something that makes you happy and makes other people happy. What better example of that is there than Disneyland?
Michael: That’s right.
Stefan: I mean how many millions of people a day… I’m just talking about the park, I’m not talking about all the other stuff, I mean just the parks ya know.
Michael: Oh my god I know. It really is inspirational.
Oh, I also wanted to tell people another hack about The Hollywood Sign. There’s a few great tips that I can give your listeners.
Stefan: Okay awesome! Let’s hear it.
Michael: So if you want to invest the time and effort to actually go see the sign as close as you can, there’s a few ways to hike it. One starts from the Observatory Parking lot itself. That’s about a 3 mile hike so about 6 mile round trip that’s along the top of Mount Lee which is where the sign is. The other one is called the Wisdom Tree Trail. Have you ever gone up to the Wisdom Tree?
Stefan: Yeah it’s amazing.
Michael: It might be my favorite spot in LA, absolutely.
Stefan: It’s a little bit of a tough hike.
Michael: I was gonna say, it’s half the distance, so it’s like a mile and half from there to the sign itself. But that first part of that hike there… that’s more an intense climb so that’s something to keep in mind.
But if you just want to see the sign, and you have no interest or time to actually hike. Then my tip is to go to Lake Hollywood Drive. So there’s this great dog park that sits like right near the sign.
They allow you to go there without a dog. I know everyone in LA has a dog don’t get me wrong. (Laughing)
Stefan: Yeah, and everyone at that park lets their dog off the leash. At least they used to. I don’t know if they still do. When I first went there I was like, “is this an off-leash dog park?” Everyone’s just kind of doing their thing.
Michael: Yeah, everyone’s like, “We love our dogs, our dogs run this park. When we say ‘dog park’ that’s what it means!” Dogs bring their owners.
Stefan: Yeah, that’s about as close as you can get [to the sign] for a good picture, without having to hike definitely.
Michael: Yup! Then if you keep driving up past that dog park, there’s this great like clearing and they have this great stone that you can stand on. Actually anytime you’ve seen pictures of someone pretending to hold The Hollywood Sign it’s probably been from that clearing.
So just like you said, if you don’t want to hike, that’s the best place to drive and go see the sign.
Stefan: Yeah, those are some awesome tips Michael.
Michael: And I want to mention for those locals who are listening, I did NOT tell them to go through your neighborhood. (Laughing)
Stefan: Yeah there’s been a lot of problems with that. For while they closed down some of the paths and then they opened them back up again. It’s a constant battle but as long as people are respectful.
I think the problem is there’s always a handful of people that make a lot of noise or litter or whatnot.
So we’ve been talking about Sunny Day Scoot, but let’s get back to you. I’m always excited to talk to someone who loves Los Angeles as much as I do.
I wanted to ask you if you could describe to us your perfect dream day in LA?
From getting up to going to bed, what would have to happen to make it the perfect day in LA for you?
Michael: Well like I said I’ve always wanted to the ski in the morning beach later in the day thing. Because this area’s one of the rare areas you can even do that, but I’ve yet to do it. So I’ll have to let you know when that happens.
Stefan: I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s done it. I’ve heard a lot of people say that. I’ve got an open challenge.
Michael: We should all just do it!
Stefan: I’m gonna give you $100 and Michael’s gonna give you a free scooter ride.
Michael: We’ll just make a trip out of it. All the people, right? You heard it here. All the people that want to do this. Start some facebook group.
Stefan: I’ve always wanted to do it too. Even though I’m not a big surfer or a big skier, I just want to prove it can be done. Because I’ve heard about it all the time, but I’ve never met anyone who has actually done it. I’m sure there’s people who have, but…
Michael: Yeah but not in your group, like not in your circle?
Stefan: Not in my circle.
Michael: Yeah I don’t surf at all, I hardly swim very well at all. I sink, I sink very well.
So I would go to the beach, but I try and avoid that undertow, let me tell you. I have had some close calls in my day. I’m better on skis but that’s not saying much.
Stefan: So you’re out in the valley, what beach would you go to?
Michael: That’s actually part of my perfect day. Let me just tell you what I would do because the beach is on that list.
Stefan: You’d better get up early Michael.
Michael: I know that’s what I would have to do yeah. First I’d wake up early and go to the Griddle Café. Have you been to the Griddle?
Stefan: I’ve heard of it but I don’t recall that I’ve ever been.
Michael: OHH, my world just shattered.
Stefan: Is that in van nuys?
Michael: No no no it’s in Hollywood. Just because I live here, doesn’t mean I don’t travel to the other side.
Stefan: I’ve heard the name. Ya know I might have but I just don’t recall.
Michael: It’s right there on sunset and Fairfax. It’s right under that house they used to represent Ironman’s house in the movies.
Stefan: Oh yeah, oh so it’s right there?
Michael: Yeah its right there on Fairfax and you look up and there’s Ironman’s house.
Stefan: Yeah I don’t think I’ve eaten there.
Michael: Oh yeah, I haven’t eaten at Ironman’s house.
Stefan: No no…
The Griddle Café, so do they just have an amazing breakfast or what?
Michael: Well everything is amazing. People go there because their pancakes are like the size of two of your heads. It’s amazing and they have a ton of them. That’s pretty much what they’re known for. I think that’s why they are called the Griddle cause that’s what they make the pancakes on. But their other food is great as well. It’s all huge. Very American.
Stefan: That’s definitely American.
Michael: I have a huge appetite. I usually get like pancakes and this Sicilian Chicken Sandwich thing. I can’t eat it all so don’t judge.
Stefan: Hey that’s what doggie bags are for.
Michael: That’s right I want to taste them.
But anyways, you’ve got to go early because the line is crazy. And they are only open during the days, I think they close at 3pm.
Stefan: I’m looking at pictures of their pancakes right now, and they’re the size of my head.
Michael: Yeah, they’re huge. You eat for a week.
I’m currently on a healthy program, so I haven’t… and I’m sure they’re closed right now too, but I haven’t had the Griddle in months I’m proud to say.
But I can’t wait to go back.
Stefan: Okay, so this is your dream day. It has no calories so…
Michael: That’s exactly right.
Stefan: So after the Griddle Café where are ya headed?
Michael: After the Griddle I’m gonna go up to my favorite spot. I’m going to go up the Wisdom Tree Trail.
I mean I gotta tell you, I suggested it, I practice what I preach.
A lot of people like going up Runyon Canyon. Especially if you’re already at the Griddle. People would be like, (again in the Mickey Mouse voice) “You’re at the Griddle why don’t you just go to Runyon Canyon?”
But I’m telling you, even though you can possibly run into stars hiking up Runyon; I prefer the Wisdom Tree because it’s way more nature. It’s actually on the mountain verses Runyon which is like mostly paved.
No offense against Runyon. Everyone’s going to be like, “Runyon is amazing!”
Stefan: Yeah, well Runyon is great cause it’s convenient and everything, but it can get pretty overrun there.
Michael: That’s what it is. If you’re looking for more nature and less crowds, go to the Wisdom Tree. I’d recommend them both, but yeah. The Wisdom Tree is less crowded and more natural so. That’s what I’m looking for when I hike so I’d go there.
And then I’m off to ride the motorcycle, which I learned when I moved to LA. Which is crazy because I did not know how to ride a bike until I was twenty.
I’m talking a bicycle.
Stefan: You graduated to a motorcycle when you moved to LA huh?
Michael: Oh my god it’s a different world man. I mean you’ve got to be careful don’t get me wrong. The most annoying part about riding a motorcycle, and people who ride can relate to this, is right when I put my helmet on and I throw my leg over to get on…
Everyone is always like, “ohh wait, before you get going. I just want to let you know to be careful, because I know someone who got seriously maimed on a motorcycle.”
It’s like oh my god.
Stefan: Not what you want to hear when you’re about to go on the 405 is it?
Michael: It’s the timing of it.
I empathize. I think that’s horrible, and I hate to hear about that kind of tragedy. I mean I’ll support you through it, don’t get me wrong, I don’t run from it. But this is the worst time to tell me that.
What am I supposed to do right now leave it [the motorcycle] here?
Stefan: Well now I know how you’re getting from the valley to the beach, you’re splitting lanes on the freeway.
Michael: That’s right. It’s legal here baby!
I don’t like when people beep at me cause I’m always thinking, “It’s legal you don’t know it’s legal?”
So I’ll take my motorcycle out to Malibu. Because I would rather go up north cause there’s usually no traffic that way. Well for me. [on the motorcycle]
So I’ll drive up to Malibu and through the canyon roads there. It’s amazing there and beautiful.
That’s like where they filmed the opening scenes for M.A.S.H. I don’t know if I’m dating myself.
Dating myself, there’s a good idea. (Laughing) Very eligible bachelor dating yourself.
Stefan: Yeah M.A.S.H. in Malibu Creek state park they still have some of the relics there from the show.
Michael: Isn’t that awesome. I love LA man, I love that.
Stefan: Yeah so many interesting things.
Michael: Yeah, and I love movies, and I’m sure I’m not the only one of your listeners that loves movies, and I just love that stuff. I love walking around where shows that you love were filmed.
Stefan: I think you almost have to love movies if you live in Los Angeles. For the first few years when I moved to LA and I watched movies, I was more excited to see the backdrop of where it was filmed and the places that I recognized than I was about the movie.
Michael: I’m the same way dude, I’m the same way.
Stefan: I’d bee like, “That’s third and Fairfax I know exactly where that’s at.”
Michael: I’m so like that. It’s so funny that you say that because I’ve always loved movies. I’m not in the industry, obviously. Unless anyone has a gig they want to offer me, but anyways.
I’m not in the industry but it’s so funny now to see movies because when I was younger I just didn’t realize the birth of the movies, the wealth of movies that are like set in LA. Never mind filmed here, but actually set here.
It’s so cool now cause its like oh that’s set in LA, and that’s set in LA.
Stefan: Yeah it definitely ads to the magic of living here.
Michael: Yeah I love that.
So I would go up to Malibu, the beaches in Malibu are so much more that California Coast than the ones more south I feel. Like Venice is more, and even more south like Manhattan Beach and those beaches are way more beaches.
They remind me of Florida beaches. Which is cool too, but if you are looking for California Coastline Malibu is where it’s at. Its got those rocky cliffs and everything. Driving on the PCH the Pacific Coast Highway is amazing.
I recommend it on a motorcycle, but a car works as well.
My favorite beach out there is called El Matador. Have you been out there?
Stefan: Oh yeah, it’s beautiful.
You know El Matador is one of those places that everyone says, “I’ve got a secret beach for you.” And then it’s El Matador.
Michael: Yeah! When it’s everyone’s secret, it not so secret anymore. I know.
Stefan: It’s so beautiful, but I still feel like not a ton of people go there cause it’s so far, you know? You really have to commit to going there.
Michael: It’s only on like the real beach days. When everyone is feeling like you are crazy not to be at the beach; then El Matador is crowded just like any other. Which it used to not be.
But El Matador Beach that’s where a lot of people get their wedding photos and a lot of people go to do their headshots and what not. It’s just really beautiful to me.
It’s got a really heavy undertow so I wont go in the water there. (Laughing)
But if you’re a great swimmer, swim at your own risk.
Stefan: Yeah, El Matador is more pretty to look at. Its got these cliffs and little caves and stuff. Its just this perfect Instagram photo of what you’d think a California beach should look like.
Michael: Yeah it kind of reminds me, have you ever been down to Newport, and the pier there it kind of overlooks this little beach. That beach in Newport is where they originally filmed the first season of Gilligan’s Island.
Stefan: No way. I love Newport. Newport’s another Malibu type. It’s just like you feel like you’re on an exotic vacation when you go there.
Michael: I love it, from one end to the other. I’ve done that,
I’ve done beach day. Where you take a day and go down to Newport and then go up to Venice, and then up to Malibu. And you go to all these different beaches. That’s a cool day all different types of experiences that you get with all different beaches.
That’s an investment but I never fail to invest in myself.
So then on my way back from Malibu I’m going to hit my favorite sushi spot in the world. And I’ve been all over. And it is Miduri Sushi in Sherman Oaks on Ventura. Oh my Miduri.
Stefan: Okay, I’m going to have to write that down. I thought you were going to say Nobu because we’re in Malibu.
Michael: I know I know, well first of all like I said, I have an appetite. That’s why I’m working my butt off right now. (Laughing)
Stefan: Can you say it one more time? What was the name of it?
Michael: Miduri, like that green liqueur. Even though I’ve never seen that green liqueur there.
Stefan: So is it super popular or is it kind of like an underground…
Michael: No they have like three or four locations there on ventura. I’m sure your listeners know, but if you don’t know, ventura (Blvd) is like where all the sushi places…
Stefan: Yeah its crazy how many sushi restaurants there are.
Michael: It’s ridiculous. I don’t know if I was a sushi restaurant owner I might think, “where is the least amount of competition?” Not, “where is the most.. I’m gonna go right between this sushi place and that sushi place.”
But Miduri, they do an all you can eat, and it’s made to order, and I know that’s big here anyway, but theirs is the best. My secret there is to order the Miduri Roll, and it’s no longer on the menu so they might be upset with me for saying that. Because I am the only one I’ve ever heard order it for like five years, but it’s amazing.
Stefan: They’ll bring it out to you huh?
Michael: Oh yeah, all of the guys know.
Stefan: That’s probably because you go there so often. They’re going to look at me and be like, “Who the hell are you? We don’t know you.”
Michael: “You can’t order Mikes order.”
Stefan: I’ll be like, Mike told me to come ask for that.
Michael: Exactly and they’ll be like, “son of a…”
Stefan: Okay so you finish off the evening with some sushi. Then you’re gonna head home and call it a night?
Michael: Nope, the sushi is an early thing…
Stefan: Oh my god you’re definitely taking advantage of living in Los Angeles.
Michael: That’s right. I’m going to do it all, check it all off.
I’m going to go to the UCB Theater, Second City, something like that, and see some cool engaging show with some up and comers.
I was there at the UCB Theater and I saw that guy Paul Rust from that Netflix show LOVE, he’s really funny. But if you haven’t seen that Netflix show LOVE, not to be confused with the movie called LOVE which I haven’t seen. But I recommend that. But Paul Rust is one of the writers and I have seen him there performing there too.
It’s just a cool place to see talented people. I just like supporting live performance. So I would definitely do that.
And then, because I’m a sucker for something sweet, this is how I end my night. I’m going to go and get some cheesecake.
Again, when I’m not on such a regimented diet.
Stefan: Hey remember it’s dream day, no calories.
Michael: Oh that’s right. I don’t have to give that disclaimer anymore.
So I’m either going to go by House of Pie. Which is great that’s right near Griffith Park there. Or I’m going to go into the valley, cause I’m on my way home anyway. I’m going to go to Aroma Coffee and Tea Leaf. Have you every been to Aroma?
Stefan: Yeah, I love Aroma. I haven’t been to the other two that you mentioned but I have been to Aroma.
Michael: Oh yeah, House of Pie? That’s more like a diner. They have great pies, but nothing beats Aroma. They have that nice outdoor patio. It’s so relaxing. It really take you into this other world. Aroma is one of those places that anytime I have someone visiting LA, I’ll take them there.
I don’t drink coffee, but if I did, I would think that there’s no better place to sit an enjoy it.
Stefan: I can attest to that. I’m a big coffee drinker and it’s a great place to sit and have a nice big cup of coffee on the patio.
Michael: Even inside is so unique and cool. It feels like where Thoreau would write.
Stefan: Oh yeah.
Michael: And that, that is my perfect day.
Stefan: You think you fit in enough there Michael?
Michael: Well the only thing that would’ve made it better is to have thrown in a ride at Sunny Day Scoot.
Stefan: I’ve got to tell you, I ask all my guests that question and that is the most LA answer I’ve ever gotten.
Michael: That’s hilarious.
Stefan: You fit in motorcycle riding, you fit in sushi, you fit in theatre I mean, you fit in the beaches, PCH…
Michael: It’s like a caricature of someone who lives in LA.
Stefan: No it’s amazing cause it’s all things I love too, it’s just that you’re very ambitious cause to fit in all the hiking and the wisdom tree, that’s amazing.
Michael: Yeah I can multitask.
Stefan: Well thanks so much Michael those were some amazing tips. Is there anything that you wanted to say about Sunny Day Scoot that I didn’t ask you, or that we didn’t already talk about?
Michael: Like you talked about earlier, it really is this fun experience. It’s still new in LA. If you haven’t tried it, you’ve just got to come out and experience it. Because it’s so fun and positive. Especially nowadays, I didn’t see this coming, but its times like this is when you need a reason to smile more than any other. So I highly recommend it. Check out the website joy2ride.com and that is where you can see all the options and the online calendar and you can book right there!
Stefan: Okay awesome I will put the link in so people can find that. Michael it’s been a lot of fun. I haven’t laughed that much in a while and I appreciate you coming on, and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Michael: Thanks Stefan, I really appreciate it as well. I’ve had a great time.
Stefan: Alright, take care Michael.
Michael: You as well.
Stefan: Hey what’s going on guys? I hope you’ve enjoyed that interview with Michael from Sunny Day Scoot. As you heard in our conversation, he loves to laugh, he loves to make people happy, and he’s found a way to do that every day with amazing tours and company he’s created. It’s rated as one of the best tours you can take in all of Los Angeles. If you want to find out more about Sunny Day Scoot or if you want to book a tour; you can find them at www.SunnyDayScoot.com or on their Instagram @sunnydayscoot.
Check out these amazing activities yourself so you can join in on the fun!