If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know we’ve just come back from the most amazing trip around South California! I’ve had a few people ask me if I’ll write up about the trip but as we visited so many places and did so much, I decided to divide it up into a few posts, so here goes with installment one: Los Angeles!
By way of background, I booked this trip on a bit of a crazy whim. We knew we wanted to do something special this year as it’s our 10th wedding anniversary and when a deal came through from Jack’s Flight Club (I’m a premium member which I pay for so this isn’t an ad), for a one-way flight from LA back to Gatwick for just £35 I knew I had to book it. Flights at that price don’t hand around for long so I just booked it without even consulting my husband and worked out the rest of the details a day or so later once I knew what time he could get booked off work.
So at the end of last month, we boarded what felt like the longest flight in history landing at LAX late in the afternoon. Before we went I tried to read up on the best way to get into LA from the airport and decided we’d just take a taxi but when we got there, we found a private bus company right outside the door offering quite reasonable drop offs right at the door of your destination. We stayed at this cute little Airbnb in Venice which was absolutely perfect – we were literally opposite Superba bakery and restaurant and just a short walk away from lots of nice little restaurants. We got there quite late in the day and we were pretty hungry after our long flight so we decided to stretch our legs and walk to a cute little restaurant on Lincoln called Clutch, and then onto Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which we returned to a couple of times as it was soooo good! We then walked back to the studio (via a 7/11 for beer for Tom and Diet Coke for me) and had an early night so we’d be ready for all the exploring ahead of us!
We didn’t actually hire a car whilst we were in LA, we just used Uber or Lyft, and occasionally the bus. I luckily had a 50% off 10 rides with Lyft so we were able to do it quite cheaply and definitely didn’t spend more than what we would have if we’d hired a car and parked. I also didn’t want to drive on the other side of the road so it meant Tom could relax and have a drink if he wanted to.
We started the day of by heading to Grand Central Market to try Eggslut. From the pictures I’d seen it looked amazing and I was desperate to try it. It did not disappoint! Word of warning though – be careful where you bite unless you want an eggsplosion! I’d suggest taking some wet wipes too as it’s pretty messy but well worth it.
The market is close by to the Broad (and also the Walt Disney Concert Hall) which is home to the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room which I really wanted to see. I knew it was going to be crazy busy so we booked tickets in advance which I’m so glad we did as even then we still had to queue for a while. I’m glad we did it though because it was such a cool thing to see, and even my husband loved it!
We both really liked the rest of the museum too. It is a modern art museum with lots of famous artists and pieces like the Andy Warhol Two Marilyns pop art painting, the pink Balloon Dog by Jeff Koons and lots of Roy Lichtenstein. My husband is a trained artist and found the place so inspiring and we actually walked around the whole place looking at everything that was there. We usually avoid museums on holiday, preferring to experience the actual place instead but this place was really cool!
After The Broad, we explored the rest of DTLA. Walking is apparently a strange thing to do in LA but it’s our favorite way to properly experience a place. You get to see tons of things you don’t see when you drive, like a great big fire truck and finding a rooftop bar with an amazing view. We also managed to find the best viewing spot for the Jesus Saves sign which is on top of the Ace Hotel.
We also stopped by the old Morrison Hotel where one of The Doors album covers were shot. Tom is a huge Jim Morrison fan and wanted to stop at a couple of pilgrimage sites whilst we were there and this was the first one!
We then got an Uber back to Venice to the end of the walkway and strolled back along the front. It was a Thursday so it was much quieter than the weekend and meant that we could take a few photos without all the crowds in the way.
We also managed to get some good pics of the light up Venice sign during the day, complete with its Valentine’s Day heart still up. It’s pretty easy to get photos of although you do need to have your wits about you as you’ll need to stop in the middle of a crossing if you want one straight on! Luckily the red lights are timed so you can see how long you’ve got before you get run over!
Once we’d finished we headed up to Gjelina on Abbott Kinney for dinner. We both had pizzas which were good but it was extremely busy so we had to sit side-by-side on high chairs near the bar which isn’t my favourite place to sit but we were both hungry so we took them as they had no other seats. I’d heard people rave about this place but I didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype. The menu was pretty rigid and they wouldn’t allow me to add anything apart from prosciutto to the margarita and wouldn’t let me take off any of the ingredients of the other pizzas. It was also one of the more expensive meals of our trip and I definitely think it was aimed at the ‘cool’ crowd, of which we are not members!
We followed up pizza with ice cream at Salt and Straw which is constantly featured on Insta feeds as one of the top ice cream places in LA. We were expecting massive queues but we were really lucky to only have a couple of people in front of us so I could get my salted caramel ice cream fix pretty quickly couple and it was really good!
Then it was back to the Airbnb to put our feet up in front of Netflix!
California has had one of the wettest winters it’s ever had so we were really chuffed that the forecast for our trip was mostly good. We woke up on the Friday to gloriously sunny weather so decided to head up to the Hollywood sign. One of the things I don’t think people appreciate before they go to LA, is the sheer size of it. The drive from Venice to the Hollywood sign view point is nearly an hour but it is soooo worth it! We had the perfect view and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We also came across some lovely people who took photos of us both together which was great as we don’t usually get ones that aren’t about 10 inches from our faces!
We decided to walk back down and followed Google Maps directions, accidentally ending up in the old Hollywoodland area which was so pretty and really cool to see all the different quirky properties – it really reminded me of South Africa and how all the houses are so unique rather than like over here where most areas now look very similar even where the houses are older. By that time we got to the bottom, we were starving so we stopped at a little restaurant called Beachwood Cafe where we had one of the best meals of our trip. I had a chicken sandwich which was absolutely delicious followed up with a vegan apple pie that we shared that you couldn’t tell was vegan!
Right outside the restaurant was the old Hollywoodland gates, and the shuttle bus that takes you down to Hollywood Boulevard for just 50c each! Every one from LA that we spoke to told us not to bother going to Hollywood but there was no way I was going all that way and not visiting the Walk of Fame! I’m not going to lie, it was pretty grubby and sadly there were lot of homeless people but it seemed pretty safe but we did keep our valuables safely out of the reach of pickpockets.
We also got to see the Dolby Theater all decked out for the Oscars which were due to to be on the weekend we were in town. We also went to check out the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater and walked all the way to the end of the WoF to see Elvis’ star before we jumped on a bus again to get cookies from Milk. Well, Tom had a cookie and I had the cereal milk ice cream. Not the best we’ve ever had but it’s such a fun place, all pink and they have the cutest pink truck too.
Our last stop of the day was Rodeo Drive baby. Being the massive Pretty Woman fan that I am, I couldn’t visit LA without seeing the Regent Beverly Wiltshire which obviously looks nothing like it does in the movie but at least I can say I’ve been! We also walked down past all the expensive shops to the Beverly Hills sign and to the Sprinkles cupcake ATM.
After we’d taken lots more photos in Beverly Hills, we continued on Tom’s Jim Morrison tour and visited the Whiskey A Go Go (where they let him stand on the stage whilst a band was doing sound check), The Viper Room, Barney’s Beanery, and finishing up at the Alta Cienaga Motel which was a massive contrast to the Reg Bev Wilt (if you know, you know), but they have basically made the room that Jim lived into a shrine. They let fans write over the walls, ceilings and even bathroom tiles. And you can pay to go in and have a look if no one has booked to stay. As luck (!) would have it, the person who was meant to be staying there had had to cancel last minute so Tom got to go in and have a look around.
After Tom had finished his Doors tour, we had a quick stop off at the Westfield Century City mall for a wander around the shops and to pick up some dinner to eat back at the studio in front of the TV. Our studio had Hulu which was amazing as we got to start the third season of This Is Us – unfortunately we didn’t finish it before we left!!
First up, take away brunch from Superga. We just had a take away burrito and a churro croissant (one of my fav things to get from American bakeries) but we sat outside to eat it and it was lovely to soak up a few rays before we set off on our day.
We had intended to visit the Griffith Observatory the day before but with the traffic being pretty busy, we decided to skip it and headed out there this morning instead. It was another long drive but we got the Lyft to drop us off near the Scientology HQ where the Griffith Observatory shuttle goes from so managed to save a few dollars and get up there in the same amount of time.
There was a spectacular view up there of both the Hollywood sign and also out over LA which is one of the main reasons to visit the Observatory. But it also has some interesting displays inside and we booked onto one of the Planetarium shows which we really enjoyed, I love how the seats lay back and you get to travel through space for a few minutes of your life.
We actually spent loads of time here, soaking up the view, taking some photos and walking around.
After we’d finished wandering around, we headed down to Santa Monica for dinner at a lovely little Italian with a really local feel called Spumoni. The food here was absolutely delicious and we followed it up by heading back to Jeni’s for ice cream – I was totally addicted to the salted caramel!
We started off the day with brunch at Superba which was delicious. We didn’t book and although it seemed absolutely rammed when we got there, they seated us straight away and we got served pretty quickly. The menu wasn’t huge but everything sounded amazing so it was really hard to choose but I don’t think you’d be disappointed with any of it!
After we finished up we headed to one of my favourite places in LA – the Venice Canals. We absolutely fell in love with the area, it was a small area, easy to walk around with no restaurants or shops but it was soooo pretty and we both agreed if we ever win the lottery we should buy one of the waterside houses! We also made sure we stopped at the bridge made famous by Ashton Kutcher in the movie Valentine’s Day, such a lovely little spot I can totally see why they picked it.
It’s also a really short walk back up to Abbott Kinney so once we’d finished exploring the canals, we walked up there for ice cream, this time at Salt and Straw – salted caramel for me and a coke float for the husband. It was a bit busier than the first time we went but they do have lots of staff and the queue moves a lot quicker than you think it will. We also had a nosey in a few of the shops before heading down to the beachfront.
Venice beachfront is so different on a Sunday than what it was earlier in the week and was absolutely heaving. We got to see some of the fun street performers some of which were so good they belonged on the stage more than the street! I was glad I’d gone during the week to take some photos as the crowds were crazy on the weekend.
For our final evening we decided to head over to Santa Monica Pier. It was mid afternoon when we arrived and was still really sunny so we had a walk around looking at the fun far and checking out the Route 66 sign, which actually had a very orderly queue in front of it for people to take their photos/selfies! We grabbed a (very expensive) drink and then walked down to sit on one of the benches at the end of the pier to watch the sunset. Those Cali sunsets are just amazing and if I lived there I would head down to the beach every night I possibly could to watch it.
Once we’d seen the sunset, which I didn’t take any decent pics of because we were just living in the moment together, we had to go back to the Venice sign just to see it all lit up in the dark which was so cool to see ❤
It was our last night and it was bittersweet because we’d had such an amazing time that we didn’t want to leave but we were really excited to continue onto the rest of our trip! Rather than up the word count on this blog any further though, I’ll leave each of those to another post!
I’d really love to know what you thought of this piece, I’ve recently asked for some feedback on my instastories as I’m keen to know if this type of writing is interesting to people. Is it too much, should it be a shorter piece, are there too many/not enough photos? Aaaall the questions! So if you have any feedback, positive or constructive, I’d love to hear it, especially as I’m planning on doing some more posts to cover our other stops on this trip.
Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading, if you got this far!