Dearest Californian Dreamers,
I’ve challenged myself to complete my California Travel Diaries Series by the end of 2019. With a new year fast approaching it’s time to wrap up this long awaited series (as I know you are on the edges of your seats)! As you sit and read this, it’s a bitterly cold day in London where Christmas decorations are lighting up the city, but let’s take a moment to pick up where we last left off. Wherever you may be – cast your mind’s back to my last travel blog post and imagine the warm glow of sunshine upon your face.
After a beautiful day spent basking in the Californian heat on Santa Monica Beach, my boyfriend and I went out until the early hours of the morning, laughing and joking with new folk we met over *quite* a few beers. On this warm Summer’s night in Los Angeles, we returned back to our Airbnb but a turn of events meant that we were snapped out of our lovely drunken haze … Click here to catch up on that post!
Tuesday 26th June – Day 17
The next day was as wonderful as every hangover is. However, rather than opting for a day in bed nursing myself with some Netflix and painkillers, my boyfriend and I decided to escape the city and not let my pounding headache and weak stomach, dictate our trip. The only other remedy for this hangover was a visit to the fresh ocean air; to none other than Malibu. The drive down from Culver City was worthwhile in itself. The Pacific Coast Highway is something I implore you to have placed high on your bucket list… I mean it… write it down… right now! Whether that’s on your phone, in your diary or messaging your friends/ better half on Whatsapp, make a note to self to visit and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
My visit to Malibu was several months before the Woolsey fires, and I feel lucky to not have been effected by this disaster during my visit. I was fortunate enough to experience the beach side town in all it’s glory; dream home after dream home, enveloped by clear blue skies and sapphire toned waves. Often when I think back on this visit, it feels like a dream. Alas, as I do not live that bouji lifestyle, a meal at Nobu was swapped for the Marmalade café, where I soothed my hungover soul with some soup & salad. Somehow I hoped this would undo all the damage I had done in the early hours of that morning! With a full stomach and feeling a semblance of normality, we explored Zuma Beach. It was as if time stood still as all my attention was fixed onto the sound of the crashing waves and the cool sea air blowing through my hair. It was everything I hoped for, (minus meeting Leonardo Di Caprio and being offered to move my whole family over to Malibu for free).
I always knew Malibu was famous for it’s waves and surfing competitions, but it wasn’t until I was stood there admiring the stretches of white sand and ventured 4 steps into the ocean that I really understood why. Keen to try and cool down, but cautious of the strong current, it was too late as I was suddenly engulfed by the waves despite remaining close to the shore. Luckily, no harm was done apart from to my ego as my boyfriend captured the hilarity of this ordeal on camera! It was now plainly obvious to me why Malibu is a surfer’s paradise. That evening as per recommendation from one of our previous hosts, we ventured to another “Must See” – Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s for any newbies here, is a good quality food convenience store full of organic produce, founded in the 1950’s. Fun fact: Did you know that the owner of Trader Joe’s is brothers with the owner of Aldi? Here we bought some groceries for our dinner and retreated to our rooms for a quiet and restful night’s sleep, careful not to repeat the events of the night before.
Wednesday 27th June – Day 18
Ah, Rodeo Drive! An iconic stop in the heart of Los Angeles, a place where window shopping will make you feel like a million bucks as you stroll along one of the world’s most famous streets. That’s how I convinced my boyfriend to add this to stop to our itinerary, along with him being able to find $2 parking at the Wallis Centre. Strutting through Beverly Hills, we soon spotted the Beverly Wiltshire and I felt a whole lot of fabulousness radiate through me, as I sang Pretty Woman whilst doing my best Julia Roberts impression. Although we couldn’t afford to eat in a swanky hotel and have our own PW moment (we were traveling for 6 weeks after all + another 6 to come in Europe), instead we enjoyed our homemade sandwiches and soaked in all the pretty jewels that Tiffany and Co had to offer, before heading over to Venice Beach. At this point, I thought to myself I could really live the Cali lifestyle. We parked by the beach and walked barefoot along the sand close to the ocean, taking in the variety that Venice has to over; a stark contrast to it’s neighboring Beverly Hills.
Venice was a lot more dirty than it’s Santa Monica sister, despite being merely a 20 minutes’ walk away. With marijuana now being legalized in the state, Venice Beach was full of many stores to buy the drug along with cheap souvenirs and piercing places surrounding the area. Nonetheless, the actual beach itself was quite stunning. Although we weren’t keen on exploring Venice any further, any future recommendations to the area that may change my mind are welcome! Being savvy savers on this trip we returned to our new haunt, The Craftsman nearby Santa Monica promenade, for a couple of happy hour drinks and a spot of food to see out our day.
Thursday 28th June – Day 19
It was time for our first baseball experience at Dodgers Stadium. Kitted out in white and blue, we supported the LA Dodgers whom were easily defeated by the Chicago Cubs. Although it took me the whole game to get the jist of what was going on, it was so much fun to people watch over a hotdog and take in the entertainment!
Tip: You can only be served beer at baseball games, if you have your passport with you, your driving license will not suffice.
Let’s go Cubbies!
Of course, with it being another day ending in Y it was time for another new beach. This one became my favourite of them all – Manhattan Beach. This small beach town, where one of the main beaches, Redondo Beach from the 2000’s drama “The OC” is located nearby. It is a far cry away from the LA traffic and tourist traps, and we were even able to park our car for free in a residential area all day without any worry. The town is a cross between a mini Malibu, with it’s floor to ceiling glass mansions complete with ocean views and a slightly more affordable Beverly Hills. This delightful laid-back Southern Bay community is also entwined by The Strand bike path, winding between the oceanfront, modern mansions and wide stretches of sand lined volleyball courts. Manhattan Beach also sports a charming aquarium, waves for surfing, parks for picnics, a small downtown area with boutiques, cafes for brunching, pubs (a must for any Brit!) and upscale eateries. It even comes with Vince Vaughn as a neighbour (as rumoured by one of our hosts). Out of everything in LA, this quaint town is a jewel in the Californina crown.
Friday 29th June – Day 20
We figured it was time to visit some of LA’s best attractions, so we bought the 10 day Go City Card (approx 190 dollars each) granting entrance to 3 attractions at a discounted price. Our first visit was to Universal Studios. For those of you who don’t know what to expect there are some simulated rollercoasters, rides as well as some interactive games and shows based on Universal’s most popular films and TV programmes. Think The Mummy, Fast and Furious, Jurassic World, The Simpson’s, there really is something for all the family! My favourite part of the day was Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey simulator. Walking towards Hogwarts you can also buy your very own wand at Olivander’s, visit Diagon Alley and take a ride on Flight of the Hippogrifth. After a day of being big kids, we left the park and walked over to Universal City to grab a bite to eat at Panda Express, before heading over to our new Airbnb closer to Downtown Los Angeles.
Saturday 30th June – Day 21
Today was the day we took an official swift visit (and exit) to Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard was, in short, SUCH a disappointment. With masses of people, shuffling down a dirty street, it did not resemble the snaps you see of actors unveiling their stars on the walk of fame. The street is also full of many con artists, trying to hand you out free CD’s of their music, using it as a ploy to intimidate you into giving them money to “support” them – only to find when you return home that this so-called music is a blank disc. Luckily we didn’t fall for these tricks, having previously read up on TripAdvisor beforehand. Nonetheless, all was not lost as we did get to visit Los Angeles oldest Italian eatery – Musso & Frank Grill. The diner, founded in 1919, is complete with waitored service, classic dishes served in a New York style interior furnished with red boothed tables. I recently heard in an interview that Leonardo Di Caprio and Quentin Tarantino ate there together to discuss the film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – how apt is that?
Later that afternoon we took a stroll to Sephora where I treated myself to some Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Promenade – a product that is now a staple in my makeup bag. We then visited a bar in Downtown LA called Seven Grand, a spot famous for it’s whiskey cocktails. If you like a laidback, unassuming but Jazzy atmosphere that radiates New York vibes, it’s a must visit (I’m sensing an I ❤ NY theme here, are you?) For dinner we had some incredible food at Bottega Louie where we experienced some long awaited, famous American customer service. They also had some dreamy looking desserts which we promised ourselves we would return to try, but sadly never did! We then walked over to Grand Market which is made up on lots of different stalls to eat and drink, based near Angel’s Flight – another cute LA sight for the ‘gram where you can recreate a LA LA Land moment.
Sunday 1st July – Day 22
The following day we took to the Hills – well, not quite, but certainly to one very famous hill: Mulholland Drive. This scenic landscape has a view of the San Fernando valley where you can spot the Hollywood sign in the distance.
In the afternoon we returned to our new favourite Californian stop- Manhattan Beach. As we lay and sunbathed, taking in the serenity of the ocean, we also spotted dolphins jumping in the distance! Seeing nature do it’s thing all on it’s own, is pretty damn cool.
At the end of our beach afternoon, we stopped off into Brewing Co. for a drink and watched some baseball (I definitely still didn’t understand the rules at this point but it looked like a fun game), before driving home and picking up the ever so nutritious, Taco Bell for dinner – when in Rome, right?
Monday 2nd July – Day 23
To see out week one in LA, we took advantage of our Go City card and headed to our second attraction, Six Flags : Magic Mountain! When it comes to theme parks, American’s certainly do NOT mess around with their rollercoasters. If you are an adrenaline junkie, you will thank me later for this. I, on the other hand, have a slight fear of heights and definitely had about two breakdowns throughout the day at the theme park. At one point I honestly planned to abandon my boyfriend and go sit in the car and cry. It sounds quite funny writing this down, but with rollercoasters called Hercules, you can imagine just how terrifying they were for me. Overall the day was really fun and I’m very proud that I went on nearly all the rides. Tip: If you visit I’d recommend buying a refillable cup to cope with the heat.
Later on that day we packed up and travelled to the next stop of our trip, Orange County. Stay tuned to read all about what we got up to and how we celebrated 4th July!
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