If you follow me on the gram, you maaaay have seen that I was away on my very first trip to LA last week! I only posted approx. 853 Insta stories along the way… but here I’m recapping everything I saw, ate and did with my boyfriend while we were away. A lot of the activities were suggested to me by friends who live there, but some were places I found online or things we found ourselves along the way. If you’re making a trip out there anytime soon, there are some great restaurants and activities in here!
Since I have so much to say and so many photos to share, I’ve broken the trip down into two blog posts. That way there won’t be too much info all at once. Plus, it was getting lengthy… I am loquacious.
We arrived at LAX at about 2:30p local time, and by the time we got the rental car and made our way through some traffic to our Airbnb, the sun was setting and it became more of a nighttime adventure that first day in LA. We found an adorable Airbnb that was a bit outside of the city in Downey, but so worth it due to it’s cleanliness and normalness (it was struggle city trying to find something just normal to stay in that was at a decent price, so we were willing to stay a little further out of the city for something actually comfortable. Does anyone else have this issue with Airbnbs? I wouldn’t be able to sleep in some of the beds I saw in photos!)
We freshened up, dropped off our stuff and quickly jumped back in the car to hit Santa Monica first! We both really wanted to see the art installation of Urban Light so we drove there first. It’s beautiful and fun to walk through and we snapped some fun pictures there.
Next we headed off to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Santa Monica recommended to us by a friend, La Vecchia Cucina. After all that we ate during the vacation, this meal was tied for first for both of us as a favorite. The bread was insane and we both happily ate way too much. Amazing place.
We did some more driving around just to explore on our first night, and ended up driving through Rodeo Drive (had to see it!) and part of Beverly Hills. Maybe everyone knows this and only I didn’t, but there’s this adorable little side street from Rodeo Drive called Via Rodeo that looks like a little Italian street leading up to Versace. I snapped a photo as we went by because it was too cute. After a little driving tour of some different areas, we decided to turn in and rest up for the next day.
Since we had started our sight-seeing at night, I was surprised this morning to see this stunning panorama of mountains an palm trees from the freeway. Everywhere we went, this beautiful mountain backdrop was there and I was just in awe of it. I couldn’t stop staring at them or the Hollywood sign that kept popping up in the distance. Something about seeing the Hollywood sign was fun for me, having seen it in movies so many times.
I had heard from a friend that there is an amazing farmer’s market in Santa Monica every Wednesday and our first full day happened to be Wednesday, so we had to hit it. There is such incredible, different produce that grows in California and I was having a ball looking through everything. I bought some giant carrots, purple cauliflower, baby bananas, and some fresh strawberry juice. Nom nom nom.
On another recommendation we headed to Sugarfish for lunch, still in Santa Monica. I was advised to get the “Trust Me” by a friend who claimed she never ate sushi before but was obsessed with everything here. One of my favorite foods of all time is avocado sushi but I don’t love raw fish. However, upon hearing that my friend was in the same sushi-uncertainty as me prior to Sugarfish, I took the plunge and loved it!! So fresh and yummy, particularly the tuna sashimi!
Next we made our way to Venice Beach. I had been told that I needed to see Venice Beach and that it was more of an artsy/creative scene from a few people. Real talk: I was very disturbed by this beach… tons of people drugged out laying around on the sand and some acting completely crazy. I was not particularly impressed by the shops right on the beach either, but we decided to rent bikes and take a ride down the coast. While getting settled on my bike, a crazy, drugged out guy started coming toward me angrily shouting things at me and scared the shit out of me. I managed to get my footing in time to get biking, but I was so freaked out and just not enjoying that time there too much. It wasn’t until later in the vacation that we discovered a strip of cool-looking boutiques kind of behind the actual beach that would have been fun to check out, but I was so deterred by that experience that I just wanted to move on to the next place. But anyways, we managed to get a few cute pictures to remember it!
Next we hit Hollywood Boulevard, knowing that it was more of a touristy spot that wasn’t necessarily going to blow us away by its beauty, but we had to check it out. We checked out some of the stars (which go one forever btw), walking along the walk of fame and I stumbled across my favorite lady, Celine. Ugh, live for Celine.
We just walked around there a little bit, grabbed a couple slices of pizza and then just decided we’d seen everything and were ready to move on.
I’ve always wanted to see The Grove in real life! I follow a bunch of LA people on insta that always go there and (confession) I watch Dancing With the Stars and they always have their finale there, ha! For those that don’t know, it’s a beautiful outdoor shopping center with restaurants and at night it’s lit up beautifully, perfect for a little night stroll through. Most of the shops are higher end, but we had fun peeking through them and snacking on some caramels along the way.
Ok, I found this gorgeous cafe in West Hollywood on Instagram through an entertainment host/blogger that I follow so I had it on my list to check out. It’s called The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker (can it get any cuter?). We headed here first for brunch and got a table in the beautiful and relaxing courtyard that sat between the areas of indoor seating. The weather was perfect, it was quiet and we were both just so content being there. I could have stayed there all day. I started with an almond milk cappuccino (of course) and then we enjoyed our food. It was delish and the whole experience just started our day off on the right foot!
The street that it was on was super cute too, nestled under the mountains beside it, so we took a little walk after lunch and just window shopped. We spotted a little side street that was leading up into the mountains and we were curious to check it out. I’m not sure if we were supposed to be driving there honestly, but we were so blown away by the phenomenal homes up there that we just kept going up and up. Actually driving through here reminded me so much of Italy. The street was getting so narrow and the homes were often in Spanish styles, nestled into the sides of the cliffs. Just stunning. We kept marveling at the increasingly beautiful view of the city as we continued up.
We came back down after a while, and took a little drive down Melrose Avenue just to see. It was cute, mostly with commercial/high end shops and we were more interested in finding funky boutiques so we didn’t feel the need to really stop in anywhere. We did find a cute place to take a few photos though!
Next on the list was Griffith Observatory. This iconic building sits up on a hill, and offers an incredible view of the city and the Hollywood sign. It was really fun looking through the museum there and we caught a cool show at the planetarium before watching the sunset on one of their terraces and heading back down. Here’s a look at some of the views from the deck of the observatory.
We stopped for ice cream at the amazing Salt & Straw, highly recommend!! Then we caught an easy dinner at a local taco place with a reputation for super authentic food, Tacos Por Favor.
This was the first half of the trip and as you can imagine, we were super tuckered out by the end of each day. It was definitely a lot of driving, but that was the only way to see everything. If you’ve been to any of these places or live here, what are your impressions?? Agree? Disagree? I hope you guys enjoyed taking a peek at my vacation so far and part 2 will be up in a few days.