Last weekend, my husband and I spent the weekend in Los Angeles to celebrate of my dearest friends daughters graduating from Law School! The graduation was lovely, and I did my very best to not to ugly cry. Of course, all tears were happy tears, because I know how hard she studied and worked while putting herself through Law School!
Since the graduation was on a Sunday afternoon, my husband and I decided to make the jaunt down to LA into a three-day weekend getaway; just the two of us. We had a blast! We had some fantastic food, #HouseStalked and saw so many amazing views! Also, we discovered an excellent coffee and had the best ice cream; I've ever had. Since this was our first trip to LA together without our kids, we decided to visit some sights we've never been. We’ve done the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Manns Chinese Theater visited famous movie houses, hit The Grove and The Original Farmer's Market and done Universal Studios City Walk. So visiting new spots made it even better!
Since having a weekend getaway without the kids is rare as is going to LA. The 6.5-hour drive from Sacramento to LA is boring and ugly; seriously it’s all desert and gas stations and a few fast food restaurants. We stayed in Redondo Beach, which is about 15-20 mins from the University and five minutes from the beach, win-win. In need of a fun weekend in Getaway? Below is my recap of what we did while visiting Los Angeles FYI: Pictures of our trip is a mixture of iPhone photos and Camera pictures.
Day One: Getting There
We didn’t want to drive straight from Sacramento to Los Angeles. Instead, we wanted to ease our way into LA with a detour to Malibu. Because its Malibu duh! We drove I-5 to 405 towards San Diego and then drove to HWY 101 which let is off in Calabasas. I prefer to refer to Calabasas as Kardashian territory lol. We stopped at Albertson's right next to Malibu Canyon Road to get some snacks, and while there I found a super lovely houseplant. Of course, I couldn't leave the plant behind so I brought it home with us. It's the perfect pit stop before hitting the road, and they have a fantastic floral and plant selection. Malibu Canyon road is very windy one lane road since you're driving through a canyon but every scenic. The road drops you off at HWY1 giving you The View. Seeing the Pacific Ocean once you leave the Canyon is incredible!! Friday was a bright sunny day it felt like you could see the ocean and nothing but blue water for miles and miles.
We stopped for lunch at Malibu Seafood! It’s a cute little ocean side diner with ocean views, without the sticker shock of Malibu. I had fish & chips, hard to resist! Hasani had the Calamari and chips; his food was so good. I kept sneaking Calamari off his place. This little hot spot is popular with locals and tourists, keep that in mind visiting, there's likely to be a long line. Lunch for two in Malibu was under $25 bucks. Also, there’s not much parking at the restaurant, so we parked right on the side of HWY1. After lunch we headed across the street at walked on the beach soaking up the fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean.
After leaving Malibu, we headed down HWY to Santa Monica. I've wanted to visit the Santa Monica Pier for ages, and it did not disappoint! The pier is huge and has amazing views. There's lots of parking right on the beach at the Pier, next time we go we're going to pay for our parking in advance and visit the pier at night.
I’ve wanted to visit the beautiful homes at the Venice Canals for ages. Sometimes I think #HouseStalking is my favorite pastime, remember all the beautiful Doors I saw while in England? Check out the post here for door inspiration across the pond. Parking in LA can be pricey; we found parking for free within two blocks on the Venice canals in one of the neighborhoods. I enjoyed seeing all the lovely homes along the Venice Canals. There’s a little pathway behind the each of the homes that visitors can walk along and then walk over the beautiful bridges to the next pathway.
Most of the backyards are super open so feel free to soak up the inspiration. Believe me; there’s a ton to see! We crisscrossed along the pathways and walked over the bridges all distinct and charming. Each homeowner has access to the canals, and some have canoes parked outside their home. We even saw a huge black swan parked outside of one home! We visited in the late evening after 5 pm which was perfect for picture taking and escaping the sun. I saw a couple of empty lots and dreamed of picking up our little rancher and parking it #HouseGoals. I adore Whitney of The Tiny Canal Cottage she has a super charming tiny cottage at the Venice Canals, visit her blog for some #SmallHomeStyle inspiration.
We walked from the Venice Canals to Venice Beach; it was only three to four blocks away and totally within walking distance. We stopped for a quick coffee because coffee equals fuel. We walked along the beach and then finally the pier just as the sun was almost setting. It was such an incredible view. We stopped in one of the many gift shops while there to pick up a sweater for our older son.
Day Two: Checking Out the Views and Amazing Eats
On Saturday morning, we met my sister in law for brunch at Sweet Chick, which is a restaurant owned by NAS, it recently opened in LA, and he has two in NYC. The vibe inside reminds me of country meets NYC, is that even a thing? The food was fantastic. I wanted something a bit lighter, so I had granola and yogurt topped with berries and a side of cheese and grits. The grits were so good and had a little bite to them. Just thinking about the grits makes me want to make some Shrimp and Sausage grits for dinner. Never had grits before? They’re a must so good! It’s a do. Hasani had shrimp and grits, and his sister had chicken & waffles.
The cool thing is the waffles can be made either sweet or savory. There is parking in front of the restaurant, but save your coins and meter stress and just park around the block in the neighborhood behind the main street for free parking; make sure and read the road signs!
After brunch, we grabbed iced coffees to go from Cofax Coffee they also serve killer looking donuts and other breakfast food. My iced vanilla latte was incredible, super smooth and yummy! I totally wanted a donut but was stuffed from Brunch. Both Sweet Chick and Cofax Coffee are a few miles from The Grove and the LA Farmers Market, so stop by afterward for a little shopping.
The Getty Center
Next, we headed to The Getty! The Getty Center is free! Yup, you heard me right, it's free! All you pay for is parking before 3 pm it's $15 to park after 3 pm it's $10 for parking. After parking, you ride a tram up the steep hill to the museum. Plan to spend 2-3 hours touring the museum and exhibitions and grounds. The views are STUNNING! We were able to see all the way to the ocean from The Getty, it's incredible! I also enjoyed walking the gardens and dreaming of what to plant at our home.
The entire vibe of The Getty Center is super relaxing. Before leaving we visited the children's the gift shop, where I found the cutest book for our younger son. I also love the book 13 Artists Children Should Know currently have it in my Amazon cart #BirthdayGifts. Need vacation gift ideas for your kids? Check out this post.
It was super hot in LA last weekend; after the Getty, we stopped for Ice Cream in Culver City at Cool Haus. Their ice cream is so delicious! We went on a whim and so happy we did! Originally we went for ‘Ice Cream Sammies’ aka ice cream cookie sandwiches, but the ice cream + brownies were calling our names. Hasani had the Mint & Chip and brownie ice cream and I had the Red Velvet Blondie. Seriously so good and perfect treat after walking around the Getty in the hot LA Sun for hours.
A few doors down from Cool Haus, we spotted Hi Lo Liquor, a cute neighborhood liquor store. When I say liquor store, I don’t mean a dingy one selling lotto tickets and old stale beer. Hi-Li is an upscale liquor store selling with a fresh neighborhood vibe.
We met the owners who were super friendly. I loved their concept of the store and execution super #InstagramReady. We bought a bottle of good vodka and the cutest wine bag for evening provisions. Making your drinks in the hotel room is super fun.
Redondo Beach Pier
Next, we headed back to Redondo Beach to visit the Pier. The sights on the pier are incredible. We walked around the entire pier and took in the sights and visited the little shops. There are lots of food options at the pier, but since we had fish and chips, we skipped it. Stay for the sunset and skip the food. We had dinner at Slider Stop in Redondo Beach, home of the mini burger. The burgers were delicious; each slider is on a Kings Hawaaun Roll. I’m pretty much a connoisseur of Sweet Potato Fries, my favs the extra crispy ones. Their fries did not disappoint. We can’t wait to go back again and enjoy some more combinations; I’m dying to try Buffalo chicken slider next time. Local friends, check this place out.
Day Three: Coffee & Graduation
We had breakfast in Manhattan Beach at Manhattan Bread & Begal. The begals and homemade cream cheese was incredible! In additon to bread and begals, they have lots of yummy treats.
Before the Graduation ceremony at LMU, we visited Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, if I’m within 5 miles of a CB&TL I have to visit! You see in Northern California, the closest one is in San Francisco, ugh so far away! I love their Vanilla Latte and Early Grey Tea Lattes. AS much as I love Starbucks London Fog (aka Early Grey Tea Latte) I’m obsessed with how CB&TL make their version with loose leaf teas, its so so good friends! After our morning coffee, we headed to the graduation ceremony which as lovely and then the party afterward. We didn’t make it home until 12:30 am!
We had a blast visiting some new sights in LA and can't wait to go back in a few months and check out some more spots namely the Griffith Observatory along with hiking one of the nearby trails. I also want to catch one of the outdoor movie nights LA Style. We love going to the various outdoor movie nights in Sacramento but know LA takes it to the next level with food trucks galore. We also want to spend more time in Santa Monica and visit the promenade and pier at night.
What are some of your favorite places to visit in LA and the best food spots?