Where do I even begin?! Both Mark and I had been to L.A. (and surrounding area) a few times in the past, but this was our first time together and we wanted to see EVERYTHING. Being my usual planned, list making self, I had a list of things to see and places to eat that could have filled up more than a week. But I am pleased to announce, we saw everything we came to see & ate everything our hearts desired — and more! I have selected a few of my favorite photos from our trip and put together a list of places to eat and sights to see that will have you experiencing Los Angeles like both a tourist and a local!
Travel Tip: Rent a car!!! I can not emphasize this one enough. Public parking is relatively easy to come by and surprisingly cheap (with the exception of hotels).
Things to do, Places to go.
- Beaches. We visited a handful of different beaches all up and down the coast and the ones I would recommend spending a day at: Venice Beach and Huntington Beach. Venice has all the hipsters you could hope for, plenty of activities to keep you busy (this could even include eyeing up the muscles pumping iron at Muscle Beach), and a crazy good selection of food right along the boardwalk. Huntington Beach aka Surf City, USA — need I say more??
- Studio Tours. Skip all the hype of Universal and head over to Warner Brothers Studio. Your 2+ hour tour will blow your mind and Ellen has her studio here — possible celebrity sighting?! You can also sit on the couch from Friends and the Big Bang theory still has live tapings here every Friday!
- Drive. Almost every sight I wanted to see was experienced through our car window. We drove Mulholland Drive, Rodeo Drive, Sunset Blvd, Melrose Drive, the Pacific Coast Highway and many, many more. We drove up to the Griffith Observatory (which is free to the public) and has one of the best views of the famous Hollywood sign. Driving through Beverly Hills is also a must.
- I have saved our favorite experience for last. Do yourself a favor and go visit Malibu Family Wines. I can almost guarantee you will be the only tourist there. Join the locals for a Sunday Funday like nothing you’ve ever experienced. A tasting of 5 of their delicious wines runs between $12-14. You can also purchase wine by the bottle and mimosas by the glass. Be sure to bring your own food (think snacks like crackers, meat, cheese, etc) and your own bottled water. A blanket to sit on would be helpful if you don’t feel like fighting for a table and get ready to dance along to the live band! Valet parking is $15 and worth every penny.
Where to Dine
- Bacaro LA. Tapas style brunch means you can try a little of everything on the menu. Mark claims it is the best breakfast hash he has ever had. I loved the French toast and the bottomless mimosas!
- Blu Jam Cafe. Excellent breakfast, cool latte art and epic people watching courtesy of Melrose Ave.
- Nickel Diner. Head here for all day breakfast, lunch or even just a pastry. The Nutella donut comes highly recommended by me and the “Pop Tart” is a must try if you’re into that sort of thing — deliciousness.
- Cabana Cafe at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Don’t even bother to look at the menu. Order the blueberry pancakes and change your life. You are in charge of your own destiny. Ask for Paul S. and let him know a nice couple from Texas sent you!
Lunch or Dinner:
- Milo & Olive. Do you like delicious salads, pizza and desserts? Of course you do! And seeing as I spotted a couple celebrities here, we’re guessing this is a pretty good spot for za.
- Poke Poke. Fresh sashimi style spicy tuna right on the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Order a bowl and add the avocado!
- Shiki Sushi. This was incredibly close to Warner Brothers Studio and the lunch special was more sushi, sashimi, salad and miso than either of us could handle.
- Escondite. Don’t let the proximity to Skid Row scare you off. This place serves killer burgers until 2am and they are far from ordinary. Mark’s burger was served with a glazed donut for a bun and mine had all sorts of delicious extras like potato chips and crispy pickles. The late night happy hour and live band never hurt anybody either.
I hope you are able to find some helpful tips for your next visit to the City of Angels. We are already planning on going back. I think California just agrees with us!