I thrive in California. There’s something about the weather, the energy and the style that just gets me. Although it’s been a dream of mine to live there pretty much my entire life that I can remember, I don’t think I’ll be there any time soon, so visiting every so often (I’m shooting for once a year here on out) will have to do. Last month I visited for Boho Bus work, but also fit in a lot of fun time. In true Rachel fashion, I scheduled everything out to the minute so that my time working and having fun would be optimized. Here’s what I suggest seeing (or not) while you’re out there.
What to Eat
Food here is expensive. But it’s delicious! Unfortunately with how late we ate dinner each night, I have no photos of dinner but I do have some awesome recommendations.
Breakfast: The Gables Santa Monica was adorable and had delicious lemon buttermilk pancakes and pressed burrito. We also loved Poppy & Rose in downtown. It was the most quaint neighborhood shop; they actually knew we were not regulars and were so sweet to give us more direction on the menu and how it worked. The homemade sausage was amazing as were the lattes and hashbrowns. This was my favorite breakfast!
Lunch: Superfine pizza was a must-visit on my list for our work day in Downtown LA. It’s the coolest walk-up pizza window and the pizza was so good. Super quick and casual, outside street dining but you can carry your slices anywhere. We stumbled upon Taste on Melrose after waiting in line at Urth Cafe without really feeling impressed with the menu. I’m so glad we did! We were taken to the back patio, which felt so secret and cute and they had lunch specials which made one of our final lunches such a good day. Obviously we had to eat at Lemonade in Venice and I would give my left arm to have one nearby in Atlanta.
Dinner: With no photos to prove, we had some really awesome dinners. Petite Taqueria in West Hollywood had the most delicious handmade tortillas and the nicest people working there. The queso was top notch and the tacos were so tasty. Highly recommend this cute little joint! Since we were spending so much more on food all day, we looked for more affordable options and found Plan Check in West Hollywood where we had an amazing burger and fries. I was craving pasta on the last night, so we went to Uovo in Santa Monica. Tiny little fresh pasta restaurant where they give you your check as soon as you order and you don’t leave tips… so something to get used to! I got the carbonara and it was great!
Coffee+Dessert: Alfred Coffee is absolutely worth the hype and so cute. We went to the one across from the Beverly Hills sign and we both got the iced vanilla latte. Still craving it. The Big Chill had good frozen yogurt with cookie dough toppings. Not the best, but pretty good. Milkbar was a must-stop and they had delicious cake and cake truffles! Honeymee was a perfect little ice cream treat with caramel syrup topped with sea salt flakes. Fairgrounds Coffee in the Mayfair Hotel downtown was adorable and delicious. Get the oat milk!
We also had In-n-Out which I don’t really recommend and it was my least favorite meal of the entire trip. Just being honest.
What to Do and What to See
Honestly, the Hollywood Sign was a highlight of the trip. I didn’t think it would be that cool, since it’s so overplayed, but it’s honestly very surreal to see it in person! You see it so often on TV and in movies that it doesn’t seem real, but when you see it there in front of you, it really does feel magical! We didn’t do they hike – we just drove to the park and walked up the hill. There is plenty of parking. Use the address 3000 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood.
Shopping was best in Venice Beach for boutique and indie designers. Melrose/Beverly Hills had some great designer shops and everything was very walkable and nearby. These were my two favorite places to shop, even though we didn’t pick up much. If you’re needing something quickly, or prefer to shop at corporate chains, 3rd Street Promenade is a cute outdoor mall with stores like H&M and Brandy Melville. During the day on the day we went to Santa Monica, there was a huge farmers market with tons of flowers, cheeses and fruits.
In Venice and Santa Monica, you have to stop by the beach. I could watch the skateboarders all day long… there were some awesome little girl skaters and it was pretty awesome to watch them alongside some talented male skateboarders! They draw quite a crowd and it’s very exciting to watch alongside the ocean. Santa Monica also has a very pretty beach area, shielded from a lot of the traffic of downtown by a cliff which turned out to be very photogenic. When in LA, you have to visit the beach! Just pick one, any one!
While Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive aren’t really in my budget, we still took the time to walk around the area. Rodeo Drive is gorgeous and a good place to people watch, especially for celebrities if you get lucky. We weren’t this time, but we got to shop alongside Mark McGrath at a store when we were visiting years and years ago.
Where to Stay
We stayed at a hotel in Downtown LA for the first night and an Airbnb in Venice the rest of our stay. I highly recommend Airbnb for all of my vacations, but especially in LA and I would recommend staying in Venice too. Downtown LA, unless you’re there for a specific reason, wasn’t the most comfortable place to stay. Next time we’ll likely stay in Hollywood, West Hollywood or Beverly Hills. I liked Santa Monica as well, but it felt too much like home with the corporate chains.
One regret I have from the trip is not renting a car. We thought we could Uber and Lyft everywhere but since we wanted to see so much, it got very expensive. The second to last day, we decided to just rent a car so that we could drive all over (and go to the Hollywood sign) and it would have been so much better had we rented the car from the beginning! Next time I’d like to spend some more time in Malibu and the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. Okay, I’m officially ready to go back! Starting to plan my next trip out west now…