Friday, August 5, 2016

Travel Tyro: Southern California (LA area)

Rewind to five months ago when I fled the bitter Bostonian winter weather in search of sunshine and laid-back west coast vibes. While I've visited different parts of the west coast before (including last year's trip to Portland), I never quite made it to California. Lucky for me, one of my best friends from college hails from Los Angeles and showed me around ran around with me all week for spring break!
I'm embarrassed to say I've put this monster travel guide off for too long, but revisiting all these memories makes me eager for my next trip to the sunshine state.
Here's some of my highlights:

Often considered the west coast equivalent of NYC, Los Angeles is home to its own diverse mix of dining, museums, architecture, and culture. There's still so much of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) I'd like to see, but my highlights were definitely museum hopping (guide here), lunch at the Commissary in a glorified greenhouse (the smoked salmon avocado toast is delicious), iced coffee at botanical coffee shop haven Verve, and afternoon tea at Bottega Louie, a seemingly west coast version of Ladurée.  

The Commissary

Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Broad


Verve Coffee

Bottega Louie

Venice Beach & Santa Monica Pier
By far my favorite neighborhood west of LA, Venice Beach is bursting with everything iconic and appropriately cliché about California: white sandy beaches, surfers and skateboarders, al fresco dining, and street vendors on palm tree-lined streets. I loved bicycling from the Santa Monica Pier along the beach to get to Venice and people watching as I rode by. Afterwards, we stopped for lunch on Abbot Kinney Blvd at the Butcher's Daughter (the west coast location of one NY's best brunch places), popping into artsy shops along the way, scoping out dreamy bungalows, taking a photo in front of the Instagram famous Venice sign, and stopping for ice cream—twice (once for Salt & Straw lavender ice cream I first tried in Portland). I also highly recommend heading back to the Santa Monica pier at night to watch the sunset. 

The Butcher's Daughter

Palos Verdes
This quiet, residential town might not have the big city draw of DTLA, but its dreamy coastline combined with a charming lighthouse and architectural gem designed by Frank Lloyd Wright make it a worthwhile stop if you're in the LA area. My friend and I also stopped here a few too many times to grab iced honey vanilla lattes at the Yellow Vase Bakery— I’m still dreaming about them months later! 

Wayfarer's Chapel

Yellow Vase Bakery

On my last day in California, a group of us headed to Malibu to soak in the sun for the afternoon before saying sayonara. Along the way, we stopped for a wine tasting at Rosenthal Vineyard and the beautiful Getty Villa Estate

Griffith Observatory
It wouldn't be a trip to SoCal without seeing the LA skyline and the Hollywood sign from the Griffith Observatory. We went right before sunset to take in the views during golden hour, but I'm definitely planning a hike on my next visit!

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