Los Angeles: land of beaches, mountains and, of course, Hollywood. With a city so renowned, I was so excited to embark upon my adventure to the West Coast. Naturally, I turned to my black hole addiction known as Pinterest, and I became more confused and bewildered than when I began. I soon learned about 4,109,275,844 things I could do during my two full days dedicated to exploring L.A. Great… Fortunately, I had the help of some friends: S, Taylor and Suzanne. No, this list isn’t exhaustive, but if you’re looking for several quick highlights of L.A., here’s how to spend a weekend in Los Angeles.
Take a trip to Balboa Island
In Los Angeles (or really any big city), you will find a bounty of tacky tourist stores. I guarantee it. However, Balboa Island houses so many cute little boutiques and non-chain stores. While many of these adorable boutiques included steep prices, I enjoyed poking around in Valinda’s Art for the Soul. Although I didn’t fancy their logo font choice (I’m a bit of a font nerd), the store had fun notebooks, magnets and, duh, artwork. I bought a Paris notebook with some fun quotes because I can always use more Paris memorabilia. Thanks to S for this fun suggestion.
Dine at Wilma’s Patio
My two favorite things: all-day breakfast and Mexican food. I ordered an Egg Quesadilla. Although a bit oniony, the jack and cheddar cheese was so gooey and full of flavor. The dining was casual, and the staff was friendly. Even better, there was no wait on a Saturday afternoon!
Get your java fix at Crocker’s “The Well Dressed Frank”
Walking into this cute cafe, you’ll notice immediately there is minimal space to walk. But the wooden tables and bar stools that look directly to the sidewalk from an open window create a charming atmosphere. I ordered a Mocha Mint Cooler (espresso, chocolate, mint and vanilla ice cream). OH, SNAP. It was incredibly creamy and smooth. The consistency was a crossover between iced coffee and a frappuccino. You can get a caramel macchiato or a frappuccino-like mocha virtually anywhere, but I’ve never had any drink like this Mocha Mint Cooler.
Wiggle your toes in the sand of Treasure Island
Right below the Montage Resort (which is absolutely stunning!), Goff Island provides a small free beach called Treasure Island. This has to be in the top 3 of most beautiful place in the world; S nailed it with this suggestion. The deep blue ocean contrasted the rocky cliffs so beautifully; the view took my breath away. I enjoyed putting my toes in the cold water, collecting shells and snapping some pics of God’s majestic creation. AMEN.
Enjoy the drive to Dana’s Point
We’d heard from a number of people that Dana’s Point was also a beautiful area. And honestly, just driving on Highway 1 in SoCal is beyond gorgeous. We meandered over to this area, and I particularly enjoyed the more residential and less crowded feel. While I didn’t stop by, we drove by some cute shops.
Cool off at Rita’s Ice Custard Happiness
Also in Dana’s Point, we quenched our thirst at Rita’s Ice Custard Happiness. Judge me because I didn’t get custard, but I ordered a strawberry slush (blended Italian ice). It was very refreshing, and it can be nice to get away from the crowds.
Stroll down Huntington Beach Pier
Next, we headed over to Huntington Beach per B’s request and strolled by the shops on the pier and those on the street connected to the pier. Billabong offers an array of surfer-vibe clothes. But even better, I found pomegranate chapstick with 30 SPF. I’ve never seen over 15 SPF, and who can beat pomegranate?! I also saw the word “gelato” and had to stop inside at Mangiamo. I ordered one scoop of Nutella Swirl and one of Stracciatella (chocolate chip). It couldn’t compare to the glorious gelato of Italy, but for $3.50, it was alright.
Fuel up at Umami Burger
It’s America; everybody does burgers. But holy cow! Nobody does burgers like Umami. I ordered the Sunny Side burger: a meat patty topped with Parmesan frisco, sunny-side up egg, truffle thyme compound butter, truffled arugula and truffled aioli. I ordered mine gluten-free style on a lettuce wrap and sans arugula. The garlic sauce, parmesan crisp and egg complemented the savory grilled burger. I’ve never had such a great burger. S/o to my sister Taylor for the fabulous recommendation.
Become more cultured at the Getty Center in Los Angeles
This museum boasts many famous works of art such as Irises by Vincent Van Gogh. I personally enjoyed Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 by James Ensor; this massive piece of art showcased many faces, several French phrases (which I enjoyed translating) and the unconventional placement and size of the artist’s signature. For those of you who just lost me in that last sentence, here’s the bottom line: the Getty has beautiful gardens and views that will take your breath away. S/o to S for another great idea.
Dine at the cafe at the Getty
If you missed the beginning of Day 1, please note that I love Mexican food. So, of course, I opted for a Fiesta Bowl with chicken. Spicy yet satisfying. As you’d expect, it’s overpriced. If you’re able, maybe plan your day so that you either eat right before the Getty or right after to save some moolah. But if you must, the Cafe offers some decent options with a killer view.
Stargaze on Hollywood Boulevard
I’ve never been anywhere on Earth like Hollywood. Crowds like you’ve never imagined. Add up all the street performers you’ve ever seen in your life, and they’ve all migrated to Hollywood. Traffic so bad that Siri said it will take 6 minutes to go .6 miles (true story). I’m not gonna lie; it’s hectic. But Hollywood is a must. And don’t forget a selfie in front of the Chinese Theater and some shots of the stars.
Let your inner child run free at Sweet!
While on Hollywood Boulevard, I dropped by this large candy store per Suzanne’s suggestion. In the Wonka section of the store, I bought The Endless Summer truffle (milk chocolate, sea salt and caramel). I took small bites and let them melt in my mouth. Oh, my dang—scrumptious!!
Walk up to the Griffith Observatory to see the Hollywood sign
Suzanne also mentioned that most tourists come to the Griffith Observatory to get a view of the Hollywood sign. If you’re wondering how to spend a weekend in Los Angeles, this must be on your list! It’s a necessity to snap some pics with this iconic landmark. And the observatory has some beautiful architecture and a nice rooftop patio.
Grab a burger at In-and-Out
It’s not a trip to Cali if you don’t get the classic In-and-Out. I ordered a cheeseburger protein-style and a chocolate shake. This inexpensive joint will surprise you with its quality burgers and thick, creamy shakes.
I prepared for L.A. with a Spotify California playlist nearing 3 hours (thanks, Tay) and excitement. Unfortunately, we’d bought tickets to come home. So, I left, wishing I could take the perfect weather with me and beautiful landscapes. Until next time, Los Angeles …