Last week my best friend and I had the opportunity to visit some friends who moved out to California. We got to stay with them at their amazing loft on Hermosa Beach and they showed all the best spots of the Los Angeles area! Most trips I do a lot of research and make a loose guide for myself, but all I had to do for this trip was get my friend and I to Cali with stand-by tickets and enjoy the adventure! They drove us around the area for two and a half fun filled days, and I’m so grateful they let us hang with them. Thanks guys!
We packed a TON in for only having two days to truly explore, but it wasn’t all that exhausting. It was a great blend of the city sights and beautiful California nature. Lots of sunshine, ocean breezes, and colorful buildings! If you are looking to see all that the Los Angeles area has to offer in just one weekend, check out my trip trail below!
We arrived in the evening on Friday and started our night with some classic California fast food, In-N-Out Burger. I’ve only had In-N-Out burger after long flights and starving, so my judgement might be skewed on how good it tastes. Haha. It’s pretty dang good though, and the cheapest meal I was going to have (Los Angeles is expensive…surprise, surprise). After we chowed down and dropped our bags at the loft, we took a stroll along Hermosa Beach towards the pier for drinks. We learned from our friends that Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beach vary in price and exclusivity (in that order), with Manhattan at the top of the price range. The houses along the beaches in all three towns are amazing to look at. Ritzy, unique architecture, with large windows for prime beach views (to see and be seen it seems).
Once we arrived at the pier, we did some bar hopping (a good place to do so) and enjoyed some hand crafted cocktails, conversation, and live music. We took it easy since we had a full day ahead of us and headed back to the loft. However, the Hermosa Pier was the kind of area I could have stayed at for awhile, with its lively and laid back night life.
We started our morning with some breakfast from Noah’s Bagels in Manhattan, and were treated to a free bag of bagels from the cashier for my best friend’s “charming” southern accent (so sweet and unexpected!). We snacked on the bagels later for a midday snack. We hopped in the car and sped along the gorgeous coastline, with its morning sunshine and sparkling turquoise water.
Our first destination was a quick stop to take a picture of the New Girl loft in the Art District. Funny how different those film shots look on tv, when in reality it’s just a small section of a nondescript building. We then parked over on Hollywood Blvd, and explored the iconic sites. Glitzy marquee signs on the old Hollywood theaters and hotels, and the colorful entrance on the Chinese Theater towering above us. We perused the walkway in front of the theater, stamped with stars’ feet and hands. We then wandered over to Dolby Theater, its commercialized everyday look so different than the glamorous award shows it hosts. Walking back to our car, I gazed at my feet to glimpse the Hollywood stars emblazoned in black and red stone. It might have been interesting on another trip to do a Hollywood guided tour, but it was just enough for this trip, where I got a glimpse of everything.
We drove up the winding path to Griffith Observatory, and took in the amazing views of the city and Hollywood sign. Though the observatory’s celestial exhibits inside were interesting, my favorite part was the panoramic views. One exhibit that I found personally intriguing was the world’s timeline done in a sprawling wall mount of vintage star jewelry. Such an amazing collection!
We exchanged our panoramic views of the city and mountains for ocean views as we drove down the valley into Malibu. We stopped at Malibu Cafe for lunch, a fun place with very interactive grounds. In addition to its rustic chic outdoor restaurant, it includes a creek with paddle boats, outdoor games like giant checkers and cornhole, live music and a bar!
Next we drove the Pacific Coast Highway towards Santa Monica to explore the pier. Though highly commercialized, Santa Monica Pier is full of vibrant color, and has rides and carnival food to enjoy. The wind was quite brisk (and I was having a few too many Marilynn Monroe moments with my dress), so we headed to our next destination after a quick walk around the pier.
Our next stop, Venice Beach, was a fascinating experience! We walked along the Venice canal, with its mix of European influenced architecture and ultra modern homes. Most houses had their own little dock with canoes or paddle boats. We crossed several charming little bridges and awwed over the beautiful homes and their lovingly cultivated gardens, until we came upon Venice Beach. The beach and its boardwalk are a vast contrast to the upscale homes along the canal. Vibrant color, artfully graffiti strewn walls, cheap touristy knickknacks, and a swarm of people walked the boardwalk. We passed muscle beach, which was too chilly for the regulars to be exercising at (though I bet it’s a sight to see when busy), and moved on to the skatepark on the beach. We watched some locals try cool tricks with one amazing little girl besting them all. You go girl!
Once we got our fill of her beach, we headed to the High Lounge Rooftop for some drinks while we watched the sunset. I chose a warmed cider and cuddled under a blanket provided by the bar on cold nights, as I watched the colors wash the sky. Tired after a long day and too chilled to stay long, we headed back to Hermosa Beach for dinner.
We ended our Saturday with dinner at Playa Hermosa for some delicious seafood. My friends snacked on some oysters as an appetizer, which this restaurant is known for, and then we dug into our delicious meal. I chose the lobster mac and cheese, which was creamy and full of lobster!
After a nice sleep-in on Sunday morning, waking to the waves lap against the beach, we ate breakfast at the loft with some mimosa and enjoyed a leisurely morning. By early afternoon, we drove over to Point Vicente for a light hike along the coast. The day was full of sunshine, warmer weather and breathtaking views of the rocky cliffs jutting up against the turquoise water. The trail ended at a viewing point of the lighthouse, where we took our time looking at the beautiful view.
Once we finished our hike, we headed over to the Redondo Riviera area for lunch at Redondo Brewing Company. I enjoyed a refreshing cranberry ale with my chicken sandwich on the outdoor patio, overlooking the town. For dessert, we headed over to the Redondo Pier for some shaved milk (my first ever and it was quite good!). We walked around the pier and my friend explained all the plans they had to revitalize and renovate it in the coming year.
We made our way back to Hermosa for some souvenir shopping for my best friend, and some down time before dinner. Our night ended with sushi and hot saki at a local restaurant in Hermosa, drinks and pool at a hole-the-wall game bar, and ice cream to top of off. It was an amazing two days exploring Los Angeles and I can’t wait to go back and explore more!