My brother, Jacob, moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles a few years ago, and while I miss having him close, it sure is nice to have an excuse to visit LA throughout the year. Shea and I have traveled out there the last three spring breaks, so I keep updating this post with what we do and where we eat each time we go out there.
— LOS ANGELES —
California brings #nofilter to whole other level. I think I strain my neck and back constantly trying to look around at all of the gorgeous scenery everywhere we go. Living below sea level in Louisiana really gives you a special appreciation of mountains! Here are a few of the places we went while we stayed in Los Angeles.
WHAT TO DO
GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY | This is the one of the best places to get a full 360 degree view of the entire city. I recommend going around sunset, because the sky overlooking the hills is beautiful at this time of day. Also, wear some comfy shoes, because it’s a walk to the observatory once you park. You can see downtown LA, Century City and other landmarks that helped me get my bearings on the city a little better. The view of the Hollywood sign still doesn’t get old for me either!
The architecture of the actual observatory is something to marvel at, as well as the scenery. There is also an IMAX theatre and a museum in the observatory.
THE GROVE | My brother lives a couple of blocks from The Grove, so we like to walk over there, and it’s so much more than shopping! It’s like Disney World meets the Galleria.
MELROSE TRADING POST | My brother lives in West Hollywood which is just blocks away from one of the coolest local flea markets. The Melrose Trading Post is open every Sunday on the Fairfax High School campus. It costs $3 to get in, which goes back to the school, and there are hundreds of vendors, food options and even live music. Shea and I like to collect pieces for our house while we are traveling, and we bought a beautiful gold tray and handmade dream catcher. I also bought a personalized necklace that was made on the spot coincidently by a Bama fan!
RUNYON CANYON | I like to run, and I thought I liked to hike, but hiking in Runyon Canyon is legit and definitely different than any “hike” I have done before. It wasn’t necessarily an extremely difficult hike, but there are times when you are walking straight up and I thought I might slip. I was very nervous here and there on the way up, but it was all worth it when we got to the top. It was a good thing we went with a seasoned vet for our first time out there, since my brother-in-law, Peter, knew exactly where to go…and held my hand…with Shea!
THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL POOL | Pool time plus Hollywood Stars, also a bowling alley
VENICE | I definitely recommend blocking off at least half a day to go explore Venice. There is so much to see and do in such a compact area.
Abbott Kenney, Canals, Boardwalk, brunch on a rooftop
WHERE TO EAT
CECCONI’S | One of my favorite restaurants in West Hollywood…
ORIGINAL FARMER’S MARKET | Attached to the Grove shopping area is the Original Farmer’s Market, which has over 100 gourmet grocers, specialty food restaurants and a mix of shops. There is something for every tastebud – from French cuisine to an empanadas only restaurant to a cupcakes and milk shop – and everything we tried was delicious. The whole area is a very cool outdoor shopping and dining experience.
THE IVY | Think US Weekly…very expensive, but it’s worth it to check-off your LA bucket list. I strongly suggest making a reservation. glass of champagne while you wait…
TROPICANA POOL & CAFE at THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL | If you aren’t a guest at the hotel pool, each person has to spend $50 at the cafe, and this is actually pretty easy to do. We had a bottle of rose, wings and fish tacos, and everything was delicious. You can also go to the outdoor cafe for breakfast and lunch and not have to lay out at the pool.
MILK | The dessert options at this place is insane. I had a Fruity Pebbles icecream sandwich that was delicious. They also have coke floats, sundaes, freshly baked cookies, homemade icecream and more!
PUMP – SUR – TOM TOM | We are those people that like to see a celebrity – actually more like a Bravo-lebrity – when we go to LA. I equate us in Los Angeles to people who come to New Orleans and want to go to Bourbon Street. PUMP is clearly the best place to go if you are looking for someone on Bravo. We spotted both Ken and Lisa, and James Kennedy even took a selfie with me. So, we were pretty much on Cloud 9 the entire night! I’m so mad that I didn’t take a picture of our table. I was still on a natural high just from walking into the place. When we were walking up to it, I thought it was reserved for filming, because it was that gorgeous. Go at night while it is lit up. Of course, I drank a Pump-tini and ate Lisa’s favorite pasta.
— LAGUNA BEACH —
The last two times we have been to LA, we have made the short trek down to Laguna Beach. It’s only a little over an hour drive from LA if you time traffic just right. The first time we stayed in a hotel, and this last time we stayed at a friend’s house. The main goal of this quick beach getaway was to relax and not have a plan, and we were definitely successful!
WHERE TO STAY
LAGUNA BEACH HOUSE | We randomly found this boutique hotel online while searching for a place to stay in Laguna Beach. We would rather stay at local hotels as opposed to chains when we travel. It ended up being a perfect spot to stay. We could see the ocean from our room, and the beach was a short, beautiful walk just a couple of blocks away. The hotel also offers towels and chairs to bring out to the beach with you when you go.
On the first day, we walked to lunch and then got some gelato on the way back to the beach. We sat on the boardwalk eating ice cream and watching everyone on the beach. It was so weird to think that this was some people’s everyday life. How fun is that?!
The Laguna Beach House have a wine happy hour each evening as well as complimentary coffee and a grab-and-go granola and yogurt breakfast in the mornings. Since it was cold during our trip, they also had a fire pit going outside by the pool in the evening. It is one of those places that thought of every detail. I wish we could have stayed more than one night!
WHERE TO EAT
THE DECK | We shared small plates and drank cocktails on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a perfect welcome to the area and a great way to start our quick beach trip. I am now obsessed with ahi tuna poke, because theirs was literally one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The guacamole, shrimp tacos and rose’ were also delicious. We went back this past year when we made our return trip.
THE CLIFF | The food was eh, but the view was b-e-a-utiful! I could tell it was definitely a restaurant made for tourists, but I had to at least have a cocktail there to see the view of the cliffs and ocean.
GELATO PARADISO | While we were walking around town after lunch on the first day, we randomly found this gelato place, and it was so good that I went back for round two before we left the next day! It’s also part of a cute shopping area.
SAPPHIRE | Beautiful restaurant…
THE RITZ-CARLTON LAGUNA NIGUEL | The view here is absolutely spectacular. Breathtaking. Truly gorgeous. Despite unseasonably cold temperatures, I couldn’t bring myself to eat dinner inside. The staff turned on a fire pit for us and gave me multiple blankets to stay warm. Lobster tacos, rose’ and this view made for a perfect evening. The hospitality of the staff was fabulous, and it is definitely a place I would love to return to.
California to me is still like living in a TV show, so I continue to be awestruck with the views, weather and how there is always so much to do. Each time we leave we already have a list together of what we want to do when we get back. If you are a frequent traveler to Los Angeles or surrounding areas, I would love to hear some of your favorite things to do and places to go! We were going once a year, but we are now trying to make the trip at least twice a year. I hope Jacob and Peter are ok with this!