We just got back from a wonderful road trip up Highway 1 in California and Oregon. The weather was beautiful – no humidity, mosquitos or rain. The trip began in Los Angeles, and while we have been there before, it’s impossible to see everything in one visit!
In this post, I’ll recap what we did, where we ate, stayed and how to make the most of your time in a city where traffic sometimes throws a wrench in your best laid plans.
Where We Stayed
I chose to book through Airbnb this time for our two nights in Los Angeles. Hotels can kind of be pricey and since we were heading out after a studio tour on day 3, picked a spot that was just a few blocks away from that. Our host, Kathy, was lovely! We talked with her a little bit when we checked in to “The Lavender Cottage” and discovered she used to work for CNN and knew Anderson Cooper. She now does lighting for theater and retail stores, but has worked in the film/TV industry for a very long time.
Included with the room were two bikes! We didn’t use them, but this would be a great option for someone wanting to explore the immediate area.
Where We Ate
Cinnaholic. If you watch Shark Tank, you may remember this vegan cinnamon roll place from an episode a few years ago. I made a note of it and we stopped to get some on our way to the Nixon Presidential Library. Holy Cow were they good!
In-N-Out, obviously! Haha. It doesn’t get more West Coast than In-N-Out burgers, so we had two meals at the famous joint. Personally, I think their special sauce is pretty gross. The first meal there, I’d asked them to leave it off but that didn’t get communicated and I scraped most of it off after tasting it. Adam liked it, but to me it tasted like a mixture of pickles, onion and mayo. Bleh. The second meal there was way better as they got my order right.
We also had dinner at an amazing Lebanese place in Culver City called Almaza. I had falafel with hummus, rice and Adam got the chicken shawarma. The portions were huge, food was excellent, but the service was somewhat lacking. Maybe it was an off night, but they were slow to take our order and slow to bring our check. I would still eat here again, but that was definitely a down side to the restaurant.
I also had a birthday cake milkshake from Milk Bar, owned by Christina Tosi from Master Chef. It was good; a bit over priced and more just for Instagramming in my opinion. If I went back, I’d try the actual cake, but it’s really not all that different from other dessert shops.
What We Did
Our plane landed around 8:30 am PST, so that gave us a full day to explore. Last time, we went to President Reagan’s Presidential Library and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go to Nixon’s this time. It’s about an hour drive outside of L.A., but if you enjoy history or politics, worthwhile to go. I know I learned a lot!
Once we left there, I drug Adam to an AMAZING library that had an aquarium, huge children’s department and several stories of materials. We also checked out The Last Bookstore in downtown L.A., which was a mad house of people trying to take photos for Instagram.
Most of the first day was gone by the time we got done in downtown and West Hollywood, so we decided to check in to our Airbnb for the night.
Day two started off with a hike behind the Hollywood sign. I am really glad we waited to do this hike then, because it was overcast and breezy and it was a tough trail to climb. If you are interested in doing the hike, get out there early as parking was FULL when we left and the crowds were increasing. Here’s the link to where we parked (Bronson Canyon) and the actual hike we took. Make sure you summit Mt. Lee to get behind the sign – another path takes you to a viewpoint of the front instead (which is also nice, but if that’s where you go thinking you’ll be behind it, that’s not the right path to take).
We then did a little location hunting, seeking out some filming locations for The Office and Silicon Valley.
From there, we ended our day at Santa Monica Pier and walked down to Venice Beach. The cultural vibes between the two are so different! Santa Monica is much more upscale and Venice has a hipster vibe.
Day three, our final morning in L.A., started off with a tour of the Sony Pictures Studio. Last time we did the Warner Brothers Studio Tour and decided to take a different one to see how they compared. I felt like Sony had more history – their lot had many classic films (like Wizard of Oz) filmed there and our tour guide was the voice of Young Tod in Disney’s Fox and the Hound.
We also got to go on the set of The Goldbergs, see cars from Ghost Busters, Breaking Bad and my favorite, tour the Jeopardy set! The tour took about two hours and was definitely worth it. It is an all walking tour, so no carts like the one at Warner Brothers.
If You’ve Never Been
Obviously, there are some top spots I’ve left out because I have been to L.A. before! If you are looking for other things to do, like the Hollywood Walk of Fame or attend a taping of a live event, check out my older post with what we did back in 2016.