I left off on the end of my Saturday in LA, when I had eaten my body weight in chimichangas. On Sunday, we woke up early to head west for a morning in Venice. Armed with a recommendation from a friend, we ate brunch at Gjelina, a trendy pizza restaurant with amazing vegetable sides. I had a chorizo pizza and we ordered fries to share. After eating there, I’ve ended up seeing it on a bunch of LA guides — so you don’t just have to take my word for it! I
Next, we walked over to the Venice Canals, where I took these photos. It’s such a cute area, and I’d absolutely die to own a house here (or even just rent one for the weekend!) We then walked down the Venice Boardwalk, which yes, is grotty. So much so that I’ve heard some people say it’s skippable. But it was my first time, so I wanted to do it + see the beach. I’d personally say it’s worth it if it’s your first time visiting, as it is a “landmark” of sorts, but don’t expect much. It’s a lot of hot dog stands and t-shirt shops. Although there were a few poké places too! (Though is that where I’d want to get raw fish? Probably not.)
We then walked over to Abbott Kinney, the main shopping street in Venice (and where Gjelina is located!) I didn’t buy anything, but there are some cute spots: Daniel Wellington, Cuyana, Illesteva, as well as lots of unique storefronts that are partially outdoors, like the one pictured right below this, so it’s fun to wander through on a nice day. (It was overcast the day we went, but still fun.)
Then, we drove back east a bit to grab an afternoon cocktail at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I had been once as a kid (not to stay, just to use the bathroom, haha!) but really wanted to go back as an adult. I always prefer grabbing a drink at a swanky hotel over doing lunch or dinner there, simply because it’s much more affordable. We sat outside at the Polo Lounge, which I highly recommend. There’s also a restaurant down by the pool, but it was a little loud and not nearly as elegant. And if I’m paying for a $18 cocktail, it better be elegant!
We both ordered Howard Hughes cocktails, which came in these sky-high martini-esque glasses, and were adorned with a little purple flower. It was the exact sort of over-the-top classic cocktail experience I was hoping for. Next time, I want to sit in one of these adorable pink and green booths. I mean, so, so cute, right?
With not much else on our agenda for the day, we then make the quick drive over to West Hollywood to stop at Gracias Madre. I can’t speak much to the food there, as we only ordered chips and guac, but it’s all plant-based. We both ordered snowcone cocktails, which were both very tasty!
For dinner on Sunday, I met up with a friend from college for poké at Sweetfin on Larchmont. I love poké, and am so happy it’s becoming more of a thing in NYC, though we’re not nearly up to LA standards just yet. Also, if you’re in the Larchmont area, there’s a great ice cream shop called Salt & Straw just down the block!
On Monday, I headed up to Malibu, where I met up with Brooke and her boyfriend for lunch at Malibu Farm. It’s a super cute spot right on a pier, so you get a gorgeous beach view the whole time. The menu is pretty expansive — tacos, burgers, sandwiches, et cetera — but there’s no french fries, which really threw us for a loop.
I also ordered a kale mimosa and felt very #LA.
After we parted ways, I walked along the beach for a bit (so, so beautiful!) and then headed to the Getty Villa. LA has a lot of great museums, and on my next trip, I’ll definitely try to hit more of them. But this time I just didn’t make a ton of time for it as I was more interested in exploring the different neighborhoods. I am, however, glad I made time for this one. The space was built by J. Paul Getty to house his Greek, Roman and Etruscan art. And while the art is impressive, it’s the villa itself that really blew me away. One thing to remember: You do need to make a (free) reservation before you can enter. Parking costs $12, if I remember correctly.
Afterwards, I set off on the drive back east, and of course, was caught in another LA traffic jam. I had some time to spare, so I stopped by the Grove, an outdoor shopping center near Beverly Hills. It’s way more picturesque than your average outdoor mall and has a ton of stores — Nordstrom, J.Crew, American Girl, Madewell, you get the picture.
Also to note: At this point on Monday I realized I had gotten the most unattractive sunburn in the sun during lunch earlier that day. My face was SO. PINK. I felt the natives judging me for not putting on SPF. It was the one day I didn’t wear any CC cream, which has SPF 50 in it. Rookie mistake.
I was flying out Tuesday night, but had the day to explore. My stepsister works in Hollywood, so after dropping her off, I walked around the “Walk of Fame” was able to see some famous stars! The whole thing is incredibly expansive.
I also tried to go to the Broad Museum that morning, but by the time I got there (45 minutes before opening, on a rainy Tuesday!) it was already a two hour wait. Honestly, I’m sure it’s great, but I just didn’t want to stand outside in the rain for two hours. Next time!
There were also a couple of food spots I hadn’t yet checked off my list. The first and foremost was Lemonade. If I could only drink one beverage for the rest of my life, it would be a hard choice between wine and lemonade (this is excluding water!). I don’t drink soda, and I never have, so lemonade has always been my drink of choice.
I went to the location on Larchmont after struggling to find parking at the one near the Broad. Since I was meeting up with my stepsister later that day for In-N-Out, I decided to skip eating there, and just get the lemonade. I ordered the guava limeade, and it was so refreshing. I was tempted to get a second, but resisted and then headed off to LACMA.
Though I didn’t actually visit LACMA (sensing a pattern here?), since I was short on time to meet my stepsister for lunch, I wanted to see the famous urban lights installation outside, which I think of as a classic sign of LA.
Then, it was time for In-N-Out. I had been a couple times before, in Vegas and San Francisco, and it was just as good as I remembered. Also, it’s so cheap. My burger/fries/lemonade combo was less than $8. I have to say, that definitely gives In-N-Out advantage in the great In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack debate.
My last stop was at a place called Churro Borough, which makes churro ice cream sandwiches. Yes, you read that right. And yes, they were so, so good. I love churros. I wish they were more of a staple in my everyday diet.
After going home to pack, I headed to my stepsister’s office to drop off her car and take an Uber to the airport. There was an accident, which made the typically 20-minute trip take almost an hour. And then Uber prices skyrocketed to $80 for a normally $25 trip. Cue me having a near panic attack on the drive. Luckily, it all worked out — my Uber driver was awesome and got me there in great time. I made my red eye, slept nearly the whole time, and arrived back in NYC at 5 a.m. Needless to say, the next day at work was rough, but I powered through!
I had the best time in LA. I could totally see myself living there, to be honest! All the restaurants, the cool neighborhoods, the shopping — and of course, the palm trees! I also love to drive so that part didn’t even bother me that much. I definitely belted out along to the John Legend and Ariana Grande version of Beauty and the Beast too. And best of all: I got to see people I love but rarely get to hang with. Can’t ask for more!