This is my final blog post on our time in the LA area. We flew in on a Mon and flew back home on Sat. We spent our first day in Palm Springs, the next day we spent at Joshua Tree National Park and our final 3 days were spent around LA and Malibu.
After leaving JTNP, we arrived at our Airbnb property in West Hollywood. We had booked with this same host last year and although we had a few minor hiccups, we knew she was always quick to respond to our needs. So, I decided to book with her again.
The property we rented last year was already booked but this host has several properties and she had another apartment available in the same building. We liked the location of these apartments as everything we wanted to see and do were very close. Here’s the property we rented.
It had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen w/ a table and 4 chairs and a living room. It was an older property but clean. There was free parking under the building in a parking garage. We also had free Wifi.
I usually always take pics of the places we stay so I can use them for my blogs but I failed to do that on this trip. This was the only pic I took inside the apt.As you can see, it was very spacious…. and when we travel with our daughter, it’s nice that we all have our own bedroom and bathroom. Makes life a lot easier when you have a daughter who takes forever in the bathroom!
The next morning we headed to a restaurant that we had eaten at last year, Toast. We all really liked the food and atmosphere. They have indoor and outdoor seating…we, once again, opted for outside seating.
My daughter ordered the waffles with strawberries, my hubby ordered the pancakes and I ordered the yogurt with granola…everything was delicious!
Thankfully, they had heat lamps as it was a bit chilly that morning. The food and service is really good here and I recommend you give it a try if you are ever in the area….But, a word of warning, we tried to go back Sat before we flew home and it was packed out so we didn’t stop.
We had a full day planned so after breakfast we headed to our first stop of the day, Venice Beach. We came here last year and rented bikes and wanted to do it again. I was a bit apprehensive about doing it last year since I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, but it was really easy and so much fun!
I can’t recommend it enough…we rented from Venice Beach Rentals and paid $105 to rent 3 bikes all day. However, as we were riding our bikes, we noticed other bike rental places that were much cheaper. Click here for a list of other bike rental companies.
We rode our bikes down to the Santa Monica pier which is about 2 miles. It was a very easy ride as the bike path is paved and flat the whole way. The bike rental place gives you a chain and lock so you can chain up your bike if you want to stop off anywhere.
We wanted to ride the ferris wheel. The ferris wheel is the world’s only solar powered ferris wheel. It gives you a panoramic view of the coastline of more than 130 feet above the pier. If you are here at night, the ferris wheel lights up using more than 174,000 LED lights.The cost to ride is $10 pp. If you want to ride several rides, you can purchase an unlimited ride wristband for $32.95 for ages 8 and up ($29.65 if purchased online) and $17.95 for ages 7 and younger ($16.15 if purchased online).
We only rode the ferris wheel and then walked around the amusement park and boardwalk for a while.Santa Monica Pier symbolically marks the end of Route 66. A sign, on the bridge that extends out into the Pacific Ocean, indicates the precise point.
There are a total of 12 rides in the park…they also have games and a variety of food to choose from. The pier has been featured in over 500 movies and TV shows….read about the history of the pier here.
After leaving the boardwalk, we walked up the steep sidewalk to the street to take a picture of the Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign. It was installed in 1940. It also lights up at night. Click here to read more interesting facts about the pier. We then headed back to Venice beach to turn in our bikes so we could just walk around the area. Venice beach has some very shady characters…there are A LOT of homeless people here and they just camp out right on the beach.
Don’t miss seeing the iconic muscle beach. It’s been around since 1934.
Also, not to be missed, is the Venice sign on Windward Ave. The sign is a replica of the original one that was installed in 1905 by the legendary Abbot Kinney. The new one was installed in 2007 and lights up at night.Another not to be missed sight is the Venice Canals. The canals were built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney as part of his Venice of America plan.
We then walked to Abbot Kinney Blvd. My daughter had wanted to go here last year but we didn’t get a chance to make it there. I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it’s an age thing, I don’t know. 🙂 It’s a mile long strip of the latest fashion, art and food.
The only place we stopped was Salt and Straw. An ice cream shop known for its inventive flavors and farm sourced ingredients. The ice cream was really good.
We then headed back to Venice beach and made one last stop, the boardwalk. Lots of people fish off the pier and birds are always hanging out here because of that.
If you’re not careful, they may even attack you! 😉
After leaving this area, we headed to another restaurant that we ate at last year, Lemonade. This place is so good! Make sure to order a lemonade while you are here…the best I’ve ever had!
My daughter and I ordered the herb grilled chicken sandwich meal…it comes with chips and a tomato and avocado “salad” and it was delicious! It’s so much food you can’t eat it all. My hubby ordered the grilled cheese sandwich and he really enjoyed his as well.
After lunch, we headed to our next stop, LACMA. We were only interested in seeing the outdoor light installation called the Urban Lights. The Urban Lights are 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps.
Last year when we visited, this was our first stop after leaving the airport and there was no one here when we arrived. This time, it was crowded…..however, we did get to see the lights turn on. The lights are solar powered and come on at dusk and go off at dawn.
There is street parking on Wilshire Blvd. and surrounding streets but parking directly in front of LACMA’s plaza area is restricted. There are two LACMA parking lots (6th St. east of Fairfax, and at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Spaulding); $12, free after 7 p.m.Directly across the street from the Urban Lights is another art installation…part of the Berlin Wall.
The original Berlin Wall segments were transported to Los Angeles and installed in mid-October 2009. It’s the largest stretch of the original Berlin Wall in the world outside of Berlin. Read more about it here.
We then headed back to our car and noticed that we had parked near the La Brea Tar Pits. The museum was closed but the grounds where you could view the tar pits were still opened. So, we walked over to take a look.
The tar pits is where natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground for thousands of years. Over many centuries, the tar has preserved the bones of trapped animals. The museum displays specimens from the animals that have died there.
Read reviews here.
After leaving the tar pits, we called it a day and headed back to our apartment.
The next day, we headed to Alfred’s Coffee to get our caffeine fix. Their coffee is really good.Next we stopped at a few wall murals so my daughter could get some shots for her blog/Instagram. The hubby and I got a few shots too. 😉
The first wall was on the side of Carrera Cafe, which is known for their screen printed coffees. The next wall was the Made in LA wall which is located at 8025 Melrose AveAnd next and very close to the last wall is, Paul Smith’s Pink Wall ..it’s located at 8221 Melrose Ave.
Last year they had strict rules about taking pics here and even had a security guard stationed at the wall to make sure you followed the rules…this time, the rules and security guard were gone. For more walls around this area click here and here
We then headed for the Hollywood Walk of Fame.The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.
This area has a lot of sketchy people hanging around and it’s not very clean. However, it was cool to see.
If you visit the area, make sure you check for upcoming star ceremonies. These are open to the public and you may get to see your favorite celebrity. The ceremonies start at 11:30 am.Don’t miss seeing the Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It opened in 1927. Look for the footprints, handprints and other prints on the concrete in front of the theater. Click here for more imprint ceremonies.
After leaving the theater, we looked for somewhere to eat. We came across the Hollywood and Highland Center. It has 4 different levels and has a variety of restaurants and shops. We decided on California Kitchen.
We’ve eaten at this restaurant before in our home state and really like their food ….it didn’t disappoint this time either. The food and service was very good.
You had a view of the Hollywood sign from the shopping center.After lunch, we walked around for a little while longer. We had our picture taken in front of a souvenir shop….the only catch, we had to go in the store and look around. Yep, we left with souvenirs…everything was really cheap.
After leaving this area, we headed to get a better view of the Hollywood sign. The first sign, erected in 1923, actually said Hollywoodland. The sign was in disrepair in the 60’s and in late 70’s was rebuilt…this time, it said Hollywood.
The best way to get to the sign is to put in the address of the Lake Hollywood Park at 3160 Canyon Lake Dr or you will go through a residential area with extremely narrow roads.
Once you are at the park, keep driving past it towards the top of the hill. You will see parking on both sides of the road.
The pic below is of the Hollywood Reservoir behind the Mulholland Dam. It’s located across the street from the side of the road the sign is located.
There are hikes that you can do to the sign…however, you can’t get too close to it as there is a police officer stationed at the sign and 24 hr camera survelliance.
Yes, I actually touched the sign! 😉
After leaving here, we headed to the Griffith Observatory. Admission to the observatory, grounds and telescope is free. However, parking is $4 an hr. There are hiking trails as well as a cafe and a gift shop.
Lots of people will come here to watch the sunset. You also get a view of the Hollywood sign and downtown LA from the observatory.
I recommend you pay to park otherwise you will have to walk up a very long, steep hill.After spending about an hour here, we headed to our next stop, Rodeo Drive. This is just one of those “must dos” when visiting LA. Rodeo Drive is a 2 mile long street lined with over 100 luxury boutiques.
Read about the history of Rodeo Drive here.
When visiting Rodeo Drive, don’t miss seeing Beverly Hills Park. Unfortunately, It was closed for renovations during our visit.
Also worth a visit is the Beverly Wilshire hotel, a landmark since opening in 1928. Many celebrities have lived here. It also served as the backdrop for several scenes in the movie, Pretty Woman.
Other must sees are the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style, the Anderson Court Shops, the House of Bijan and Two Rodeo Dr.
Our next and final stop for the day was The Grove Shopping Center. This place has a bit more affordable shopping than Rodeo Dr. 😉 We came here last year too and really enjoyed it. It’s a neat place to hang out for a few hours.
Not only do they have shops and restaurants but it’s also the location of the world famous Farmers Market. It first opened in 1934 and today has more than 100 vendors, including ready-to-eat foods, grocers, and tourist shops.
It’s opened 7 days a week.
Once again, my daughter and I had to buy some macarons from the one and only, Laduree.
Another place to check out is See’s Candies.…some of the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten! They offer over 100 different kinds of candies and chocolates and let you sample it before you buy…believe me, once you try, you will buy!
They have been around since 1921.
We then decided it was time to eat. Last year my daughter had wanted to try Umami Burger but we opted for the Cheesecake Factory instead…both of these restaurants are at the Grove.
So, this time we decided to give it a try. I was a bit apprehensive after looking at the menu as their burgers sounded a bit odd…I mean what is falafel and bacon lardons?
Well, let me just say, their burgers were out of this world! We all agreed…my hubby even wanted to come back the next night! I can’t recommend this place enough…if you like burgers, you have to try this place!! The service was great too!
I ordered the slider trio (seen below) and one of the burgers I ordered was called the impossible. It’s a plant based “meat” patty between two vegan buns and I could hardly tell the difference….so good!
After dinner, we called it a night.
The next day we planned on spending the day driving along the Pacific Coast Hwy and checking out the beaches along the way.
We started the next morning off with some delicious donuts from California Donuts. This place is very popular and stays really busy. It’s open 24/7 and there is very limited parking.
We then headed to the Pacific Coast Hwy. The drive from West Hollywood to Malibu takes about an hour. We wanted to drive to Point Mugu and then on the way back, stop at some of the more popular beaches.I have to say, this was definitely one of my most favorite things we did while visiting the LA area. We’ve driven part of the PCH in San Francisco and the scenery is just breathtaking!
From 1937-40 workers blasted a roadway through Point Mugu. Prior to that, a route had been blasted out around the promontory in 1923-24 to complete the Pacific Coast Hwy between Malibu and the Oxnard Plain. This narrow path was dangerous and much of it has since eroded away. Read more about it here.
Mugu Rock appears frequently in car commercials. There’s actually a commercial currently showing on TV that features Matthew McConaughey driving a Lincoln near Mugu Rock.
The remains of the old road ..it earned the name Dead Man’s Rock after several drivers plunged their cars into the Pacific ocean below.
In the shot below you can see where the road used to go around Mugu Rock
While driving the PCH, we stopped off at one of the most popular beaches on the highway, El Matador State Beach. Don’t miss this beach, it’s beautiful!
Lots of great rock formations and tide pools. There are quite a few stairs and a steep, sandy path to walk down but it’s worth the effort. It’s usually pretty busy at this beach. You do have to pay to park.
Our next stop was finding somewhere to eat…we decided on Neptune’s Net. We had read about how popular this place was but I have to say, I wasn’t impressed.
It’s directly across the street from a surfing beach.
The restaurant opened in 1956 under a different name. It wasn’t until 1974, when it was sold, that the name was changed to Neptune’s Net. The restaurant has been featured in many movies and TV shows.
I ordered the fish tacos and the hubby ordered shrimp and fish. My tacos were very bland…hardly any taste.
You walk in, claim a table and then go to the counter and order your food. When it’s ready they will bring it out to you.
After lunch, we stopped at a couple of other beaches.
The beaches I would recommend you stop at are: Zumba Beach, Leo Carrillo State Park, Westward beach, Point Dume State beach, Robert H Meyer Memorial State Beach and El Matador.
For food along the PCH, I suggest: Malibu Farm Restaurant/Cafe on the Malibu Pier, Lily’s Cafe, Paradise Cove Beach Cafe ($6 parking when you spend $30 at cafe, otherwise it’s $40 to park).
After spending most of the day driving the PCH and stopping off at several of the beaches along the way, we headed back to the West Hollywood area.
Once again, we headed to a restaurant that my hubby had read about called Carney’s. It’s a simple counter-serve cafe in a vintage railcar, selling hot dogs & burgers with a range of toppings.
It’s a very popular place…but again, I wasn’t very impressed. I was trying to eat somewhat healthy on this trip ..so, I chose the Thai Chicken wrap. It wasn’t bad just a bit bland. Maybe I should have just stuck with what they are known for, their burgers and hotdogs.
After eating, we walked outside and took a few pics of the restaurant…as we were taking pictures, a couple walked by on the sidewalk. I never even noticed them but my hubby said he thought it was Matthew McConaughey.
I just ignored him, as usual, because I thought he was joking..until a tour bus filled with tourists pulled up to the sidewalk beside him and started screaming! My daughter took off behind them …
After a couple of minutes, she came back and we left. A few blocks up, we spotted them again walking down the sidewalk.
We pulled over and my daughter jumps out and ask if she could get a pic with him…he politely declined and kept walking…she was very disappointed.
After “stalking” Matthew, we drove the sunset strip
We then headed in for the night…we were flying out the next day.
The next morning, after checking out of our Airbnb, we tried finding somewhere to eat but everywhere we went was packed out. So, we headed to a place near the airport called, Randy’s Donuts.
Randy’s was built in 1953 and is a landmark building in Ingelwood. You can’t miss it with its giant doughnut on the roof. The shop’s exterior has been featured in numerous TV shows and movies.
This place was super crowded when we arrived and has very limited parking. You can either walk up and order or use the drive thru on either side of the building.
I ordered the Texas glaze and had no idea what I was in for! This donut was as big as my head! So much for eating healthy! 😉
We also ordered the chocolate iced, blueberry iced cake and a vanilla iced cake…all were very fresh and so good!
After leaving here, we headed to the airport. However, on the way, my daughter spotted a wall that she wanted to stop and snap a few pics. It’s the California Dreaming wall..it’s located at 3485 La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles.
Yes, that’s me…I had to have my picture taken here too. 😉
We spotted the Goodyear blimp on the way to the airport. Goodyear has 3 blimps still in operation but has operated as many as eight at a time since its first commercial airship, the Pilgrim, flew in 1925.
After a 4 hr flight delay due to “mechanical problems” we were finally on our way home!Goodbye LA, it was fun!!
Thanks for reading!
I hope this helps you plan your own trip to the LA area. If you have any recommendations or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.