Tag Archives: sightseeing

Travel Journal: Los Angeles

Hi friends! As promised, today I’m going to fill you in on my recent trip to Los Angeles. In celebration of his birthday, my dear friend Adam asked if I would like to spend a few days in L.A. culminating in a Venice Beach birthday party. Of course I jumped at the chance! It was a wonderful excuse to spend time with him (we haven’t lived in the same city since college!) and see some of our other friends who call the West Coast home.

Lately, I’ve been really into reading diary-style blog posts (“I did this…and then we did this…”) so I decided to try that out for this post. I actually typed this up straight from my personal travel journal! Let me know if you like this method. Here we go —

Wednesday – 

After a morning of work, I Ubered to MIA with plenty of time for a leisurely, non-rushed experience. I bought White Fur by Jardine Libaire at the airport Books & Books, grabbed a turkey bagel from Einstein’s, and ate while listening to Britney’s Gram: The Podcast. I nabbed some snacks for the flight. The flight to L.A. was 6 hours. On the plane, I read a few chapters from my new book and then watched The Glass Castle and Girls Trip. Long flights by yourself are kind of a treat (as long as you don’t have a man-spreader next to you), aren’t they? I landed at 8:30pm pt and met up with Adam, whose plane had also just arrived–no easy feat as LAX is huge. Colby picked us up and we stayed up (too) late talking. I had a couple glasses of red wine because California.

Thursday –

Not a great night of sleep (damn you time changes!) but I woke up ready to tackle the day, after some coffee of course. Adam and I went to M Cafe (a vegan spot in the neighborhood) and split a breakfast burrito and avocado toast before walking around West Hollywood for a bit. We planned out the rest of our day and decided to walk to The Original Farmer’s Market.

It’s a long walk but mostly through cute neighborhoods. We saw lots of bungalows (totally my vibe!) and kids dressed up for Purim. Once at the market, we walked around the stalls. The sticker stall was a clear favorite for me and I couldn’t resist buying a few sheets. (I mean who can resist ALPACA stickers?!) We also lingered in the stalls selling incense and essential oils. Free smells! There were a ton of food options but I settled on Loteria Grill and ordered huevos rancheros with warm corn tortillas. Then we stumbled into a fruit stall that smelled even more amazing than all those hippy-oils and bought some mangoes. There was a Zara nearby so we popped in for a quick browse. I ended up buying a marigold cardigan and justified the purchase because L.A. was much colder than I had planned and I needed an extra layer.

We then took an Uber to Colby’s apartment; our driver played old school hip-hop the whole way and it seemed like the perfect soundtrack to the passing scenery. Since we’d been walking all morning, we relaxed for about an hour at Colby’s before heading out to Runyon Canyon. We hiked a large loop which took us along a ridge with beautiful views of Downtown L.A. on one side and the Hollywood sign on the other.

We stopped at various benches to take in the landscape and take pictures, and chatted the whole way. I took a water from the “honor system” cooler on the way out, paying a dollar via Venmo. (Technology!)

The red carpet is under a layer of plastic wrap!

From there, we made our way down to Hollywood Blvd, by way of Muji (my obsession), and saw the star clad side walk. Then we walked the red carpet (!) which was already set up for Sunday’s Oscars – just with a bit of plastic on top. It was fun to get a behind-the-scenes look. We also found another view of the Hollywood sign, saw more stars, and the apartment building from Pretty Woman.

The apartment building from the movie Pretty Woman.

After another chill sesh at Colby’s, we decided to call it a night after a quick pop-in dinner at Village Idiot.

Friday –

I woke up quite early and read White Fur for a bit. Adam and I decided we both needed to do a little work to wrap up the week so we headed to Coffee for Sasquatch. This was the rainiest day (rain in LA?!) of the trip and the coffee shop was a cozy place to spend the morning.

After a little work we took an Uber to downtown L.A. to spend a few hours at The Last Bookstore. Adam’s birthday was the following day and he has a tradition of treating himself to a stack of books each year. I abstained from purchasing my own stack as it wasn’t my birthday but, honestly it had more to do with my one bag travel situation.

Books flying off the shelf, trying to come home with me!

Still raining, we darted a few blocks to Bäco Mercat. Our meal here was definitely a highlight of the whole trip. Highly recommend! We split caramelized cauliflower to start and I had The Fava Fritter. So good! Adam grabbed a post-meal espresso at Tilt

and we took a hilarious Uber pool back to West Hollywood. (Hilarious because Adam and I know each other well enough that we can speak without needing to speak…and our car companions needed to be spoken about. Let’s just say I spent a portion of the ride staring out the window with tears coming down my face because I was trying so hard not to laugh!)

From there, we drove to Dan’s house in a borrowed mini cooper. The first half of the drive was stunning as we navigated through the Hollywood Hills in the rainy weather with jazz playing on the radio. Dan and his wife Samantha gave us a tour of their house and we spent some time visiting. Then we headed to a couple grocery stores to buy supplies for Adam’s party. Back at the house, we met Dan’s 2.5 year old daughter, Olivia.

Finally, we met up with Maggie at Los Feliz Theater (Recommend! Only $9.50 for a ticket and super charming!) and saw Red Sparrow. I snuck in a burrito bowl from Tacos Tu Madre which is right next door. Sorry, not sorry.

Saturday – 

Birthday party day! Adam and I returned to M Cafe – I had oatmeal with berries and a juice (with lots of turmeric!). We ran up the street to a Trader Joe’s to get last minute supplies – water, snacks, beer – for the party. We drove to Venice Beach and dropped stuff off at Dylan’s apartment, the party locale. His place has an adjoining beachy courtyard strung with fairy lights, complete with picnic table and fire-pit. The three of us walked the boardwalk and got cold brew at a cute place nearby with outside seating (I don’t recall the name).

Party guests started to arrive, including Dan who was making all the yummy food, and Stephanie, who I hadn’t seen in almost 10 years. I also got to meet Colby’s boyfriend who had been at work when we hung out on Thursday. We dined on bean-burger sliders with coleslaw and homemade bbq sauce, tempeh kebabs, and chips with hummus and homemade salsa. Vegan BBQ-theme on point!! I also bought Adam a 9″ fruit tart from Whole Foods as his “cake” and, although we skipped the candles, we sang a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. We made a fire in the fire-pit, talked, and listened to music.

Sunday – 

I woke up at 4:30am and was out the door by 5:15. Made it to LAX without a hitch. Thank goodness for the early morning departure time. Paramedics were randomly resuscitating a woman on one of those metal tables in security and my pre-coffee consumption self was highly confused. She seemed to be ok by the time I made it through. I got a bagel (which I saved to eat on the plane) and coffee (which I immediately downed). On the plane I watched The Battle of the Sexes and hardcore creeped my seat mate’s business because I was convinced he was an air marshal – still no conclusive evidence on that one. I made it back to Miami just after 3pm est. Such a wonderful trip. So glad I got to spend time with Adam for his birthday!

The end.

Have you ever been to Los Angeles? What was your favorite part? Do you keep a travel journal with details from your trips? I love having a place to jot down the places I visit and the restaurants I want to remember. Hope you enjoyed this peek into mine! 

P.S. Some of these photos were captured by Adam. Thanks boo!


Five free things to do in Coral Gables.

arch of banyan trees biltmore hotelIMG_1235 IMG_1227IMG_1230 IMG_1236

In an effort to get to know our new surroundings in South Florida, Chet and I have been setting off on a new adventure each weekend. Exploring Coral Gables was near the top of our list for a couple reasons. 1. Bourdain recommends doing so in the Miami episode of The Layover. 2. We live super close to this little hamlet! We spent the afternoon driving and walking around and taking in all the sites “the city beautiful” had to offer us. And we ended up not spending a dime! A welcome situation because SPOILER ALERT: moving and setting up a new home is expensive! It struck me that others may want to check out Coral Gables (or “the gables” as the locals refer to it) on a similar budget. So, here are a few ways you could spend your afternoon…

1. Take a drive under the canopied arches of the Banyan trees. This is the activity recommended by Bourdain and I’ll echo his suggestion. You’ll feel like you’re on a magical amusement park ride underneath the shade of these natural tree tunnels. The way the knobby trunks grow all twisted together is a site to behold. You may even want to climb out of your car at one of the center medians and get a closer look (or have a photo shoot…perfect Insta-worthy moment). But the real reason you’re going to love driving these scenic roads is the HOUSES! There are tons of stunning Mediterranean Revival homes with grand entryways, palatial courtyards, and spectacular fountains.

2. Pretend you belong at the Biltmore. Coral Gables has been home to this luxury hotel since 1926. It’s had a pretty notable history since then, including being used as a hospital during World War II. The Wikipedia page is worth a read as you wander around the circumference of the vast grounds. Perhaps pretending along the way that you’re staying in one of their suites for the weekend and only popped out to get a bit of fresh air. Maybe if you’re feeling bold you can zip on into the lobby and have a poke around there, too!

3. Walk the Miracle Mile. The Miracle Mile is a stretch of road that bifurcates the city center. It was designed in order to make all the businesses in the downtown commercial district no more than a two-block walk from each other. The result? An extremely pedestrian friendly city! You can amble up and down the stretch, popping in and out of quaint boutiques along the way, and check out the cool architectural details on some of the more historic buildings.

4. Enjoy a free film at the Miracle Theater. Along the Miracle Mile you’ll find the Miracle Theater which comes complete with an old school marquis and a vintage vibe. Amazingly, the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theater sponsors a free film series! Check the calendar and plan your trip accordingly. They do a showing about once a month usually with a Saturday evening time and a Sunday matinee.

5. Do a little wedding window shopping. Not sure why but there are a TON of bridal and wedding shops in Coral Gables. As someone who is newly engaged, I didn’t mind at all! You could definitely find a few dream dresses while taking in all the different window displays. You can also find some ensembles you wouldn’t be caught dead in…and a particularly horrid few shops that feature crazy looking bridesmaid gowns and Mother of the Bride atrocities. And if weddings aren’t your thing…try home decor or records or art prints. There’s something for everyone!

Bonus: Sick of walking? The Gables also provides a FREE trolley service, with a trolley running a continuous circuit up and down Ponce de Leon Boulevard throughout the day.