California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

Sun, sand, surf: the essentials for a great summer and a great vacation. For our summer vacation this year, Nick and I decided to follow this formula when planning which is how we ended up hopping a plane at the end of June and landed in southern California. Los Angeles and southern California has long been on our list of travel destinations (along with about 100 other spots!). The timing for this trip turned out to be perfect; low air fares, hotel deals, and good weather combined to move Los Angeles to the top of the list. The other factor in our trip planning is that my grandmother lives about two hours south of LA and forty minutes from San Diego. Since she doesn't travel to the east coast anymore, I haven't seen her in years. As we planned out our trip, our idea was to fly into Los Angeles, spend about two days there before heading down to my grandma's and the San Diego area. Since we were flying in and out of Los Angeles, we got a chance to go back to the LA area and spend another day there. The whole California adventure was a whirlwind and, while we racked up quite a few hours in the car, it was exactly the kind of trip Nick and I love. It was full of adventure, delicious food and drinks, and a whole lot of together time.

What to do/see/eat in Los Angeles in 3 days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

What we saw:

La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles County Museum (outdoors)

Grand Central Market

The Bradbury Building

Bottega Louie

Clifton's Cafeteria

Santa Monica Pier

Historic Venice Canal District

American Horror Story's Murder House

Los Angeles is such a great mix of concrete jungle and lush greenery and sunny beach. Though I used to visit pretty regularly when I was growing up, it's been years since and I forgot about how wonderfully complex the city is. One of my favorite things was walking the canal paths of Venice. We went in the early evening and it was just so peaceful. If I had a spare million or so, that's where we would be house hunting. Santa Monica Pier was so crowded but you just can't beat those ocean views.

We also spent time in downtown LA, an area that my family never visited. My parents said it wasn't safe and back then it probably wasn't. But that's changed quite a bit. Downtown is pretty vibrant but with a gritty edge. It's hard to describe; definitely not like an eastern city. We spent one morning wandering around downtown, stopping in Grand Central Market, seeing the famous Clifton's cafeteria with its weird taxidermy animals and ginormous sequioa, and soaking in the dreamy marble and brass interior of Bottega Louie. I was in awe of the stunning architecture of the Bradbury building, which was in 500 Days of Summer. You know you can't visit LA without seeing at least one movie location, right? We decided to up the ante to two by visiting American Horror Story season one's Murder House. Is it weird to say that I wouldn't mind living there?

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

What we did:

Strolled on Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive

Shopped at the Grove

Shopped on Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Took pictures at murals (including Paul Smith's infamous pink wall!)

Had coffee at Alfred Coffee and boba tea at Alfred Tea Room

Ordered cupcakes from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM

Drove by the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Stayed at the Ace Hotel

I wouldn't say we "did" a lot in the traditional sense but what we did do was very LA of us. I confidently ordered expensive cupcakes from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM on Santa Monica boulevard. We window shopped on two of the most expensive streets in California, Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive (and saw more than a few bloggers taking pictures, putting me to shame!). We even got in a little shopping at the Grove when the clasp on my gold earrings broke and I needed a new pair. But my two favorite experiences in Los Angeles had to be our stay at the Ace Hotel and our visits to Alfred Coffee and Alfred Tea Room.

Ace Hotel was just as cool and easy as everyone says it is. Our room was minimalist chic with a pretty sweet view of downtown through floor to ceiling windows. The bed was heavenly, the shampoo and conditioner smelled delicious, and the service was kind and friendly. The night of our stay we went to the Upstairs bar on the roof. I'm pretty sure there's nothing better than sitting by a pool on the top of hotel, sipping rose, with the glittering lights of Los Angeles spread out before you. Actually, Alfred Coffee and Alfred Tea Room are right up there when it comes to experience. Holy instagram heaven. And the coffee and boba tea were pretty good too, if that matters to you at all.

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

california-donuts-los-angeles

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

What we ate (and drank):

The Hudson, West Hollywood

Egg Slut, Grand Central Market

A-Frame, Culver City

The Old Man Bar, Culver City

The Prince, Koreatown

The Stocking Frame, downtown Los Angeles

El Coyote, Fairfax

Verve Coffee Roasters, downtown LA

California Donuts, Koreatown

Randy's Donuts

Donut Friend, York Avenue, LA

You know I can't go on any vacation without planning all my meals and in-between meals and every treat out in advance. Not that I'm a foodie; just a girl that likes to eat. Nick and I had a list about a mile long of places we wanted to grab a bite at because there were so many recommendations across the internet. One of our best sources for good eats was through the Infatuation LA. That's how we found A-Frame in Culver City which offers up authentic and terribly delicious Hawaiian dishes the cutest a-frame house. If I could mail myself a whole package of the shrimp poke, I would be eating it right now. That wasn't the only good meal we devoured. Best breakfast sandwich ever has got to be hot off the griddle at Egg Slut and The Stocking Frame had to die for mac and cheese.

Two things I love in life happen to be done really well in LA: donuts and drinks. Not together, of course, but there are plenty of spots for sweet, doughy treats and strong liquor. We happened to stumble upon The Old Man Bar in Culver City after our dinner at A-Frame and it was like the coolest grandpa bar you could ever find. I also couldn't leave the city of angels without having a drink at the Prince. Why not? Because it's Nick's bar in The New Girl. If only Winston was there to share an inappropriately fruity drink with.

So did I miss anything??? Because if I did, I better start booking that plane ticket now...

California Trip: Exploring Los Angeles in 3 Days

Stay tuned for next week when I share part two of our trip, San Diego!