Surprisingly enough, this was my first time in California. Thanks to my job, we stayed in Disneyland in Anaheim and then Steve and I extended our trip and visited Laguna Beach and Los Angeles.
We left to Chicago on Thursday and started prepping for the conference. I was able to bring Steve along so that made the 4.5 hour flight was much more bearable. We dropped off our bags at the hotel, said hello to the staff that was already here and grabbed lunch with some work friends. I know it was only a 4 hour flight but I was exhausted for most of the conference. We had early mornings and late nights up until the last day but the weather was amazing! Chicago was having terrible weather, so it felt nice experiencing consistently warm weather.
EXPERIENCE IN ANAHEIM
There wasn’t much to see during our time in Anaheim. I was working most of the time we were there. Steve was able catch a L.A. Angels game. Thanks to my job, we got free passes to Disneyland. The firework show was amazing, and I took the cutest photo with Minnie Mouse. On our next and final night in Anaheim, we had dinner and drinks at Anaheim Brewery.
DAY 1 IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
After the conference, Steve and I rented a vehicle and started our mini road trip to Laguna Beach! I’ve been wanting to visit Laguna since the Laguna Beach reality show with Lauren Conrad. We we’re only there a few hours but Laguna Beach is beautiful! We were in awe during whole drive into the town. I’ve never seen houses/mansions on top of mountains before.
We parked and headed to Main Beach! It was so surreal seeing the Pacific Ocean up close for the first time. I’ve seen it from a distance in Seattle. The sand was soft and the waves were wild. The whole scenery was just nothing I’ve ever seen before and it made further realize the beauty of Mother Earth. The big rocks, the cacti, the view, everything was just amazing and none of the pictures will do it justice.
After the beach, we stopped by Slapfish for lunch. I had the lobster roll, and it was amazing! It was expensive but just so good I wish I could order two. They ran out of buns so Steve had to order something else. We walked around their civic art center and tried to cherish the last moment in this beautiful town.
We got to our Airbnb in the Melrose/La Brea area and quickly settled. This was the best Airbnb I have ever stayed in. It’s a small, clean and comfortable studio with an amazing bed! I highly recommend staying there.
Soon after, we headed to the grocery store for jugs of water, more sunscreen and Starbucks. We were exhausted, but we freshen up and headed to the Dodgers game! I had no idea Dodger Stadium was on top of a hill. That whole area is massive and yet the field feels small. We went with my friend, Alondra who is an Angeleno and a huge Dodger fan. It was amazing catching up with her. I hadn’t seen her since she moved from Chicago a couple years ago. While her and I caught up, Steve made new friends with older Angelenos who were also big Dodger fans. They were sharing all the historical, baseball tidbits Steve loves.
I asked Alondra about the Chavez Ravine. It was a community that was displaced to build Dodger Stadium. Latino USA had a story on the battle over the Chavez Ravine. L.A. Mexicanos are huge Dodger fans, so she expressed the complex feelings some have over the stadium.
After the game, we went to In-N-Out! It was late and packed with people. I’m not sure if i tried it at the wrong or place but the burger fell below my expectations.
We woke up early and headed to Runyon Canyon Park located in the Hollywood Hills. I strongly recommend you research the trails before you start. We began the hike in the West Trail, as in the toughest trail. The trail was steep and not paved. We quickly hiked to the top and then just walked across instead of downhill. At first, it felt exhilarating. We were so high! But then my fears of heights stepped. Surprisingly, I haven’t been much fearful since high school. Thankfully, Steve was such a gem and helped me with my mini-scare. We walked down to the paved road and then quickly researched the most interesting trails. Ugh, it was so beautiful yet tiring!
We went back to the apartment, showered and took a well deserved nap! Afterwards, we headed to the glamorous Beverly Hills. I am huge fan of Beverly Hills 90210. Just seeing the popular locations featured in the intro of the show made my day. Rodeo drive was pretty touristy but still cool to see. We drove nearby Beverly Hills Hotel and walked around the mansions. So cool.
We had trouble deciding between Venice Beach and Santa Monica but ended choosing Santa Monica. Our first stop was a small, but packed, Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Monica. We walked off our meal by heading towards the pier. Santa Monica Pier is huge! The pier is filled with shops, amusement rides, live music, and tons of people.
Our last full day in Los Angeles was the 4th of July! The city felt so empty. We had brunch and then headed to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Wow. Let’s just say it’s a lot more grimy and touristy than Times Square in New York City. It was a little underwhelming. The stars were dirty and anticlimactic. There’s so much Hollywood history in the Chinese Theatre so that was great to see. The best past was seeing the Judy Garland’s footprints in cement. I love Judy!
After our stroll, we drove to Griffith Park. Sometime between leaving the Walk of Fame and arriving to the top of the Griffith Park Observatory, there was an earthquake! I know so spooky, but we didn’t realize it until we received a text from family. There were ambulances and police activity, but we just assumed it was a precaution since it’s a major holiday.
The view from the Observatory was amazing! This is the closest we saw the Hollywood sign. We were so upset we didn’t have time nor the clothes to hike the trail.
We did not feel any of the after shocks that happened after we left the Observatory. Apparently, it could’ve been because we were driving. Despite the scare/news reports, we decided to head to Malibu as planned. The drive on the Pacific Coast Highway was a dream come true. Ugh, nature is just so beautiful. After Malibu, we stopped by the Grove, an outdoor mall that was featured on The Hills. Thanks to Heather from The Heather Report for recommending/reminding! Although it is much smaller than I imagined, it was so cool to see it in real life. We went home, had some wine and the headed out to explore the LA nightlife on our last night in California.
The next morning, we stopped by Trejos Coffee & Donuts, owned by actor Danny Trejo. Then, we dropped off our rental vehicle and took free shuttle bus to LAX.
Southern California made me further appreciate Mother Earth. Souther California is beautiful, and cannot wait to go back!