C A L I F O R N I A
“Heaven must be somewhere in California…” – JAHKOY
This girl loves to Travel. I have the basic white chick instinct to wanderlust and seek those pretty places (sometimes just for the gram). Luckily for me my INSTA-husband had a conference down in San Diego for a few days and seeing as that we hadn’t been on a trip just us-
Trip-Just-Us :Verb, Action
Being somewhere other then home
without the company of family, kids
or friends. See also VAYCAAAYYYYYYYY
and people its the first time in almost 7 YEARS! Since our honeymoon! It was about time and I was excited! I had gone to bible college in NorCal and explored most of California, but still had not been to LA so I was extremely excited to check it off my travel see’s and experience something new together as a couple. So lets start where we began…lets go on a little photo journey of where to stay, eat, and play in the beautiful Californ-I-AYYYY!
Well our Trip started as far south as you can go before ya hit Mexico. Brent had just spent a few days in SD for work and I had been before so we decided we probably wouldn’t stay long so that we were able to fit in places we haven’t seen. Brent already rented our car so we went for some breaky near the coast and took off on our drive!
Ok so this Restaurant you guys…wow. Atmosphere – CHECK. Food – CHEEEEECK. Strong and good coffee – Double CHECK! I am a huge planner so for the most part I had planned where were going and eating, and breakfasts this trip were BOMB! like actually (sadly) my most memorable part of my trip and we kicked it off right with Fig Tree Cafe Pacific Beach location. If you ever go try the stuffed french toast and you MUST order a side of their signature truffle hashbrowns. They also have this specialty candied bacon made in house. What dreams are made of.
We headed out on the old coast hwy and made a little pitstop just below Torre Pines golf course and some buildings in the USC campus, we walked a little path too find this beauty of a spot. Looking down onto the beach though we realized there were some questionably attired people walking the beach (nakeeeeeddd) so we decided to walk the path instead of wandering down haha. The color scheme of this place will be my pallet for my dream reno one day. Just gorgeous.
A quick drive through Carlsbad, into oceanside and there were so many places along the way we could have stopped, but this one strip I told Brent we had to stop. Revolution Roasters for a Honey Lavender Latte, Rais Case – the coolest brick and mortar collective shop with DIY corners, an amazing thrift shop, and bathing suit store with an amazing floral mural at its entrance. 10/10 would recommend.
This was a must stop on my list for sentimental reasons. Laguna Beach was my JAAMMM in high school and I could just hear the sweet sounds of Hillary duff singing about rain as we drifted into town haha. We had massages planned (a mothers day gift) for this stop but the day before we got a call the second massage therapist had broken her leg! So we just stopped for lunch at Wahoo’s Fish Taco, thanks to a helpful suggestion from a kid at Laguna Surf and Sport (haha for those of you Laguna watchers that may sound familiar!) walked along the beach, and stopped in some (PRICEYYYY) boutiques and headed off to our next place. I have to say the beach was fun and FULL of kids laughing and swimming and SURFING! It made me miss my kids but its now on the list of stops for future Disneyland trips 😉
The first few days were a mix of sun and this weird “JUNE FOG” if I had known about it I may have wanted to wait for July, but apparently this time of year there is this weird fog that sits off the coast, you can literally see it out on the ocean and it rolls it – its still hot out but with this strange overcast – it actually reminds me of Hawaii’s Vog that you often can have.
Huntingdon was crazy busy, just so many people. It was a cool place to stop and look around, super Iconic in the surfing world, but I wouldn’t want to stay there for longer then that. Lots of cool surf shops and the Pier is HUGE but don’t feel like we missed out by not sticking around longer.
Dinner must whenever in CA^^^^^^^
So the Night and Drive ended in Santa Monica, where our hotel for the next 2 days..
This. night. was. crazy.
I was pretty excited about this place as I had found it online, it looked like a reno’d scuzzy motel just steps from the beach, the reviews were great so we booked it. Getting there proved to be insane cause little did we know that up and coming singer, Khalid, was having an impromptu free concert at the Pier just a block from our hotel. TRAFFIC JAM. After stressful driving the multilane hwys, we just wanted to cozy up and get to sleep after our long day but it took like 40 min, to go 2 blocks to our hotel. When we finally get there to check in, the Lady checking in is acting like we ruined her life by coming to stay (should have been my first clue) and then we see our room. Ya. Not redone. Just scuzzy. Stains on the chairs, the sheets, no towels int he bathroom, loud street noises through the plastic shutters for windows. We both have done missions work in 3rd world countries and never seen anything quite like this. Its dark and late by this time and this little beauty of a place is stuck in the middle of some ritzy hotels that we just were not willing to emergency pay for. So we took to google and finally Brent found a decently priced place who had a room. Back down to cancel our room, get our car and to work through the traffic pile up. again. FAILLLLLLL.
by the time we arrived at The Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Santa Monica we were exhausted, stressed and SO tired. Just DONE.
Thats where this turned into a WIN. We were greeted by THE NICEST CONCIERGE EVER! Im so sad in my tired blurry haze I forgot to get his name but if you were working that night! You’re an Angel. He saw the looks on our faces and told us he would be upgrading us. He was sincere and sympathetic and it turned our night around. Not only that but his upgrade. To a suite on the top floor. Private Balcony. HEAVEN.
So we climbed into our clean sheets and had probably my best sleep since having kids hahaha
This Hotel is brand new and is a new branch of the hotels by Hilton, it is so beautiful and so well done and curated. Would 100% recommend for your stay in Santa Monica.
Thanks so much for having us Hampton Inn & Suites!
The morning after our crazy night we decided to hit the reset button and not get hung up on it.
We went to Malibu Farm for breakfast, the sweetest restaurant nestled on the Malibu sport fishing pier. The food was excellent and its just such a beautiful restaurant and pier as a whole. The quintessential California feel. Its farm to table, organic ingredients and the owner actually has a great cookbook out, its on my Christmas list already.
The weather wasn’t the best, a little chilly actually so while we waited for the sun to show we decided to made a stop somewhere on our way back to Santa Monica that we really didn’t know what it was but was a recommended see from some blogs I came across..
Ghetty Estate & Museum
It still makes me laugh showing up to this place, we couldn’t stop laughing because we thought it was maybe like an old hollywood mansion turned into a museum you could look around. We were wrong. Pulling in there is security and parking attendants and instead of parking in a driveway, there is a full on parking garage with elevators. You go up to see a path leading you who-knows-where and then you come to this massive entrance. Its a full on Museum with restaurant, mini coliseum, HUGE greek/italian style mansion mimicked after one in Italy. Think Pompeii. The grounds where owned and designed by Mr Ghetty and this place is on another level. It now is used as a museum to house relics and antiquities from that time period.
All in all it was beautiful and a neat way to break up our day while the sun was hiding but Brent kept looking at me with a very quizzical look saying “where the heck have you brought me” haha probably should have done a little more research.
The rest of our day we did the pretty typical touristy things, rode the roller coaster on the Pier, ate churros, tried “the rings”, rented bikes and rode from Santa Monica to Venice Beach along the beach path.
All beautiful. Its touristy but worth it when you have never been!
Venice was my favourite, not the Venice beach board walk, a little too much for my taste haha but the Canals. The canals are in so many movies, you see the CUTE houses all along them and I have to say its even cuter in real life and I was pretty disappointed I didn’t think to find an Air BnB there. The gardens too my word! Actually SoCal as a whole had swoon worthy landscaping, the amount and SIZE of their succulents and Cacti. I could cry. I just loved it so much, and Brent was just getting annoyed of me taking so many pictures of plants haha. It was a great little walk and then we stopped on the way back to the path at Simmzys, a surfers pub, and they had unreal food and the best white sangria I have. ever. had.
Put it on the list!
That night we spent the evening walking up and down the Third street promenade. Amazing shops, dining and lounges. 100% one of the best things to do in Santa Monica, feels strangely like home in Vancouver, they even have a Lululemon! These Dinosaur fountains that are throughout the promenade had me missing my little boy.
Morning came and we were ready for our last full day, we checked out of our beloved hotel, sights set on Beverly. If you have heard any thing about Beverly Hills, The Ivy, is guaranteed to have come up. It’s a chic little restaurant hidden in a shopping district. Its one of the most photographed places to spy celebs, but all that aside the name is what made it Nostalgic. I HAD to eat here. Surprisingly it did not disappoint! The french countryside decor, fresh roses under white umbrellas and good food. Like really good food, made it a worth while stop (the complimentary champagne also helps haha! 9:30 am? don’t mind if I do! Im on vacation!). Im excited to be able to tell my daughter Ivy about this one day, and maybe put it on our bucket list of special things to do with her in life.
I was feeling extremely nervous about getting to our next hotel, we loved the last one so much and I was scared that this one would turn out like our first try in SM. On paper, when I booked, these hotels seemed on the same level but I am SO happy to say that this one WAS exactly what we expected..even a little more!
With DELICIOUS homemade cookies awaiting in our room, this GORGEOUSLY redone Hotel was in prime location and also just so beautiful to even walk through! A little courtyard in the centre that was giving me major backyard goals, a tiny restaurant and bar, and then upstairs the sweetest roof top patio complete with string lights and a killer view. It was more then a sigh of relief looking through the place. Thank you Hotel Beverly Terrace! You were amazing hosts, and I want your cookie recipe!!
In Beverly hills you will do A LOT of walking! Unless you plan to spend money on cabs or uber, bring the good walking shoes thats all I gotta say! We first went down Melrose, where so many high end designers are nestled into what feels like a simple quaint neighbourhood, the window shopping was endless (cause y’all I do not have a budget for that thank you very much) We stopped at Alfreds for some amazing coffee, saw Ru Paul eating lunch and then it was off in the other direction to get lunch and Rodeo Drive!
The Beverly Hills hotel is Iconic and was amazing to walk through. The signature pink and banana leaves everywhere made me want to scrap my neutral toned-down house for this beachy old hollywood vibe the minute I got home! We accidentally ended up in a wedding drone session, and at the private bar and pool with security twice before you get in, UNINTENTIONALLY! Brent was freaked out they would discover we were totally not meant to be there so we high-tailed it out of there haha
So on our way to see the Hollywood sign we drove through hollywood blvd. The walk of fame is there, with all the stars..well stars. To be honest it looked pretty sketchy and dirty, and just not really what I thought it would, so we decided driving through was good enough for us. Also as I discovered again through Snapchat there was a Carnival parade happening so it was INSANELY busy!
I discovered through my researching on Pinterest there was an amazing street where you can get pictures with the Hollywood sign right behind you! So I will pass on the tip – 3000 Canyon Lake dr.
It was strange getting there but it was beautiful! You go through some residential that is SO steep and windy but its breath taking. The street is right on a hill but you won’t miss it cause cars are always parked and line the street. You will probably happen upon other photographers, influencers, and youtubers – we did and I am thankful cause we were able to get these awesome shots with their help! Thanks again Jon Nyqvist! Make sure to give him a follow on Insta – he is crazy talented: @thenyquist.
We kept following the winding roads till we got to the Griffith Observatory, it is an LA landmark, and the views, even the building itself are just breathtaking. I am a HUGE LaLa Land fan, so this was an exciting stop for me. Its been in so many movies, its FREE! and its just very cool to see. You can see all the way to the city and see the Hollwood sign across the hills (you can actually hike to go see the sign from there!). I may be biased but going at Golden hour…nothing beats it.
My amazing Husband. What can I say about this Man. I have loved him for 10 years. He makes me laugh like no one else can, and usually for stupid things he is doing, or faces he makes. He loves to poke fun at me and all my little things I like and quirks, but at the end of the day he is a fantastic InstaHusband and I am thankful for it. Not only that but he is a dynamite Dad and just the love of my life. It was an amazing trip and I can’t wait for more adventures with him my whole life through.
Note: this picture above is him completely making fun of me for posing with a random (albeit beautiful!) door. His exact words “Oh look at this cool door, quick take my picture! did ya get it?!” Dripping in sarcasm if you can’t tell haha. *insert major eye roll here*