Escaping winter in Germany and spending a couple of weeks in sunny California was a great decision! My boyfriend is currently living in Los Angeles and I joined him half way through his time there. Whereas most people who visit this part of the world probably just spend a few days in LA, it was great to have lots of time to explore each part of the city and find favorite spots without rushing it. We travelled on the weekends, one up north along the coast to Monterey and Santa Cruz and the other one east to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Park so I’ll cover both in this post as well. Joshua Tree was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip, whenever you are close to LA I can highly recommend to do a short trip there as well!
Accommodation & Transport
My boyfriend is renting out a room long term via AirBnB based in Santa Monica. The place is lovely and we had bikes to cycle around Santa Monica and Venice which was great to get around. For the weekend trips we rented cars but the best way to get around LA is by Uber and Uber Pool. It’s so cheap, especially when its two of you traveling and it just makes everything easy.
Don’t miss the Santa Monica Pier, the beach and tons of restaurants and cafes to sip lattes and just enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. As February is off-season it was very quiet and although it wasn’t beach weather it was still hot enough to walk around in shorts and dresses. I just pick out a few places to recommend as I don’t want to bore you with endless lists! So here are my two favorite places in Santa Monica (actually pretty close to Venice though hahah)
Amazing plant based restaurant. Loved their staff and could have ordered the whole menu. We came for brunch and had super delicious salads and bowls. Try their golden latte!
Just the opposite side of Café Gratitude. A great place to get fancy juices and all kind of mushroom products!
Make sure to visit the ‘classics’ like the Venice sign, the skate park and promenade. It’s fun to cycle along the beach and stop at muscle beach and just get into the Venice craziness.
My favorite part was Abbot Kinney Blvd – just one shop and cafe next to each other making you want to stop at each of them! Salt & Straw was amazing for Ice Cream, make sure to get there hungry because the portions are just crazy big!
My favorite place was definitely The Butcher’s Daughter. Just loved everything about it, their design, the people, the vibe, the food – writing about it makes me wanna go back so badly! They serve plant-based food and we came for a late breakfast. Try their golden latte with a pinch of pepper, so good!
Make sure you also check out the Venice Canals! You can easily do that after or before Abbot Kinney Blvd. It’s a very pretty walk.
We came here before we went on the hike (see next paragraph) and although I think the Alfred Coffee in Beverly Hills is the bigger one it’s worth stopping by. They do great matcha latte and the heart steps you can see on the picture are just the opposite side of this café. But first, coffee.
Hollywood Hike – not the usual one!
We planned to do the ‘classic’ Hollywood Hike but then I came across the Beachwood Canyon Secret Hollywood Stairs Hike and it was amazing! Make sure to print out the description or have it ready on your phone because it’s not always that easy to find. You’l have stunning views of Downtown and the Hollywood sign! Not to mention all the amazing houses!
We spend half a day in Beverly Hills and just walked through the streets stunned by all the beautiful houses imagining to live there one day 😉 Check out Rodeo Drive as well and stop by at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a cocktail by the pool. And not to forget truffle fries!
Downtown is great for street art and breweries! We had a fun night out at the Angel City Brewery and some yummy Ramen afterwards in little Tokyo which is pretty close to the Brewery. They have some food trucks outside there too serving mainly tacos.
We had so much fun! Although it’s not cheap I can highly recommend spending a day at Universal studios – the studio tour is fantastic with lots of special effects and walking through Springfield, diving into Harry Potter Land and riding the Jurassic Park ride feels like being inside the movies for a day. Be prepared for some queing up as it can get quite busy. The Walking Dead attraction is super scary! I would suggest to start with the studio tour and then do the other attractions. The studio tour has a 360° 3D ride which is the most amazing thing!
It’s a very laid back place and great for surfing and watching volleyball. If you have enough time and want to escape the venice craziness, go to Manhatten beach but if you have only a few days it’s not a must do. The bar Tower 12 is doing a great happy hour!
Walk of Fame
As you can imagine it’s the most touristy part of LA, I found it a bit too trashy but if you’re close then check it out! Just be prepared for all the tourist shops!
Monterey and Santa Cruz
We went up to Monterey because there was a golf competition on my boyfriend wanted to watch and I was excited to see it too. It was above Pebble Beach, one of the prettiest beaches at the West Coast! The hotels we stayed in are not worth mentioning and were simple travel lodges (very overpriced though). The Highway No.1 is still closed which is a shame, you can still drive it but you have to return and use the other highway to actually get from A to B. But you’ll see incredible cheap vegetable and fruit stalls along the way which I loved! The colorful houses are in Capitola close to Santa Cruz by the way! Carmel by the Sea is a super pretty little town too and worth visiting. Would love to come back and drive the Highway No.1 all the way up to San Francisco one day!
Joshua Tree National Park
Aww my absolute favorite! I’m already writing far too much to ever been read haha so I try and keep it short! When you are around LA put Joshua Tree up high on your list! The people are super nice and we were lucky to meet lovely Dana & Rich who put us up for a night saving us from the storm and our idea of sleeping in the car 😉 We had a trailer booked on Air BnB for our second night, just search for the Big Blue Wondervalley if you’re interested in booking it. Due to a storm some places within the park were closed because it was too dangerous but we still managed to see a lot and hiking up Ryan Mountain. The golden hour is just magical and the stars in the night are so beautiful it’s hard to find words to describe. The pizza place Pie for the People is great! Make sure you do your shopping before coming to Joshua Tree because shopping opportunities are limited! Drop me a message if you have any questions about Joshua Tree or LA! Thanks for reading and finishing this post of with my favorite snaps from Joshua Tree. Lots of Love, Sarah x