We felt pretty groggy after a 10 hour flight which involved losing 23 hours of the day, but picked ourselves up and met our little hire car. The check in process at Alamo was super easy, however I was a little a nervous about driving on the wrong side of the road. Yes, I’d done this before (both times nearly dying in the hands of one of my besties Jordan, lol I joke) but freeways etc seemed a little daunting. We got to our Airbnb in one peace (I was very happy that the car was automatic) and after a quick google of the main driving rules in the US – who knew you could turn right on a red light- we were all good for the rest of the trip, even though no one signals and everyone undertakes.
LA was everything we had hoped. Prior to an early night to sleep off the jet lag, we ventured out for dinner to a place called Home in Los Feliz. It was a bit chilly so we opted to sit inside, but the courtyard was candle lit and very pretty. I had salmon and Jack had mac n cheese – both dishes were yum.
We spent our first day at Citadel, after our first breakfast at IHOP (our fave breakfast place so far as it’s super cheap and the food is spot on – a must in the states) to do some much needed shopping. Yes, we did spend quite a bit of money, but on things that were massive bargains. Adidas trainers for $60, yes please. After loading the car up, we headed home for a quick change and then made our way to Silverlake (a 6 minute drive) to Salazar. This was an outdoors candle lit Mexican, so right up our street. They also had patio heaters to keep us happy. Food was great, apart from some suspect corn tortillas and was pretty reasonable too.
We were up early the next morning to have a good breakfast at Modern Eats, a classic diner, before we made our way over to Universal studios. It’s not cheap, at $105 each for pre booked tickets, but worth every penny. There are a mixture of rides and shows, but our favourite part was the studios tour. So much goes on in the 50 minute tour, effects, a look at the studios, sets and loads of cool info. Jack particularly loved seeing the set from his fave movie The Grinch. Harry Potter world was slightly smaller than we had imagined, but the ride was so good. We have go to the studios in London to compare now. Another cool part was the special effects show, which involved stunt men settling themselves alight. We knew it was going to be a long day, so took a change of clothes to go for dinner on the way back. I’m obsessed with rooftop bars and really wanted to got to Sixty Beverly Hills for drinks. We made it there for sunset and it was so worth it. The sky turns such a cute shade of pink over the city at sunset. After sunset, we headed to Sugarfish, a sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills, and ate the most incredible sushi. Feeling full and pretty fancy wandering around Beverly Hills, we picked our car up from the valet parking (there’s a first for everything) and drove back to our Airbnb. LA is renowned for its constant traffic, but I didn’t actually think this would be at every hour of the day. We learnt to add half an hour on to each journey time by the end of our 3 days in the city.
Day 4 was tourist time. After another fatty breakfast at Rick’s drive in and out, we made our first stop at Griffith Observatory for the all important Hollywood sign viewpoint. It didn’t disappoint and I was a little overwhelmed to see such an iconic monument for myself. We also had such beautiful weather, which made it the perfect day. We then drove over to Hollywood and parked up ready to wander around. It’s mad that a few days earlier and we would’ve been celebrity spotting at the Dolby theatre for the Oscars. The outside of the theatre also has the best picture for each year handing outside. Yes, Moonlight was up there for 2016, not La La Land 😂. The Chinese theatre was also pretty and super iconic. We had a walk down the walk of fame and came across a star for Jack Bailey. After a quick google, we realised he was an actor back in the 50/60’s, Jack couldn’t quite believe his name was on a star. After quite a bit of walking, we drove up the famous Sunset Strip and Rodeo Drive before making our way home to get ready for our evening at the Lakers. Staples centre is huge and surrounded by other venues, so the area was super busy when we got there. We parked really close and although it cost us $30, it meant we didn’t have an issue getting out after the game. The basketball game was great to watch, even with the Lakers losing. We also had a touch when buying caps, as the cashier only scanned one. Overall it was a great night, and I would definitively watch another game of basketball.
The next day, it was time to leave the bright lights of LA and start our road trip. Today we headed to San Diego, but made a couple of stops on the way to visit some of the beaches which were central to my teenage years from appearing in my fave American tv shows. Newport Beach and Laguna Beach were really pretty, even in the clouds. They were packed as it was the weekend, even though it was only 17 degrees, so we didn’t stay long. We did get breakfast at Urban Cup in Newport Beach. The food was good, although it did take a while and ended up with my veggie omelette including meat. After our stops we drove straight to our hostel in San Diego. It was funny going back to hostels after 3 weeks, but this one was new and actually really nice. It also saved us like £100. The hostel was slightly out of the city in Ocean Beach, but right on a strip of restaurants/ bars which kept us occupied on Saturday night. We had dinner at Pizza Port. The restaurant had big long tables where you grab where you can and then order at the till – nice and easy.
Our first full day in San Diego was spent exploring Mission Beach and the Old Town. The drive to both was only about 10 mins, but we managed to take wrong turnings on both trips due to technology being useless. Mission Beach was lovely and pretty and had a really nice promenade – blue skies definitely helped. Belmont Park, an old school amusement park, is also on Mission Beach so obviously we had to have a wander through there. The first thing you see (and what Belmont Park is known for) is the Giant Dipper. This 1920’s rollercoaster definitely gives you a thrill by the way it throws riders around the rickety wooden frame – it’s all safe though, don’t worry 😂 – and something we both loved, along with the arcade. We somehow managed to get 14 free goes on the basketball game so ended up playing for ages. Sadly, Jack couldn’t win me a cuddly toy from the claw, machine but as we won enough tokens, we did end up with a little toy walrus. We also bought ice cream (obvs) but it was a waste of money as they gave us enough to feed an army and it really wasn’t great. Overall, lots of fun had by both of us and definitely worth the trip. We ventured to Old Town San Diego after, just as the weather was turning. Luckily we missed a downpour, but the cloud cover made the temperature drop quite a bit. Being right near the Mexican border, the Old Town is like an old Spanish settlement with white washed houses or something from a western film. All of the market products also had a Mexican flavour. Jack was pleased with his cigar and I was happy just to have a look in the little stores. It was great to see a completely different side of the city and something we are glad we didn’t miss. That evening, we went to Lucha Libre Taco Shop on recommendation from a work friend. After a short wait (which it is notorious for), we were served and found a seat. My shrimp burrito went down a treat, as did Jack’s chicken burrito.
We started our second day with a trip to Balboa Park. It was lovely to have a stroll (felt like I hadn’t walked for ages) and see some of the old buildings which now house museums etc. We followed a trail and saw some of the hidden gems of the park such as the carrousel (which sadly wasn’t open) and a couple of pretty fountains. Although the sun was out, it was a but cold so the hoodies were on. We then drove all of five minutes into the city and had lunch at Crab Shack. We actually had lobster which was über messy as they don’t cut prep it for you like they do in London, but was so yummy. I don’t know why, but we then went to The Cheesecake Factory and made ourselves feel sick sharing a slice of overly chocolatey cheesecake (it was worth it though) after a walk through Seaport Village. Seaport Village was listed as one of the top sights in San Diego but I wasn’t all that impressed. It just felt like a shopping mall along the sea. It was nice to take in some sea air though. That evening we got a taxi into the Gaslamp District of the city. We were still so full so went straight to our first bar, Tipsy Crow. The cocktails were great and not super expensive, but as we wanted to see a few bars, moved on to Hopping Pig. This is a cute gastropub with great craft beers, so Jack was happy. A couple of older women were sitting next to us and gave us the rest of their pizza as they couldn’t eat it – so sweet. The pizza was really good! We then moved to our last bar, Florent, which was more of a late bar, but had sports on. All three bars were great. There are so many bars in area to explore, but as some are shut on Mondays, we managed to get a taste of the area.
We left San Diego around 9am on Tuesday with our bagels packed for lunch. The plan for today was to drive to Joshua Tree and spend some time in the national park. We arrived around lunchtime after a few hours driving (plus a stop at Starbucks obvs). We are definitely covering some miles in our little hire car, so it’s a good job that the petrol is cheap! Joshua Tree was completely different to anything we had seen before and was pretty much desert for most of it, apart from lots of rocks and joshua trees. There were so many vista points and photo opportunities that we made the most of and drove the loop to Twentynine Palms where we were spending the night. We have been so lucky with the weather in California so far. apparently it’s very good for this time of year! Our motel was pretty nice and exactly what we needed for one night. It was also near a number of restaurants, so we headed over to The Rib Co for dinner. It looked like a bit of a dive outside, but was such good food. The highlight was the outside BBQ which smoked the meat like nothing else – we both loved it.
Love as always xx