I went to California for the first time ever this year to visit my best friend who moved out there a few months ago. She moved to San Diego, but I knew that I wanted to capture everything California had to offer. I landed on a Thursday in San Diego after a treacherous journey from the East Coast to the West Coast (the time zone difference can be really daunting).
I decided to head to LA before my friend got out of work in order to beat the traffic (big mistake) but ended up in loads of traffic anyway. As an east coast girl I’m used to traffic consistently but this traffic was next level insane. I did enjoy the higher speed limits, though I couldn’t take much advantage of that because of the insane traffic. I loved seeing the fast food places that don’t grace the Northern Eastern area, even though I don’t usually eat fast food. Seeing “el Pollo Loco” and ” In N’ Out Burger” were huge moments but the best absolute food stop for me in LA had to have been “Roscoes Chicken and Waffles” I have a huge infatuation with Chicken and Waffles and I’ve been enjoying trying them out everywhere I can find them. These were thoroughly delicious and worth the 27 years worth of waiting to get there. I also went to “Streetcar Merchants” and had a Red Velvet waffle (not nearly as good as Soco) and fried chicken, but wasn’t thrilled with it. In LA I stuck to mostly fast food which wasn’t a great idea, but to keep moving going from one tourist destination to the other I had to grab something quickly. I did really miss fruits and vegetables… go figure. So I grabbed a few fast food salads and fruit from a Korean supermarket in San Diego.
Absolute best stop in San Diego had to be hands down this local Ice Cream sandwich spot in Pacific Beach called “The Baked Bear”. I’ve experienced custom ice cream sandwich places in New York but nothing as elaborate and amazing as this. The creation on the left was all mine and so delicious It was a red velvet cookie with white chocolate chips, birthday cake batter ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, and a brownie as the base. I’ve never tasted/experienced something so delicious. Warning it is extremely rich and and sweet so eat at your own risk. The Baked Bear provides free water for you while eating in their shop (you’ll need it).
When I got to LA I knew that I wanted to experience everything LA had to offer even though I’d only be there for two short days. I planned so poorly, but still experienced everything I wanted to. I had probably 2-3 hours of sleep due to long traveling times and bouncing all over LA but the experience was completely worth it. I started my night at the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA). It has these beautiful light fixtures that you have seen in many many films, and they are even more beautiful in person.
After a long session of selfies and photography, I headed to the Hollywood walk of fame to find the Bob Marley star. After walking and searching for a little bit I finally found it and it was everything I imagined it to be plus a bit more… It was then I realized to my surprise that LA has a large population of homeless people. I live in New York and I’m no stranger to seeing homeless people on the street but in LA it seems way more prevalent. In the picture below of me with the star, I was actually surrounded by homeless people sleeping on the ground. It broke my heart to see, and foolishly angered me into stating “This is not how Hollywood looks in the movies”. Well DUH! Silly me.
I got back to my hotel at about 3am PST (6 am EST time… which was a full 24 hours since my first flight to Dallas) and instantly knocked out. Woke up fresh in the morning to hit all these activities… and for the most part I did. Venice Beach was next on the agenda and it was one of the best stops of my trip in Cali. I’m a huge fan of beaches and was dying to experience a west coast beach (my first time at the Pacific Ocean). Venice Beach was amazing and had all of these cool vendors/shops on the boardwalk. Think Atlantic City and Jersey Shore put together times 5. I had such a positive experience, and didn’t spend that much money. I even got a “Cali” sweater for a great deal so I can wear it in NY as a NY’er and be cool (in my mind of course). The most money was spent on paying for parking near the beach, which we probably could have avoided if we looked a little harder in the area.
My final stop in LA was of course the Hollywood sign/hike. Because we weren’t dressed for a real hike we drove up to the Griffith Park Observatory and got a great view of the city. The hike gets you a better view/closer view but the observatory was good enough for me as we were pressed on time, and had been driving around in LA traffic for ever that day!
If you ever get a chance to go to the observatory you should also go into the observatory. It has great information and is very hands on/interactive.
LA was great and with a two hour drive back to San Diego I only got to really enjoy that city for a day. I was so exhausted I didn’t mind catching up on sleep and taking the day slow in San Diego versus trying to rush through everything like when I was in LA. I went to Old Town which is very cultural, and also has great shops and vendors. Then I went to “Brooklyn” or their version of Brooklyn that had tons of Hippie/Hipster shops and tourist attractions.
Overall I LOVED my first California experience and would totally break my own personal rule and visit it a second time. It is not as expensive as people make it out to be (don’t get me wrong it is very relatable to NYC so that may be why I’m used to it) and you can find loads of free things to do in the city. If you haven’t made it out there yet put it on your list!
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