Welcome back for another edition of Travel Tips Tuesday! I have to say, it’s been extremely fun reading about all of these cities and seeing why people love them so much. Today Alisa of Ray & A blog is giving us her take on one of her favorite places and her best-loved spots.
Hey everyone! Thanks Camille for letting me fill in for a bit and share a little bit about my (limited) travel experience. Last summer after graduation and a long, hard 5 years of school, I hopped on my first solo plane ride and headed West to the land of Hollywood stars and acai bowls… you guessed it, LA.
I was mainly going to visit a friend I met in college who was home for her summer break, so I decided to spend a week with her and see what life was like on the West Coast. She lives in a mostly residential area just outside of Anaheim (AKA Disneyland), so it was pretty easy to hop on the highway and head downtown or to visit our friends Mickey and Minnie.
What to see and do:
The Getty Center: I am an artist and art history nerd, so The Getty was definitely at the top of my list! Starting with a tram ride up the side of a mountain, you finally get to the top and see the amazing architecture of The Getty. There are multiple buildings on the museum campus, and thousands of pieces of art, classical to modern, so if that doesn’t take you the whole day to explore, the rest of the grounds will. The Getty is also known for it’s botanical garden and outdoor areas which overlook the skylines of downtown Los Angeles.
Disneyland: I’ve never been to either Disneyland or Disney World as a kid, so this was my first taste of the “real Disney.” Overwhelmed with so many kids, newlyweds, and summer vacationers, we just took our time wandering around the park, trying to get on as many rides as possible. My favorite ride was probably It’s a Small World, though it might seem “outdated” to some people, I remember seeing footage of that ride on old VHS tapes and imagining what it would be like to ride that boat. The decorations inside were gorgeous! Oh, and the corn dogs at the carts? Delicious.
Santa Monica Beach: Another disclaimer, I’m NOT a beach person. The sand, the water, the masses of loud tourists with coolers and Frisbees… not my scene. I just trusted my friend when she said I’d feel a little differently about West Coast beaches. Once we got to the shore, I questioned if I was even at a beach– I’ve never wore a pair of jeans on a beach. No humidity, no noisy tourists (except for me), just some locals running and hanging out. Santa Monica also has a famous pier with carnival rides and food, and lots of live entertainment during the summer months.
Downtown LA: The “city” or downtown LA has a mix of things to see, from cafes, to little shops, and the art scene is pretty great too. We spent close to a whole day exploring DTLA, first stop Poketo, a trendy little lifestyle and design store in LA’s Arts District. They have the cutest stationery, cards and homegoods. The street art of LA is so unique and vibrant, I found myself stopping at almost every corner to snap a pic (or 20). We stumbled upon The Last Bookstore, which is probably the coolest bookstore I’ve ever set foot in. Covered in potted plants, hidden book nooks, and re-purposed furniture, this place is full of new and gently-used books and music. Olvera Street is one of the more historical parts of DTLA that looks and feels as though you’ve crossed the border and stepped into Mexico. Street vendors, food stalls, and colorful storefronts line this 4-5 block area. Don’t forget to grab some Horchata and a taco (or two)!
Where to eat:
TACOS. Pretty much every taco I had during my stay in LA was stellar. Actually, they ruined East Coast tacos, and now I crave daily what I cannot have until I head back for more.
In-N-Out: A classic, tried-and-true choice when on the West Coast. We sat in the drive-thru line that stretched halfway down the freeway for some In-N-Out glory, and it was so worth every minute of that wait. My jaw dropped when I saw how cheap the prices were too– the whole bill was under $10 for two people, and we got the works.
Half & Half: Asian food in LA is also amazing, so after a delicious bowl of noodles, we stopped at Half & Half for some bubble tea (boba). If you’re not familiar, boba is a milk-based tea with tapioca balls or sweetened jelly pieces that come in lots of different flavors. A great way to cool off after a long day of exploring.
There were other little places we stopped at along our adventures that I either forget the name of, or didn’t catch because I was too busy enjoying the wonderful food, but you can’t go wrong with the little hole-in-the-wall taco joints or Korean food.
Why you love this city: Though I am an East Coast girl at heart, the West Coast has a fun and trendy vibe that really appeals to the artist and designer in me. The art scene is amazing, and there are so many local businesses and design firms popping up all over Cali, so there’s always something new on the design front! Also, the no humidity thing and abundance of cacti captured my heart.
Anything else a first time visitor should know?: Unless you’re staying at super swanky, fabulous hotel in downtown LA, you’re going to need access to a car or a friend who will chauffeur you around. LA is not your typical city, and public transportation is not like it is on the East Coast, so do your research! Wear your best walking shoes, and try all the coffee– some of the best coffee shops I’ve ever been to!
Stay tuned for the next Travel Tips Tuesday coming soon – I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am!