Earlier this year we spent a weekend in L.A.. It was short, but packed with good stuff. Besides Atlanta and Miami, Los Angeles is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. I love hot climate, big cities and a cool vibe. Los Angeles has everything from peaks and valleys, beach, desert, a sprawling city, and not to mention some cool road trips. We went in February and had endless sunshine and very comfortable temperatures. Since our trip was only 2 nights and 3 days, that forced me to plan out all meals and activities. Usually I wing trips and plan as I go when I get there, but I actually liked having a set plan and not having to waste time in the hotel room yelping everything.
NOTE: We were lazy with our camera that weekend, so most photos were taken with my iPhone6.
Our flight left very early Saturday morning, plus gaining a couple hours with the time difference, we got to take advantage of the full day. I had already scouted restaurants weeks before and already had lunch and dinner reservations booked. And when in LA, I wanted to go where the celebrities go. Maybe its a little TMZ-ish, but its a great way to feel that fun Hollywood energy.
First things first, we checked into the hotel and dropped our bags. We stayed at The Holiday Inn Express – NOT so LA – in Century City. I usually gravitate towards funky boutique hotels in the heart of everything. But this was a quick cheap trip and we wanted to stay on the edge of everything and not pay $45 a night for valet. Note: Valet prices are crazy, and standard in LA. This hotel met our standards for two quick sleeps and it was right on the edge of West Hollywood.
First stop: Lunch at The Ivy
Once we were settled in, we headed straight to The Ivy in West Hollywood. I had already made our lunch reservations for 12:00 PM. And I absolutely recommend this place! Its a very beautiful place inside and out, with a FULL bouquet of fresh roses on every table. Its a gorgeous place to have brunch and you’re definitely likely to run into some familiar Hollywood faces.
A stroll by the Hollywood Walk of Fame
After lunch we did a couple of touristy things; The Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theater, Rodeo Drive and drove through Melrose. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is where you can see all the stars along the street and see the famous Chinese Theater where they premiere movies and have the stars handprints in the cement on the ground. I don’t particularly like this area. It is just way too touristy for me and theres a lot of strange birds walking the streets. Rodeo Drive is really cool to see, but I did not even consider taking out my wallet. Some stores are likely to even require an appointment. Melrose is also a very cool area with a lot restaurants and with some stores that are a bit more reasonable.
Dinner at Craig’s
After wondering around, I had a dinner reservation for Craig’s at 5:30. Probably a top place for celebrity sighting. I was a bit apprehensive about this place at first. I figured it would be one of those restaurants that would leave you $100 broke and still starving and going to a drive-thru afterwards. First of all, yes it was pricey, but we did not spend over 100 bucks. Second, the food was HIGH quality and the portions were so big that we did not even finish our plates. We were both super impressed with the quality of food, service and portion sizes, and not too mention very Hollywood vibe! We did not do too much after dinner since we were so stuffed. I had heard good things about La Descarga Lounge, but did not get to check it off my to-do list. You may want to try out this place for top notch cocktails.
Urth Caffe for organics and coffee
The next day, Sunday, was a bit more relaxed. We started at Urth Caffe for lunch in West Hollywood. The place is more casual, loaded with organic healthy eating and vegetarian options and a large coffee and tea selection. One thing I love about LA is that people really focus on cleaner eating. We ordered “Organic Green Tea Boba” and “Spanish Latte Granita”, that left me saying, “Starbucks, who?” The vegetarian dishes are very good. We tried the Panini Portabella and Panini Roasted Turkey. I really wish Urth Cafe would expand more!
Workout at Runyun Canyon
After lunch, we went for a hike to Runyon Canyon. A very popular trail and a must do! Its a great place for locals to get their workout in. And at the top are great views of Los Angeles. There are different trails for other levels of difficulty and short/longer hikes.
You can’t miss the scene at Venice Beach
From here we decided to spend the rest of the day in Santa Monica and explore Venice Beach. You can find a lot of cute shops here and also very eccentric people. We spent most of the time just wandering and relaxing and then ending the evening with seafood for dinner at Santa Monica Seafood. Check it out it’s a great spot.
Lunch with the stars at Chateau Marmot
Monday, our last day in Los Angeles and the highlight of my trip; lunch at Chateau Marmont. If you haven’t seen one star on your trip, you are bound to see one here. This landmark of LA is a historical hotel built in 1929, right off Sunset Boulevard. It is also a very popular restaurant and is stalked by TMZ. I already had a 1:00 reservation. We were seated in a little covered outdoor area with Moroccan details. You’re likely to see a lot of familiar faces you can’t quite put your finger on, but it wasn’t until Nicole Richie sat down right beside me that I could make my trip complete! I hear thats its best to spot people during a weekday at lunch, and it was a Monday for us. We were in Los Angeles the weekend of the Grammy’s. We even pasted by the Staples Center where the awards show was held. And imagine the popularity of Chateau Marmont, I saw photos of the Grammy after party at Chateau Marmont plastered all over the internet the following day! This is definitely not a spot to be missed.
Head to Griffith Park for a shot of the Hollywood sign
Before heading out of LA. I had to have one more stop at Urth Caffe for the amazing Spanish Latte I had had the day before. I took it to-go and we drove to Griffith Park to get a closer photo of the Hollywood sign. It is somewhat confusing and we spent half the trip trying different roads to get closer to it. We finally found a drive at the Griffith Park Observatory and parked our car. We did a little hike and found the perfect picture place. Now our Hollywood experience was really complete.