Having spent a night in Laguna Beach, we woke up ready and raring to hit up LA! It’s one of the places I had been looking forward to the most on our road trip so we set our alarms early to hit the road and hopefully miss some of the infamous ‘LA traffic’ every single american (no exaggeration) had warned us about. The drive from Laguna to LA was actually a lot easier than expected an apart from a little congestion on the outskirts of the city we made it to our hotel easy breezy.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Length of Stay: 5 Nights
Vital Info: LA is very spread out so hiring a car is pretty essential
Where to Stay
Choosing where to stay in LA was super hard, there are just so many parts to the city we weren’t quite sure which was best or where we’d like the most. We toyed with the idea of staying in a couple of different locations but as we were doing so much travelling we decided to set up base in West Hollywood for the full five nights. I think this is a good location for first timers as it’s home to Hollywood Boulevard and fairly touristy but next time I’d consider staying in Santa Monica!
We chose to stay at Mama Shelter, which was truly awesome. Not the cheapest hotel for travellers (I think our stay came to around £800 plus an extra couple hundred for parking ERGH) but so worth it and a great location too. I was just NOT up for sleeping in the camper van in LA I needed a little luxury for this part of the trip. I’m going to put together a separate post on Mama Shelter so I’ll keep it short and sweet for now.
What to Do
Where to start? I knew LA wasn’t like London where everything is fairly close, or seems that way because of how easy the underground is to get from A to B. LA is absolutely HUGE and no one seems to walk anywhere, period. We planned our days quite carefully as we wanted to make the most of the trip. I would recommend hiring a car if you’re visiting the city or just prepare yourself to spend a lot on Uber!
On our first day we wandered up and down Hollywood Boulevard, which was ok. It’s a bit trashy and a total tourist trap but one of those things that just has to be done. We found Elvis’s star on the walk of fame, enjoyed a few cocktails in the Hard Rock Cafe and I dashed into H&M for a pair of emergency shoes. If you think Hollywood Boulevard might be full of weirdos then you would be correct. At night time I found it quite intimidating especially the numerous people walking around with pythons around their shoulders…*shudders*
On our first night we decided to tick off something on our bucket list and head to a baseball game, the LA Dodgers. We didn’t pre-book tickets and instead jumped into an Uber and over to the stadium. There’s usually a fair amount of tickets left and we actually managed to bag pretty good seats for around $70 each. It was so fun, and had me chanting LETS GO DODGERS with popcorn in my hand and a coke in the other by the midway point.
On our second day we headed to Universal Studios, it’s actually only about 15 minutes away from Mama Shelter which was very convenient! Although we did have the camper van as we’d valet parked it we got Ubers if it was just a short journey.
Universal Studios isn’t for everyone, but for big kids like us it’s great! I’ve been a few times before so I knew what to expect and it didn’t disappoint. Our first port of call was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey because man, I just LOVE that ride. We also got to go into the Walking Dead attraction which I was buzzing about. I, of course, was cool as a cucumber but Charlie not so much. Hehe. I didn’t take any pics here as I didn’t take my camera (too much agro on the rides) but you can check out my previous post on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here. We rounded off the day with a stop on the way home at Veggie Grill which was HANDS DOWN the best vegan experience of my life.
The Beyond Burger – oh my.
On to day three and we decided to have a day of shopping which is something we hadn”t really done until this point. I don’t mean crazy cray shopping just mooching and stocking up on a few essentials like underwear and what not. We wandered down Melrose in the morning and enjoyed brunch at Le Pain Quotidian as they do a great tofu scramble. Even if you’re not planning on buying a whole lot, Melrose was a nice little area to wander around, and actually surprisingly quiet.
As most (read: all) of the shops were designer and out of our travellers budget we decided to head over to the Grove.
I reaaaaally loved the Grove, I always hear of celebrities shopping here and it was weird to suddenly be meandering through the crowds myself. I lost my sh*t in Brandy Melville and ate YET ANOTHER Beyond Burger at Veggie Grill. My third, ok maybe fourth in LA. The vibe here was great and it was strange, it felt like the first ‘normal’ day we had travelling, mooching in Topshop like I could be in London. Except it was much warmer and the sales assistants much more enthusiastic. There’s also a pretty good farmers market there too with plenty of food options (lots of vegan!), fresh fruit, veg and gifts.
After a day of exploring, shopping and eating we decided to do the unthinkable in LA and WALK BACK to the hotel. I think the walk took around an hour and twenty but it was a beautiful route. We let our Google maps direct us and got to have a peep into some stunning neighbourhoods and catch a glimpse of daily Los Angeles life, for those with plenty of dollar anyway. We spent that night at the hotel as Mama Shelter has a really popular rooftop bar and we were too exhausted to think about going back out. Not that I’d be heading to da cluuuub anyway because I’m more of a ‘bed by 11pm please’ type. I even lied just then, 10pm is more ideal to be honest.
Santa Monica &Venice Beach
No rest for the wicked, on our fourth day in the city we decided to head over to Santa Monica to see what it was all about and enjoy a little sun, sea and sand. This wasn’t before we had to sort out a flat tyre and call up a nearby mechanic to come and rescue us. WAHH. Anyway, the pier was cute, we had a little stroll and then leisurely walked up to Venice. I actually really loved this part of LA, it’s much more chilled and easy going compared to the craziness of Hollywood. As I mentioned earlier on in this post if I were to go back I’d probably stay in the Santa Monica area.
Where to Eat
We didn’t head to any fancy schmancy restaurants as some do whilst in LA, as we were so busy everyday we were more grabbing things on the go. I’d also be lying if I said 80% of the food I ate wasn’t from Veggie Grill because I was a GIRL OBSESSED. It’s an absolute vegan paradise and everything I ate there was so damn good. If you’re a fellow vegan (or not – Charlie also loved it and he isn’t vegan…yet) you simply must go! We also picked up a fair amount of supplies from Trader Joes as there was one just down the road from our hotel. They’re similar to WholeFoods and sell pretty fab vegan sandwiches and cookies.
If you’re looking for delicious vegan food in Santa Monica I’d recommend Samosa House, it was super cheap and three quarters of the food was vegan and the rest veggie.
I’d heard a tonne of mixed reviews before heading to LA, some people love it and some people absolutely hate it. A lot of people I’d spoken to weren’t huge fans so I suppose I’d prepared myself for this but I have to disagree! I loved LA and it left me with an overwhelming urge to go back. There’s still SO MUCH to explore, and Charlie and I are already talking about heading back next year for a week or so.
Have you ever been to LA? Did you love or hate it?