West Coast Fun w/ The Brilliant Balance
I'm so excited to share our little holiday to the West Coast - it was such a fun getaway! I'm sharing everything we did, lessons learned (aka do's & don'ts) as well as some recommendations from LA/San Diego Blogger Lauryn Evarts! If you have any West Coast recommendations, share in the comments! Because we miiight head back over to Malibu for my birthday weekend December 5th but it's still in the works so we'll see 😉
airport to long beach & lessons learned
We got into LAX at 11am and immediately learned our first lesson!
- DO: Use Uber or Lyft instead of renting a car if you can. Splurge a little on a better rental agency or Uber to a rental car agency further away from the Airport crowd!
- DON'T: Rent at the Thrifty or Budget by LAX. We got to Thrifty and found out they lied about their prices online and then Uber-ed over to Budget where we literally had to wait four hours for a car. BUT, we remained positive. I mean they did have free popsicles for everyone and giving me sugar visibly uplifts my mood, no joke, I'm 99% sure that I'm hypoglycemic! Sam is 100% sure.
We managed to make it out of Budget with a cute white jeep (MY DREAM) and cruised on over to our rental in Long Beach.
- SIDE NOTE: Prepare for an hour to two hours of traffic or regular driving to get places.
We stayed in THIS flat. It wasn't as cute as the pictures, but it honestly has SO much potential to be really cute if it was fully furnished and decorated - and the right way! We still thought it was a good space for us two for the long weekend. Spacious, walking distance to the beach, a grocery store and restaurants. Our only issue with Long Beach was finding parking because the city literally doesn't have enough parking for all of its tenants, so Sam and I took turns every evening trying to find a spot. This literally took 45 minutes a couple of nights!
That night we walked to Sushi Zen Maru for a late dinner. The owner was really nice, he gave us a free Asian soda. And the rolls were good and around $10/roll - we enjoyed it! It's casual and an easy place to just pop in if you're out walking around and you get hungry.
saturday: Malibu, Topanga State Park & Santa Monica to Venice
We headed toward Malibu and went hiking at Topanga State Park. We hiked the Parker Mesa Overlook from Trippet Ranch trail and enjoyed views of Santa Monica and LA in the distance. We did about four miles of the trail which was a good uphill workout! Then we enjoyed the view and some snacks at the top - also the weather was just nuts! The temperature was perfect.
- TIP: Get there early to avoid crowds! Sam and I left Long Beach around 6am and were hiking around 8am! By the time we started heading down around 10:30 there were a ton of people coming up - so we timed it perfectly!
After our hike we headed to Santa Monica Pier to rent bikes from Sea Mist Rentals - $20 for the whole day! We road on The Strand Beach Path which stretches around 22 miles from Santa Monica down south to Torrance State Beach. It's a great all day activity! Sam and I biked to Playa Del Rey and then back toward Santa Monica. We stopped a few times to sunbathe and people watch!
- Do: Check out each beach town. And take breaks to enjoy the beach!
- Don't: Spend too much time in Venice Beach. It's crowded and feels a little dirty! Ride on through and just appreciate it for what it is. A mess and great people watching. Just try not to hit anyone on the path because it gets packed!
- Double Don't: Stop for food at Cabo Cantina like Sam and I did! We were just hungry at that point and I thought they would have cheap margaritas - they don't. But we ordered shrimp tacos and those weren't bad.
- Do: If I had to do it again I would eat lunch after the hike at Cholada Thai Cuisine! I've heard it was good. It's not expensive and it was recommended by another blogger who actually lives in Malibu. So why we didn't go, IDK. We were just excited to get biking I think! You've got all day to bike so stop in somewhere good and slow down 🙂
sunday: laguna beach
We woke up and drove South to Laguna Beach!
We got there early so we were able to find good parking and get a great spot on Main Beach. We rented a beach umbrella from Main Beach Toys & Games and literally chilled! Soaked up some sun, took a few dips in the Pacific (frigid but refreshing), and read.
Sam walked over to Zeytoon Mediterranean Bistro to grab us some lunch. It was so good - their ROASTED ARTICHOKE & GORGONZOLA PANINI was my favorite. We also ordered their ROSEMARY LEMON CHICKEN PANINI and a huge side of hummus and pita and had a quaint picnic lunch on the beach.
We did some window shopping and art gallery browsing later in the afternoon. The town is really cute, lots of cute shops and yummy looking restaurants. Grab some more food for dinner or a few cocktails and then watch the sunset on the beach or on the grassy hill above Main Beach.
- Do: All of this.
We packed some wine and watched the sunset but decided to eat dinner back in Long Beach. We walked to Thai District - ordered Pad Thai, Curry, and Chocolate cake and it was all delicious!
Monday - Malibu & Point Mugu State Park
We went for an adventurous hike at Point Mugu State Park. We hiked La Jolla Canyon Loop which is normally around 12 miles. However around mile 4 or 5 we decided to take a shortcut and came across a washed out canyon trail that literally left us scaling down a cliffside in order to get to our car. It was an adrenaline rush to say the least - mostly because I've turned into the biggest wuss in my older age. But it was definitely a great hike - the beginning of the hike is full of switchbacks with the most incredible view of the Malibu Coast and a cool ocean breeze running up the hillside. So lovely.
- Do: The full loop to avoid the washed out trail. It's only 11.75 miles, you can do it!
- Don't: Take the closed, washed out trail. Or take it, be extra careful and make your hike 7 miles long.
After the hike we were starving and headed to a Habit Burger on the way home. Try their Albacore Tuna Sandwich and some sweet potato fries - super good! We drove through Calabasas on the way back to Long Beach and I really wanted to see a Kardashian house but no such luck. Sam could care less! And we were hungry.
We went for a sunset walk on the beach back in Long Beach and then ordered Pizza for dinner from 7th Street Pizza. We ordered The Mexican and Shrimp Ceviche Pizza's. The Shrimp Ceviche sounds a little weird but it was actually good! They were both really good!
Also that night was interesting because we had a Police Helicopter circling literally only our block for 45minutes looking for someone and this is apparently what happened.
- Do: Try and stay in Laguna or Malibu if you can find a good price ahead of time.
- Don't: Stay in Long Beach if you don't have to. There's an alarming amount of crime for such a small town. I googled the news in that area when we saw the helicopter spot-lighting and A LOT came up for every single day...
Tuesday: LA & home
We checked out a tiny bit of LA before our flight because it wasn't until 6pm! We got coffee at Alfred's, saw Greystone Mansion and Hollywood Blvd and basically spent five hours trying to get anywhere because traffic. is. horrible.
- Do: Check out Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills! It's a mansion turned public park that has been used in a lot of movies including: X-Men, The Holiday, Star Trek, Spiderman, Charlie's Angels, etc. A LOT. My favorite: It's Rory's school Chilton in Gilmore Girls!
- Do: Try and look up a show ahead of time and try to get free tickets to a filming! Like Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel or Dancing with the Stars! Or tickets to a comedy show or concert. Nothing was filming while we were there...
- Don't: The Walk of Fame is underwhelming. Unless you are dying to see something in LA I would recommend avoiding it. Wasn't impressed AT ALL. You know how your favorite LA reality shows are edited? Yeah, that's LA. It's all fragmented in real life and reality shows make it look awesome by zooming into all of the popular spots. Other than that - it's smoggy, dusty and meh. In my opinion.... but if I could just get a guide to take me to all of the best spots that would be great!
LA Recommendations from The Skinny Confidential's Lauryn Evarts (LA/San Diego Blogger)
+ Alfred's Coffee: A super sick coffee shop in Melrose Place. I LOVE their cold brew.+ The Beverly Hills Hotel: Michael & I love their bougie brunch. Think palm prints and green & pink decor.
+ Sugarfish: The most amazing sushi restaurant EVER. They're located all over LA. Get the salmon sashimi, it's UNREAL.
+ 901 Salon: The CUTEST salon in Melrose. I love to get a blow out while I work on my computer. Either way, they'll take great care of you!
+ Gracias Madre: DELICIOUS Mexican food & Instagram worthy drinks. I love their snow cone style margarita.
+ Sqirl: Delicious sandwiches & avocado toast ( with spicy carrots, I may add! ). Go there for lunch, I promise you won't be disappointed.
+ The London Hotel: Totally chic--- head up for a party or relax in a cabana, it's totally worth it.