I spent a little bit of time in California when I was fresh out of college and working in Century City for one of my KPMG clients. I walked past Fox studios daily on my route to and from my hotel to the office dreaming that MAYBE I’ll get discovered on the street. It goes without saying that dream was short lived; however, my love for California never left me. The handful of times I went out to see family in Orange County or the Westlake area was always reflected upon dotingly. Since most of my time had been spent in southern California or the San Fran area briefly, it was no tough decision when Ben suggested that we take a road trip through the northern California area. ::cue the music:: California, here we come!
We started our week long road trip in Los Angeles where we stayed with our friends (whom we met in Connecticut), Sarah & Andrew. They have settled back in LA, more specifically, Sherman Oaks. We loved their neighborhood with no shortage of palm trees or sunshine. We gave them full control of our weekend as we showed up with no agenda other than eating good food, drinking good drinks, and being in great company. Their itinerary didn’t disappoint. We flew in and met up with them at Manhattan Beach Post, appropriately named as its located two blocks from Manhattan Beach just south of LAX. The scene was young. The wine list was profuse. The food was good and fresh. They serve a seasonal menu so the menu changes regularly. Food is served family style and is meant to be shared. We enjoyed! What a great way to kick off our week long vacay.
The next day we woke up and got our hiking on because what better way to see the Hollywood sign than to earn it!? It was a beautiful sunny day and the temps were perfect (shocking right?). We hiked up Griffith Park for the Mt. Hollywood view. The level of hiking was rather easy but steep enough to get our heart rates up at various points. They have “easy” and “moderate” trails that anyone in “fairly decent shape” can enjoy. We saw men and women of all ages making this hike so don’t shy away if you’re a hiking novice. For tourists, this is just blocks away from Mann’s Chinese Theater and the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame.
For Brunch we landed at The Local Peasant in Sherman Oaks. This restaurant was cute, warm and inviting. I splurged for the crab cake benedict and it was delicious. My husband ordered the Chicken Chilaquiles and gobbled it up. Aside from brunch, they also have a dinner menu.
After cleaning up from our hike, we made our way over to Rodeo Drive for some window shopping and drinks. We stopped by 208 Rodeo and dined, al fresco, soaking in the sunshine. As you would expect, drinks will cost you Rodeo Drive prices but because of it’s unique, romantic setting just across from the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel (think: Pretty Wooman), we enjoyed the experience and then hopped along over to Santa Monica beach to catch the sunset. We attempted The Bungalow where we had hoped to grab a drink and rub elbows with locals and celebrities alike; however, the line to get in was beyond what our patience would allow. Before bailing on the idea, we did spot Kalon McMahon (remember helicopter guy?) from Jillian Harris’s season of the Bachelorette, skipping the line and heading straight in. Still clinging onto that 15 minutes of fame…
We skipped over to Hillstone, where we hung out by the bar had a drink. This restaurant is located between Santa Monica Boulevard and Santa Monica Promenade which is bustling with people and street performers. I remember coming to California with my best friend Meagan when we turned 18 and graduated high school. We were too young to get into any place “cool” so we walked up and down this promenade countless times until we got bored and decided to get our ear cartilage pierced. There was certainly worse trouble to get into!
For dinner our friends took us to another Santa Monica restaurant called Estate. I loved the décor and vibe of this restaurant. You could easily dress up or come snappy/smart casual. A subtle hint of Asian flare keeps the menu interesting. We would definitely recommend for a night out with friends or a date.
Before moving on to our next adventure, we gorged one last time on brunch at the Tipsy Cow. We sat out on the patio (of course). Aside from delicious food items, you can also opt for a mimosa infused with either the traditional OJ, strawberry black pepper, blueberry rosemary, grapefruit, or pineapple. The blueberry rosemary was delish and the rosemary was subtle enough to keep it interesting.
We were then off to another adventure in Yosemite National Park!
Another shout out to Sarah and Andrew for being epic hosts.