Updated: Apr 3
The West Coast was everything I expected it to be and more. I’ve wanted to visit California for as long as I can remember, and I was so thrilled to finally join my cousin on a spontaneous trip out to LA. We didn’t have much time to plan an itinerary (3 days exactly), so we made one up on the spot and it surprisingly worked out to be one of our favorite trips of all time.
Sunday: We landed in LAX around 8pm gaining an extra 3 hours we wouldn’t have previously had in New York. We used that extra time to stop by In N’ Out before heading to the hotel because, well, priorities ya know? Their burger is unlike any other I’ve had before, but their fries are just eh. Either way I’m definitely glad I finally got to try animal style anything.
Breakfast in bed at The Mondrian Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. Lots and lots of coffee and a breakfast burrito on the side. We decided to get the more touristy things out of the way first because let's be honest: If we wanted to stand in crowds of sweaty, people staring at the ground and sky around them we could have just stayed in Times Square. So, we made it to Hollywood Boulevard to see the pink stars and Chinese Theater in under an hour and it was truly underwhelming. But, if it’s your first time, still go see it because well, you have to.
Later that evening, we made it to SUR, which stands for “Sexy, Unique, Restaurant.” I mean how could we not stop there just because of the name alone? But honestly, we decided to make this place a priority because if you’re a reality tv show addict like myself you know Lisa Vanderpump from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Since that show, she’s started her own reality show Vanderpump Rules featuring this very restaurant. The staff featured on the show are really working here in real life making it quite a SURreal experience
We started our morning with Ivory on Sunset, a chic outdoor lounge, with
amazing views right at our hotel. We stopped here for breakfast almost every day and it was delicious every single time. Some of my personal favorites were the crab cake benedict and the brioche french toast topped with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.
After our bellies were filled, we decided to spend the day over in Santa Monica down by the pier. It was a gorgeous day to spend walking oceanside. We stopped for a bite at Meat on Ocean, (yes, that’s the actual name), for a quick charcuterie board before heading out to explore shops. As we were aimlessly walking around the streets of Santa Monica, we also came across the cutest cafe, Merci Clement, which had a variety of gelatos to choose from and chocolate covered belgian waffles. I chose a coffee gelato cone dipped in white chocolate with Oreo crumble.
We ended our night attending a show at the famous Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard. This place was home to some of the most well known comedians before they made it big. From Robin Williams, to Steve Carell, this place has seen it all. The night before we had realized that it was located directly across from our hotel, so we thought why not see who’s playing there this week. Little did we know it would be my cousin and I’s favorite comedian Whitney Cummings whose book “I’m Fine.. And Other Lies” we just read! It could not have been more kismet that she was playing the same week, let alone the day after we randomly decided to look for a show to attend. The show was a fundraising event for Anti-Defamation League called “Stand-Up Against Hate!” and featured a number of other comedians as well including Jeff Dye, Guy Branum and a special guest star Bill Burr. If you’re visiting LA, PLEASE go check this place out, you never know who will be there.
As if the night couldn’t get any better, after the show we decided to stop at Carney’s for their famous chili burger and hot dogs. Located just up the road from The Comedy Store, we did the unthinkable in LA and actually walked to this portable restaurant in an old railcar.
We decided Wednesday morning to do a studio tour and after looking at countless reviews we sided with the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Burbank, CA. This tour brought us through movie and TV sets of some of the most well known pieces of entertainment. We saw sets of Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Shameless, Gilmore Girls and countless others. They also took us inside a Harry Potter Museum with real pieces from the movie and a prop storage room with a countless amount of historical entertainment pieces including the Giraffe found in the destroyed hotel room from The Hangover. Oh! And we were lucky enough to see Bob Saget leaving one of the sound stages for Fuller House.
We grabbed an early dinner at The Stage, Burbank which had the most beautiful garden patio to enjoy. We were starving so really ordered a bit of everything to try. Some of our highlights were the fish tacos and the pepperoni pizza.
Lastly, we closed out our Wednesday watching the sunset at The Griffith Observatory known by many for it’s appearances in James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause, La La Land and if you’re a gamer like my brother, for its appearance in GTA V. The views from this place were incredible although you could tell it was a tourist destination for many. On a Wednesday night it was packed with people trying to get pictures of the sunset. While I definitely think everyone should check off seeing the Hollywood Sign, it was again, slightly underwhelming. The views of the city itself were more impressive. The planetarium here was fantastic and for tickets at $5 a person, I highly recommend stopping by for a show if you’re there.
Although this was our last day in Cali, we didn’t let it get us down. Our day was just as eventful as all of the others. We first made our way over to The Grove, a beautiful outdoor shopping destination with a food market at the far end of it. I literally could not think of a type of food that you couldn’t find at this place. It had everything. My cousin was also thrilled because they had Dominique Ansel Bakery which was made famous in New York for the cronut. She’s been dying to try one but they’re always sold out in NYC and for whatever reason in LA they had them!
After stopping back at the hotel for a quick drink at the SkyBar, we prepared for
our trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. The location in LA is a lot smaller than Universal Studios in Florida. This worked to our advantage because we were able to get through almost every ride there in less than half a day. The studio tour was the first experience we had and it was great. There were even rides within the tour. We also made it to The Simpsons Ride, The Walking Dead Attraction, Jurassic Park Water Ride, Transformers Attraction, The Mummy Roller Coaster, and had time to explore Harry Potter World. We drank frozen butter beers as we watched the spectacular light show at Hogwarts that night.
While we were thrilled to have explored Universal Studios in such a timely fashion, we didn’t have much time to grab a bite to eat. So, luckily my cousin shared with me one of the most useful apps of our time that I’m sure will take off soon in other major cities, Postmates. We were starving but had no energy to make it anywhere to eat. So we used this magical app for one last meal to be delivered straight to us. Pinks Hot Dogs have been famous in LA since 1939 and we were lucky enough to enjoy them from the beds of our hotel room with this invention.
So, I'm thinking I might be a west coast girl at heart, because I haven’t stopped thinking about this place since we’ve visited. Looking back I wouldn’t change a single thing about our spontaneous itinerary and I hope that you’ll find it helpful when planning your own trip. Or if you’re anything like us, don’t bother planning and just take each day as it comes.