About once a month, my job takes me to SoCal. About every other, other, other trip, I am able to get out of the office and explore a little. Earlier this year, my sister and friend met me in SoCal after a week of work, and we explored for the weekend. If the weekend is all you have, you can definitely get to a few of the hot spots in and around LaLaLand. And, if you have the weekend planned out like we did, you will get the most out of your trip. Here’s the itinerary we followed to explore the surrounding area of LA in only 2.5 days!
If you are an east coaster, taking an after work flight still gets you into the airport (LAX) with sometime to explore due to the 3 hour time difference. We chose to explore downtown Santa Monica on Friday evening, and check out the infamous Santa Monica Pier and Ocean Ave restaurants.
As far as dinner (and cocktails go), Blue Plate Taco would be the best spot right on Ocean Ave. for a reasonably priced meal and an amazing margarita.
If you want to enjoy a finer dinner, try The Ivy or The Lobster. Both are on Ocean Ave too, and both have phenomenal food. The Ivy is super eclectic and manages to mate nautical and garden party decor, while The Lobster feels more formal with its wicker chairs and white table cloths. You truly can’t go wrong with either!
If you enjoy working out, definitely take the time to schedule a workout class in Santa Monica. Every trendy work out class you can imagine is located within a five mile radius of downtown Santa Monica, and many of them offer first timers a free class. On this trip, we tried SoulCycle, and we left the class feeling energized and ready to concur the day. If you don’t think you can dance on a spin bike, while embracing the spiritual words of a yoga class, Soul Cycle will show you otherwise.
After exercising, grab a coffee and some of the most amazing breakfast food you will ever eat at Huckleberry Cafe. It’s truly a toss up if I enjoyed the yeasty, perfectly toasted bread or my creamy, runny poached egg more!!
Next on the itinerary is a 45 minute drive to Robert Meyer Memorial State Park/ El Matador State Beach. I know, 45 minutes seems a bit unnecessary when you are driving along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), and could literally stop anywhere to get out, explore, and lounge on the beach, but please, just keep driving. Once you arrive at El Matador State Beach, hike down from the parking lot to the seaside, and then you will know why I asked you to please keep driving.
On our trip, we didn’t bring our swim suits. We went in early March and a bit chilly; however, if you go anytime after May, bring your suits and pack a lunch to stay for a few hours at El Matador State Beach.
If you were able to hang out at the beach a bit, it is now probably 3 PM and you are ready to head back toward your hotel along the PCH. About half way into your drive, you will come across the Malibu pier and Malibu Farm restaurant. This is by far my favorite part of SoCal! Malibu Farm has the most wonderful froze, food, decor, and views! A little insider tip – if it looks too crowded at the first restaurant on the front of the pier, keep walking because there is another at the end of the pier. There’s also some amazing shopping on this end of the pier as well!
If you’re like me, you could stay on the Malibu Pier all evening taking it in, but at some point you may want to head back to your hotel and rest up for the hike your going to take tomorrow morning!
One thing you’ll quickly realize when visiting the LA Area is that the fog hangs around until 10 AM. So, on Sunday, wake up slow, enjoy your hotel amenities, and start heading toward Runyon Canyon around 9:30 AM. Runyon Canyon is a pretty popular hike in this area, and rightfully so! The views are stunning and you will get to experience full panoramic views of the city, and see the historic Hollywood sign. Although they say this is a moderate 3.5 mile hike, we found it to be somewhat challenging! Although the hike is mainly paved, it is VERY hilly. There are also some in paved trails for the more adventurous so if you’re interest in checking these out, I would do a little more research ahead of time!
When you’re done hiking, you are going to be very hungry! On our way back from the hike, and before heading to the airport, we checked out Beverly Hills for lunch. After driving down Rodeo Drive (and snapping a few pics), we people (and fancy car) watched while we ate on cute patio. There are plenty of these in the area so you’re bound to find a good spot!
Happy travels, and enjoy your time in SoCal! It definately has a special place in my heart!