I am very proud that I live in the great state of California. This state has tons to offer, from a variety of national parks, iconic cities, small towns, and best of all vineyards along the coast. We have been fortune enough to visit many places, so here are our favorite places often underrated when talking about California.
Santa Ynez Valley / Los Olivos
This area is a hidden gem that I love to tell people about. This valley produces many of California great wines and had some amazing vineyards to visit. Los Olivos is a small town in the valley that has a street full of wine tasting stops and looks like Main Street in Disneyland.
When I think of authentic California beach coast I think of Santa Cruz. With the oldest surviving boardwalk it’s like going back in history. The boardwalk has old-fashion carnival games, snack booths, and wooden roller coaster. This is the perfect place for any family.
Joshua Tree National Park
Although I had been to Joshua Tree Park in the past is wasn’t until our last trip that I feel in love. This place looks like you’re in a different planet, with boulders as far as the eye can see. It is the perfect getaway since the only activities are hiking and relaxing in nature.
Julian Historical Town
Christmas in LA usually consist of warm weather, which lets be honest, doesn’t have the same Christmas feeling as as areas colder with weather. There are times I do wish we had snow to make it feel more like Christmas. If you live in LA or are just visiting this month and want the holiday spirit here are my top recommendations.
ONE: Go to the Chill Event at Queen Mary for ice skating, sledding, and holiday festivities. If you have never been to the Queen Mary ship this is a great excuse to go.
TWO: Pack the family or friends in a car and drive down Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena, CA. Watching all the Christmas lights as you listen to holiday music is the best way to spend a night.
THREE: Stroll down the Venice canals with hot coco to look at the beautiful homes all lit up. Or visit the less popular Nepal’s canals in Long Beach (which I personally prefer).
FOUR: Although Disneyland is of course is a must see, Knott’s Berry Farm is another great theme park. Majority of the park resembles an old mining town and during the holiday season there’s a Christmas market in the middle of the park.
FIVE: Go to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for the LA Philharmonic Holiday Sing-Along or to the several Nutcracker performances going on in LA (LINK).
SIX: Take a day trip to either Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear for a day in the mountains. If your lucky, the snow. Nothing says holiday season then drinking hot coco and feeling the cold mountain air.
EIGHT: Visit Solvang,CA for the weekend and enjoy the Dutch style city in its holiday glory.
If you happen to follow popular bloggers on Instagram you could tell there is no a shortage of coffee shops in LA. There are so many unique ones that it can be overwhelming. As we have mentioned before my sister and I love going to coffee shops. We love the ambiance of a good coffee shop, but it’s also why we are particular about which ones we go to. Here is our list for our best coffee houses in LA.
Side note: some are near tourist spots and other that are probably better if you live in LA.
Although we loved their coffee before coming here, this place is a recent favorite. The rustic décor has that California beach feel that Venice Beach is known for.
We discovered this coffee shop when visiting our older sister in East Los Angeles and fell in love. This cafe feels like ones in Mexico and they even have Cafe de Olla and Mexican pastries. I prefer their South Pasadena location, since it’s situated in a new neighborhood.
This coffee shop is probably our most visited because of their location and they use coffee beans from Australia, which is our favorite. The ambiance is casual just like the South Bay area of LA is. Try not going during Saturday mornings tho because the line gets long.
This is by far our favorite. We have been going to this coffee shop since we were in high school. It’s the best place for studying, chit chatting, and just people watching. Although it’s changed in the recent years it still has everything you want in a coffee shop.
Unlike the other’s, this one is very trendy and can get crowded. The coffee is amazing which is why it is on list! They even serve you cheese and crackers if you sit at the bar. I know weird combo if your drinking coffee instead of the wine, but still cool.
As you can tell from our previous travel posts, we’ve enjoyed exploring places closer to home. Not only is this more cost efficient, but it also reminds us that we don’t need to go far to travel. We wanted to end summer on a good note, so we decided to visit Joshua Tree National Park.
We left LA in the morning and after a stop to pick up supplies, we made it to Joshua Tree before the afternoon. Since the campgrounds are first come first serve we were lucky enough to find a campsite at the Jumbo Rocks.
After we unpacked, we decided to hike to the Skull Rock. The Skull Rock hike is less than 2 miles and is mostly flat. The best part of Joshua Tree is climbing all the large boulders. It is like a jungle gym for adults, all the climbing makes you feel like a kid again!
Once we got back we chilled and barbecued dinner. As the sun went down we scaled some boulders to enjoy the sky turn into a beautiful pink color. It always amazes me how time stops when your in nature.
Any camping trip isn’t complete until you cap the night with campfire and s’mores.
Next morning, we woke up early to watch the sunrise. As the sun rose from the sky, we cozied up near the fire with come coffee in our hands. This is the way I wish I woke up every morning.
Once we packed up the car we headed to Cholla Gardens. These plants are beautiful, but dangerous. A small swipe along their thorns can cause clothing items, shoes, or worse skin to be pricked, and can be even more painful to remove.
The next stop was Barker Dam Trail. Since we woke up early, we were able to beat the crowd and enjoyed the scenery to ourselves. The hike was a 1.8 hike loops passing through large boulders and dams, and to what feels like the middle of the desert.
Being in the Joshua Tree feels like you’re in another planet since the plants are so unique and boulders as far as eye can see. I can see why Dr. Seuess was inspired by this place. Since this was a short trip, after the hike we headed back home.
After our mini road trip last holiday season, my sister and I had so much fun that we wanted to do it again. Although we have traveled to northern California many times, there are still so many places we hadn’t seen. So once I got tickets to the Lantern Fest we decided it was time for another road trip.
Typically when we drive up north we drive along the coast of California, this time we drove up closer to the Nevada state line. I never knew that Death Valley, Red Rocks Canyon, and Mount Whitney were so close to LA. We wanted to share our northern California and Nevada roadtrip.
|Red Rocks Canyon|
|Bishop – Mt. Whitney backdrop|
Bodie Ghost Town
First stop was Bodie, the largest ghost town in California. My sister and I had heard of this place years ago and we have been dying to go since. Bodie has over 200 structures still standing since late 1800’s. Walking and peaking into these homes, you will still see personal belongs. It was somewhat creepy and it felt as if you were taking a look back in history.
That same day we drove straight to Reno. Although Reno is nothing like Vegas, it still had a nice charm to it. As soon we we settled in, we took a long walk to see the city and stop for coffee.
The second day we drove to the outskirts of Reno where the Lantern Fest was being held at. The event was a great place to drink, relax, and make s’mores on the bon fire pits. Once it turned dark, we let go our lanterns fly. It was a magical moment and we enjoyed every minute of it. The best part was Danni boyfriend proposed!!! So of course that made the evening even more romantic.
We decided to visit the South Rim of the lake, since there was more to do there. We had a nice lunch near the lake and rented out a speedboat for the afternoon. The boat ride was by far the funniest part of the trip, partially because we rode to Emerald Bay, but mostly because it was fun flying thru the lake.
Saying goodbye to a vacation is never easy. Road trips are even harder since you pass other places you wish you can stop and visit, like Bridgeport or Mammoth Lakes. We did make time to have some delicious BBQ in a town called Bishop.
One of the best parts about living in Los Angeles, is the abundance of healthy eateries to choose from. This is probably why so many people here are fit. Here is a list of our favorites spots for when we are looking for healthy eateries.
For those who crave Mexican food this is a great option. They serve healthy alternatives to your favorite Mexican dishes and other low calorie options. I highly recommend the brown rice pancakes or low carb protein bowl.
Located only in South Bay, Good Stuff has tons of options for those who are trying to hit your protein intake. They even have a section in their menu called “Beach Body Fitness”.
This is not necessarily a healthy eatery, but it does have one great option…salad pizza! With all the greens and no cheese this a delicious why to enjoy pizza without the guilt.
This cafeteria-style eatery has some of the best veggie options around. With a seasonal menu there are always something new and tasty to try like.
This is my favorite inexpensive grab and go option for when I’m on my lunch break. Shop House is the Southeast Asian cuisine version of Chipotle, but with more veggie options.
Here are other amazing other great options for healthy dining that we are dying to check out.
Summer is hands down the best time to come to LA. There are so many events happening on any given day that you will never be bored. So here is a list of L.A. Summer Events:
If you want a memorable night in LA: Hollywood Bowl
One the best memories I have during the summer is watching Ray Lamontange perform here during sunset. If you want a night you won’t forget then attend one of the many concerts or even a sing-a-long movie night.
If partying during the day is your thing – Do-Over
This is the original day club in Hollywood and it’s even on Sundays. If you love hip-hop and sangria this is the spot.
If you love pool parties – Pool Parties in LA
There a plenty of pool parties during the summer in LA and even on weeknights. Pool parties are a great way to relax and cool down during the hot summer months.
If you love to dance – DTLA Night Dance
We mentioned this in a previous post. This is a great way to spend Friday evenings. Just pack a bottle of wine and enjoy free dance lessons from salsa to Bollywood.
If you love the beach and listening to music – Twilight Concerts on the Santa Monica Pier
If you want to relax then grab a blanket and listen to some great music at the beach. They even have special nights where they stream live Operas from DTLA music center.
If you’re into modern art – Summer of Soul at the Hammer Museum
During the summer it feels like the weekends begin on Thursday and this is an event that will get you in the weekend mode. Hammer Museum opens it’s doors for some art viewing and dancing.
If you love old movies – Outdoor Movie Nights
Just like pool parties, LA folks love watching their movies outdoors. There are plenty of outdoor cinemas during the summer months and they all provide food trucks and sometimes live music.
If you love art and music – Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Museum
The Getty not only has an amazing view of the city and great art, but combine with a live DJ during sunset and it becomes a recipe for a good night.
If your a food lover – 626 night market
Night markets are a popular hangout in Asian countries with a variety of unique street food.
Every summer we make it a point to enjoy our weekends like mini vacation days, especially since the weather is begging you to go out and play. There are always new places or activities we haven’t tried yet, so of course this is the best time of year to check them off our list. Here is our LA Summer bucket list:
1. Take a tour around Frank Lloyd first LA project, Hollyhock House
2. Go for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains
5. Bike ride along the beach from Venice to Santa Monica pier to eat lunch
6. Have a picnic at Zuma Beach in Malibu
7. Explore new foods at the 626 Night Market
8. Eat at the new spot on Abbot Kenny street, The Butcher Daughter
9. Summer is never complete without a BBQ with friends and family
10. Attend the Lantern Fest in Reno, NV (I know this is not in LA but it’s still on my bucket list)
As somebody who was born and raised in Los Angeles, we do have a tendency to brag about how great the weather is. Which is why we take advantage of the good weather by doing our physical activities outside all year-round. If your ever visiting LA and want to take advantage of all the sunshine, here is a list of outdoor workouts. If you are from LA, we also included items that are not as well known.
1. Riding Bikes by the Beach– Ride bikes or run the 2-mile stretch from Venice to Santa Monica. Not only can you enjoy a view of the beach, but the bike rentals are only $20 for the entire day.
2. Baldwin Hill Steps– This long and windy walk up the hill and what may seem like a never ending stair cases is well worth the exercise for an amazing view of LA.
7. Yoga Outdoors– What sounds better than practicing yoga under warmth of the sun? If this sounds good to you, try a yoga class outside at Runyon Canyon, Downtown Grand Park, or on a helipad of a rooftop. But our top choice is Yogaulation on Bluff Park. Who wouldn’t love to have a free yoga class with an ocean view?
8. Manhattan Beach Sand Dunes– Try changing up the typical cardio choices, and run up the Manhattan Beach sand dunes. This 100 feet high sand dunes is harder than it looks, so prepare to feel the burn!
- Surf, Kayak, or Paddle Board– These three options are great ways to enjoy the ocean and get a workout in. Of course we have plenty of beaches to choice from, the most popular being Malibu and for good reasons. If you want to be different, try kayaking down the LA river for a different perspective of the city.