TRAVEL

HOPPED OFF THE PLANE AT LAX

Officially caught the travel bug and, spur of the moment, took a solo trip out to California. It's hard to believe that it's almost been three years since I spent the summer out in LA, aka the best summer of my life. And, even harder to believe that I hadn't been back since. So, I took advantage of MLK Weekend and some comp days I had coming to me and booked a ticket. 

Extremely glad I did and proud to say I jam packed an entire summer's worth of activities into five days. Shoutout to my roomiez Glo and Grace for their hospitality in LA and San Diego. 

For those of you wanting to tackle Southern California, on a relatively cheap budget, here is my list of must see/dos.  

TIP #1: USE THE TIME CHANGE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Wherever you're flying from, fly out early. Don't waste a vacation day getting there. There are plenty of non-stops into LAX that get in EARLY. 100% worth the extra money and you can sleep on the plane.

TIP #2: RENT A CAR

Unless you want to quickly rack up an Uber tab, I suggest renting a car. California and public transportation just don't mix.

Next, find the nearest In-N-Out and order a cheeseburger, Animal Style. You won't see it on the public menu, but just trust me on this one and get it. And, if you're feeling extra wild, you can get your fries Animal Style, too.

Looking to spot a celeb? Head to the In-N-Out in Universal City. I met Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper) from House of Cards...celebrities, they're just like us!

After you've munched on a burger, or three, head down Barham Blvd. (I used to live there) and ride past Warner Brother Studios. (If you see da' police, warna' brother.) Got the time? Stop for a tour...it's worth it. From there, ride through Tuluca Lake and Burbank. (My old stompin' grounds!)

TIP #3: HOLLYWOOD SIGN

You're in California, you want to see the Hollywood Sign, duh. Whatever you do, don't waste your time Googling how to get there. I promise, you'll be disappointed. 

If you want a good view and you're on a time crunch, go to Lake Hollywood Park. You'll get the Insta you want in under 10mins.  

If you've got some time to kill and want to check "hiking" off of your list, you can get up, close, and personal with the sign via the "Mt. Hollywood Drive" trail that leaves from Griffith Park Observatory. Park in the LOWER parking lot, which is located immediately after you pass under a bridge. If you've gone up the big hill, or you see the Observatory, you've gone too far. Look for the "Mt. Hollywood Drive" trail. Take that to "Mulholland Trail," which will take you to "Mt. Lee Drive," and on up to the sign. All in all, it will be about a 7 mile hike, but worth it. You can also leave from the Observatory via the "Charlie Turner Trail" for some great city views, but it will take longer, and you'll probably get lost, like I did - lol!

View from Lake Hollywood Park

Charlie Turner Trail - View of Griffith Observatory

Mt. Hollywood Dr.

TIP #4: EXPLORE LA

Check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, see the Chinese Theater, window shop your way down Rodeo Drive, visit the iconic Urban Light at LACMA, and view the Great Wall of Los Angeles. All bucket list items, for sure, but once you've seen them, you've seen all there is to see. 

Planning a trip in the summer? Head to a Dodgers game, just to say you've been. Don't have time? Take a tour! They're only $10. Or, if sports aren't your thing, picnic and see an outdoor movie in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Couldn't get a ticket? Griffith Park also presents outdoor movies. Plus, they have dozens of food trucks - yum!

If you're looking for a night out, but not sure where to go, sign up for a bar crawl. That's what we did to get the lay of the land without having to wait in any lines, or pay for covers! Pasadena also has some great bars and clubs. FYI, a lot of places charge a HUGE cover, I'm talkin' $60 - $100. Avoid them by getting in early, usually before 10pm.

TIP #5: CALIFORNIA IS GREAT FOR ROAD TRIPS

I have a new found appreciation for solo road trips. If you ever have the opportunity, do it! It's fun to explore by yourself and you gain an incredible sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, California was getting TONS of rain when I visited, but it was still fun to reminisce on some of my favorite spots.

I started just north of Malibu at El Matador State Beach. If you're looking for a beach day, this is my favorite place. Secluded and drop dead, out of a magazine, gorgeous. Just north is Neptune's Net - BEST crab cakes around! 

Then, I drove down the 101, past Zuma Beach, and through Malibu, stopping in Santa Monica. If you're looking for a lunch spot with good views, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., right on the pier, is the way to go. From there, it's a short drive to Venice. Definitely take an hour and rent some roller blades - "so cali." 

From Venice, I took the 101 the entire way down to San Diego quickly stopping in Huntington, Newport, Laguna, and La Jolla. It's such a cool drive, and even cooler when it's sunny!

TIP #6: EXPLORE SAN DIEGO

I've always said that if I ever moved out to California, I'd move to San Diego. It's an awesome city that's more laid back than LA. 

Top 10 Things to do in a weekend:

  1. San Diego Zoo
  2. Balboa Park
  3. USS Midway
  4. Coronado Island - Grub on Some Mexican, too!
  5. Sunset Cliffs
  6. Drink Some Brewskis - San Diego has Breweries on Breweries!
  7. Put Your Party Pants on in the Gaslamp District
  8. Brunch in Pacific Beach (PB) - Recommendation: Isabel's Cantina 
  9. Eat Your Way Through Little Italy - Recommendation: Landini's
  10. Acai Bowls After a Workout (again, "so cali")

GOOD EATZ: NEW YORK, NY EDITION

Trained it up to the Big Apple with the fam to see Jimmy Fallon the other day. I’d like to say we stumbled upon this authentic Latin American place by chance, but in reality we Googled and Yelped our way to it. If you’re ever in NYC , head over to Margon on 136 W and 46th Street to try the toasted cuban sandwich…it’s delicious, cheap and quick.

Also included are pics from the rest of our little day-trip. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Jimmy was as awesome as you’d probably imagine!

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE

Took an impromptu trip this past weekend to Seattle. You’re probably thinking, why Seattle? Well, my best friend since 6th grade moved out there about a year ago to work for Boeing. (Yes, she’s one smart cookie.) The cool part about having friends that live all over is that I get to check out new places (for free)!

Despite it’s rainy/dreary reputation, Seattle is actually a pretty cool city. I lucked out and had three great tour guides. (Shout out to Emily Nelson, Caleb Buck and Abby the dog.) And, the weather was surprisingly great. In fact, on Saturday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky!

They say that summer is the best time to visit Seattle. So, if you’re thinking of taking a trip, here is a list of must do activities.

1. VISIT THE FAMOUS PIKE PLACE MARKET

The largest farmer’s market in the U.S. and definitely worth a walk through. See the fish get thrown at the fish market, shop the vendors, buy a bouquet of tulips, eat some seafood at Lowell’s, check out Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, see the first ever Starbucks, get a piroshky (little Russian pastry) at Piroshky Piroshky and venture down under to Post Alley to see the gum wall.

2. VISIT THE SPACE NEEDLE

When in Seattle, you have to check out the iconic space needle. However, don’t spend your money to go up here. Instead, visit the Columbia Center to see the city views.

3. GET YOUR NATURE FIX

The Seattle surrounding area is drop dead gorgeous and there are plenty of great hikes. We drove up north of the city to Deception Pass, which has about a mile hike with outstanding views.

4. SEE SOME TULIPS

Seattle is known for their tulips (who knew?) and every year a tulip festival is held in Skagit Valley. However, you don’t need tickets to see the tulip fields. There are plenty of parking areas on the side of the road for just $5. Probably one of the coolest/prettiest things I’ve ever seen. Definitely worth the road trip.

5. GO TO SOME BREWERIES

While you’re up north of Seattle, hop from brewery to brewery to taste some craft beers and to get a feel for the local laid back vibe.