There is SO MUCH to see and do in Los Angeles. You know, it’s the city that makes and breaks dreams, and gives hope to those who want to start a new life (in a place a bit warmer than New York)… there are a lot of great songs about the “City of Angels.”
Work, school and other responsibilities can make it hard to take a vacation, but it’s a smart idea to take a break and recharge yourself every once in a while with a “mini-vacation.” Don’t have more than 30 hours to get away? I’ve condensed an itinerary for a day and a half of time to explore Venice/Santa Monica/Los Angeles that will satisfy your hiking, ice cream and beach going needs all in one 28 hour trip.
Day 1: Venice and the Santa Monica Pier
Venice Beach is one of my favorite places to explore in LA. It’s funky, quirky, and diverse. It’s always a different experience every time I visit. I love walking along the boardwalk to see the street shows and artists, and I love the artsy atmosphere.
3pm: Boardwalk Stroll from Venice to Santa Monica
In Venice you can walk along the boardwalk by the beach to check out the street art and the venders selling their beautiful art creations. If you’re down for the exercise, it’s only a 2.5 mile walk all the way to Santa Monica! In Santa Monica, you can explore the bougie downtown, with many nice stores and restaurants to shop or grab a bite to eat.
5pm: Happy Hour at The Independence
Conner and I got to Santa Monica and found The Independence at prime time: happy hour. $5 house drinks and wine/select beer as well as $5 appetizers made our tummies and our wallets very happy. Our favorite appetizer that we ordered was a GIANT meatball. Seriously, it was the size of a regulation softball. I don’t even have any pictures of it because when it came, we just devoured it as soon as it got to the table.
7pm: Rides on the Santa Monica Pier
Walk off happy hour by strolling to the pier to watch the sun set over the Pacific ocean, and relive your childhood on the ferris wheel or roller coaster. Treat yourself to some dessert like some cookie monster flavored ice cream (MY FAVORITE!) or a warm churro.
This is just what we could manage to pack into our evening. If you have more time to explore Venice, walk along Abbot Kinney Blvd and go shopping, or eat the amazing food that’s available in the neighborhood.
If you want free entertainment, go mural hunting and admire the many incredible murals which line the street walls. Check out the canals (and the beautiful houses which surround them), or get some gains on Muscle Beach. For more information about SoCal travel and Venice, check out the post on my other blog about my Spring Break SoCal Road Trip here!
Day 2: Griffith Observatory and Hike to the Hollywood Sign
9am: Morning Coffee at Menotti’s
Menotti’s, Venice’s prime beachfront coffee joint, did not disappoint. Menotti’s is across the street from the iconic hanging ‘VENICE” letters that are always seen in people’s artsy Instagram pictures of (I’m guilty, too) right off the boardwalk and less than a 20 yards walk from the beach. Yes. The shop has an interesting history, linked to roots of acting as a former speakeasy. They serve Four Barrel coffee, and there’s a chance you’ll even get served by the owner Christopher “Nicely” Abel Alameda. He IS nice (and I’ve heard he’s a 3 time “latte art” champion as well).
11am: Griffith Observatory
Gorgeous photo taking opportunities for me and my camera, and science for Conner. It’s a perfect combo! We learned about outer space and astronomy, and were lucky enough to witness the “local noon” passing of the sundial’s circle on their Gottlieb Transit Corridor.
The Griffith Observatory is free and open to the public. It’s open from 12pm-10pm Tuesday-Friday and 10am-10pm on Saturday and Sunday.
3pm: Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwiches at Milk
I dreamed of the day that macaroons and ice cream would come together to create the ultimate delicious combination of creaminess and perfection. Now, that day has come. My strawberry macaroon ice cream sandwich was stuffed with vanilla ice cream, dipped in white chocolate, and sprinkled in fruity pebbles. Absolute heaven. This magical creation from Milk on Beverly Boulevard was maybe the best thing I’ve eaten in all of 2017… and it’s been a pretty delicious year.
Evening: Sunset Hollywood Sign Hike via Wisdom Tree Trail
I like to balance out wolfing down yummy ice cream with a solid hike for exercise so that I can wolf down even more ice cream in the future.
I’ve been below the Hollywood sign, but I’ve always wanted to hike BEHIND the sign. This trail gave me everything I was looking for and more.
We took the Wisdom Tree Trail up the mountain, and walked along the ridge behind the Hollywood sign which is perched on Cahuenga Peak. This peak is the highest point in Griffith Park at 1,820 feet. It was amazing to imagine all of the historical events this iconic piece of architecture has been present in LA to witness over the years, since it’s construction back in 1923. Back then, its inspirational message to people who saw it was “This is a place where magic is possible, where dreams can come true.” And in many ways when you look at the Hollywood sign it still gives you that feeling of excitement that anything is possible…
So there you go, a few ways to explore the City of Angels including Venice, Santa Monica, downtown, and Hollywood all in a little over one day. If you have any suggestions of things to add in or any comments of your own experiences at these landmarks, let me know 🙂
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