Los Angeles, CA

 

Los Angeles will always hold a special place in my heart. The summer before our senior year of college, my friend Quinlan and I moved out there to explore the city while working as interns. About a year after we graduated, Quinlan moved out to LA and I quickly planned a trip to go visit her and take a weekend road trip to Palm Springs.

After obsessing over Olive & June on Instagram for years, it was our only choice when it came to choosing where to get our nails done. I got a light pink paint with an eyeball design, and it was honestly one of the best, most detailed manicures I’ve ever gotten! It was so easy to relax in Olive & June’s beautiful space, surrounded by worn-in leather chairs, colorful kilim pillows, and pinned-up fresh flowers. 

In search of tacos, we drove out to Santa Monica for dinner at Blue Plate Taco with our friend Kim and her sister. Since it sits right on Ocean Avenue, this restaurant has gotten more touristy as the years go by, but it’s still one of my favorite places to sit by the ocean and sip on a pitcher of margaritas.

 
olive and june nails los angeles ca
olive and june nails los angeles ca
 

We took a mini road trip to Palm Springs for the weekend, and when we got back I spent the next two days exploring Los Angeles on my own. Since the city is so large, I recommend dividing up your days by neighborhood so you don’t waste too much time sitting in crazy LA traffic just trying to get from place to place.

I spent Monday in Venice and started the day by renting a beach cruiser. I biked the three miles from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier and back along Ocean Front Walk. This is one of my all-time favorite things to do in Los Angeles! It’s so relaxing to ride right next to the ocean, and there are so many fun restaurants, shops, and people to watch along the way.

After spending all morning biking, I was starving. I headed to The Butcher’s Daughter on Abbott Kinney and snagged a spot for lunch right at the bar. I ordered one of their signature juice flights and avocado toast. Isn’t that just the most LA meal ever?!

 
the butcher's daughter venice los angeles ca
abbott kinney boulevard shopping venice los angeles ca
 

Abbott Kinney is one of my favorite areas in Los Angeles. There are so many cute shops and restaurants all on one street making it super walkable. I love making my way down the street and stumbling upon new stores and places that have been there for years. Some of my favorites are Burro, The Piece Collective, Urbanic Paper Boutique, Le Labo, and Cuyana.

I returned my bike and headed out to the beach to soak up the sun for the rest of the afternoon. Every time I visit the beach, I make a rule that I have to go in the water at least once. This trip was no exception – even though the water was freezing!

 
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honey hi echo park los angeles ca
 

On Tuesday, I ventured to downtown Los Angeles, an area that I never really explored when I was living out there. I started with lunch at Honey Hi in Echo Park and was a little nervous about what to order since I’m such a picky eater. I ended up going with the miso bowl and it was SO good! I think I have a newfound love of daikon sauce. 

The Broad Museum was next up on my list, and apparently there’s always a super long line to get in. I had to wait about an hour before making it inside, but it was well worth it. I saw Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Blue) and then literally stumbled upon a giant orange and turquoise Keith Haring painting! One of my other favorites was Robert Therrien’s Under The Table, which is essentially a basic black table and set of chairs blown up on a giant scale. I love “oversized art” and The Broad Museum definitely hit that note.

For an afternoon snack, I walked over to Grand Central Market and got an ice cream cone from McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream. They had a flavor called wild berry, just like the Poptart, so obviously I had to try it. It was SO good!

 
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poketo los angeles ca
grand central market los angeles ca
 

The arts district was just a short walk away, so I headed there to find Poketo, a creative shop that carries the coolest home décor, clothing, accessories, and stationery supplies. Needless to say, I wanted to buy everything in the store! I stumbled upon another lifestyle shop down the street called Alchemy Works. It was just as cool, but with slightly different vibes.

That’s one of my favorite things about Los Angeles. I always visit the city with a list of restaurants I want to eat at and shops I want to check out, but I love finding hidden gems that weren’t on my radar along the way. I feel like Los Angeles is a city that I will come back to every few years to catch up on my old haunts and find out what’s new.