I felt a pull toward the epic metropolis that is LA and somewhat impulsively booked flights. In a fortnight I feel I saw just the tip of the iceberg, some locals who’ve lived there years would say the same though. In any case I feel you could have whatever experience you are seeking in this diverse city.
I spent my first few nights in Venice Beach, in a sweet Airbnb with chickens and a bunny playing in the yard. A couple of beach cruisers available for exploring and I was set. I love feeling like a local rather than a tourist, even though hotels are also great fun.
In Venice my top tips are;
- Yoga! Plenty of options, I enjoyed the Yoga Collective on Rose Ave (right next to Cafe Gratitude!). Love Yoga on Lincoln if you prefer a class that’s not so packed. Yoga Salt in Culver City was great too, go to owner Tamal’s class and hope that he gets out his guitalele and sings through savasana (heaven!). I didn’t make it but would love to take a class at Light On Lotus, especially with founder Kate Duyn Cariati.
- Eat Fresh – I LOVED The Butchers Daughter and Cafe Gratitude. Erewhon Market was a health nuts dream for stocking up on a few groceries or easy take home meals.
- Sunset at the beach – there’s a sweet bike path that runs all the way to Santa Monica Pier, ride down to Venice Pier and walk or chill on the sand as the sun slips away and paints the sky with magic. This was happening around 8pm when I visited in August.
- You could ride that bike path to Santa Monica and before you get to the pier you’ll see on the right a sweet balcony with casually elegant punters having a rose or similar. I wandered in to Shutters on a whim after I found the pier to be a bit hectic and touristy. One of my best travel tips is go to the nicest hotels for a tea or drink, soak up the ambience and people watch to your hearts content.
- Drive – I’d never done so on the right hand side of the road but it was easy and pretty essential to opening up a full experience. LA is huge and you may aslo want to get out for a few days as the surrounding landscape is incredible.
From Venice I did a few road trips; if you’ve got half or a full day cruise out to Malibu and/or Topanga canyon. There’s some amazing views and hikes as you rise up over the ocean. In Malibu there’s a little hub of shops on Cross Creek Rd, cafes and an organic juice bar – Sunlife Organics. Easy parking there and you can walk over to the beach or pier.
If you’ve got a couple of days I loved Ojai. It’s only 1.5-2 hrs out of LA. It’s inland so expect the temp to soar, you’ll want to stay somewhere with a pool, like the Ojai Rancho Inn. I loved the hippy spirit meets retro Americana styling, if you don’t stay here drop in to Chief’s Peak the poolside bar that’s utterly charming. The town centre is equally sweet, check out hip boutique In The Field and head to Farmer and the Cook or Hip Vegan Cafe for eats. If you need a good coffee No So Vita, or some nourishing groceries and clean water Rainbow Bridge Natural Foods is your spot. Meditation Mount is an easy drive through and just out of town, passing orchards along the way, I visited for a full moon group meditation, you could just pop in for the view.
I did a few days in Palm Springs which is certainly worth a visit. I was in awe of the giant wind turbines that line the way in. It’s also sweltering there so prepare to slow down, again a pool is necessary – I stayed at the Ace hotel and was smitten with the Mad Men vibe. I would have happily just stayed here the whole time reading by the pool (I was there early in the week, felt like the weekend was going to get a bit higher energy). If you want to explore Palm Springs there’s plenty on offer. I did a drive about an hour to Joshua Tree National Park, I felt it was incredible but not ideal just to swing through, I think camping there would be epic even just to be there when the night sky lights up and get a few hikes in before the heat of the day takes hold.
Back in LA, downtown for a few nights involved;
- more yoga! Liberation Yoga is the real deal, I did a fantastic Iyengar class with a teacher named Pagan. I nearly passed out in a hot class at Modo, you might love it. Also the Wanderlust studio in Hollywood comes highly recommended but I didn’t fit that in.
- Mediate – in style at The Den on La Brea.
- Art – LACMA (pics below) was so good, especially The Broad contemporary art buil.
- Nightlife – I had beautiful dinners at the Eveleigh in West Hollywood or Scopa Italian Roots in Marina Del Ray (see if you can have a drink in the speakeasy around the back,Old Lightning, seemed top secret). Ask a local for where to go after dinner, it’s not my area 😉
Hope this is helpful to those wanderers amongst you. Tis’ such a privilege and a soul expansion to see the world.