Nate and I went back to Southern California a few weeks ago for a friend’s wedding in LA and also to visit his family that lives in Orange County! I love visiting, we have such fun memories of dating and being newly married there, it holds such a special place in my heart. I was also excited to visit again because it’s been a year and a half since we were last in SoCal and I wanted to see all my friends and check out the new places that have been popping up! It was great to try new restaurants and also go back to our tried-and-true first loves (…we take food very seriously). The week went way too fast. Sigh. Anyway, this list constantly changes, but these are the places to eat and things I recommend to do in Los Angeles and Orange County!
Los Angeles Eats & Treats
Coffee: Verve Coffee Roasters and Alfred Coffee
Donuts: Sidecar Doughnuts
Breakfast: Great White and Sqirl
Brunch: The Hart & the Hunter and Ostrich Farm
Lunch: Malibu Farms and Joan’s On Third
Dinner: Manuela and The Rose Cafe
Ice Cream: MILK or Diddy Riese ice cream sandwich (and Jeni’s of course but it’s not technically FROM LA)
Things To Do In LA
– Malibu Beach day, I recommend Zuma or Surfrider beach! Take a surf lesson at Malibu Surf Shack, get lunch or dinner at Malibu Farms…stay until sunset and get a cocktail overlooking the beach. So. Dreamy.
– Explore downtown LA arts district! Shop around the art show rooms, boutiques, and market. Get ice cream at Salt & Straw, lunch at Urth Cafe (Taylor Swift was once spotted at that location of Urth, JUST sayin’), get dinner at Manuela, and drinks at Wolf & Crane.
– Get the most boujee lunch of your life at the Ivy in Beverly Hills, look intensely for celebrities the whole time, and then shop around the Beverly Hills at the Grove or on Beverly Dr. after! Also it’s fun to drive around some of the amazing neighborhoods and see some Beverly Hill’s mansions!
– See the new and improved Venice, which is way more than just the boardwalk. Walk along the Venice canals, grab some food at Rose Cafe or Great White, and then treat yourself to some Jeni’s. Make sure to try out one of the motorized scooters they have lying around everywhere, they are pretty fun and actually super convenient.
– Go to a Dodger’s game or Laker’s game depending on when you’re there! Sports in LA are more like a show…the stadium/arena’s are really nice and obviously iconic in their own right, lots of celebs go to the games, and it’s one of the most LA things you can do! Go….Lakers….*sobs*.
– See an outdoor movie in the summer, they are playing almost every night, all in really cool locations, some even on the beach! Take lots of blankets or bundle up, it gets cold at night.
– Spend a day at Paradise Cove beach, parking is $30 unless you get food or drinks at the restaurant…which you should…because they serve cocktails in mini watermelons.
– See the Getty or if you’re too intimated by the size, see the Getty Villa in Malibu…both are amazing and must sees for not only the art, but the views!
– Hike to the Griffith Observatory, it’s a good work out, with awesome views on the way up, and rewarding to get to explore the observatory at the end! There are a lot of great hikes in LA, including amazing ones in Malibu worth checking out.
Orange County Eats & Treats
Coffee: Common Room Roasters and Kit Coffee
Bagels: Avalon Bagels to Burgers (my in laws own this place!!)
Breakfast: Haute Cakes Caffe and Plum’s Cafe
Brunch: SOCIAL and Zinque
Acai Bowl: Birdie Bowl or Growl Juice Pub
Lunch: Bear Flag Fish Company and In-N-Out
Dinner: True Food and Driftwood Kitchen
Dessert: Ruby’s Diner milkshake and After’s Ice Cream
Things To Do In OC
– Spending the day at the Laguna Montage beach is hands down my favorite thing to do in Orange County. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California and if you do nothing else, do this (lots of photos below of our afternoon there)! Even if you don’t like laying out at the beach, there’s places to picnic with an amazing view and you don’t even have to get your feet sandy.
– Stand up paddle board or kayak in the Newport back bay. This is one of my favorite things we did when we lived in OC. The water is calm and you get to paddle through all these beautiful homes right on the water.
– Try your hand at surfing in Huntington Beach, and then spend the evening with a beach bonfire there, one of my favorite things to do!
– Hike the “Laguna Beach Cliff Hike”, it’s a short 20 minute hike straight up for one of the best views I’ve ever seen (lots of photos of that in this post). You can come back down or continue on to one of the longer hikes that branches off this one.
– Get fish tacos at Bear Flag and walk over to Newport Beach to enjoy on one of the lifeguard stands on the beach.
– Explore the historic district of Old Town Orange. This is the neighborhood Nate and I used to live in and we love it so much! Get amazing tacos and marg’s at Gabbi’s and walk around exploring all the different antique shops, boutiques, and grab a coffee at Aussie Bean or an ice cream at A La Minute.
– Definitely go to Lido Village to get a coffee at Honor, browse the cute little bookstore and high end boutiques…and finish off your time there with a glass of wine overlooking the harbor.
Tips & Tricks to LA and OC
– Expect traffic, it sucks, and then get over it, because it’s just the way of life out there. Also avoid driving between 4-8pm and you will miss the majority of it.
– Rent a car, public trans in both places is sort of non existent. Plan on paying for parking.
– Stick to one neighborhood a day…don’t expect to get dinner in Venice and drinks in Pasadena. Just stay put to avoid a lot of unnecessary driving/traffic.
– It gets cold at night, even in the summer. Plan on bringing a jacket at least…I actually bring a whole change of outfit for the evening because it’s much more comfortable in jeans.
– It really is sunny everyday, you most likely won’t have to worry about the weather…but be careful in December and January, it can rain more than you might expect.
– You probably won’t see a celebrity…it’s really easy to hide in LA/OC. I lived there for 3 years and saw not ONE. I moved to NYC and have seen over 30. BUT you might see a house wife, which to a lot of people, it just as exciting, so there’s that!
– My recommendation is to stay in Santa Monica or Venice if you’re staying in LA. And if you’re staying in OC, I would stay in Laguna (it’s not super convenient but is the prettiest) or Huntington.