California definitely had to be one of my favourite states when exploring the states. It had the most incredible coastline; hot, white sand, complete with palm trees and dreamy little towns to grab brunch in.
We stopped for ice-cream and a little day shop in downtown San Luis Obispo (SLO), which happens to be the kinda small Californian town that you see in films. This pit stop also included a trip to MY FIRST SEPHORA and a lil splurge in Victoria’s Secret. Plus there was plenty of little gift shops for souvenirs; fridge magnets, postcards .. the lot.
San Luis Obispo is also home to the ‘bubblegum alley’ which is pretty much what it says on the tin. An entire alley with walls covered in hundreds of bits of used bubblegum. Yeah. Classy. But kinda cool in all the wrong ways. And definitely worth a photo.
We also stopped in Monterey whilst on our way to the big LA, and let me tell you, the beach here was beautiful! It’s also the same town in which TV show Big Little Lies is set (I just started it this week and I am hooked).
One thing all these places have in common is that they LOVE their fish dishes. Quite a few of the restaurants/cafes we went into had a huge range of fresh fish meals on the menu. So if that’s ya thing, you’re winning.
And finally, after years of waiting and dreaming about this moment – we were in Los Angeles!! I was so excited to explore this city.
First stop on our list: Hollywood.
We all piled out of the van and into a sort of shopping complex, which – believe it or not – also offered a perfect view point for the iconic Hollywood sign. Which meant lots of photos and awe-struck glances, because, well, WE WERE IN FREAKING HOLLYWOOD.
After we’d all taken a clichéd selfie with the famous sign in the background, we headed outside onto the street – better know as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Every five steps or so there was a red star on the ground, each named after a BIG ‘stars’ in entertainment. It literally ranges from Daniel Radcliffe and Jackie Chan, to Mickey Mouse and Shrek.
Think I found it impossible to look at every single one of them.
Now this is the cool bit. Outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre, which is also on Hollywood Boulevard, there are dozens of handprint plaques dedicated to iconic film stars. You can hand/footprints from film sequels such as Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games.
So major photo op. Obviously.
Being in LA also marked the halfway point for our trip. We’d arrived here from New York, road tripping across the north of the country and now we were to head back, this time adventuring through the south.
With the halfway point also came some goodbyes. About half of our group were going to be leaving us, which left empty seats in our van ready for the newcomers. So, on our last night in LA we headed out towards Santa Monica. What better way to part than over food? And Mexican too!
And then we headed out to the iconic pier, which was kinda surreal at night as it was lit up with intense neon lights from the fairground. We trailed around here for a bit, the pier is kinda crammed full so there’s lots to see – it’s also home the iconic ‘end of trail’ route 66 sign.
Our final day in LA was spent on Venice Beach. We were all pretty exhausted from the past couple of weeks, so nothing sounded sweeter than a lazy day lounging in the sun. Plus it meant we’d get to check out Muscle Beach and hit up a load of tacky gift shops (which kind of a recurring theme on this trip). A day well spent if you ask me.
It was already warming up when we arrived – it was the kind of hot that made the sand burn the soles of your feet – so we sun tanned up, whipped out our bikinis and got our tanning game on. Well, that was the intention. Though I think we all may have misjudged the amount of time we spent doing out so called ‘tanning’ and spent more of that ‘burning’ instead. Never had I been so horrifically burned in my life. I spent the next few days soaking myself in after sun and hiding in the shadows as even being outside was pretty painful.
So yeah. Major rookie mistake. Don’t fall asleep on Venice beach!
We indulged in buying an over priced plastic pot crammed with fresh fruit – I was craving strawberries and mango – whilst walking around. It’s funny how much we take fresh fruit for granted, I mean, there comes a point when it’s SO hot that chocolate, sweets and french fries just don’t make the cut.
There are a dozen clichéd sh
ops and restaurants everyone is dying to visit when they go to America, but if there is one that should definitely be on your list, it’s iHOP. Okay, okay. I’ll explain. iHOP – if ya don’t know – stands for International House of Pancakes! And boy that’s what you’ll get. I went for a particularly sickly combo of white chocolate chip pancakes and raspberry compote. And they were the thick American pancakes too, so I couldn’t even conquer half of my stack before giving in.
I mean they do sell other things too; waffles, fried breakfast bits, omelettes .. but, you know .. pancakes. And we liked it so much that we went twice.
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Next adventure: VEGAS!