2018 and we're OFF- first stop, a weekend La La land
After a very unfortunately dry spell with traveling due to work, holidays, what have you- I am back on the wagon and ready to make 2018 my biggest year ever in travel! Let's hope I can live up to that expectation. To start it off on the right foot- I decided to repeat a trip I did last year at almost the same exact time, and go visit my friend in California for a weekend. We decided on spending our time in Santa Monica and Malibu, since I'd be flying in and out of LAX this was a super convenient decision where it allowed me to enjoy the beach, nightlife, and town all only 25 minutes from the airport. We stayed at the Doubletree in Santa Monica- which was not the fanciest option by far, but if you are trying to fancy in Santa Monica you better have some serious dough. For the money we did spend, we got a good room with 2 separate living spaces- one with a king and one with a pull-out sleeper sofa. Free breakfast, free delicious warm cookies, valet parking, and lots of space in the room which is what we were looking for. Plus we were a 5 minute walk to the Santa Monica Pier and all the attractions, so win on the hotel even though it was hashtag BasicAF. First day- did some walking around on the path by the beach, did the pier, some shopping, and grabbed lunch at this cute spot Little Ruby. Sat under some heat lamps on the small outdoor patio and had some bangin avocado toast with scrambled eggs. After a little more walking, then freshening up back at the hotel- we headed out for happy hour at Shutters by the Bay (really nice fancy hotel on the beach) in their restaurant Coast. A couple of proseccos in, went to Herringbone for dinner a few blocks away. Huge restaurant, awesome spot, very good food (brussel sprouts, mussels, flatbreads, ice cream sundae, yummers).
Next day- adventures in Malibu!
I started out the day with an awesome run on the beach path, starting at the Santa Monica pier. It took me all the way to Venice, their beginning of a Strand-like part with beautiful houses along the path, then I headed back. I love a good beach run first thing in the morning. Once showered, we grabbed some breakfast at the Doubletree.
My friend was super psyched for the Malibu Wine Safari- which she had made us reservations for weeks ago (yes you need to plan ahead for this one). It took us about 45mins to drive their from Santa Monica- but when you are driving by the ocean and up in the hills of California, it's actually a very enjoyable 45mins! When we arrived - we checked in for our 11:30am tour. This was a pretty fun thing to do to kill a few hours- it's a private zoo basically where you ride in a topless van with about a dozen or so other people, stop at different parts of the farm to taste wines they produce, as well as pet some zoo animals along the way. The wine is OK- not exactly Napa quality stuff but it's pretty decent- but they give you about 8 tastings which is not bad. You also get to feed the animals which, I'm sorry no matter what age you are, it's pretty fun. After our wine tasting tour, we went to the Malibu cafe right down the road for lunch. This place was so cute, super trendy and very, very cool. It was huge, and had lots of activities and games to play, so seemed like an awesome spot to spend a day brunching with friends. Our lunch was really good too- great cocktails and fun vibe- what more do you want from Malibu really? After lunch we made our way back to Santa Monica, where we did a little shopping, quick freshen up, then had happy hour drinks at the Sonoma Wine Garden (located at the top of one of their malls). Really like this place, nice big bar with a good wine and cocktail selection. Great views. Food looked good too but we were on a mission to find some seafood platters for dinner, so we headed out down to Water Grill to stalk some bar seats for dinner. We arrived around 7:30, and it took us about a half hour, but we were able to score some bar seats and have a great meal. We split some chilled lobster and shrimp, as well as a few sides and more wine. Great choices all around.
Final Day- I needed a proper goodbye to Santa Monica, California, and the warm weather that I wouldn't be experiencing for a while back in Philly. We did just that by starting off with 1hr 30min hike of Los Liones Canyon- about a 10min drive from the hotel. I really liked this hike, not too challenging but a good incline, well marked paths, and had amazing payoff views of the ocean/city skylines/canyons/etc. We started around 8am which was perfect, since it seems to get more crowded later on in the day. After our hike, back to the hotel for breakfast, then a bike ride on the coast path. We rented bikes from a shop by the Santa Monica pier, and rode for a good 2 hours- down to Venice and back, then in the direction of Malibu and back. It was a really great way to end the trip. I can't wait to go back to California asap!
Rough Cost (without flights)
Doubletree Hotel in Santa Monica: $300
Malibu Wine Safari: $95
Bike rental: $15
Uber LAX to hotel: $25
Total: Around $685