I’ve grown quite accustomed to divvying my time between Toronto and Los Angeles. My partner resides there and, as long distance relationships often go, you both split your life in two to create parallel lives together. Both places feel like home to me in very different ways. In Toronto, I’m the workaholic that I’ve spent years building myself up to be. In Los Angeles, my desires are to eat, explore and see as many new things as possible. The idea of being able to hop into a car and drive across the state, getting glimpses at vastly different cultures in each small town you stop in, is something I’d never experienced before I travelled there.
So that’s exactly what we did. During my most recent week-long visit, we made a relatively impromptu decision to pack up and take off with Zach’s rescue pup Pixel for a weekend trip along the coast. We spent the drive listening to basketball podcasts, eating salty snacks and stopping every so often to watch the waves.
Scroll down for a list of my favourite spots that I discovered in Los Angeles and central California this time around.
-Dinosaur Coffee in Silver Lake. Really good Americanos, charming baristas and their drink menu casually boasts “Butts Butts Butts!” without any explanation, the latter of which which sealed the deal for me. The back wall features a floor-to-ceiling art installation mixing gathered hanging fabrics and neon pink typography.
-Santa Barbara County Courthouse. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and afterwards plopped ourselves on a large patch of grass outside of the County Courthouse, an eye-catching building with Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. We lounged there on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so multiple wedding parties were trying to take group photos at the same time. Plump infants in frilly dresses kept waddling over to play with Pixel, soon chased by whichever uncle was supposed to be watching them. Bonus points for the all-pink-everything floral boutique I spotted across the street.
My Airbnb in San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo is a small town that was nicknamed “the Happiest City in America” by Oprah and lives up to its well-deserved reputation. We stayed in an AirBNB that “quirky” doesn’t even begin to describe. Every corner of this open-concept loft (ceilings and floors included) held something unusual, whether it be the fridge covered in a collage of celebrity faces, the Barbie dolls sitting on the bathroom shelves, or the dozens of licence plates decorating the walkway up to the house itself. Despite its eccentricities, it instantly felt like home to me and I slept much better than I usually do. I felt strangely sentimental leaving the next morning, and gave our host Pete a tight goodbye hug.
Venice Beach Boardwalk. Self explanatory.
SunCafe in Culver City. Best vegan spot I’ve hit up in Los Angeles so far, with the exception of Shojin Sushi and probably Hugo’s Tacos too (those churros, though). We went for lunch here after hiking up behind the Hollywood sign, so we were covered in dirt but served with kindness nonetheless. I can honestly say that they have the best green smoothie I’ve ever, ever had, and that any I’ve had since has been disappointing.
Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo. We hiked up a volcanic plug and took in a beautiful view of the town. I kept pausing along the way to remind myself of where I was and to appreciate every moment. I climbed a big boulder at the very top of the peak and carefully posed for a rap squat photo on top of it. Photo intentionally not included in this post.
Upstairs Bar at the ACE Hotel in downtown LA. When we got to the bar around sunset, the first thing I saw was a girl in a bikini, splashing around the pool by herself and having the time of her life. That’s a sentence that would be pretty much non-existent back in Toronto. LA is weird, you guys, but wonderful in its own way.
Anything you’d add to my list? Tell me in the comment section below! And for more photos from my trip, follow me on Instagram here.