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Lifestyle

Tips You Need To Know For California Travel

California travel can be daunting, there is so much to do how can you decide what is worth your time and what’s not? Here’s a break down to help you get the most out of your trip to the Golden State! 

Wanderlust, I’m filled to the brim with it. I LOVE traveling so much. The immersion of myself into a different culture and everything that comes with it is so valuable and special to me. Recently for my birthday I went to Cali to celebrate, eat, visit old friends and family but let’s be honest..mostly to eat. Y’all know ya girl loves to eat. When you think California I’m sure you think of beaches, blondes, and Hollywood but there is SO much more to California than the insta-worthy hot spots. Just like my NOLA survival post I’m going to give you guys travel tips, mandatory tourist spots, local hot spots, and things to avoid.

Mandatory Tourist Spots

  • Hollywood Blvd – Hollywood Blvd is a long strip that has shops, food, and plenty of people watching for tourist. The street itself is actually a major road in LA spanning for about 5 miles. It’s on Hollywood Blvd that you can find the famous Walk of Fame.
  • Santa Monica Pier – The Santa Monica Pier is truly an iconic Los Angeles landmark. It’s over a century old and the entry hasn’t lost any of it’s glamour. The pier itself was a little disappointing to me. I expected it to be bigger and with better rides..nothing really led me to this belief it’s just what I envision when I think iconic pier. The rides are ticket based so you can either get tickets for specific rides or you can get a pass to be able to ride them all. I opted for a ticket only for the Ferris Wheel and I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. I did have the most amazing hot dog while I was on the pier from Japadog  I got the Terimayo dog and it was AHHH-MAZING! Definitely check them out if you go to the pier. 
  • Venice Beach – Okay did you even go to Los Angeles if you don’t go to Venice? I mean seriously, you HAVE to go at least once just to get the experience. Venice is a hodgepodge of street performers, souvenir shops, restaurants, vendor food, and throw in a green doc shop in and the gangs all here! The iconic muscle beach is here too and a skate park are also at Venice! Tyler and I rented bikes here right around sunset and the ride was so beautiful
  • Griffith Observatory – This iconic landmark gives some of the best views (HANDS DOWN) of Los Angeles. This is a great place to take your little(s) too, there are educational exhibits inside as well as an expansive outdoor deck that has telescopes, seating, and bathrooms! There are two ways to get up to the top of Mount Hollywood where the observatory is located, hike or drive. There are various trails with differing degrees of difficultly, of course Tyler chose to take the longer, harder one. The hike was harder than we both expected but the views and experience were so worth it.

Foodie Spots

  • Ocean Prime – Upscale surf&turf restaurant located in Beverly Hills. I’ve been to more upscale steak houses than I can name so my expectations are high if I’m going to shell out $150+ for a meal. I’m including this solely because we came here during our trip. The service was okay, it wasn’t that busy but everything was so slow. The ambiance of the restaurant was a little to stiff for me. The food was good though, filet was amazing and the salmon was good too. For dessert I got a creme brulee and it was SO good! Overall, it was a good experience because the food was good but it wasn’t special so I wouldn’t spend another birthday there.
  • Donut King – In Texas when it’s past noon on any given day most of our mom and pop donut shops are closed. But when I saw several donut shops open well past 2:00 pm, LA quickly reminded me, I wasn’t in Dallas anymore! I love donuts way too much to just drive by, that’s just rude! The shop we went to had fresh donuts, coffee, and a variety of different milkshakes. I got a original glazed donut and a cookies&creme milkshake, it was so good! The owners were super sweet and laid back. This was such a good way to kick off my vacay.
  • Wako Donkasu – Because we were staying in Korea Town we were surrounded by authentic Korean food. This place was right up the street from the hotel we were staying at and it was just a good find! There isn’t much English being spoken here but the service is quick and good. I literally just pointed at the picture on the menu of what I wanted. The food was so delicious, I got a fried chicken cutlet and it comes in a tray with traditional Korean sides. They give you sesame seeds for you to grind to make your own sesame sauce to accompany your meat, DELISH. One thing, I recommend is getting a bottled water when eating here. Tyler ordered tap water and it was literally green, when we questioned the waiter about this he asked if we wanted “regular water” and got us bottled water. Everyone else in the restaurant was drinking the water with no problem so I’m not sure if we just missed something or not. Overall, I would definitely return to this place! I love the authenticity of the ambiance, service, and most importantly food.
  • Oo Kook Korean BBQ – I was determined to have Korean BBQ when I was in LA. I had seen several different restaurants boasting about all you can eat bbq at a low price on the way to our hotel. There were a few really good options nearby but we settled on Oo Kook and it was definitely a good decision. So basically there’s a grill in the center of the table along with a pair of scissors and tongs. The waitress takes your initial order and brings back banchan, fermented accompaniments to korean bbq. From that point, servers will continuously ask you if you want more meat until you tell them you’re done. I really enjoyed the thin sliced beef, pork belly, and baby octopus. Every so often they may change your grill if it gets too dirty or if you’re an amateur like me and don’t know when to flip the meat…oops. *Pro Tip- use the scissors to trim the fat off the pork belly*

Top Cali Travel Tips

  • Bring sunscreen – Protect yourself and your skin, the California sunshine is truly magical though.
  • Bring a towel to the beach – If you don’t mind sand in every crevice this isn’t a priority for you but thick thighs and sand don’t mix so if you want to avoid a major chafe disaster pack a small towel/blanket.
  • Bring walking shoes – Pretty self explanatory, blisters aren’t cute or comfortable so pack accordingly for all the hikes and walking to come!
  •  Try new things – When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things while you’re in LA. Calories don’t count on vacation!
  • Stay in a central place – We stayed at the Aventura Hotel in Koreatown. It was an overall great experience, the room was super clean, room was cleaned every day, and the location couldn’t have been better. We were 20-30 minutes away from everything we wanted to do.
  • Rent a car –  LA can’t be confused with NYC, although there is public transportation, the best way to get around is definitely a car. We used Turo for the first time on this trip and it was a great experience! Essentially, this is AirBnB but with cars. If you’re like me and not an OG yet, you’ll want to avoid that $100/day fee with traditional rental car services.

Overall, California is a great place to visit and everyone should have the chance to go at least once in their lives! I hope you guys find these tips useful! 

Safe travels, 

Jamie

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