I've only been to LA two times in my life, but both visits have made their way onto my list of favorite travels.
The first time Michael and I ever experienced Los Angeles, it was May of 2015 and we had just finished our longest & most expansive tour yet. We drove from our little house in Athens, GA all the way to San Francisco to begin the tour, and over the next 2 months we somehow made our way around the whole country twice to play the last show in LA. We had been away from home, living out of suitcases & learning more about ourselves than we ever had. We invited my sisters to come explore the city with us and celebrate the end of the tour, so they flew out to spend a few days with us before we made the long trek back to Georgia.
If you want to see a recap of that tour + the trip to LA, check out the MUSIC VIDEO I made with our GoPro footage for my song "Thank God You're Holding Me"
Our second trip to LA was in July of this year. The story came full circle, because we had been invited to sing in the wedding of a sweet couple who had actually seen us perform at our last show in LA (they were so adorable).
The wedding was in Malibu, so we decided to extend our trip and visit LA for a few days before the wedding. It was so lovely. We ate the best Mexican food we'd ever had, stuck our toes in the Pacific, and did some pretty exciting people-watching, all while being surrounded by some of the most beautiful ocean views of all time.
I'm excited to share with you (based on limited knowledge, but very good experiences) my list of LA must-see's and must-do's, so that next time you find yourself there you might fall in love with it like I have.
1. Eat In-N-Out Burger
My personal favorite fast food burger of all time. Michael and I usually order two "double doubles" and one order of fries to split. SO. GOOD.
Whether you drive thru or sit in you're going to feel ever so slightly greasy. BUT just keep reminding yourself that fresh, never frozen hamburger patties and hand cut fries has to mean healthy...right?
2. DIP YOUR TOES IN THE PACIFIC
It's a little chilly year round, but you have to dip your toes in at the very least.
3. Ride the Pacific wheel on Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is definitely a special place. It always smells like this weird combo of axe body spray and weed, but it's a place you just have to see. I like the pier best at night. Jump on the Pacific Wheel with some friends, take a selfie, and just enjoy it, despite the crowds and all the other people with selfie sticks doing the same thing. Afterwards, make your way up to Third Street Promenade for some good food, and you can probably catch a street performer or two.
4. See the Hollywood Sign from Griffith Park
There are lots of spots to see & snap classic photos of the Hollywood Sign in LA. But my favorite type of morning in the city is to grab a juice or a bagel to-go and drive to Griffith Park for a hike. There will be spots along the way that you can stop and take photos, plus Griffith Park is actually home to the hollywood sign, so you might be able to hike pretty close to it...hiking maps & guides HERE --p.s. Griffith Observatory is in the park, and is an amazing spot to overlook all of LA (and at night a great spot to see the stars). Beware of traffic, especially on the weekends. I'd get there early.
5. Explore Abbot Kinney BLVD
Not that many streets have their own website...Abbot Kinney is pretty cool (check it out). Everything from shopping in the stores to their food truck event on the First Friday of every month, you gotta go explore there.
6. Eat Mexican Food
Pretty much all the food in LA is delicious (and expensive...), but they really have the most incredible Mexican Food. On both trips to LA, I couldn't stay away from MERCADO in Santa Monica. Amazing drinks, AMAZING tacos and the special is always fantastic. They even have a cheese dip that is to die for if you are in the mood for a Mexican food binge. Make reservations because they are very popular.
7. Ride the bike path on Venice Beach
People watching at its prime, plus a great way to get some exercise and balance out all the delicious food :) You can rent a bike (some hotels offer rentals or complimentary bike service) and ride it down to the beach. There is actually a bike path connecting several of the beaches, so no matter where you start, you can find your way there with some google maps research.
8. Get Sidecar Doughnuts
As you may know, Michael and I are donut enthusiasts. We spent 5 years touring together with a mission to taste the best donuts in the country. We had lots of great ones, but nothing compared to Sidecar Doughnuts + Coffee. Just wow. The original location is in Costa Mesa (about an hour outside the city) but I'd try out the new location in Santa Monica because it's close and its cute. Butter and Salt is my #1 flavor...just throwing that out there.
9. Drive HWY 1 to Malibu
The scenic drive up HWY 1 to Malibu is absolutely gorgeous. Get ready for some potential traffic if you choose the wrong time of day, but you may not even care (because it's that pretty). Once you get to Malibu I highly suggest the wine safari at Saddlerock Ranch. Michael and I sang at a wedding there and not only was their wine fantastic, but the animals were pretty darn amazing.
10. BRUNCH (!!)
LA, like a lot of other cities, is big into brunch. Saturday or Sunday mornings all the most amazing restaurants are slammed full with people drinking Mimosas and being fabulous. Honestly, its so much fun. My 2 favorite brunch spots hands down are The Rose (pictured to the left) and Huckleberry . The only rules of brunch are: 1. get a mimosa, 2. get there early to avoid the lines. The Rose has a Mexican flair (order Chilaquiles!!) and Huckleberry is more of a bakery. Embrace the wait of weekend mornings and don't let the crowds harsh your vibe.