Every few years, my best mate Haley and I start missing each other and plan a little weekend get away to travel together and catch up. We call them our “Rendezvous’”. It just so happens that this year, Haley is marrying a wonderful man and she asked me to travel down to LA for a little rendezvous to celebrate her birthday and take engagement photos of them.
I hadn’t been to LA in years and had a blast drinking “rosé all day” with Haley, her fiance, and Anne, whose been staying in So Cal these past few weeks. We had our toes done, drank wine while watching the sun go down at a gorgeous house in Palos Verdes, caught up with other old friends, and did a lot of daytime drinking, my favorite vacation activity.
My photos of Haley and Dave’s engagement session are still to come, but in the meantime, you can check out their sneak peak. You can check out all the photos from my weekend in LA via this link.
Dancing on the rooftop at the Standard Hotel.
If you want to visit Los Angeles, here are my recommendations. In general, I like to stay away from LA and Hollywood and hide out in the coastal towns of Venice and Santa Monica, where you can totally do without a car.
STAY: This studio rental on Airbnb for two exudes beachy-ness from it’s pores: clean, comforting, and colorful! Better yet, the stay includes the use of two cruisers, perfect for avoiding the LA traffic and cruising around Venice, Santa Monica, and the Malibu boardwalk.
- Gjelina is the type of place I could eat at three times in one day and not be tired of spending time there. It’s overwhelmingly comfortable, yet sophisticated and the food is amazing. The pizzas all sound so delicious it’s hard to choose and the salads are inventive. It’s best to go as a group and order plates to share. Word of warning: trust the chef because there is a very strict no substitutions or changes policy and they mean it, even if you’re a celebrity.
Gjelina’s food is to die for. Just don’t ask to be treated special because you aren’t.
- Intelligentsia may take their coffee a bit too seriously: the employees are pretentious and over-the-top hipsters but damn, that is a serious latte. Don’t tell them I said that though, it might go to their heads.
- It’s a shame that The Tasting Kitchen seems unable to bring the wow factor to their dishes in the same way that their atmosphere and bar does. Reviews on Yelp for their food are hit and miss, which is exactly how my friends described their menu. Regardless, skip the overpriced food fare and cozy up to the bar for some killer cocktails or our favorite, a bottle of rosé.
The Tasting Kitchen’s ambiance is personal, rich in texture, with clean lines with an interesting twist that brings outside, inside.
- Oscar’s in Venice has a killer happy hour and amazing food and apps to boot. Sit outside on the deck to take in the SoCal sunshine.
- Act like you’re richer and cooler than you are and take the rail line to downtown LA and drink on the rooftop by the pool at The Standard Hotel. There are often DJ’s on the decks on weekends. With panaramic views of Los Angeles and the mountains beyond, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than here. Also, don’t forget your swimsuit: the pool is heated.
Champagne on the rooftop of The Standard, downtown LA.
- Areal may not have the most amazing food around but it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio and more importantly, bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree on weekends. Don’t get me wrong: our food was solid and tasty, just not overwhelmingly memorable. The experience however, was.
The over-the-top Belgian Waffles at Areal in Venice.
- The beach and boardwalk shouldn’t even have to be mentioned!
- Get a glimpse of Hollywood without having to deal with Hollywood and tour Sony Studios in Culver City. Afterwards, head over to downtown to wander and eat. Culver City is so quaint and adorable it almost feels like you’re not in Los Angeles.
- Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was originally a trolley stop, built in 1875 for the Red Line Trolley, which ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier. Today, it features art galleries, museums and cafes.