The Sweet Tooth’s Walking Tour of Downtown Los Angeles

Bottega Louie Los Angeles California #dtla

Bottega Louis Los Angeles California #macarons

I’ve been inspired by all the mouthwatering photos of food I’ve been seeing online lately, but with literally thousands of delicious choices right here in my home town of LA, and limited time to eat out, my list of must try places was growing long. A plan was in order and I decided a food tour* was the perfect answer! Combining a visit to one of my favorite LA neighborhoods with delicious food and iconic sights sounded fun to me, but how would I keep my 9 year old son (and husband) engaged? A dessert tour of course! After all, life is short… dessert first!

Angeles Flight Railway Things to do in Los Angeles #angelsflight

There are many fabulous neighborhoods in Los Angeles, each one with it’s own charm, but it was my desire to ride the newly reopened Angels Flight Railway, that helped me choose Downtown LA for this particular adventure.  A big fan of public art, I was excited to see a number of fun street art pieces along our route.


Related Post: Downtown Los Angeles Graffiti & Mural Walking Tour

Sweet Tooth’s Walking Tour of DTLA

Downtown Los Angeles California #historicLosangeles

The Sweet Tooth’s Walking Tour is 1.7 miles, and can be enjoyed in both directions. We chose to walk back to our car after the tour, but there are plenty of public transportation options if you’re too full to walk. Public parking lots and metered parking are available. We found $5 parking just behind Birdies.

Birdies
Location: 314 West Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles (Stop A)

Our first stop, Birdies, is well known in LA for both their donuts and fried chicken, so of course we had to try both! The donuts are baked fresh every two hours.

Birdies Los Angeles California #birdies

To ensure we had room for all our delicious stops, we decided we’d share two donuts, and some Birdies Bites (fried chicken tenders) between the three of us. There are multiple dipping sauces available for the bites. We tried sweet Asian chili and house ranch, but left the ghost pepper mayo to braver souls.

Elliot chose a panda donut, because… panda! The strawberry donut was so delicious we forgot to take a proper photo. pictured above is the cream cheese champagne glazed gold leaf donut, a specialty donut, which will set you back $100! Other donuts range in price between $.50 for donut holes and $3.50 for fancier flavors.


Related Post: Donuts Are The New Cupcakes!

Bottega Louie 
Location: 700 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles (Stop B)

Bottega Louie, is known for it’s colorful and photogenic macarons, but it isn’t just about the sweets and treats, it’s also a full service restaurant with a full bar and a gourmet market.

Bottega Louie Los Angeles California #dtla

We weren’t planning on a sit down meal, so we took our treats to go, however the lunch options looked and smelled wonderful, so I see a return visit in the near future!

LA Weekly listed Bottega Louie as one of the 10 best macarons in LA! The flavors we enjoyed were, chocolate mint, raspberry, salted caramel, birthday cake and coconut. My favorite was the coconut! Macarons can be purchased individually, or in boxes.

Elliot chose to enjoy a chocolate eclair rather than a macaron… from the looks of it he had no regrets!

Little Damage
Location: 700 S Spring St, Los Angeles (Stop C)

Little Damage is a family owned soft serve ice cream shop in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. With trendy black cones and unique flavor choices, Little Damage, is not your average ice cream… its ice cream with a Goth twist!

Wakling Tour of Downtown Los Angeles #littledamage

We sampled Unicorn Tears, a lovely blue color, which actually tasted like vanilla birthday cake. A scoop is $6 and comes with one free topping. The trendy black waffle cone (made from activated charcoal) is $1 extra.

Planning on sharing your food finds on social media? With it’s many fun signs, both inside and out, Little Damage provides plenty of opportunities for that perfect pic! But you better hurry, because it’s hot out there and the SoCal sun and soft serve ice cream don’t mix.

The Bradbury Building
Location: 304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Stop E)

If there are any movie or architecture lovers in your group, they’ll love this next stop!

Bradbury Building Los Angeles California #bladerunner

Built in 1893, the Bradbury Building is the oldest commercial building in the area. While the outside might not seem like anything particularly special, its the inside’s Victorian Era atrium with it’s grandiose iron work, 50 foot ceilings, and open cage elevators that really shine.

Bradbury Building Los Angeles California #bladerunner

Fans of the movie Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford, might recognize the atrium space as Sebastian’s home.

Visitors are welcome, and entrance to the Bradbury Building is free, but keep in mind the building is still in use, so access is limited. If you’re interested in exploring further there are various tours available.

Street Art Downtown Los Angeles #StreetartLA
View from the Bradbury Building lobby

Grand Central Market
Location: 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles (Stop F)

The Grand Central Market opened in 1917 and has been operating continuously ever since. A popular destination for locals and tourists alike, you’ll find something for everyone in your group, no matter their food tastes. From Thai sticky rice to cheesecake, whisky and cheese, a Jewish deli, vegan choices, coffee, Chinese food, green grocers and so much more. There’s even a PB&J shop!

Grand Central Market Los Angeles California #grandcentralmarket

The hustle and bustle, neon and vibrant atmosphere make Grand Central Market a place worth visiting all on it’s own! My plan to finish our foodie tour with a taste of cheese at the DTLA Cheese shop was foiled when we realized we were just too full. Next time!

Angels Flight Railway
Location: 351 South Hill Street, Los Angeles (Stop G)

The newly reopened Angels Flight Railway has been in operation on and off since 1901, and at 298 feet is the world’s shortest railway. When it opened, one hundred years ago, its location was the main hub of commerce and entertainment in Downtown Los Angeles. The Angels Flight Railway is a treasured piece of LA history, and it has given more than 100 million rides!

Angels Flight Railway Los Angeles California #angelsflight

Located just across the street from the Grand Central Market, Angels Flight was the perfect way for locals to get up and down the steep hill with their groceries!

Angels Flight Railway Los Angeles California #angelsflight

A one way ride on Angels Flight is $1 payable at the upper station. Metro pass holders may ride for $.50. If you’re only interested in riding one way there are stairs located to the side of the railway. We rode up and walked back down.

Street Art Los Angeles California #dtlastreetart
Street art as seen from the Angels Flight Upper Station

The Last Bookstore
Location: 453 S. Spring St, Los Angeles ( Bonus Stop D)

If you have book lovers in your group you’ll want to make time for The Last Bookstore. Full of character and visually stunning this place is a book lovers dream!

#thelastbookstore

A labyrinth of books, the comic section, the first edition vault, (literally, it was inside an actual vault), the artist studios, and a rare book room are just a few of the places you can explore during a visit to The Last Bookstore.


Related Post: The Last Bookstore

*This is a self-guided walking tour created by yours truly! Even with the promise of unlimited desserts I couldn’t persuade my teen to join us.


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Foodie Walking Tour of Downtown Los Angeles #sweettooth      Foodie Walking Tour of Downtown Los Angeles #sweettooth

InstaLA! Part 3: Art Explosion

#paulsmithla

I’m back with more #Instafun? Are you ready?! Los Angeles is exploding with public art, and I’m on a mission to see as much of it as I can. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m up to the task. There is literally something new going up every day, and if it isn’t new, it’s a new take on something old!

Street art is my passion, but I’m pretty happy about museums, pop up installations, and iconic architecture too! I’m an equal opportunity art lover. There is just something about visiting an amazing piece of art that makes my day, sometimes my week! Not to mention its a great way to get out and see the city. In your quest to get that #instapic you won’t just discover a great piece of art, but the fabulous neighborhood it’s located in! In my book thats an #instawin!

1. The Best of LA (available until August 31, 2017)
Artist: The Most Famous Artist/LA Magazine
Location: Corner of 3rd Street and Robertson Boulevard

In my quest to see and do more in and around LA, I subscribed to Los Angeles Magazine. Call it research! As soon as I saw this cover, I thought, “I hope that’s a real mural!” and to my delight it was! Of course I had to visit, and it just happens to be located on the corner of two great shopping streets: West 3rd Street, and Robertson Boulevard! As is often the case with wall murals, it’s only temporary, but don’t worry The Most Famous Artists, aka Matty Mo, is the artist behind a number of great wall murals around town. I featured another one of his pieces in my post InstaLA!

2. Take Note (available until July 31st, 2017)
Artist: Bumblebeelovesyou
Location: Downtown Santa Monica, Colorado Street

A local artist, and a favorite of mine, Bumblebeeloves you has a number of large pieces in the Los Angeles area. Take Note, a large standup, is part of a larger project sponsored by the City of Santa Monica! #RoamSantaMonica officially kicks off in August 2017, and will feature art installations by various artists. I can hardly wait!

3. Paul Smith Pride Wall (No longer available)
Artist: Blank Canvas LA/Paul Smith/Instagram
Location: Paul Smith Store Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles

While this particular mural has since been painted over, the original Pink Wall is back in place, it’s worth noting, that sometimes old becomes new, and revisiting is never a bad idea! This mural was done in celebration of Pride month, and I loved that so many businesses took part! Lucky me, I was able to visit on the last day of the installation. You can bet I’ll be looking out to see what’s up their sleeve next year!

4. Save the Bunny
Artist: Adam Dare, KwueMolly, Madmanart, and Outersource
Location: Colyton Street Downtown Los Angeles

You’ll find this colorful bunny located on the side of Dejavita on Colyton Street in the DTLA Arts District. This is piece has evolved several times, so I can’t promise this exact mural, but there is sure to be something great in this location! This is a favorite neighborhood of mine, because you’re sure to see something new each and every visit. Beyond all the fabulous art, there are many one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants in the area.

5. Dunkin Donuts
Artist: Bumblebeelovesyou
Location: Washington Boulevard, Culver City

Keeping up with all the art around this town can be a challenge! I knew about this adorable piece, but hadn’t had time to visit… Driving home one day, there it was! Good thing U-turns are legal!

6. Love wall
Artist: Curtis Kulig
Location: Smashbox Studios Higuera Street, Culver City

There is so much to LOVE about this mural! This is a popular #instadestination, and is one of the first wall murals I visited, when I moved here. I’m thinking a return visit is in order!

7. The Beverly Hills Hotel
Location: 
9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by the Beverly Hills Hotel, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally went in! Playing tourist in my own city has opened me up to so many lovely experiences, and I highly recommend a visit to this fabulous institution. However, if you can’t make it to the Beverly Hills Hotel, try a visit to your local luxury hotel, you deserve it!

8. Mural Collaboration
Artist: Fanakapan/Starfigherea
Location: 4th Street DTLA Arts District

The amount of art in the DTLA Arts District is staggering, so it’s no wonder that it took multiple visits before I discovered this amazing larger than life mural!

9. Angel Wings
Artist: Kelsey Montague
Location: Sun Life Organics, Malibu Country Mart

The best part about public art is that its there for everyone to enjoy! I love it even more when I get to interact with the art! These lovely wings are just one of many pair you’ll find around the City of Angels!

10. Love Mural
Artist: Unknown
Location: Hollywood Forever Cemetery (Just outside the Entrance)

Happy weekend everyone! I've been asked by my friends over at @suitcasesandsandcastles @oregongirl_aroundtheworld and @untoldmorsels to share #20factsaboutme this photo was taken on #mothersday outside the @hwdforever Cemetery, which happens to be #20 on my list of 50 things to do in Los Angeles! #anotherlist #ilovelists #apparently #hilarystyleme 1. I dream of being an #artist 2. I love all things #superhero 3. #red is my favorite color 4. Cooking isn't my thing, but I love to bake and decorate elaborate #cakes 5. I go to the #movies alone all the time and I like it that way 6. Dark #denim is my uniform, but I love dresses, sometimes I wear denim dresses (see above #photooftheday ) 7. #scifi #fantasy is my favorite reading genre 8. I love #pirates 9. I have two amazing sons, one is entering high school #howcanthatbepossible #imonly25 10. I'm an #anglophile 11. I have a #tattoo 12. I'm obsessed with the #tudors 13. #gameofthrones is my favorite tv show of all time 14. I'm afraid to fly, but I love to #travel 15. I'm nervous each week when I hit the publish button on my #blog 16. I love to #sing but can't carry a tune 17. I love #shopping 18. I've been to the #zoo in over 25 places 19. I've been accused of being too #cheerful but you can't keep me down 20. I'm a #hotel snob

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I love this mural for so many reasons! Its cheerful message seems to be saying I love LA, which I wholeheartedly do! It’s located just across the street from the entrance to the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which is definitely worth a visit. What was it I was saying about discovering new neighborhoods?!

11. The Venice Sign
Artist: Venice Chamber of Commerce
Location: Pacific & Windward, Venice

A perfect example of always evolving art, The Venice Sign, which stretches across the road at Pacific and Windward, changes throughout the year to represent holidays, and other events. Rainbow lights for PRIDE month, red and green for Christmas, and of course red, white and blue for the 4th of July. The diagonal crossing should make snapping that #instapic a bit easier, but do be careful! Traffic is heavy in this popular area.

12. Rear View
Artist: Dface
Location: Pico Boulevard & Federal, Los Angeles

Pico Boulevard has recently undergone quite a transformation with murals of all kinds on either side of the road. This one struck a cord with me, as I discovered it just prior to heading out on a road trip.

13. The Broad
Artist: Yayoi Kusama
Location: Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

LA is home to some pretty fantastic museums! This Infinity Room exhibit is currently on display at the Broad Museum, and was well worth the price of admission: FREE! Do keep in mind that entrance to the exhibit is extremely limited, and an early visit is your best bet.

14. I AM Love
Artist:
Ruben Rojas/Beautifyearth.org
Location: Rose Avenue, Venice

Completely transformed in the past few years, Rose Avenue is definitely worth a visit. Lined with one of a kind boutiques, restaurants and markets, there’s a little something for everyone! Not to mention lots of great #streetart!

15. Venice Art Walls
Artist: 
Varies
Location: Ocean Front Walk, Venice

Graffiti for a cause! Have you heard of Sesame Street's newest resident, Julia? She's autistic, and she's making a difference. Most recently she showed up on the #veniceartwalls as part of a local initiative here in LA. Pauly's Project, was inspired by a little boy, born blind and autistic, with a passion for music. They're raising awareness by donating thousands of radios to the homeless communities of Los Angeles. #makingadifference ===================== #graffiti #streetart #muralart #wallart #venicebeach #julia #sesamestreet #paulysproject #autismawareness #artistmakingadifference #community #instala #instapic #instawall #instalove #touristinmyowncity #professionaltourist #beachlife #keepveniceweird #weirdgood #urbanart #graffitiart #losangeles #insta_losangeles #california #californialove #mondaymotivation #hilarystyleme

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You’ll find the Venice Art Walls just west of the Venice Sign on Ocean Front Walk. The walls are transformed every Saturday and Sunday by professional and amateur street artists alike! A pretty great spot for that #insta if you ask me!

I love LA, and the more I discover the more I love it! The opportunities are endless! Stay tuned…


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Instagrammable Los Angeles California Street Art

DIY: Skateboard Decks

I love a project and I love a challenge, so with a house full of skaters it makes sense that once again this summer’s DIY project centers around skateboarding. Last year we made our own longboards, which were a huge success and have seen a ton of use, this year we decided to paint the decks!

The desire to recreate a skate shop display wall is what led to this summer’s project idea. We all admire the amazing artwork we see on the decks hanging on skate shop walls, however purchasing multiple brand name skateboard decks is cost prohibitive, so why not find a why to do it ourselves!

While we will be using these skateboard decks as objet d’art in the boy’s rooms, these boards would also be perfect for riding! Keep reading for a list of supplies, hints, techniques, and inspiration!

Supply list:

  • Blank skateboard deck(s)
  • Frisket for making your own stencils
  • paper/cardstock
  • paints – Acrylic or Spray
  • Paint brushes
  • varnish to seal your design
  • face mask to cover nose and mouth
  • disposable gloves
  • blue tape
  • table/surface covers
  • enclosed area for spray painting
  • paper towels
  • dedicated trash can
  • apron or old clothes
  • Board mounts

Blank Skateboard deck(s) –

DIY Skateboard DecksFirst you’ll need to gather some decks! They can be used or new. We ordered our decks new from an online wholesale website, which meant a minimum order of 10 boards. Our cost per board was $15 including tax and shipping. We chose to sell some of the boards, at cost, to friends who were also interested in this fun project, however this could also make a great birthday party activitiy, or maybe you want to hang 10 boards!

Pre-Project Prep

This may seem obvious, but I feel I should mention: Prepare your work surfaces before you get started, especially if you’re using spray paint or varnish to decorate/finish your decks. You’ll want to create an enclosed area to prevent overspray, and its important to wear a mask, and gloves.

DIY Skateboard Decks
Don’t use your living room rug as a work space!

Chosing to decorate only the bottom of the decks, we used blue painter tape to cover the sides and top.

Techniques

Each of us designed our own decks and interestingly each of us had a different technique in mind. That’s the great thing about art, anything goes!

Painting

DIY Skateboard DecksThis is a great project for all ages! My younger son was able to design and paint his board with minimal help from me.

He used acrylic paints for the background, which dry quite quickly, and a cardstock stencil to create the smiley face!

DIY Skateboard DecksI helped him finish the board off with a UV protective varnish.

Stencils

DIY Skateboard DecksMy older son has fully embraced the SoCal culture, and regularly enjoys both skateboarding and surfing, which is what inpsired my design. In order to get the clean crisp look I was after I would need to use stencils.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
Use an exacto blade to relase any stencils that won’t let go.

Using frisket, a low tack material often used by grafitti artists, I created my own stencils. The great thing about Frisket is that it creates a tight seal keeping paint out of unwanted places, but it can also be easily removed! It can be purchased online or at your local art supply store.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
I used the negative image to help me place the letters.

I used the Silhouette Cameo machine to cut my stencils, however one can easily cut these materials freehand with a razor blade or scissors.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California
Remember to use an enclosed area before spraying.

After you apply the stencils, use paper and painter tape to protect any areas where you don’t want to apply color. You’re now ready to paint! I chose shades of blue to represent the water meeting the sky. To achieve this graduated look I used Montana Gold spray paint a quick drying paint with a low flow spray.

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California

Give the paint ample time to dry, especially if you’ve applied a heavy coating. Once the paint has dried, carefully removes the stencils using an exacto knife. Don’t rush when you pull of the tape and stencils as you don’t want to pull off any of your design.

I finished the board off with a UV protectant varnish.

DIY Skateboard DecksI enjoyed this process so much I made another deck, this one featuring one of our family’s favorite snacks, popcorn!

Simon got in on the stencil action with his Miami Sunset design!

DIY Skateboard Decks

Image Transfer

DIY Skateboard DecksOur final technique was image transfer. Simon wanted to transfer an image he created previously, but didn’t want to recreate it, so we used acrylic gel medium to transfer the image to the deck.

You do this by printing your image out using a laser printer. Paint your image with a generous amount of gel medium. Saturate everything, but don’t make it so wet you tear the paper.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California
If your image contains text make sure to create a mirror image.

Lay the image down and smooth it out. Let it dry overnight before you complete the process.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California
Saturate your image with gel medium an apply it to the board.

When you’re ready to remove the image use a damp sponge or smooth cloth to help you remove the paper. Don’t rub too hard! Give it a minimum of 8 hours but overnight is best!

DIY Skateboard DecksI also wanted to try this technique, so I created a deck using an image I took at the tamago stand in Tsukiji fish market during our Tokyo trip. To create this distressed look I rubbed the image with a rough cloth and then sanded off excess bits of paper.

DIY Skateboard Deck Los Angeles California

We still need to practice this technique but came out with two Decks we were really happy with! We all really enjoyed this project and let coming up with more and more ideas! My son’s birthday is coming up… I feel a party theme coming on!

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California

Tips & Advice:

  • We purchased the a spray painting tent, disposable gloves, and masks at our local art store!
  • The blue tape and plastic can all be purcahsed at your local hardware store, however we found that we had many of these items around the house left over from previous projects.
  • Don’t rush! Allow time in between steps, especially when applying and painting stencils, or you’ll end up repainting. Trust me, I know.
  • Don’t worry if you make mistakes! It’s just paint, paper, etc. you can always sand off your design or paint over it until you achieve the look you want!
  • We plan to mount our boards with these Sk8ology hooks to give them the appearance of floating on the wall… Once I get them up I’ll update with a photo!

DIY Skateboard Decks Los Angeles California


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DIY Do it Yourself Skateboard Decks

The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel

#Thebeverlyhills

Having first visited and now living in the Los Angeles area off and on for my entire life, I would consider myself pretty familar with the area, yet there is always something new, or rather in this case something old, to explore! Recently after driving by more times than I can count, I decided a visit to the Iconic Beverly Hills Hotel was in order! A birthday celebration with the girls seemed like the perfect excuse!

Los Angeles has no shortage of recognizable icons, the people, buildings, street names (Rodeo Drive ring a bell?), even the palm trees, lets face it the city itself is an icon. However, there are some places, that are famous the world over for a variety of reasons, even if we aren’t exactly sure why we’ve heard of them, the Beverly Hills Hotel is one of those places!

#beverlyhillshotelThe Beverly Hills Hotel is located in the city of Beverly Hills on Sunset Boulevard (another one of those famous streets), and opened in 1912, before Beverly Hills was even a city! You can’t miss its iconic pink paint and famous sign.

Smile for the Camera!

The Hotel’s famous pink color and Polo Lounge didn’t come along until the early 1940s, but the Hotel has long been associated with the glamour of Hollywood’s film and rock stars.

#beverlyhillshotelJust like all the celebritites before you, upon arrival, you’ll walk the red carpet under the hotel’s trademark green and white awning with an obligatory photo op at the end! Definitely stop to have your photo taken! What no paprazzi, no matter, a friend will do! You’ll feel just like the celebs!

#beverlyhillshotelThe decadance continues in the lobby with gorgeous art, and flower displays that had all of us whipping out our phones for a photo.

#beverlyhillshotel

The 1912 Bar

Named for the year the Hotel opened, the 1912 Bar was a lovely place to spend an evneing. The ambiance was lovely both inside and out, so we opted for a little of both.

#beverlyhillshotel Starting our evening off outside overlooking the Beverly Hills Los Angeles iconic palm trees I mentioned earlier, we sipped our drinks and shared a heavenly dessert. Berry Pavlova is my new favorite dessert! I can’t stop thinking about it!

#beverlyhillshotel
That’s gold on top!

Once we’d polished off the Pavlova*, we went inside where we were treated to live music courtesy of a Noelle and Nick Fabian a brother and sister team from Nashville.

Looking for that magical far away feeling? Consider an evening at a local hotel in your town, we had the best time as tourists in our own city. While I did check an item off of my LA To Do list, I’ve now added another one: STAY at the Beverly Hills Hotel!  Stay tunned… Cheers!

#beverlyhillshotel

*I really wanted to lick the plate, but held back… after all I was at The Beverly Hills Hotel!


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The Beverly Hills Hotel Hollywood Glamour Staycation Los Angeles

Wanderlust is Calling! Travel Resources & Inspiration Hilarystyle

#guidebooks

Generalife Gardens Alhambra Spain

It’s no secret that exploring the world and everything it has to offer is something I love and want to do more of (hence this blog), but realistically I can’t always be traveling… So how do I keep my wanderlust at bay? I admit it’s not always easy, and some who know me, mainly my husband, might say I fail miserably.

#generalife
Relaxing in the Generalife Gardens of the Alhambra Granada Spain 2015

Feed Your Wanderlust

Feeding my wanderlusting spirit is a full time job! Have I mentioned, I love my job!? Eating out and cooking food from favorite destinations, or places I dream of going is a fun way to satisfy my wanderlust. In fact, we’ve picked destinations based solely on a meal!

Our first family trip to New Orleans came about while planning a ski trip in Tahoe. Sitting in a New Orleans themed restaurant planning, we realized, why not New Orleans? We went straight home and booked our tickets! To this day we’ve never made it to Tahoe, but we do visit New Orleans every year.

#lovecitypark
Taken in City Park during our most recent visit to NOLA in April 2017.

Interested in visiting New Orleans? I’ve written a “few” Articles:

I love fish & chips, and they’re a nice reminder of our  visits to London, a favorite destination of mine. We make regular visits to The Wee Chippy, on Venice Beach, and although they don’t offer mushy peas, it does help keep that particular craving satisfied.

#theweechippy

We love the food in Spain with two of my favorite items being Manchego cheese and chorizo. I keep a steady supply of both these items in the house at all times!

I don’t know how “Spanish” the Spanish Latte at Menotti’s is, but I do love the coffee in Spain, so this is a nice reminder.

#menottis

Cheese is easily my favorite food! My local market has a great selection and I was pretty excited to discover they even had Blarney Castle cheese?!

#kerrygoldblarneycastle

Cork Blarney Castle
Here we are at Blarney Castle in 2016

Blogs & Books

Blogs

hilarystyle blog header tim

Of course I don’t only write a travel blog I also read other travel blogs, which not only helps with planning, but they’re also great for “visiting” places I may never make it to, and for inspiration and advice!

#datdog
I met  up with my fellow Blogger, Cory, from Fifi & Hop in New Orleans!

I’ve discovered many wonderful blogs, and have come across real world advice which I know I’ll use. In fact, I already have!

I’ll be traveling throughout Nevada, Utah, and Arizona in a few weeks, and I booked rooms based on Oregon Girl Around the World‘s blog. Thanks to Tanama Tales, I learned I’ll need advance reservations for the Las Vegas Neon Museum, a place I definitely plan on visiting.

Travel Blogs I read frequently:

Clare from Suitcases and Sandcastles writes about family travel. Her photography is stunning, and her destinations are wide ranging, they include everything from remote Greek Islands to The Hundred Acre Wood (otherwise known as Ashdown Forest)!

Katy from Untold Morsels  writes about her family’s travels with an emphasis on food and unique places to stay! After reading about her stay in Amsterdam I’m definitely putting houseboat on my list!

Lorelei from Caliglobtrotter is a California girl currently living in Germany. I love reading about her adventures, especially the many castles she visits! Her photography is amazing, and now I know how to pronounce Ljubljana! (Pronounced: Lub-lee-yana)!

Erin of Oregon Girl Around the World currently lives in Copenhagen, but we’re both from the PNW, and I love that we connected with eachother via blogging! She’s full of fun and eco-friendly ideas!

I always look forward to reading posts by The Adventures of Daisy the Bus, written by Jonny a father of four, who loves to travel to places off the beaten path. He paints a lovely picture with his words, his photos are pretty great too, and I have wanted to visit just about every place he mentions!

Cory of Fifi & Hop, who I was lucky enough to meet in New Orleans, writes about her family’s adventures on the East Coast and abroad! I especially loved her post on Tuscany, I was ready to book a flight after reading it!

I love reading Joy Loves Travel who seems to have some similar interests to my own! Her info on Belgium came in handy prior to my own visit there.

Dannii Jane of A Beautiful Thing writes a lifestyle blog, but features her adventures in and around London and Europe. Thanks to her we found ourselves in Camden during our last visit!

Books

#guidebooks

I admit I have a guidebook habit. As soon as I learn I’ll be going somewhere, or even if it’s just a possibility I’ll pick up the guidebook(s). I also love travel magazines, the big glossy photos, Best Of lists and the off the beaten path recommendations all feed my passion to see more of the world!

Though not a book, Instagram is great for inspiration, and I have discovered not only far away places, but many fun ideas much closer to home.

Some of my favorite Instagrammers:

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🇬🇧 Photo: @cleeve_04_ 🇬🇧 ______________________________________ Good evening from the very edge of the known Northern Roman Empire – Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, England. I absolutely love this shot..but some of you might be thinking "eh? what's this?"… let me explain. On becoming Roman Emperor in 117AD, Hadrian set about making the Empire more secure, separating Roman and Barbarian territories. This was the result…Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years. It was built by the Roman army on the orders of the emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122. A World Heritage Site since 1987, Hadrian’s Wall is an astounding feat of engineering. The concrete alone is a marvel.. Roman concrete (as seen in the core of Hadrian’s wall) was made by pouring liquid mortar (fine volcanic ash) over a layer of broken stones, allowing it to harden before repeating the process. It's stood the constant battering from rain and snow for thousands of years! Hadrian's Wall leaves a lasting impression on any who visit, including writer George RR Martin who used it as inspiration for his own Wall in the bestselling books and hit TV series, Game of Thrones. This is probably one of the few places I recommend going when the weather is a bit wild. Sunshine isn't the same… dark clouds adds to the atmosphere. I've uploaded a story from my recent trip there… a very brooding atmosphere. I don't know who that figure was standing at the top near the end of the footage…when I walked back up, there was nobody in sight and I could see for miles. A visitor from the past? Or had I had one too many warming whiskeys in the nearby cosy pub? (And yes…this was the location used in the Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves film with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman!) – Beautiful shot by @cleeve_04_ 🇬🇧 Want your Photos of Britain to be featured? Follow us and then add the tag #photosofbritain and tag us in the picture too! 🇬🇧

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wander 🌎 wonder Photo Credit: @london #WRDSMTH #WRDSMTHinLondon #flashback

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🌎Interlaken, Switzerland 🇨🇭 📸Photo by: @veronique.yang

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Preserve your Wanderlust

#mpixbooks

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I have TOO many photos on my computer and no idea how to manage them all! Recently I’ve started creating photo books using not only my travel pictures, but the text from my blog posts as well. They look lovely, and make great keepsakes.

#mpixbooks

We don’t just shut our photos up into books on a shelf, we love to print them out for display too! Some of our favorites from near and far are hanging in large format around our home. We love it when people come to visit and ask about the different locations!

#mpixprints
These 20 x 20  London dessert prints hang in my son’s room!

It’s not all about photography! We love a good project, and have created various pieces of art around the house, which represent loved places. Most recently I painted this “graffiti” Union Jack flag using spray paint and resin. I’m practicing for those Venice Art Walls! We can’t forget about the around the world furniture projects!

#unionjackpainting

#diychairs

Lego Destinations

#legolondonskyline

We’re big lego fans in our house and we get excited when sets are created that represent places we’ve been!

#legotowerbridge
This rather large Lego Tower Bridge lives on top of my guidebook shelf!

We built this Tower Bridge set over the winter holidays. I’m anxiously awaiting my Houses of Parliament set, which should keep me busy this summer, while planning what I hope is a Christmas trip to the UK.

Be A Hometown Tourist

#gettycenterviewWhether or not you’ve lived very long in a place, I guarantee you haven’t done it all! We’ve had such a great time this past year playing tourist in our own town, and with all that Los Angeles has to offer, I see no signs of that slowing down!

In case you’re interested, here are just some of the articles I’ve written about our recent discoveries in and around the Los Angeles area!

The J. Paul Getty Museums 

8 Reasons VENICE Should Top your LA List

50 Things To Do in Los Angeles

The Museum of Ice Cream Los Angeles

The Hidden Staircases of Silver Lake

Downtown Los Angeles Graffiti & Mural Walking Tour

InstaLA! 15 Places to Snap Those InstaGood Pics

InstaLA! Part 2: #WallAntics

Tourist In My Own Town

One Amazing Day in LA!

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Last Bookstore…


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#travelinspiration

Brides & Wedding Traditions From Around the World

#letthemeatcake

June is  wedding season, so…

Catherdral of Toledo-8227

I’ve been married for 16 years, but the romantic in me still gets excited when I see a bride, and for some reason even more so when I’m traveling! Maybe because someone once told me it’s good luck to see a bride? Or because I still remember how happy I was on my wedding day and I’m reminded of those feelings? Or maybe because I know what’s coming… ha ha!

#stlouiscathedral

Wedding traditions vary from country to country, but apparently the lure of the white dress is universal, as I’ve seen them everywhere from New Orleans, Louisiana to Tokyo, Japan!

#sunsettoledospain

I always try to snap a photo when I see brides, and the following photos are collected from the past few years of travel. Please do keep in mind that these photos are usually taken from a distance, a moving car, or a hotel window, as I wasn’t actually invited to any of these weddings. Along with the photos I’ve included some fun facts and wedding traditions from around the globe. Of course I’m including my own wedding photo… Let’s hope all these lovely couples are still as happily married as I am!

Toledo, Spain

This photo was taken in 2015 at Ayuntamiento Plaza just outside the Catherdral of Toledo, one of the more beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever visited. Toledo is known as the City of Three Cultures, which includes Muslims, Christians and Jews.

#toldeobride

Popular in many parts of the world Spanish brides also throw their boquets with the idea that the one to catch it will be the next to marry.  A Spanish variation on the same theme is to pin an upsidedown corsage on unmarried female guests. If the corsage is lost during the festivities that lucky lady will be the next to marry!

Tokyo, Japan

This photo was taken in 2014 during breakfast in lobby of the Tokyo Penninsula Hotel. It was quite early in the morning, so I was somewhat surprised to hear wedding music and then see a bride appear, but I got this picture just as she was almost out of sight!

#penninsulahoteltokyo

Quick Change

In Japan the bride will often wear multiple outfits during the ceremony and reception, as many as four, sometimes ending with a western style party gown, which signifies her return to everyday life. Guests at a Japanese wedding will give gifts of money to the bride and groom in small paper packets called mizuhiki.

London, England

I took this photo in 2013 during one of our many visits to London. We had just finished the Tower Bridge Experience, which by the way is a fascinating attraction! This seems like a lovely, although crowded, place for wedding photos.

#towerbridgebride

Royal Icing

Many of today’s most popular white wedding traditions can be attributed to Queen Victoria. It was Queen Victoria’s wedding cake, that first used the icing known today as “royal” icing. Hence the name royal… I love that!

Paris, France

This shot was taken in 2016 outside Notre Dame de Paris just after we climbed to the top!

Paris France

After our 2016 visit to La Madeleine, a beautiful church commissioned by Napoleon, I decided to take a quick lap around the building, and came upon this lovely bridal couple!

#lamadeleine

Wedding Cake

A croquembouche is a tower of delicious cream filled pastries held together with delicate strings of caramel. These delicious towers are often served at a French wedding. I read that the idea originates from guests bringing small cakes and other treats to wedding celebrations and piling them high on the table.

Amsterdam, Holland, The Netherlands

Having only just arrived in Amsterdam during our 2016 Europe trip, we were on our way to the hotel when I looked out and saw this bridal party! Our taxi was speeding past and I stuck my camera out the window!

#amsterdambride

Bridal Showers

A popular tradition in the United States, the bridal shower originated in Holland. When a Dutch bride’s family was too poor to provide a dowry, or if the father did not approve of the match her friends would “shower” her with gifts that were often included in the dowry.

#dutchweddingclogs
Traditional Dutch Wedding Clogs

Belfast, Northern Ireland

This photo was taken during our 2016 visit to Belfast, from inside the Titanic Belfast Museum, which is apparently a popular wedding venue. We loved our visit to this museum, and what an amazing backdrop!

Belfast Northern Ireland

A traditional Irish wedding toast:

“Friends and relatives, so fond and dear, ’tis our greatest pleasure to have you here. When many years this day has passed, fondest memories will always last. So we drink a cup of Irish mead and ask God’s blessing in your hour of need.”

The guests respond: “On this special day, our wish to you, the goodness of the old, the best of the new. God bless you both who drink this mead, may it always fill your every need.“

New Orleans, Lousiana

This photo of a Second Line Parade was taken from my hotel window in 2016 at the Omni Royal Hotel on Royal Street in the French Quarter!

#nolabride

Weddings in New Orleans have a special added flare, especially weddings in the French Quarter! The Bride and groom might arrive at their reception via horse drawn carriage, or by leading a second line parade preceded by a jazz band! Now that’s making an entrance!

Second Line Parade

Staying the French Quarter is always interesting, and no matter night or day, you never know what you might see when you look out your window!

#secondlineparadenola

While second line parades stem from African American jazz funerals they have evolved to become part of many celebrations in New Orleans. The second line parade at a wedding signifies the befinning of the new life between the bride and groom. Don’t be surprised if you see one these cheerful wedding parades leading the entire wedding, guests and all, from the church to the reception.

This photo was taken during our 2015 visit from my hotel window at the Hyatt French Quarter in 2015.

#nolawedding

Ribbon Pulling

While I haven’t seen the ribbon pulling tradition in action, I find the idea fascinating. Similar in tradition to the bride tossing her boquet the cake’s frosting has “meaningful” charms hidden within, each one attached to a ribbon. Female guests pull the ribbons to find out their future fate. You might pull out the heart signifying true love, but then again you may get the button, symbolic for old maid…

Costa Mesa, California

This photo was taken just the other day while the boys and I were running errands and enjoying treats from Susie Cakes at the South Coast Plaza Mall. While I don’t think I would chose this location for my wedding photos, I always enjoy seeing a happy wedding party!

#southcoastplazamall

Did you know?

Los Angeles is the most popular city in California to get married? Popular wedding trends in the Golden State include eco-friendly ideas, rustic chic, farm fresh to table fare, and free form flower boquets.

Speaking of flowers… fellow blogger, Katy from Untold Morsels, had her wedding flowers wrapped up and gifted to her guests at the end of the reception! That’s a wedding favor I’d like to have, and eco-friendly too!

Seattle

This is a picture of my wedding photo because apparently I didn’t see the future of digital, and I turned down a cd with my wedding photos on it… hindsight is truly 20/20.

#seattlebride

If I had to do it over again, I’m only talking about the wedding folks, I might like to have a destination wedding! Maybe in one of these amazing places, or maybe I’d do everything exactly the same… Anyway… if you’re wondering, our wedding and reception took place in Downtown Seattle in the atrium of one of Tim’s favorite buildings, what can I say he’s an architect. Some of the traditions we included: Something old, new, borrowed and blue, a first dance, and cutting and eating the cake together.

#seattlebride


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#weddingtraditions

Mission San Francisco

San Francisco with Kids

San Francisco, is famous for many things, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghiradelli Chocolates, and the infamous Alcatraz to name a few, but there is so much more to the City by the Bay. During my 8 years living in the Bay Area, I found time to see some of the more touristy attractions mentioned above, but spent very little time exploring beneath the surface of San Francisco’s many unique neighborhoods.

San Francisco with Kids

I suppose I thought I’d spend more time there later, and instead spent my free time exploring father afield. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I’m doing my best not to make that same mistake here in our new home, Los Angeles.

Alcatrz San Francisco with Kids

The good news is that I visit the Bay Area often, it’s just a six hour drive up Interstate 5, and during our most recent visit we were on a mission to see more of the City. We chose to explore the vibrant Mission District (pun intended), where we discovered delicious food, a fabulous park, and amazing street art! So in other words, my perfect day!

The Mission District

San Francsico Mission District with kids

The Mission District, or The Mission, is located in east central San Francisco, and is borederd by SOMA, Potrero Hill, The Castro, Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. Due to it’s location the Mission is insulated from San Francisco’s famous fog, which means it’s often warmer and sunnier than other neighborhoods.

Tartine Bakery

Tartine Mission District San Francisco

Our first stop upon arrival was Tartine Bakery & Cafe, which is known for it’s mouth watering breads and pastries. The line is usually around the block, but luck was in our favor and we walked right in!

Tartine Mission District with Kids

I had a tough time deciding, as I wanted one of everything, but ultimately went with something on the smaller side, a Mexican wedding cookie, while Elliot got an eclair! Located on the corner of Guerro and 18th, Tartine doesn’t have a sign, so look out for the long line and you’ll know you’ve arrived.

Mission Dolores Park

Mission Dolores Park San Francisco with Kids

Sweeping views of the city, large grassy areas, and a fabulous playground are just some of what you can expect while visiting Mission Dolores Park. There is also a large off leash area for those dog lovers out there.

The kids enjoyed the Park’s playground, while I followed them around taking photos of the gorgeous city views. As we were leaving we met, Chris, the Paint a Record guy, and decided this would be a fun activitity. Chris gets the records from yard sales and thrift shops, and sets up at the Park most afternoons and weekends. The acrylic paint dried within minutes and wallah, the perfect Father’s Day present!

Bi-Rite Creamery

San Francisco with Kids Bi-Rite Creamery

There’s no time like the present, and after all that park play an ice cream seemed like a great idea! Lunch? Isn’t ice cream lunch? Another San Francisco institution, the Bi-Rite Creamery is a popular place, so we joined the line and patiently waited our turn.

Peach season is upon us, so the Peach Cobbler flavor seemed like a perfect choice, and with large chunks of fresh baked cobbler and peaches throughout, it did not disappoint! Bi-Rite Creamery is just up and across the street from Tartine on 18th Street.

Street Art

The Mission is famous for it’s wall murals, some of which were painted in the 1970s, and reflect the neighborhood’s Latino culture and traditions.

Mission District San Francisco Street Art

More recently other types of street art have entered the mix and there are litteraly hundreds of murals throughout the neighborhood.

Mission District San Francisco Street Art

Don’t worry, I won’t be posting hundred’s of photos, only a few. You’ll have to visit the neighborhood yourselves if you want to see more!

Clarion Alley

Mission District San Francisco Street Art Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley, off of 18th between Mission and Valenica, is the home of the Clarion Alley Mural Project, which was started in 1992 by Mission residents. The murals here were predominately political in nature, some quite extreme in their views.

19th & Mission

San Francisco Mission District Street ArtMy favorite street art discovery of the day was this Mini Heros mural painted in 2009 by three indivduals known as KEB, WAND and BUTR. Miraculously it’s still in existence! What could be better than street art and superheros?!

Across the street from the Mini Heros you’ll find an amazing tribute to Carlos Santana painted by local artist Mel Waters.

San Francisco Mission District Street Art

Walk a little further up 19th and you’ll come to San Carlos Street, which is also the home of a giant honeybear painted by local artist, and a favorite of mine, Fnnch.

Mission District San Francisco Street Art fnnch

Lilac Alley

San Francisco Mission District Street ArtWandering along Mission Street we went as far as Lilac Alley, located half a block from the 24th Street Bart Station. The Alley is 2 blocks long between Mission and Capp Streets, and is lined on both sides with vibrant murals.

Straw Restaurant

#strawsf

Knowing the kids might be hungry at the end of the mission, we decided to end our day with an early dinner. We chose Straw, a carnival themed restaurant with unique comfort foods, and decor. Straw is located on Octavia Street in Hayes Valley, a short drive from The Mission and another super fun SF neighborhood worth exploring.

After having cookies for breakfast and ice cream for lunch it made sense to chose the Ringmaster, a burger sandwiched between two glazed doughbnuts for dinner. The idea was fun, but I think I’ll stick with a more tradational bun in the future! We finished up with cotton candy for dessert! Yum!

Tips & advice should you choose to go on your own Mission:

  • I’ve pinpointed some of the places we visited, but keep in mind there isn’t really any right way to explore The Mission.
  • San Francisco can be a tough park, but using the parking app Pay by phone, enables  you to manage everything directly from your phone eliminating the need to keep running back to feed the meter.
  • Walking along Mission Street you’ll find shops, restaurants and markets selling everything from luggage and fidget spinners to t-shirts and fruit. Keep your eyes open, you never know what you might discover.
  • Interested in finding more of San Francisco’s street art? Check out SF Mural Arts a webiste showcasing the city’s vibrant art scene complete with artist and locations.

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San Francisco Mission District Kids Street Art

8 Reasons VENICE Should Top your LA List

#venicebeach

#venicebeachI absolutely love LA, its many neighborhoods, and all they have to offer, but keeping up with all the fun can be tough! I know, fear of missing out (FOMO), isn’t exactly a real problem is it? Beyond the everyday happenings, which include a multitude of fabulous restaurants, endless shopping opportunities, and entertainment there are also numerous festivals, special events, and pop ups happening all over the city every single day! So little time so much fun!

#veniceOkay, I live here and I feel this way, so I can only imagine how a visitor must feel. How do you decide, with limited time, which of LA’s amazing neighborhoods to visit, and what should you do while there? I can help with that!

#venicebeachIn my humble opinion no trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a visit to the great and wonderful weird that is Venice, so it makes sense to start there! I’ve mentioned a few of these places in my recent post 50 things to do in LA, but thought it might be fun to highlight some of my favorite parts of this eclectic and spirited neighborhood in greater detail! Read on to see where you might you find me on any given day…

A Brief History

#veniceofamerica

Venice, originally called the Venice of America, was founded as an independent city by Abbot Kinney in 1905. In 1926 Venice merged with the city of Los Angeles and is famous for it’s canals, beaches, and of course the famous Ocean Front Walk.

#venicbeach

1. Abbot Kinney Boulevard

#abbotkinneyThe place to be right now, Abbot Kinney is one of the hottest streets in town! Many of today’s most popular fashion brands have stores here, not to mention street art galore, and the many trendy bars, coffee shops and restaurants to choose from. #favoriteplaces

#abbotkinneysunsetWhen I first moved to LA, 16 years ago, this area was still on its way up and had been for a while, but its safe to say it’s arrived, and then some! I like to spend time here on weekdays when it’s a little less crowded.

Current Elliot

#current/elliotOne of my favorite shopping spots, I love the fun, slightly eclectic casual style of Current Elliot. The clothing feels loved, vintage and worn in perfect for beach life.

Salt & Straw

#saltandstrawThe ice cream at Salt & Straw is delicious, but don’t take my word for it, the ever present line around the block should speak for itself. One reason the line is so long… you can sample as many flavors as you want!

Blue Star Donuts

donutsBlue Star is high on my list of LA donut shops, the poppyseed lemon is my favorite… this is saying something as there are over 600 donut shops in LA County!

#instaheaven

#kelseymontaguewings

Don’t forget to stop and take an #instagood picture in between shopping and eating on Abbot Kinney Boulevard!

2. Windward Avenue

#venicebeachThis little street is Home to Menotti’s Coffee Shop, the Venice Sign, and the Venice Public Art Walls You’ll easily find me here at least three times a week!

Menotti’s Coffee Shop

#menottiscoffeeGet the Spanish Latte! I promise you won’t be disappointed when you taste this delicious coffee concoction! Seriously, what are you waiting for? Go there! Then take your coffee for a walk along the beach!

The Venice Sign 

#venicesignOriginally hung across Windward Avenue at Pacific by Abbot Kinney himself, this current version was installed in 2007. Most often lit with traditional white marquee lights, the Sign changes throughout the year in support of various events. Currently the sign is lit for Venice Pride!

Venice Public Art Walls

#venicebeachYou’ll find the Venice Art Walls on the beach at the end of Windward Avenue. The Walls are open for painting every Saturday and Sunday, so if you’re feeling creative grab a can and join the fun! Alternatively, show up during the week to see what’s new!

3. Ocean Front Walk

#oceanfrontwlkVenice’s 2.5 mile pedestrian only Ocean Front Walk is world famous for it’s eclectic mix of locals, tourists, performers, physics, and artists! Not to mention, the selection of sunglasses and t-shirts is world renowned. You never know who or what you’ll discover during your visit, but I can guarantee you’ll have an amazing time, and probably come away with at least one treasure!

#venicebeach
There’s something for everyone on the boardwalk
The Wee chippy

#theweechippyLocated just off  Ocean Front Walk at Westminster, the Wee Chippy is a walk up fish and chips joint, owned by a Scottish fellow. The fish is great, but the chips are easily the best I’ve ever had. Anywhere! I’m serious! The opening hours are: Lunchtime to sunset… good luck!

4. Bike Path

#santamonicabikepathThe bike path in Venice is part of a larger 22 mile long paved path, which stretches from the Pacific Palisades to Torrance! While riding along the Venice section of the path you’ll be treated to the sights, sounds and smells of the Venice beach Ocean Front Walk, as well as the Venice Art Walls, the skateboard park, countless shops, artists at work, restaurants, and all the wonderful weird that makes up the vibe that is Venice Beach.

#venicepride
The view from the bike path… not too shabby!

5. High Rooftop Lounge


The High Rooftop Lounge is the only rooftop bar in Venice, and its location couldn’t be more perfect, only steps from the beach and everything else Venice has to offer.  The food is good, but views are even better! You’ll find the High Rooftop Lounge on top of the Hotel Erwin on Pacific Avenue. Just before sunset seems like a nice time to arrive!

#venicebeach

6. The Beach

Los Angeles SurfingWhy not give surfing a try?! After all you’re at the beach!  No matter if you’ve never been on a board before, sign up for a lesson and you’ll be popping up in no time! If I can do it, so can you! Even if you’re not up for riding the waves, you can still wiggle your toes in the sand while eating an ice cream and soaking up the rays!

7. Public Art Galore

#venice
Painted by NEVER this homage to Venice is at Baby Blues BBQ on Lincoln.

If you’re at all interested in public art then Venice is the place for you! Street art, sand art, light art, and more can be found just about everywhere you look! There really isn’t anywhere that hasn’t been touched by this explosion of public art!

#babybluesbbq
They serve Kool-aid at Baby Blues BBQ! Awesome!
Main Street
#beautifyearth
Lincoln Boulevard
Venice Beach

8. California Dreaming Comes to Life

#heartglasses

The hustle and bustle of the city is all around you, yet there is a peacefulness, the smell of the ocean on the breeze, the sun on your face, and the sand between your toes. Here is where the dream comes alive, dolphins and surfers sharing the same waves, skaters and bikers pass each other on a palm tree lined path, the smell of delicious food and coffee permeates the air, they all come together to create the good vibes that are Venice and the California Dream.


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#venicebeachpinme

Exploring California From Sand to Sea

#anzaborrego

At 560 miles wide and 840 miles long, The State of California is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and the third largest state in America. No matter your interest: city, forest, valley, mountain, coast or desert, the Golden State has it all. I’ve lived here in both NorCal and SoCal for the better part of 16 years, and there is still so much left to discover! I’ve hardly scratched the surface! Most recently, we’ve been exploring more of Southern California.

Sand to Sea

#anzaborrego

A record year of rainfall (yay rain!) and the resulting flower super bloom prompted our visit to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in the Desert region. I had to see all those amazing flowers! Deciding to go on this little adventure at the last minute meant accommodation choices were somewhat limited, and not finding what I was looking for (yes, I’m a hotel snob) we decided to stay on the coast in La Jolla, the Jewel of San Diego. So, two birds with one road trip… Desert and Coast.

#lajolla

Anza Borrego State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is located in the Colorado Desert in Southern California, that’s not confusing, and is California’s largest state park.

#anzaborrego

As we arrived in the park we noticed that small groups of beautiful flowers lined the roadside, and the scenery did look more green than we expected, but where was this Super Bloom we’d been hearing so much about?

#anzaborrego

We only had one day in the area, and Anza Borrego encompasses 600,000 acres, so rather than looking for the proverbial needle in the desert…

#anzaborrego

#anzaborrego

We decided some advice was in order and the Park’s visitor center located in the small town of Borrego Springs seemed like the best place to get it! The park rangers gave us very detailed directions to a nearby location where we could easily see the flowers.

#anzaborrego

There are many hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult as well as camping opportunities in the area, and if you’re interested the rangers will provide maps and directions. March afternoon temperatures were already in the high 90s, so we decided against hiking, and there were plenty of flower viewing options near the visitor center. We saw some pretty neat desert art installations on our way to the fields!

Anza Borrego State Park California#anzaborrego

The flower fields, as expected were stunning, and walking among them was a joyful experience. There weren’t many bees, strangely, but there were a ton of black ants and  caterpillars, which meant my boys weren’t willing to pose for too long among the flowers, and they definitely weren’t willing to sit down. Hoping for sunset photos, we timed our visit for late afternoon and sunset, which worked out perfectly.

#anzaborrego

#anzaborrego

Anza Borrego is an official Dark Sky, and while I love night photography, my amateur status meant that I wasn’t exactly prepared to take the night photos I had hoped for. Nevertheless we found ourselves a bench outside the visitor center and enjoyed viewing the stars and hearing the sounds of the desert at night. There was a little Saloon down the street from the visitor center where we enjoyed a meal before setting out for the sea portion of our adventure.

Anza Borrego State Park California

 

La Jolla The Jewel of San Diego

#lajolla

La Jolla, a lovely little seaside community located within the city of San Diego, was the perfect place to spend the day exploring. We saw Public art, delicious donuts, and a ton of wildlife, and these were just a few of the fun activities available!

La Jolla Mural Project

The La Jolla Mural project started in 2010 as a way to enhance the local community. The murals are painted or mounted on private buildings and are on display for a minimum of two years! We didn’t have time to view all of them, but loved the ones we were able to find.

#lajollamuralproject

 

Children’s Pool Beach

Just steps from the cute downtown area the coast is lined with lovely parks and beaches. We read that Children’s Pool Beach was a worthwhile spot and we were delighted to discover that our visit took place during the Harbor seal pup season! I loved watching the adorable interactions between the mother and baby seals, and we stayed quite a long while before wandering further up the coastline where we saw sea lions, pelicans, and many mischievous squirrels.

#childrenspoolbeach

There are times during the year when the beaches are open for swimming and scuba diving is permitted as well. We saw divers among the sea lions, and there’s something so special about viewing animals in their natural habitat, but I must admit I’m just fine with my feet on the shore!

 

Donuts

Since our move to SoCal, we’ve been on a quest for the best donuts, so when we came across this donut shop, we couldn’t resist!

 

#lajolla
These gorgeous flowers were alongside the road in San Diego County

Tips & Advice:

  • Anza Borrego Desert State park is a 3 hour drive from Los Angeles
  • La Jolla is a two hour drive from Anza Borrego.
  • The Children’s Pool Beach is closed to public access during harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15 through May 15, yearly. However, you can view the seals during this time.

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#pinteresthilarystyleme