California Trip Part 1 {Los Angeles}

Happy Monday morning to y'all! I don't know if you noticed, but I was pretty quiet here on the blog last week. I tried to disconnect as much as I could since, surprise!!, Charlie and I were in California for an eight day vacation! I did my projects for the "5 Days of Book Page Crafts" series ahead of time, so all I had to do was make sure my posts went up (reasonably) on time while we were gone :). It was wonderful doing nothing but relax, hang with friends and family, and be a tourist for a week!

You'll have to excuse me for the next few days while I commandeer my blog for trip documenting purposes. We just had an amazing time and I don't want to forget what all we did and saw. Plus, if you're planning a trip to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or the Napa Valley area, you might get a few tips on things to do and see. We went on a whirlwind tour up the coast! Here goes the highlight reel...

But first, I wanted to say a special thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway from CSW Designs. I picked a winner last night...and it is...Randa L.! Congratulations! She'll be receiving a onesie of her choice :). In case you didn't win, but would still like to purchase one for a special little one, head on over to the website and pick one out. Thanks again for entering!

Alright, onto our Cali trip! We started off in LA visiting friends and family, and they showed us all around their city. I didn't even need to plan this part of our trip because they were such awesome hosts. Since we'd never been to LA before, we thought, what better way to kick off our trip than with a celebrity homes tour? Haha. I usually hate these kinds of things since they're so cheesy, but y'all, this was such a great way to get out and see a ton of the major Hollywood sites without having to navigate a city we'd never been to before. There are about a million companies that do these tours, but we chose to go with Ultimate Hollywood Tours based on their great reviews on Trip Advisor. And it was great!

We traipsed all around the Hollywood Hills, saw a ton of celebrity homes, and hit a ton of tourist attractions (including the Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Chinese Theater, and the Beverly Hills Hotel) within about two hours. And this was all from the comfort of our open top touring bus. I'd highly recommend going with one of the open-top bus tours. You really get a great view of everything for photos, and with it being around 80 degrees and sunny (with a breeze), being "outside" was great. Here are a few photos I snapped while we were on our tour...

A Frank Lloyd Wright home:

The Beverly Hills Hotel:

A lovely fuzzy photo of a Rodeo Drive sign:

The Chinese Theater (looks much nicer when it's on TV and not surrounded by barriers, ha!):

That afternoon, we headed out to Griffith Park Observatory for a hike (with my cousin, his wife and their baby girl) since it has incredible panoramic views of the whole city. You must do this if you're out in LA! It will be crowded and busy, but there's good reason. The Observatory itself is beautiful, and so are the views. I hear they have open telescope nights where the public can go and see the night sky. We were (obviously) there during the day, so we missed that, but I'm sure that would be a cool experience.

I'd definitely suggest taking one of the nearby trails and hiking to the top to escape the craziness - it really clears out and you'll pretty much have the whole summit to yourself so you can see LA like this:

Whoa, baby. Hey there observatory off in the distance. And the city behind it.

You also get a great view of the Hollywood sign on your way up so it's a good spot for photos with that iconic landmark. Can you spot it to our left through the LA haze? ;)

Here are all five of us at the summit. Incredible views (and incredible company!).

The next day we all headed out to Manhattan Beach for brunch at Manhattan Beach Post. The food and atmosphere were stellar. The restaurant occupies the space that used to be the Manhattan Beach post office, and it really pays homage to its postal roots. I wish I had taken more photos of it, because it was gorgeous. Even the menus played into the postal theme. They arrive at your table in envelopes with your party's name on it. (I'd suggest making a reservation if you go. It was packed!)

Then it was time for relaxation on the beach. I took in the views of the wide expanse of beach, the Pacific Ocean, and the gorgeous houses along the edge.

I also snapped some people photos - I especially loved photographing the littlest one of the group and her parents:

Aren't those sunglasses hilariously cute? I can't get over them...

C and I got in on the photo action as well:

Love this little one! Isn't she just the cutest? It was so great spending time with family for a couple of days.

During our final two days in LA, we spent our time with some friends who are almost family. Here we are at dinner (Golden Road Brewery) one night with them and their little boy, who is absolutely adorable:

And here's the inside of the brewery:

It was a super fun place to eat, try a couple of their beers, and hang out. I'd recommend taking a trip there as well if you're in the area!

One fun part about spending time with these dear friends was that our friend, Sarah, who is a cast member on Grey's Anatomy, took us on set with her and gave us an inside scoop on what it's like to be on the show. (She plays April Kepner in case you were wondering.) We saw all the sets and trailers, met a ton of the production crew (who were so, so nice, by the way), watched them shoot a scene, and even met a few of the actors who were shooting the scene that day. It was such an amazing privilege to be there with her, and I am so grateful she was willing to take us and show us around! There is a LOT that goes into making a TV show people, it's truly an amazing production.

Here we are with the actors we met on set:

I tried not to be starstruck. They're all so nice and just normal. You know? Like they say...Stars! They're just like us! Sorta :). I have nothing but great things to say about everyone we met.

I think that about wraps up our time in LA. All in all we had a great time exploring the city, seeing some sites, and spending time with wonderful friends and family. I had no complaints and everything we got to do was fun, fun, fun. It's such a huge city and we barely scratched the surface with the activities we did, so I think we'll have to go back again soon to see some more!

Have any of you been to LA before? What highlights did we miss? (Don't tell me I missed too much or I'll be sad!)

I'll be back tomorrow with some photos and favorite parts from our drive up the coast on historic Route 1. Even though we took the whole day to do the drive, we definitely wished we could've spent more time doing it. It was amazing!

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  1. I enjoyed this reminiscent trip back to South Bay - I last lived in Hermosa Beach and was quite fond of Manhattan Beach - tho' the MB Post was not in existence when I lived there. The South Bay was a fun place to live and the food scene was tremendous. So neat to see you're friends w/ "April" - wasn't expecting that! Looking forward to your other CA posts. - TAF


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