This past weekend my best friend and I took a break from the work grind for a mini-vacay to Los Angeles. While the purpose of my trip was for educational purposes (I’m applying to grad school), it was a great opportunity to slip some vacation time in. So, I decided to extend my weekend trip and come early Thursday morning. I was so excited that my BFF decided to come with me. In my All-Girl Getaways post, I mentioned how important it is to getaway with your best girlfriends. So, I was really looking forward to the long overdue trip with mine!
Before I go on, let me tell you… I’m so proud of myself! Inspired by diva in a carry on’s motto “Real women don’t check luggage” and TravelSpark’s tips on how to travel with just a carry-on, I decided to take the challenge on this trip! Although it was only a 4 day trip, I suffer from chronic over-pack-itis, so this was a big task for me. But I did it! I managed to fit all my businesswear, beachwear, going-out wear, casualwear, six pairs of shoes, two purses, accessories, toiletries, laptop, stationery, and electronics (ipod/camcorder) into just my two carry-ons! It was hard but I proved to myself that with a little strategic planning, it was possible. Will I just do two carry-ons for our upcoming 7-day Costa Rica trip? Hmmm…let me think on that one.
Okay, back to L.A…. After leaving LAX, and picking up our Chevy from the National Emerald Club lot, it was time to explore L.A.! We had a lovely stay in beautiful Pasadena at The Westin Pasadena. The location was great as it was within walking distance to the many restaurants and shops on Colorado and Fair Oaks Boulevards. The hotel entrance was very inviting. The living room and library near the bar area gave the lobby a warm and cozy ambiance. Although the pool was on the 4th floor, it had a rooftop feel to it, offering spectacular views of the surrounding area and the San Gabriel mountains.
The hotel rooms were nicely decorated…keeping with the cozy at home feel. I loved the dual wooden ‘closets’, which gave both of us amble space. However, the double room we were booked in was a little smaller than expected. Of course, the Heavenly Bed more than made up for that.
Okay here’s some highlights from our trip…
- My best friend loves The Late Late Show, so she booked tickets for us to be a part of a taping at CBS Television City. This was my first time being in a studio audience, so that was pretty cool experience.
- We met up with some of my good friends from USC for drinks at a quaint little neighborhood bar called The York in Highland Park. The Veggie Sandwich I had was yummy.
- We found out that Diddy was going to receive a star on the Walk of Fame; so what better day to check out Hollywood than this one? Of course some of the Who’s Who in entertainment came to show Diddy support. We got glimpses of Jamie Foxx, Russell Simmons, L.A. Reid, Derek Luke, Michael Bivins, Dallas Austin, Lou Gossett Jr. and his Making da Band groups – Danity Kane and Day 26. My best friend discovered her new found paparazzi talent as she got some perfectly timed shots. Believe me…it’s not easy, and all was I getting was the back of people’s heads. For the rest of our celeb photos and more from our trip, check out our online community.
- After all the craziness in Hollywood, we were ready for some peace and tranquility…and the Pacific Ocean. We programmed our GPS to lead us on our hour-long drive to Malibu. The drive there was absolutely beautiful….but a little frightening at times, as we winded through the jagged Santa Monica mountains on Malibu Canyon Road.
- We spent a wonderful afternoon in Malibu just laying out on Zuma Beach…minus the episode where a seagull mistook my leg as a toilet (That’s all I’m gonna say about that). The cliffs, blue water, and sun made for a picture-perfect scene. Unfortunately, our paparazzi extravaganza earlier that day in Hollywood wore my poor digital camera’s battery out – so I don’t have any photos (sorry). When all else fails – get a disposable! I’ll post some pics once they get developed.
- Sun and sand are wonderful, but they can make you thirsty and hungry. So we packed up and headed back east on the Pacific Coast Hwy. We made a stop at Malibu Seafood Market and Cafe. I had the grilled shrimp platter (get an order of Clams too!) Located right off the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), you can sit on the patio and enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean. We even saw some dolphins!
- We said goodbye to Malibu and stopped by the Santa Monica Pier. I love coming here. The boardwalk and the carnival games and rides make you feel like a kid again. It was starting to get chilly…so we didn’t get to hang out long. Cold and tired, we head back to Pasadena. We planned on going out, but ended up waking up from our “quick nap” the next day. As you can see we definitely had a FULL day!
- This day wasn’t as jam-packed for me as Friday, because I had work to do. However, we did get to make a quick late morning visit to Beverly Hills. First we had breakfast in Pasadena, at the delightful Marston’s Restaurant. This place serves an awesome breakfast. I had the California Omelette, of course!
- On your first visit to L.A. you have to see what the Rodeo Drive hype is all about. From Dolce & Gabbana to Roberto Cavalli, if you’ve got a designer itch, it can definitely be scratched here. We actually found a cute boutique on Santa Monica Blvd. that was right up my alley – Envie. A lovely sales associate named Tigrist helped me select this wonderful fragrance by Monyette Paris.
- The rest of my day was filled with work, while my best friend enjoyed the rest of her day but hanging out at the hotel pool, visiting the Norton Simon museum and stopping by our favorite L.A. fast food joint El Pollo Loco (don’t sleep on the crunchy taco, forreal!).
- After finishing up my ‘duties’, it was time to hit the streets for our last night in town. Of course, the trip wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t finish it ‘salsa-style’! We headed downtown L.A. to The Mayan for its Breathtaking Tropical Nights party. It is definitely a salsa club like no other. First of all it’s HUGE! With it’s Mayan-inspired decor, multiple levels, club lighting, and projector screens, the Mayan pulls you in with its sensory overload. But it’s not just the visual effects that gets you going here…it definitely all comes down to the rhythm. You get a mix of reggaeton, bachata, merengue, and the best part – the live salsa band. I had a lot of fun!
- Last but not least…after a night of dancing, I got the late night munchies and was in search of one of the many taco trucks that I’d previously seen around the city. On the way back to Pasadena, we didn’t come across very many. But just when I was about to give up…I found one! While I can’t remember the name…I just found a nifty little Taco Truck Map. Now I can always find one whenever I go back to L.A. My asada tacos with lime and cilantro, and part of my best friend’s burrito were sooo good and definitely hit the spot! Hmmm…does Atlanta have any taco trucks? Think I better just wait until I come back.
Southern Cali has become one of my favorite parts of the U.S. It’s so versatile and there’s so much to experience – there’s natural beauty, from beaches to mountains, nightlife, entertainment, great restaurants, shopping, and of course celebrity sightings! If L.A. could just get a handle on the smog…my allergies were workin’ overtime during this trip. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every minute of my getaway with my best friend, and can’t wait to do it again.
Until next time…