Cowabunga 2014: Summer Vacation to LA started off simple enough in the way most vacations do...Relentlessly fretting about wardrobe options, spending eleven hours picking out a swimsuit I’ll wear for two, and whimpering some more about wardrobe. As someone with maximum travel to New Jersey (the anti Surf’s up) and minimal travel to Los Angeles I had a strategy: Throw every summer item I own into the washer, steam wrinkles out. Throw in suitcase. Flawless. Off to Cali we go!
Malibu (like totes):
The Malibu beaches are truly incredible and majestic. We retreated to a semi private beach, where there was a only sprinkling of dudes and dudettes. Beautiful sand and water. I felt like Malibu Barbie (if Malibu Barbie was 34, brunette, 5’3” wearing a romper and “beach jewelry”). Long story made short, after seeing who could jump higher for a photo op the rental car key was propelled from a pocket (not mine, beach rompers don't come equipped) and- fists shaking at sky- was gobbled up by the Malibu sand. At least it was lovely ambiance while stranded for five hours.
Beaches + Attire (in general):
What does one do at the beach? Oh yes, that’s right...Chill. But what about when you get bored with chilling? Then what? And most importantly WHAT DO YOU WEAR? Yea, I may only know how to run screaming through the sand with my hands in the air like a seven year old after fourteen pixie sticks, but that holds a certain charm. It’s relaxing, in it’s own way. As a Colorado native I may not feel the “catch a wave” spirit of some, I managed to rock a Marc Jacobs formal dress to Laguna Beach (answering the time old question, is that a Marc Jacobs dress or a skirted swimsuit?) I always wear a hat , a lesson my Mom taught us.
Go get a drink at the Culver Hotel. You’ll feel swanky, like you’re part of Old Hollywood, without the pretentiousness. Every munchkin from the Wizard of Oz stayed there during the filming of the movie. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you.
There were two recreational high points of the trip. One, was the Wi Spa in Koreatown, an experience that is in and of itself worthy of a trip to LA. The Disneyland of Spa’s, the facility boasts four stories, including a fabulous roof top deck, and an abundance saunas with various attributes that are tauted for health benefits. I personally love anywhere where you wear a uniform of elastic waist shorts. Hold tubs, hot tubs, whatever temperature suits your fancy. Open 24 hours a day- 7 days a week the Wi Spa is the perfect place to jump start a cleanse, or nap for 22 hours on a mat.
Another must do is Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara. It began as an actual stagecoach stop in 1886. The antique buildings have been protected for years, then in 1941 Cold Spring began it’s operation as a restaurant/tavern .The structures are quaint and you feel like you’ve been transported to a different time. There are two things I heard most about on this trip: The freeway traffic and Tri Tip sandwiches. What's a trip tip, ma? We don't have those in Colorado. Tri tip is cut from the point where the sirloin meets the round tip meets the flank. Or so I've been told. Tri tips cook on an open grill as you sip a PBR tall boy in the wooded mountains of Santa Barbara listening to country blue grass. After indulging in a sandwich you know why they are so legendary. The meat is cooked to perfection, and layered with horseradish and bbq sauce it’s rustic culinary experience that could certainly pass for gourmet.
Love to stroll? There is no better location than the Mission Santa Barbara Rose Garden. The beautiful gardens give new meaning to "stop and smell the roses" as many sit, picnic, read and just enjoy the beautiful clusters of bright flowers. And the view of the Santa Barbara Mission is pretty impressive as well.
Food (let’s eat)
Dining in LA is much like dining in any big city- only a bit more secretive. In New York you can wander off the subway and into the most amazing restaurants. In LA you have to have a clue where you’re going. My tour guide/driver/boyfriend is native to LA so he’s “in the know.” We had a vast variety of cuisine, from all sorts of ethnic to fresh seafood. In Koreatown at BCD Tofu House we indulged in lava like bowls of scorching tofu soup. When it arrives at your table in it's Dante’s Inferno-esque state, you crack a raw egg into it. The gratis "sides" include the best kimchi ever and a whole fried fish. Once you eat all of your rice, the bowl is filled with water and the burnt bits are scraped- those are delicious and smoky.
Sipping delicious, traditional matzo ball soup at legendary Canter’s Deli on Fairfax, you’re sure to overhear the musings of record excs in the next booth. Canter's is an LA staple and they're corned beef is simply divine. In Colorado we're corned beef starved, so at Canter's we tucked in to giant sandwiches and washed them down with a to-go selection of incredible cookies we proprietarily divided into threes. My sister has never been so over joyed when after a night out in Hollywood she discovered a random Canter's cookie that had not yet been eaten.
Overlooking the ocean in Santa Barbara at the full length bar it’s easy to induldge in one too many oyster shooters at Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar (they’re booze free after all- unless you ask for yours to be topped off with vodka). And it is simply impossible to resist the Venice Ale House- I highly recommend chugging a beer then randomly order corn, and insisting on it to go. Corn Beach Break ended up being a near crate sized amount of corn smothered in queso fresco- aka the least convenient of all beach treats, yet 100% amazing.
LA...We came, we saw, we ate, we drank, we frolicked, we conquered. By the end of the long weekend I was an California convert (at least to visit). See, who knew I was cowabunga after all?