Continuing on from my first few days travelling from Vegas through to San Diego (read about that here), it’s time to resume my adventure – windows down, sun shining as we passed through Newport Beach…
Day 8 – Day 9 Newport Beach
If you grew up pining over Seth Cohen from The O.C, then treat yourself, as I did and spend a night living the dream in Orange County. We said goodbye to San Diego after only one night (I’d recommend you stay for at least two) and headed along the coast towards the infamous Newport Beach, which is roughly a 2 hour drive. On route, we stopped at Laguna Beach for a lovely lunch with a seaside view at Splashes restaurant. We arrived at Newport Beach and checked into ‘Bay shores Peninsula’, a cute motel-style accommodation– great location and fantastic service but a little pricey.
We spent the early evening walking along the seafront towards Balboa Pier, dreaming of relocating to one of the beautiful beach houses right on the seafront. If we weren’t still in agony from the Grand Canyon hike we would have definitely rented paddle boards/surfboards/bikes for a more active experience.
Best local Bar: Sharkeez
Day 9 – Day 11 Los Angeles
On route to LA we stopped at Huntington Beach to check out the ‘legendary’ surf. A great beach-side town to have lunch or play a game of volleyball before heading onto the City of Angels. Finding the right accommodation in LA is tough and expensive, it’s such a large city with no real centre. I would recommend staying in either Santa Monica or West Hollywood as both of these locations have lots going on and are close enough to the main attractions. We opted for an Airbnb in Hollywood which was perfect for us.
On our first day we drove to The Griffith Observatory for panoramic views of the city. There are hiking trails from here too such as the Mt Hollywood Trail, which takes you as close as you can get to the Hollywood sign.
We spent the following morning looking out for celebrities in Beverley Hills – head to Rodeo Drive to see the glitzy side to LA. In the afternoon we drove down to Santa Monica for a stroll along the pier and then rented bikes. There is a cycle path all the way from Santa Monica past Venice and up to Marina del Rey. Venice Beach has so much going on and is perfect for people watching. We headed to Abbot Kinney in Venice which is a street of quirky shops and restaurants.
If you are into your movies, I would highly recommend a trip to Warner Brother’s studios. I personally think it’s the best studio tour in LA. Universal is great fun for a mix of film tours and rides. There is a lot to do in LA so ideally you would want 3 nights to get the most out of your stay.
Best restaurant: The Saddle Ranch – Sunset Strip (ride the bucking bronco – I dare you!)
Day 11- Day 12 Santa Barbara
The next day we set off to Santa Barbra which is a 2 hour drive from LA. On route we stopped in Malibu for lunch at Nobu, a popular celebrity hot-spot with sensational sushi, a chilled out yet glam vibe and an unbeatable view. It is pricey, but if you have a special occasion or want to splash out on one meal then I would highly recommend this restaurant.
From there we continued on to Santa Barbara, a lovely beach side city which has a dramatic mountain backdrop. State Street is the main area and has lots of shops, restaurants and bars. It’s a picturesque laid-back gem that has a real holiday vibe.
Best breakfast: Tupelo Junction Café – State Street