The last time I was in California, I was about six years old and living in the suburbs of San Francisco. My most cherished memories of the Golden State include fluttering hummingbirds, earthquakes waking me up at 4:00 am, and a road trip with my dad through the Mojave Desert. Here is little me having the time of my life at 29 Palms Inn in Joshua Tree Park.
When I had a spontaneous opportunity to visit LA this spring, I jumped on it! LA definitely has its own persona, being the entertainment capital of the world. It also embodies a cross between a beach city and the southwest, desert vibes that feel so nostalgic to me.
Getting off the plane, the first thing I notice (other than the amazing 75 degree dry heat) is the thick layer of smog in the sky. At first, it was hard to tell if it was slightly overcast but I soon realized that it was, indeed, smog. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of air you are breathing there!
Most of my time in the city, my jaw was dropped in admiration of the beautiful mountains (when I could see through the smog). It felt like with every turn, there was a new view of a desert mountain backdrop. To take in the full view of the LA mountains, city scape, and the Hollywood sign, I definitely recommend going to the Griffith Observatory. With an easy drive up Mount Hollywood, the observatory at the top is basically a free space and science museum with a planetarium. We spent an hour inside, then headed to the cafe to enjoy the sunset view on the balcony.
Since I’m vegan, you know I had to hit some of the famous vegan spots! My favorite was Doomie’s Home Cookin’, a small restaurant offering delicious meat-free alternatives to fried chicken, burgers, and an impressive selection of specialty fries. Pictured below is the bacon cheeseburger, animal fries, and mac ‘n cheese. My boyfriend and I also made regular visits to a coffee shop near our Airbnb called Steampunk, a fun, hipster cafe with vegan breakfast options. Their avocado toast and potatoes quickly became a favorite.
I only went into DTLA (Downtown LA) a couple of times, for a birthday party at a speakeasy and to meet my boyfriend’s friends for dinner. Downtown was really fun, and met lots of interesting people working in the entertainment industry (comedians, writers, directors, actors, models). I really loved how people weren’t at all afraid to express their individuality, and there was no limit on how “weird” you could be!
LA is also filled with amazing hiking trails and parks. We visited Topanga State Park, and it was full of flowery meadows and scenic overlooks of hills and even the Pacific Ocean. I explored a park surrounding a reservoir and found a cute, little hut, and had a close encounter with a coyote. I felt so connected with the nature there; the cacti, lizards, palm trees, mountains, and the semi-desert terrain. There are few places on Earth that I can feel truly grounded and “at home” (a whole other topic), but California is one of them.
Lets just say I totally have California-fever. Eureka!