The Ultimate USA trip! Part four; Los Angeles

Although Sam and I were sad to leave Yosemite, we could barely wait for the barmy temperatures and sunshine of Los Angeles. We set off early so we could get the six-hour drive out of the way and say; “Hello, Hollywood!”

Day 1 – arrival

Our accommodation was The Garland, a boutique, retro-chic hotel in Studio City. With its stylish 1970s aesthetic and nods to music icons such as The Rolling Stones, it oozed whimsical charm. Spacious rooms, a comfortable bed and a stunning restaurant (The Front Yard) were just some of the highlights.

Our room at The Garland
The pool area
A cosy, urban oasis
 Cool décor in the restaurant
Peace and love, Studio City!

After checking in, unpacking and a roam around, we jumped back in the car and headed out. Now, I had an idea of how bad L.A. traffic was but I’m here to tell you, it was WORSE than anticipated. In fact, we spent most of our trip stuck in the car. Honestly, it was soul-destroying. I don’t know how residents put up with it! A 15-minute journey could easily take 45-50 minutes and that’s without finding somewhere to park. Utter madness.

Car bound but at least the skies were gorgeous!

Eventually, we managed to get to Venice Beach and stroll down the iconic Boardwalk. There were dancers, street performers, and musical acts all showing off their skills, skateboarders, artists selling their colourful creations, boho clothing boutiques, unique jewellery stores, street food a-plenty and characters from all walks of life. We didn’t need an itinerary here, just people watching was entertaining enough!

A Lana Del Rey mural, which caught my eye
Muscle Beach – the birthplace of California’s fitness boom

We sauntered through the renowned Muscle Beach, where some the biggest names in bodybuilding have trained, including Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Known as the “Home of Bodybuilding”, it was a must-see for Sam! And being a fitness enthusiast, I could appreciate it too.

A plaque in honor of Lou Ferrigno

And of course, there was Gold’s Gym, another home to bodybuilders. It had an outdoor courtyard, a variety of lifting equipment and a gift shop full of branded merchandise. Of course, I treated Sam to a t-shirt. He was in his element!

That was a Christmas gift sorted!
An iron paradise
Couldn’t agree more, Mr Gold.
Like a kid in an grown-up candy store!

Day 2

Today, we drove to Melrose Avenue after breakfast at the hotel. The journey took FOREVER, thanks to traffic. No surprise there! By the time we arrived, found parking and gulped down a cappuccino, any enthusiasm we had for shopping had vanished. After a speedy browse at the Paul Smith store and its Insta-famous pink wall, we left for the next attraction. We were conscious of how long it took to get anywhere, so there was no room for dawdling.

Breakfast of champions! I was so grateful for healthy, fresh choices.
Pink to make the influencers wink
I’ll take it all!
A sneaky selfie at Paul Smith

Next up, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a bite to eat at In-N-Out. I’m not bothered about fast food, but this was an exception. Needless to say, Sam was a happy man! My verdict? It was worth going just to see the hype. Plus, it was a decent burger.

Seeing the stars on the sidewalk was good fun. You end up not looking where you’re going because your eyes are glued to the floor, spotting the different names. “Ooh, Fred Astaire!” “Look, Marilyn Monroe!” “Cool, Bugs Bunny!”

Starstruck by Ozzy O

Bizarrely, actor Macaulay Culkin received his star the same day we were there, which was crazy! We didn’t realise until we saw it on the news in the evening. How did we miss that?!

Palms and stars
Sam by name, Swayze by game
Get IN!

Day 3

The next morning, we drove to The Beverley Hills, on Sunset Boulevard. As one of the world’s best-known hotels, I couldn’t wait to see its signature pink and green exterior. Even the Christmas decorations were on theme! You’re not really supposed to loiter outside but I politely spoke to one of the security guards who didn’t mind us having a nose.

An outfit check
Blending in nicely
Can I fit one of those nutcrackers in my suitcase? She wondered.
Glorious day, glorious hotel

A trip to L.A. wouldn’t be complete without shopping at Rodeo Drive. It makes me think of Pretty Woman and reminds me of my mum, who loves the film too. That BRILLIANT shopping scene (“You work on commission, right?”) is one of our favourites. I even encountered some rude Sales Assistants myself, which made me feel very Vivian. Without the prostitution, obviously.

“Rodeo Drive, baby!”

Going to Erewhon was also an experience. It’s a luxury supermarket chain, where shoppers include Hollywood A-listers, supermodels, and health aficionados alike. Think Whole Foods market but on a grander scale.

Now that’s a display!

You can expect to find locally sourced, organic, and macrobiotic products such as marbled sourdough, raw milk, and sea moss gel. As an aspiring wellness goddess, I’m well versed in Pilates classes, matcha lattes and the latest superfoods. Therefore, Erewhon was nothing short of nirvana to me.

This is what heaven must look like

Erewhon also sells upmarket prepared food, including celebrity-endorsed smoothies. I tried the Hailey Bieber Strawberry Glaze, which counted vanilla collagen, hyaluronic acid and naturally, strawberries, amongst its contents. Paying $18 for a smoothie is probably ludicrous to some but for the ingredients, celeb affiliation and time it took to make (they were inundated with orders), I thought it was quite reasonable. People will happily pay $18 for a cocktail, after all!

Another weird story – Balenciaga hosted its Fall Runway show that very same day in Los Angeles and debuted their collaboration with none other than, Erewhon. Again, we didn’t realise until we saw it on the news that evening. Coincidence?!

Our next destination was Crenshaw to visit a mural, dedicated to late rapper Nipsey Hussle. Sam’s brother is a fan, so we took a photo especially for him. We finished the day at the Hollywood sign, which was actually quite difficult to get to. There was no parking spaces and Sam had completely lost the will by this point. He drove as close as could for me to get out and take a photo, while he stayed in the car to avoid a ticket.

Hey look ma, I made it!

While we wouldn’t rush back to L.A. (the traffic was THAT traumatising!), we would love to explore more of California in the future. I have always been fascinated by it. The weather, the beaches, and the laid-back, surf culture appeals to me no end. Perhaps San Diego or Palm Springs is more suited to us?

But our final port of call on this particular adventure – Las Vegas!

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