Every year I look forward to my birthdaycation. Unfortunately, Hurricane Maria cancelled it last year. Throughout my 20’s I’ve traveled to 12 different countries and a few states. For the last few days of my defining decade I opted to visit a state on my travel list for quite sometime, C A L I F O R N I A ! Before now I felt the prices were way too high for a domestic trip. Back in July, I scored flights for $315.00 RT. I flew from Newark to San Diego. I rented a car through Hotwire for the drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. I normally stay at Air BNBs when traveling, but for this trip I switched it up a bit.
I stayed at the Urban Boutique Hotel in Little Italy, San Diego. The location, parking, and daily hotel fees were just right. I scored a super cheap deal through hotels.com. I wouldn’t say the hotel was a 5 star, more like a 4 in my opinion. It included a microwave, mini-fridge, continental breakfast, and parking for $12.00 a day. Although, the parking garage was a few blocks away it fit the bill. I stayed in San Diego for two nights, which was more than enough for me.
Would you believe me if I told you I’ve wanted to visit La Jolla since 2010?! From panoramic views to the hidden coves, cliffs, and sea lions this location is a must see if you ever visit San Diego. Once I was done taking in the oceanic views I headed to The Cottage for brunch and visited Balboa Park. I tried Gaslamp Quarter for dinner but it was much too quiet for my taste. I guess for the holiday’s everyone was out of town, so I headed back to the hotel and called it an early night.
I visited the San Diego Library to finish up my post and enjoyed the vibes while there. It was 9 stories tall, had a domed rooftop, beautiful courtyard, and spectacular views of the city. They also had free underground parking for 2 hours. When work was over it was time to play. Next stop, Los Angeles! The drive was very relaxing. I listened to an audio book “Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life” to get me through the drive. I made a couple of pit stops on the way, first the Salk Institute then Hash House A Go Go for brunch. Three hours later, I met Downtown Los Angeles. I got myself situated in my Airbnb which I absolutely adored. It had a steam room, screening room, pool, barbecue area, and a little lounge.
The only difficulty I’ve faced in traveling solo is not having my photos taken. Luckily, I found an Air BNB photography experience. The experience includes a photographer who brings you to different locations for mini photoshoots. Kudos to whoever thought of this brilliant Airbnb experience. The photography tour started at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) urban lights. We later visited the Beverly Hills sign and the infamous Collette Miller Angel Wings on Melrose Avenue. After the tour, I brunched at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, which was undeniably delicious. By evening time, I wanted to see what the Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) nightlife was about so I hit up two rooftops, Broken Shaker and The Standard. Yes, two places in one night because what New Yorker stays still? In my opinion, neither place was playing good music, so I left. The views were nice, but nothing compares to the NYC skyline.
Since I started blogging I’ve envisioned shooting in a bookstore. To close chapter 2018, I made sure that I executed this vision. This was a part of the reason I visited Los Angeles. I started my day off by having a photoshoot at The Last bookstore. This bookstore has been featured in several travel articles as a must see in L.A. I was so happy that I finally got a chance to visit. Talk about heaven on earth for book lovers. We shot on the 2nd floor which was made up of art boutiques and book displays. It was super tricky to shoot here due to the lighting and customer traffic, everyone wanted to take pictures. I took a few photos and headed over to my 2nd shoot location at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I was in awe of the unique architecture of the space. At the end of that shoot, I was just in time to catch brunch at Blu Jam Café in DTLA. The raving reviews are what attracted me to this restaurant, unfortunately, they fell short of my expectations with my meal. I wanted to visit The Broad museum but didn’t reserve tickets in advance which meant I would have to wait on the standby line for 1-2 hours. There was no way I was doing that. To end my day I headed to the Santa Monica Pier. There were rides and tons of fast food eateries. It was a little packed, but I managed. The pier reminded me of Seaside Heights and Coney Island, the difference was a beautiful beach.
My Birthday!! I welcomed my birthday doing my favorite thing to do besides reading; sleeping! To start my day I had a Thai Massage at the Raven Spa in Santa Monica. I enjoyed everything about this place, from the decor to their fantastic customer service. I can’t wait to go back to California to visit again. Next, I headed to Venice beach and had a quick bite at Eggslut. The Fairfax sandwich was mouth-watering. Afterward, it was time for my birthday shoot at the Getty Villa. My friend recommended this location to me, and once I saw the pictures I made it my mission to go. The striking Roman architecture combined with Mediterranean plants made it the perfect location to capture the commencement of my 30’s. To end my day, I raced to Malibu to catch the sunset; I’m so happy I did. The view was breathtaking! I enjoyed every minute of my birthday dinner at Mastro’s Ocean Club. The ambiance, food, and service were all immaculate. Although a few things did not go according to plan, my trip to the West coast was memorable. I’m already planning my next trip.
Have you visited California? What are some of your favorite spots? Share below.