California Hot Spots that Valeria Must See – 2018 – L.A. Edition

HellooooOoo everyone!

My mind has been in the gutter lately… the vacation gutter!

It is Spring after-all, which means I have lost most of my focus on pretty much everything and with talking every night about all our upcoming Summer fun events, it is hard to try to focus on much else. So far this Summer has some great things in store; local beaches, fun dinner spots, cookouts, my new outfits (ok don’t fault me for being silly), lake in Maine with our friends, maybe Montreal, but my favorite topic we talk about is.. our family trip to CALIFORNIA!!


..just a touch of a California freak here. I have been to the West Coast, California four times, not with our kids ever though, and not anywhere below Los Angeles. When we have gone, I never do get enough. California knows how to party. Uhm. Ok, that slipped out but hopefully you all hear Dr. Dre’s ‘California Love’ in your heads now… But seriously, I am super excited to end the Summer in CaliForNia this year; coming home a few days before the girls start back to school and just in time for our 17th wedding anniversary. Which makes me super happy to think about. 🙂

We have never actually visited California during the Summer months before, nor have we gone there for a beachy vacation, which is why I am super excited this time.  This trip is something that I have always wanted to do, have a So Cal beach vacation.  Gah didn’t those words just feel so good to you, too?  Since we are doing something new as a family in a state the two parents have visited before, we have a lot of revisiting of some tourist spots, but also, lots of new to us sites.

Our agenda is: We land in LA, where we will be spending the first few days of this trip. Then after LA we drive to new territory, Laguna Beach.  We opted for some fun in the sun after being in the city for a few days; And it’s a great place to celebrate my husband’s birthday. From Laguna we drive up to Anaheim for a couple of days for some family fun.  Then down to La Jolla / San Diego for a really relaxing handful of days doing nothing but being the beach bums that we deserve.


Ok, LA, so I will give a run down of where we plan to visit during our three days*:

*love feedback and recommendations, so please comment if you have any.

California Hot Spots that Valeria Must See


Santa Monica Pier – We had been to Santa Monica in 2003;one of my favorite memories from that California trip was this beach visitin Santa Monica.  My husband surprised me with a stop, he grabbed tamales from Tamara’s on the drive over,then we had a sunset beach picnic in the middle of November.  IT WAS BEAUTIFUL BUT CHILLY!!  Well, with the girls in tow this time, I want to relive that evening. I looked up to see if Tamara’s is still open, and they are, so I would like to picnic on the beach with my family with the best tamales I had ever had..but in bathing suits catching some sun… and maybe some Sidecar Donuts, too!!

Eames House – My husband and I love Ray and Charles Eames.  So much so, that this trip we want to take a quick drive to the Pacific Palisades area to check out the Eames House.  The Eames’ designed and constructed a home like no other house in the late 40’s, which is now a landmark and we have always wanted to see in person.

WB Studio TourThis seems like a no-brainer touristy thing to do with kids. Especially, for us. Our kids are new to the whole Hollywood hype, they understand it’s a city where famous people live and make movies but they may not understand the gravity of how much goes on.  Our thought is to show them an experience behind the scenes of some movies or TV shows, with sights of back lots and props, it would be exciting for them.  Also, is it sad that I am excited to drink coffee in Central Perk on that orange couch? Or to see all the Harry Potter stuff?  I’m a huge Friends fan and HP geek, I know, I am just a geek.  But I have been having the girls watch Friends with me over the past few months to prep them for this moment, so they can be just as excited to see the set as I will be.  (This is why I had children isn’t it?)

Watts Towers– The Watts Towers is an art installation of a combination of towers, structures, sculptures, pavement and walls that were designed and built by Sabato Rodia, an Italian immigrant mason. It took him over a span of 33 years to complete this massive installation.  It is crude art, novice, but something is beautiful about it, and we have always wanted to see it in person.

Pasadena – “Oh Adam, it would be wonderful if you could meet a girl. One who’s not a mutant and hopefully comes from Pasadena“-  Please tell me I am not the only person who still quotes this movie when she hears this city name?…Blast from the Past? Anyone?  I used to have an enormous celeb crush on Brendan Fraser, and well, in that movie he was the bees knee. But any-who, Pasadena seems like a fun stop to hang out some afternoon, and well, it made the list since my handsome design geek husband wants to see the Gamble House, but I do too!! Everyone knows the Gamble House, right? It’s a hugely famous house for its owners but namely its architecture, it is Arts and Crafts style at its finest, my Gosh how beautiful.  But most of us know it as Doc Brown’s house from Back to the Future!, and well, we didn’t get the chance to see it years ago and we are rectifying that this trip!

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre/ Hollywood Walk of Fame -I mean, what respectable tourist goes to LA without hitting up the Walk of Fame or Grauman’s Chinese Theatre? I won’t let that happen to my kids. Everyone has to take photos with random stars on a sidewalk and place their hands in some famous handprints!

Hollywood sign from Mulholland Drive – Another great memory I have from our first LA trip is driving up Mulholland to see the Hollywood Sign on the hills. We had such a great time swirling up the road getting to one of the best views of that area around.  And we took our first photo of that trip up there that I have in my living room and look at every day.  We were so young. 🙂  We did also walk up to the sign that trip mentioned, but I don’t think our kids will enjoy that as much as a quick drive.

Drive through Beverly Hills –  I don’t know why I love driving through Beverly Hills, but there is something to driving down the boulevards lined with palm trees and seeing all the money I will never have in my life being spent on plastic surgery.  ha I am just joking. I want to take a quick go through to show the girls what Beverly Hills is all about..the glitz, Rodeo Drive, and just the mansions that are out of this world big.  And maybe have a celebrity sighting.  😀

Koreatown– This sounds silly, I know, but we are trying to switch our hotels around and may end up in Koreatown, which is great. I want to make a stop here anyways because I heard there is an awesome ice cream spot that has koi fish-shaped ice cream cones!! KOI SHAPED CONES!!!

Yamashiro Hollywood– A Sushi/California Asian fusion restaurant that is in the Hollywood Hills overlooking the city.  My dearest friend from Australia went to LA twice and enjoyed this restaurant both times, last time being with his family.  Every time we talk about LA he tells us we have to visit Yamashiro for the views and the cocktails.  I looked into it, and my jaw dropped with how beautiful this location is and the food looks amazing.  So, finally, Pat, I have my calendar is marked in June to make reservations to dine at Yamashiro! 🙂

Grand Central Market– My husband went to the GCM last year, kept texting me dreamy food pictures, so I learned fast that this is the mecca of all the goodness LA has to offer.  I am dying to eat at Eggslut, McConnell’s Ice Cream, and just walk around the heartbeat of the farmers market.  Also, uhm, there is a Mexican dry goods place there named Valeria…so of course, I gotta go there to see what I can buy with my name on it. Even if it’s a bag of dried beans, idc.

Broad Museum– We are museum people, after all.  Never a trip without a museum. This museum is supposed to be set up with some great contemporary art. Plus, the architecture of this building is sick and it is near Walt Disney Concert Hall! The coolest building that I want to see!


Up next is our rough list for Laguna Beach, and like I mentioned before, if you have any recommendations please don’t hesitate to message! I always reply.


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