Road Tripping in Los Angeles

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Driving through Los Angeles means getting stuck in traffic. Unless you plan on staying put in one neighborhood (and why would you?) you might as well prepare yourself for the inevitable.

With every trip I have gotten better at being more patient with what is a true LA experience and reaching out to locals who are great at letting me know about travel times to avoid and expressway to skip all together. But if you do get stuck in traffic, the best thing to do is take a deep breath, find a fun tune, and enjoy the ride.

It is with this pocket full of positivity that my family and I head out to explore some favorite spots in and around Los Angeles. We started our trip with a hike on the Santa Monica Mountains (read Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains). Leaving early not only helps to avoid the heat during the hike and the crowds, but also the traffic. As we left Santa Monica, our portable Navdy system – which we brought home with us for our rental – gave us an option to take a longer path along the Pacific Coast Highway 1 which added almost an hour to our trip, but was totally worth it just for the views. It made for a great day.

The following days didn’t disappoint either. Other stops included:

Aquarium in Long Beach

We avoided traffic and made the 1+ drive to Long Beach in the early morning hours. The sunny was bright and the weekday vibe was serene in this coastal town. We had breakfast at popular Potholder Cafe (come hungry!) while people watching from their outdoor area. While I had the honor at speaking at the annual We All Grow Summit in the gorgeous Hotel Maya, my family spent their time exploring the fun and engaging marine life exhibits at the Aquarium of The Pacific. From watching sea lions play to admiring neon coral and learning about marine animal sounds, the 2+ hours just seemed to fly by.

Serenity at the aquarium

Hotel Maya lobby

Brunch in the Arts District

Located in the eastern side of Downtown LA is the Arts District, a haven for creatives, hipsters, and those who love them and the freedom of expression that it inspires. Colorful murals and trendy cafes and shops make this a fun place to explore, especially after brunch with our friends, Captain and Clark.

Troublemakers. Album to drop soon.

We got to enjoy some good eats at Zinc Cafe and Market, and of course, an impromptu Gin tasting at The Spirit Guild, because why not?

Zinc Cafe and Market

Cheers! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!


After all that walking around it only made sense to head out in search of something sweet, and no other place spoke to us more than the 30-year-old Korea town favorite of California Donuts.

Tacos at Hermosa Beach

My favorite parts of road tripping in LA are the parts that take us to the beach! They each have their own personality and vibe and I cant resist dipping my feet in the sand. When you need to escape the traffic, and if you are lucky enough to be visiting during the week, definitely find your beach and relax. In Hermosa, we got to do just that while also enjoying some shrimp tacos at Killer Shrimp. A must!

Sunset in Venice Beach

This eclectic, loud, crazy, fun, busy spot is one to check out at least once when visiting. Tip: there are tons of parking lots with various prices. We found the best spot to be on Speedway and Rose Ave., which at the time of this post was about $4 cheaper than the others and stayed opened till midnight.

If after walking the strip you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take a walk over to the beach. This is where we watched the sun set and we even got to see a whale at the distance!

The perfect navigational system is a must

Since we love using our Navdy system at home, it made sense for us to just bring it along. It was easy enough to detach and reattach to our Nissan rental.

It requires an OBD II port, which is easy to find on cars from 1996 onwards in the US. The Navdy system magnetically locks the main system into place without a problem. You also have a Dial, or thumbwheel controller. Navdy offers a service through Enjoy for those who would rather someone else connect the system, but my husband was able to do it without too much of a hassle thanks to the clear instructions.

We wanted a system that we were already comfortable with, that we were familiar with, that wasn’t dependent on us looking at our phone, but most of all that allowed us the flexibility to keep our eyes on the road. Of all the features Navdy has, that is my absolute favorite. Not just for safety reasons, but when you are driving through an unfamiliar place is helps to not have to look away from the road, and road signs, to see where you need to turn next. You can read my full Navdy review here.

Driving in Los Angeles is everything you have heard it to be. Some times are worst than others, and if possible, you just learn to avoid those. Not worrying how to get around or that you are going to get lost helps too and makes the yucky part of LA – the driving in traffic – feel really insignificant when compared to all the awesome road tripping experiences through diverse and beautiful county has to offer.



This post is sponsored by Navdy. All opinions are my own.




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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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