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 we decided to take the 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!
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. For more on this great destination read: Los Angeles from a New Yorker’s Point of View.