Mike’s Travelogue: Rush to find the sunshine in Los Angeles
SPONSORED POST – There are some cities you can see in a weekend. Others take a week. But Los Angeles? Good luck. There is always something else to do, somewhere else to try, someplace else to see.
Fortunately, with two teams in town, Seattle is making two trips there this year so you can do it all! Or at least double what you’d normally experience.
As you probably know, the Los Angeles area is enormous and there is just a little bit of traffic. So it’s helpful to choose a direction for each trip and stay in that general vicinity. That leads you to your first choice: which airport should you fly into? Alaska flies direct into LAX, Burbank, Ontario, and John Wayne (Orange County). And there are advantages to each of them. LAX is the largest but the other three will get you out of the plane and into your rental car the quickest!
But the biggest difference is their location. For a trip to the West Side (Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Ray, Laguna etc.), LAX will be the closest. It is also convenient to the new stadium. Burbank is best for Hollywood, the Valley and downtown. Ontario is east of the city (also known as the Inland Empire) but is great for exploring some of the natural wonder of Joshua Tree or even a drive to Palm Springs. And John Wayne gets you closest to the theme parks in Anaheim and the beaches in Laguna, Huntington and Newport.
I lived a good portion of my life in the LA area so here are four trips to get you started:
If you have the budget to go big, stay at Shutters or the Lowes in Santa Monica. They are right by the beach and give off the perfect SoCal beach vibe. From there you are an easy walk to the Third Street Promenade with shopping, food options and people watching galore!
There are also some big hotel chain options in Marina del Rey that work well (and will be easier to get to and from the stadium).
Food wise, there is everything. California Chicken Café has the best rotisserie and chicken salads (try the Chinese chicken salad) I’ve ever had. Stop for a burger at the Shack in Playa del Rey. It is right by a small neighborhood affectionately called the Jungle that sits between the cliffs and the beach. It is as old-school Los Angeles beach living as you’ll find and most of the residents grow up there and stay there, spending their days playing beach volleyball and surfing. I got to live there for a year and it was one of my favorite spots.
Head south from Playa and go past the airport and through the Beach Cities (Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo). Manhattan has the fancy shops and restaurants (plus dozens of beach volleyball courts); Hermosa is more of a casual party scene; and Redondo is a chill spot to find a brewery or a dive and just hang out
I also lived for a while in Venice Beach. Make sure to see the workout fanatics at Muscle Beach and the famed basketball courts as well. You can also head north up the PCH to see Malibu with its celebrity retreats and local surfing spots.
Start in Downtown Los Angeles, which has been completely renovated in the last 15 years and is now a destination unto itself. Plenty of upscale restaurants and swanky hotels plus LA Live (where the arena and ESPN studios sit). If you’re there, try to make your way into one of the sushi restaurants in Little Tokyo (try Kura, the conveyor belt spot).
This is also pretty close to Beverly Hills, so there are some serious luxury hotel options. The Beverly Hilton or Beverly Hills Hotel are classic options. But I also love the SLS (with a great rooftop pool). Music fans should see the Sunset Strip and maybe see a show at the Whiskey, the Viper Room or the Roxy. You might catch a celeb sighting at Bar Marmont or at least recognize it from its numerous appearances in movies and TV shows.
Pasadena is close by also and that has an incredible arboretum, wide boulevards with great restaurants and fun shopping.
And if you have kids, this is the airport to get to Universal Studios, Hollywood tours and Burbank studios.
This is for Orange County. And that starts with Disneyland and California Adventure. Consult your local Disney expert but I like the Hyatt House down the street as an alternative to the hotels in the park.
Newport Beach has the fancy homes and upscale malls. Laguna Beach has the walkable streets with funky art galleries, shops and outdoor dining. Hard to beat fish tacos for lunch at Wahoo’s (1133 Pacific Coast Highway). Huntington Beach has more volleyball courts and surfers, but think about a breakfast burrito at The Social (21214 Beach Blvd). You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re up for a drive, head south to San Juan Capistrano or even farther to north county beaches of San Diego in Carlsbad (home of Legoland), Encinitas or Del Mar.
Or play one of the numerous golf courses. Pelican Hills gets the attention (deservedly so) but my personal favorite is Black Gold, set among the oil derricks in Yorba Linda.
I lived a few minutes away from this airport throughout college and it is more of a spot to land and venture out from than a place to stay for a week. But it’s not too far from Pasadena and you can head east to Palm Springs. But if you need a funky place for a steak dinner, Try Pomona Valley Mining Company. It sits on top of a huge hill and it has an old west vibe.
There you go! Plenty of options to keep you busy through your multiple trips to the Southland. You can go twice and still have more to see. But it’s a start!
Stadium: SoFi Stadium
Stadium Food: Burritos La Palma with the flour tortillas
Seattle haunt: Backstage Bar and Grill (Motor Avenue)