California Roadtrip: LA, Orange County, Yosemite
I just got home from a week long trip to California, and I have no words to explain exactly how amazing it was (as per usual). I have gone to California the past three previous summers with my cousin and I have declared it my second home - to be specific the Orange County area which includes Laguna and Newport Beach. I find so much peace when I am there, and I have never felt this way on any other trip I have gone in throughout my life. California gives off an amazing vibe, the people are friendly, the beaches are gorgeous and the sunsets? Breathtaking.
This year I had been itching to go to California as soon as possible. So, instead of waiting until my trip there in late summer, I was able to go with my friend - who is skeptical and not a HUGE fan about traveling to warm places. But, they loved it!
Originally, our trip involved LA, Orange County, Big Sur and Yosemite. But our plans changed rather quick, and they changed for the better! Especially after the CRAZY hassle of organizing Airbnbs, car rentals and overall planning the trip. I had never planned a trip on my own before, so this was quite the challenge... but, well worth it in the end. I have no complaints about the trip, and nothing I would change. The only really big change we made was skipping Big Sur and spending an extra day in Orange County because of the beautiful sunset and relaxed atmosphere .... and to me it feels like home.
OUR WEEK SUMMED UP
We arrived in LA at 1:30 AM and headed to our Airbnb. This year was the first time I would be visiting and touring the area of Los Angeles, and I was excited to see what it had to offer. Our Airbnb was in the perfect location, 10 minutes walk to the Grove and markets like Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Farmer Markets and Erewhon Natural Foods Market. Also, we were just a 15-30 minute Uber/Lyft ride away from West Hollywood, Downtown LA and Venice Beach. Melrose Avenue was only a 15 minute walk, but we were exhausted by the end of each day to walk over haha! Sunset was the time at which we wanted to go, but our days were SO packed that we couldn't find the energy.
We took the first day as our 'settle in day', and explored the amazing area around us. Our morning started off at IHop with fresh pancakes and a huge egg white and vegetable omelette. After breakfast, we started to head over to the Grove, but, took a different route back and explored a beautiful park with a little Museum (La Brea Tar Pits). This area was super relaxing, everyone in the park was smiling and enjoying the warm sun. The trees here were beautiful and so was the architecture - a great place to open your mind or read a good book. When we got to the Grove, we took a quick little walk around and then I grabbed my favourite healthy treat, Pressed Juicery 'Freeze'! We sat down and enjoyed the atmosphere before heading to Trader Joes to pick up some groceries for the next few days. Back at the Airbnb we decided to take a nap before heading back out to the Grove for the nightlife.
The next day we headed over to Venice Beach. It was crazy to see the 'Venice' sign in person after seeing an uncountable amount of photos of it. The whole trip felt like a dream to be honest, like I wasn't actually there. Anyway, we spent the day walking around Venice, starting off with checking out the skate park, a walk along shore and then taking the boardwalk to Muscle Beach and eventually the Santa Monica Pier. My friend spent quite a bit of time testing out the outdoor gym on at Muscle beach, I had a good laugh. This beach was filled with people doing yoga, practicing their balance and strength, it seemed like a really great place to go if you lived in the area and wanted to keep active while meeting new great people! Santa Monica pier wasn't my favourite though, there were a lot of tourists and it was packed - though the food did smell and look yummy. Definitely a place to check out at night though when the entire pier would be lit up!
Our morning started off getting to see our friends from home, who were also in LA the same time as us! We went to Hyperslow cafe, just a fifteen minute walk for each of us - since we were about a 25 minute walk apart from another's airbnb. Super cozy cafe with great aesthetics; it is also a yoga studio! We walked over to the Grove after and I browsed the stores for a bit before heading back to the airbnb. We decided to go to West Hollywood for our last day in LA. I wanted to hike the Hollywood Sign but we were exhausted from our two previous days. It was really cool to see the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign (at a distance) in person, and I am glad I got the chance too! That night we took it easy again since we would be heading off to Orange County in the morning to pick up our car rental. We walked around the farmers market at the Grove and I grabbed some pressed freeze from Pressed Juicery... again, haha! If you are wondering, 'pressed freeze' is basically a pressed juice made into an ice cream textured treat! So it is like having ice cream without as much guilt.
We headed out early after breakfast, and went to the car rental. Super Cheap Car Rental is a GREAT company to check out if your looking for a cheap rental, or if you are under the age of 25 - since in the states it costs more to rent under the age of 25. They provided us with service above and beyond our expectations and even had coffee and tea for us in the lobby. The drive to Orange County was smooth, and our car ran perfectly - not to mention it was CRAZY GOOD on gas. We started our time in OC at Fashion Island and took a quick browse through it before grabbing burritos for lunch. After this, we took a quick grocery trip to Trader Joes (our favourite) and picked up food for the night and the next couple days since we would be heading to Yosemite the day after. We were able to catch quite a bit of time before sunset and during. We walked along Laguna Beach and took some photos before heading to the Balboa Newport Pier to catch the last bit of the sunset. SO BEAUTIFUL. We then headed to our airbnb just 30 minutes away and made some dinner before passing out.
Since we decided to not drive to Big Sur, we took the day as it came. Our airbnb was up in the hills so it has this amazing balcony with a gorgeous view over Anaheim. We made coffee and sat outside and just took the scenery in before heading down to Newport. We drove quite a bit to find a Del Taco after seeing so many off the highway haha! But, on our way back we stopped in Laguna and explored the little shops and took another walk on the beach before heading to our new air bnb to drop our luggage off. We spoke to the host there and she had amazing information on where to go for photos and the prettiest sunset views. We were short on time though, so we just decided to go to Huntington Pier. Once again, another breath taking sunset.
Today we were heading off on our six hour drive to Yosemite. Our host actually had laid out a delicious breakfast platter for us with cereal, toast, spreads, fruit and a great cup of french press coffee! We packed up shortly after and headed out. The drive was not bad at all... until we realized that TWO hours of it involved driving up the mountains in Yosemite with sharp turns every five seconds! But, as we got closer the excitement rose - the view was getting better and better. The second you drive out from a tunnel in the mountain you are rewarded with a view that I have no words to explain (I'll post all the photos at the bottom). Yosemite was absolutely beautiful! We drove around the area for a bit before heading out to the Hotel to sleep. I got so nauseous on the way back down from all the turns that we were contemplating going back to Yosemite National Park the next day.
Breakfast was provided at the hotel thankfully, because we decided we should go back and explore more of Yosemite Park before driving back home - especially since we drove for six hours to get there! I am super grateful for what I got to see and experience, earth is a beautiful place and has so much for the eye to see. We left around 1:00 PM and grabbed some lunch before starting our long drive back to LAX. We made a few stops along the way and grabbed Chipotle as our final stop and meal for the day. Today was our last day in California, so we had to drop the car rental off. Unfortunately, we didn't think this through and ended up having to sleep in airport for four hours before the gates opened to the Terminals... this was beyond rough for me and I felt so sick and exhausted... We should have just sat at a Denny's for a bit.
The gates to the terminals opened at 4:00 AM, so we gathered our belongings and headed to our flight to go home. I was super upset to leave but happy to finally be able to crawl into my bed to take the longest nap of life.
The trip was absolutely amazing, no complains, nothing. Just perfect. California is definitely a place I will never get tired of visiting and I am hoping to meet new people each time I go; to connect with and explore more of what California has to offer - and to find its' hidden gem locations!