This last February, my boyfriend Spencer and I took a trip back to Los Angeles for Valentine’s Day weekend. If you didn’t know, he and I are both from the area! It had been about three years since the last time either of us had visited home, and it felt so dang good to be back. We wandered around each of our old neighborhoods, ate such good food, AND even saw Tiger Woods (like, wut). Overall…that trip basically reinforced everything I already knew to be true, that I want to move back home ASAP, alright! I am so grateful we were able to visit before all of this corona craziness happened. This trip was very much us playing tourists and I loved every second. Today, I’ll be sharing some highlights and photos from our trip in this recap post. I hope you enjoy!
Day 1 – Planning, Where we Stayed, and First Activities
When we planned this trip, we actually ended up booking two departing and returning flights from different airports. Surprisingly, neither to LAX. It made our traveling costs a lot cheaper, especially since we knew we needed to get a hotel and a rental car in addition to just getting there. If you’re trying to save costs, definitely weigh booking one-way flights to/from different airports to see if that gets you better results.
We flew into Burbank early on the morning of February 13th. Believe me when I say I could barely contain myself once we were actually flying within California confines haha. Immediately after we landing and picking up our rental car, we LITERALLY made a beeline for In-N-Out. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Dina, why would you go straight to a fast food chain that is also in Texas? Well, because In-N-Out in Southern California just hits different, mkay. Trust me!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Westdrift in Manhattan Beach. We chose this hotel not only because we were able to get a good deal, but because it was more central to the general areas we wanted to be around. I grew up in Hawthorne, which is literally blocks away. Sidenote: when I mentioned where we were staying to my parents, I learned that my family had actually stayed at that same hotel right before we ended up moving to Hawthorne (probably 1997 ish). So wild!
Anyways, Westdrift was so nice – it is absolutely beautiful, and the staff was so incredibly friendly. There is a golf course on the premises and a really nice gym, which we went to approximately once haha. Most importantly – it’s within walking distance to Peet’s Coffee, my one true love.
Our first night there, we hung out around the Downtown Manhattan Beach area. For dinner, we went to Simmzy’s, a gastropub of sorts. Their grilled white shrimp salad was hands down one of the BEST salads of my entire life. We soon followed up with dessert at Gelato & Angels. Spencer had their very popular ice cream spaghetti! Important note for any fellow lactose intolerant people – this wonderful establishment offers vegan and dairy-free options!
Day 1 Travel Outfit
Day 2 – Valentine’s Day
I would be remiss to say that we literally went to Peet’s Coffee every waking chance we got. Mostly because as I mentioned before, I am obsessed with this coffee chain. If I am ever in the vicinity of a Peet’s, you can bet your ass I’ll be all up in there as much as possible. The start of this morning was no different, we went to Peet’s after a quick gym session to start our day.
We decided to spend the afternoon driving up to Malibu, where we went to Malibu Farm for lunch. Honestly, 10/10, deserves all the clout. There are some really cute shops along the pier and general area with all the aesthetic souvenirs.
Day 2 Daytime Outfit
That night, we ventured to the Santa Monica Pier and wandered around for a while taking in the sights! We even saw a proposal happen on the pier, haha. Spencer wanted to try UOVO, an Italian restaurant, for dinner and despite the fact that we waited a whole eternity to be seated (SO packed), it was well worth it. My only tiny critique was that there was no bread appetizer to be had since their whole menu is literally just their freshly made pasta. I love bread. Insert (minor) heartbreak here. But in all seriousness, the pasta was amazing and we loved it!
Day 3: Dreamy Donuts, Tiger Woods, and a lot of walking.
Spencer has gotten us tickets to the Genesis Invitational on our third day in town. We woke up early, and after (you guessed it) a trip to Peet’s, we headed back up to Santa Monica. I had been dying to go to Sidecar Donuts ever since seeing Kristin Johns talk about them in an old video, and oh my gosh. I said it then and I will say it now – these are the donuts of my DREAMS. Absolute perfection and yes, I think of these donuts often. I chose the huckleberry donut, and Spencer got the Mamba Donut. 💛💜
The Genesis Invitational was actually very fun – and this is coming from someone who isn’t nearly as obsessed about golf (sorry, Spencer). I will say that golf, similar to baseball, is 10x more interesting in-person than it is on TV. We saw Tiger up close and personal (!!!) which was honestly just BEYOND. My Grandpa loved golf and really loved Tiger, so that made it all the more amazing to actually see this man in person.
As a ~blogger~ I also feel inclined to say that I wore my beloved Treasure & Bond boots this ENTIRE day. They were perfectly comfy despite the MILES on MILES that were walked.
After the tournament, we headed up to Melrose to check a few more things off my personal list – Glossier and Verve Coffee. Verve is very trendy, VERY aesthetically pleasing and I did genuinely enjoy the coffee. Honestly, cute coffee shops are my love language. Have you noticed I just really love coffee?
When we walked down to Glossier, I honestly had no idea what to really expect, but let me tell you – I was not expecting there to be a massive line out the door and down the block. Apparently this is the norm, so if you’re planning on going (post-corona of course), plan accordingly! I was in no mood to wait in line so instead, I made Spencer take photos of me on the street haha. :’)
Day 3 Outfit
As if we hadn’t done a lot on this day already, we then scurried to DTLA.
I am so very fond of DTLA. It holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of all the times my dad would take my brother and I down there to the public library, which was just MASSIVE and had every book I could have ever wanted in my elementary-aged life.
The last time we had visited DTLA was three years ago during our senior year, and during that trip we had the most INCREDIBLE tacos from Guisados. I swear, every time we talk about LA (which is very often), we talk about those tacos. It was guaranteed that we had to go again. Guisados was also in the season finale of Insecure, okay, so you know it’s legit. If you ever go, their agua de melón is also amazing and reminds me of my childhood. We also ran into a movie set while down there, which was probably one of the most LA things we could have asked for.
Day 4: Hawthorne, Long Beach, and Saying Goodbye
Our last day was spent going from my old neighborhood in Hawthorne, to Spencer’s in Long Beach. It is just so trippy to drive down all the old streets that still look just the same even though so much time has passed.
We had some time, so we wandered around Second Street in Long Beach which has so many boutiques and restaurants. One place in particular that Spencer and his family absolutely love is Sweet Jill’s Bakery! The cinnamon rolls are to die for. They also have phenomenal rice crispy treats among a vast assortment of other pastries. When I initially posted an IG video of the cinnamon rolls, I got SO many comments on it. Believe me, it does taste as good as it looks!
We also visited Domenico’s for lunch – Spencer’s favorite restaurant in the world. Each time he goes, he always has to take a pizza home with him (same goes for Spinato’s in Tempe lol). This time we also managed to bring some for his family. I almost forgot about this part, but on our flight home, Spencer left all this pizza ON THE PLANE after deboarding. He then somehow managed to enlist a bunch of people to help him recover the missing pizza. Honestly, it’s a miracle it wasn’t thrown away haha. This trip was definitely exciting down to the very last second.
Day 4 Outfit
I hope you enjoyed this travel post! After so many months of literally staying at home other than going to the store, I am that much more excited for future travels once it’s safe. And I can’t wait until we return to LA. Honestly, this trip was everything I wanted and more. Until next time!