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Stacey Kasdorf

Anniversary trip to Los Angeles

Jason and I went to Los Angeles for our 10 year anniversary trip and it was SO much fun. I had the best time planning everything and we were able to fit so much in to just four days. I’ll share everything we did, and what we would do differently next time. The reason we picked LA is a) because Jason had never been, b) Westjet now flies direct to LA from Winnipeg so no waisted time on layovers and c) there is SO much to do! My parents were able to watch the girls, and they barely even missed us. It made it easier to enjoy our trip knowing they were in good hands and having fun with their cousins. Our favourite areas were Huntington Beach & Newport Beach. We liked staying in WEHO so that we were close to the hikes I wanted to do and we were closer to Malibu for dinner, but staying right in LA we probably wouldn’t do again. The traffic just gets pretty bad. We were also very underwhelmed by Santa Monica/Venice Beach. I would not go back. They felt very touristy and a little dirty. If you have to pick one beach I’d stick to the Huntington Beach area. Malibu also has beautiful beaches with cliffs if you have time to drive up and see them! All of the details are below. Send me a DM if you have any questions about our trip!







Rental Car

We used Turo for the first time. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s like Airbnb for cars. People can sign up with their own personal cars and rent them out to people. There is a risk that they cancel right before your trip, but it’s rare because then they would get a bad rating. When booking just make sure to check the reviews/ratings on the owners. If you’re going to LA, definitely use the guy we used, Success. He was amazing. You can see his list of vehicles here. Got to the airport asap once we landed, and was there when we arrived back at the airport. Jason was in charge of this part of the trip, so he obviously picked a supercar. He chose a bright greeny/yellow corvette convertible. At first I rolled my eyes, but it was actually a highlight of our trip! It was so fun to drive up and down the coast with the top down looking out at the ocean. I do recommend getting some kind of convertible, especially right in LA, because there are so many hills and it’s nice to be able to look up and see what’s around (like nice houses).


Accommodation

Our first two nights we stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach. It is such a beautiful hotel. The grounds are huge, and there’s a big pool, slides, an adult hot tub area, a spa, a gym and a few restaurants. It’s right on the ocean, so our view was incredible. We went swimming in the ocean a few times and walked along the beach one morning. To note, you have to pay for valet and a resort fee on top of our original booking. It’s a pricier hotel, but it was only for two nights so we thought it was worth it for the location!


The second two nights we stayed at The London in West Hollywood. This hotel was in such a great location, walking distance to a lot of cute restaurants and shops. The lobby and restaurant were also stunning and the rooms were HUGE. Like so much room, I couldn’t believe it. Each room also has their own little terrace. The bathrooms were also huge, and the shower had two shower heads and a big bathtub. Again, valet for our car was additional. There is a complimentary breakfast, which was an amazing buffet. They also have the most stunning rooftop pool, and it’s only for guests. I know some hotels in LA have events and are open to the public, which could be annoying. This one was quiet and had amazing views, and you could order food and drinks.


Restaurants

Ole Smoky

We just found this place while walking around Huntington Beach area. It was a bit of a sports bar, but the food was really good. I probably had the best Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich I’ve ever had there. It also had a patio with a view of the ocean which is where we sat!


Tanner’s

This is the restaurant in the Pasea Hotel. It has a rooftop bar, and then the restaurant below with views of the ocean. We sat on the patio which was so beautiful and the food was really great.


Lighthouse Café

We stopped here after we went whale watching in Newport Beach. It was a small café right on the water, with views of the marina. We sat on the patio and loved the views and the portions were big and really good, we both loved our food! The service was terrible, but the food and location made up for it.


Javier’s

This place was recommended to us by a few people and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere is so cool and the décor is beautiful. It’s upscale Mexican, and the chips and salsa to start are amazing. We both loved our food, and we’d definitely go back here! There are a few locations around LA.


Dailog Cafe

We found this in walking distance from our hotel in WEHO. Again the food was so good, and we each got a smoothie that was so good as well. We sat on the patio which was really cute.


Geoffrey’s

We wanted to do one dinner in Malibu, and had originally wanted to go to Nobu, but it’s so hard to get a table, so we opted for Geoffrey’s. The views were stunning, the restaurant sits right on a cliff in Malibu. The food wasn’t our favorite here, but the views were beautiful.


Body Energy Club

Jason picked this place because it had protein powder he could put in his smoothie. I wanted to go somewhere closer so we could spend more time by the pool, but he insisted, so we went. It actually turned out to be the biggest and best Acai bowl I’ve ever had. Highly recommend going here!


Casa Madera

This one was a highlight for me. It was the one restaurant I was looking forward to the entire trip and it did not disappoint. It’s in the Mondrian hotel, and the décor/ambiance is just stunning. It was so so beautiful. The food was also incredible. We got the hummus and pita to start, which was made in house, and it was soo good! Jason got a burger and fries, and I got this salad that was in a huge bowl and also amazing. I definitely wanna go back here one day!


Dessert

We tried Insomnia Cookies (good), California Donuts (not great), milk & cookies (amazing) and the Donuttery (best donuts I’ve ever had, get the blueberry!)


Activities

Newport Beach Whale Watching

This was definitely a highlight! I rented through the Newport Coastal Adventures and they were great. I choose the zodiac boat so that we could go faster. I’d definitely recommend this over a bigger slower boat! Our guide was so knowledgeable, and driving from the dock to the ocean you got so many amazing views of multi-million dollar homes. We went so fast really far out into the ocean, and she spotted a pod of dolphins pretty quickly. There were about 200-300 she said. We drove with them for about 30 minutes, it was incredible! They jumped up all around our boat. Then we went in search of a whale. She spotted one and we got to see it come up a few times. It was a Minky whale. It didn’t get too close to our boat, but it was still fun to see. I’d definitely recommend doing this!


Renting Bikes Huntington Beach

This was also so much fun. We rented bikes right in front of the Hyatt on the beach, and then biked all along the path to Newport Beach. The views along the ocean are beautiful, and once you get into Newport you bike all alongside these beautiful homes and the ocean.


Flytographer

I wanted to get photos of just Jason and I for our anniversary, and I’m so glad we did them at Huntington Beach Pier! I love whenever I’ve seen pier photos and our photographer Candace was so amazing. I highly recommend getting photos done if you’re on vacation. They make the best memories! You can use code STACEYK to save $50 off your shoot too until the end of December!


Swam in the Ocean

We felt like kids doing this. We couldn’t believe how strong the undercurrent and waves were. I have multiple videos of us just being thrown over and smashing into the sand. We were laughing and jumping in the waves and it was so fun. One time I got a lot of water in my ears, so I called it quits, but Jason went to rent a boogie board to try out. He said it was pretty hard and he kept getting thrown around in the waves with it. It was a lot of fun but we said the girls could never do it because the waves were too strong. We did see kids just playing right where the water met the sand and running back and forth and they loved it.


Rooftop Pool

Our hotel in WEHO had a rooftop pool and it was so beautiful! We spent a few hours here, and I read and swam and Jason napped. It was such beautiful weather and so nice and relaxing. The rest of our trip was go go go, so this was a nice break.


Runyon Canyon Hike

This is the hike that everyone says to do, and it was definitely beautiful. We just did the shorter loop, I think it’s the E trail, and it took us under an hour, so it was quick. This is a good option if you don’t have a lot of time. The parking is a bit tricky, you kind of just have to find street parking on North Drive. We were lucky to get a spot right near the top, but you may need to park and walk a few blocks and walk to the entrance which is fine.


Hollywood Sign Hike

This hike we loved a lot more. It’s twice as long, maybe even more, but the views were just stunning. You can hike up to a lookout point kind of infront of the Hollywood sign, which would take less time, but then you can keep going right to the top and be behind the Hollywood sign. It is fenced off, so you can’t get right behind it, but it gives you the most amazing views of the city. It took us just over 2 hours, but we did run down the second half of the trail, so it may be longer if you’re walking.


Driving up the coast

This was definitely a highlight in the corvette! One night we went and grabbed donuts and just drove from Huntington Beach up to Laguna. It was so fun driving through the towns along the way, smelling the ocean air and seeing the beautiful houses. The drive up to Malibu was also beautiful. There’s some really pretty cliffs and beaches in that area.


Renting bikes in Santa Monica/Venice Beach

As I said above, this area was not our favourite. The bike ride was fun, and Venice had a lot going on with people just being out and active which was nice to see, and we obviously saw muscle beach, but not an area we need to visit again. Maybe if you had your kids with you the Santa Monica pier would be more fun.


Prices

We spared no expense because it was our 10 year anniversary trip, but you could definitely do this trip on a budget! The flights are already affordable, and you could choose less expensive hotels and obviously rent a less expensive vehicle. We want to go back with the girls one day, and we said we’d just eat at fast food restaurants with them, rent a cheaper SUV, not go whale watching, and maybe do Disney one day. There is so much to do in California I feel like we just scratched the surface. I can’t wait to go back!


Flights: $700

Hyatt Huntington Beach: $1609CAD + 193.76 USD (resort fee and valet)

Corvette (with Insurance & fees): $750 USD

Food: $675 USD

The London WEHO: $1200 CAD +199.42USD (valet)

Renting Bikes: $20 (Santa Monica), $40 (Huntington), Boogie Board $6 USD

Flytographer: $385 USD

Whale Watching: $188.90 USD (if you went on a bigger boat its less expensive)

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