In March, 2017 I took a life-changing trip to California. I went to California to attend my friend Vanessa’s wedding, but extended the trip explore more of the California coastline and I am SO happy I did. California really is a whole other world, I found myself feeling right at home, like I was meant to live there.
Vanessa is one of my good friends who I met through work, so I was so happy and excited to celebrate this big day with her! Myself, and our friends Jen, Christin, & Brittany all hopped on flights from BOS —> LAX to celebrate with Vanessa & her new husband, Atul We had the most fabulous time at their wedding, every detail was just perfect & we were in the MOST beautiful location – Hotel Maya in Long Beach. Vanessa’s whole family was so amazing and welcoming, and we danced the night away.
Doesn’t the backdrop of this photo look fake?! It’s was GORGEOUS !
We flew into Cali on a Thursday night & the wedding wasn’t until Saturday evening, so we had some time to explore! I had only been to California once before when I was about 7 years old, so this west coast experience was new and exciting. I was a long time fan of the shows: Laguna Beach, the Hills, the OC, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hill & the OC, so as you can imagine, I was pretty psyched to visit all these beautiful places that I’d been seeing on TV for years.
On Friday we woke up early (partly because of the time change & partly because we were so darn excited). We had rented an SUV the night before so we put on our bathing suites & started driving south down the Pacific Coast Highway. We had been driving for maybe 20 minutes when we spotted a pier, turns out we were in Huntington Beach! We walked the pier and around the cute 1950’s style diner at the end. There was so much going on there, so many surfers, kites flying, people riding bikes, beach volleyball, the energy was so fun and contagious.
We continued driving south and came to Newport Beach, which is famous in my mind because I was obsessed with the show The OC in high school. It was a gorgeous day so we did a little shopping and they laid on the beach for a couple hours. The water there was freezing, which I was kind of surprised by, but it luckily wasn’t so hot that we felt the need to swim.
Next up was Laguna Beach! It was incredible to turn the corner on the PCH & see the amazing cliffs ahead of us. You could just tell that the homes up in those gated communities were incredible. Not going to lie, we did try to drive up into one of the communities, we didn’t go all the way to the gate, but got as close as we could without getting in trouble. I would die to see the drive through those neighborhoods and see those gorgeous homes. As we pulled down into Laguna you could just tell it was the happiest little beach community.
Laguna was probably my favorite part of this day. Once we finally found a place to park (we ended up just valeting at a restaurant because street parking is very tricky there), we found a cute place for drinks on a deck overlooking the ocean, named appropriately “Ocean View Bar & Grille” We got some yummy tropical drinks & nachos. After our boozy lunch we popped into some stores & I ended up buying a couple of cute tank tops. Every time I wear them now I’m reminded of that fabulous day.
By the time we were driving back up the PCH towards the hotel the sun was setting and it was SO PRETTY. I could seriously just drive and drive on that road and never get bored.
When we got back to the room we quickly refreshed, threw on some cali appropriate dresses and ordered an Uber to go to downtown Long beach and meet the bride & groom after their rehearsal dinner! Long Beach was so fun and energetic. I only saw it at night, but the town looked so cute, there were strings of white lights lining the streets & every restaurant had outside patios. We had a great night sipping rose & meeting some other friends & family of the bride & groom.
The next day was Saturday (the day of the wedding!) My friends wanted to lay out at the pool at our hotel but I just couldn’t help but go out to explore, I wanted to see everything I possibly could while I was there, and I knew our time was short. (I also still needed a necklace to wear with the dress I had for that night). So I headed out on my own to the big outdoor mall in Long Beach, I hit up H&M, Forever 21 & Gap. The shopping in Cali is 1,000 x better than it is here in Massachusetts. Even in basic stores like Forever 21 they had so many more options and styles than we have available here. I was able to find 2 great necklaces & a pair of “fancy” flip flops to bring to the wedding in case my heals started to kill me.
After the mall I wanted to find a place to get a smoothie because that just felt like the California thing to do. So off I went in search of my basic California lunch. It was surprisingly a lot harder to find than I expected, I ended up Yelping it and found a Jamba Juice in a town nearby. The town ended up being super cute and I was happy I had the chance to see it! (not a clue what it was called). With smoothie in hand, I headed back to the hotel to join my friends and bake in the sun for a couple hours before starting to get ready for the wedding.
We got home pretty late from the wedding but popped out of bed early again on Sunday to continue the adventure. We packed up and checked out of the hotel, we were due to check into the Ritz Carlton in Marina Bay for our last night. We drove up the 405 towards LA, the traffic wasn’t bad since it was a Sunday and we go there in no time.
First stop was Beverly Hills – Literally I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more beautiful place. Everything was so manicured and perfect, the streets and sidewalks were so wide and lined with palm trees. All the landscaping was immaculate, it almost looked fake. People were out running, walking their dogs and everyone just looked so relaxed and happy. The perfect city mixed with the perfect weather just made it seem like heaven.
We went to the Beverly Hills Hotel for breakfast and ate at the Cabana Cafe next to the pool. It was so fun to people watch all the guests that probably frequent the hotel, it’s like a whole other world there. A $32.00 egg white omelette later, and we left the cafe to explore a little more of the hotel. We stuck our heads in the ballroom, the Polo Lounge, Fountain Coffee Room, and of course the gift shop. I spent more $$ than I’d like to admit on hotel paraphernalia – including the hotels signature scent in perfume form – which i highly recommend, you can get it here.
After our self-guided tour of the Beverly Hill Hotel we went to Rodeo Drive and did our best to pretend like we belonged there. We got a drink at Villa Blanca (shout out to Lisa Vanderpump) and then went to Kyle by Aleen Too (shout out to Kyle Richards) – the only things I could afford were the lace thongs, so that’s what I bought (lol).
From Rodeo we drove into Hollywood and walked the Star walk of fame, went in to the Dolby Theatre, and got some fro-yo. I was sooo not impressed with Hollywood, it was dirty and crowded, so we basically left as soon as possible. We headed over to Marina Bay and checked into the Ritz. It was such a nice hotel, right on the water & I heard it’s where contestants on the apprentice stay when they’re on the show. We went out in Marina Bay that night but it was pretty low key since we were leaving on an early flight the next day.
We ended up having to take an earlier flight than we had planed due to a snowstorm back in Boston. I was so sad to cut the trip short since I was so obsessed with Cali, but it’s just and excuse to to back asap. I decided that my dream is now to honeymoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel (someone be sure to mention that to my future husband, k?)