Here's your #1 hike to do in Ojai Valley...
Shelf Road is an ideal hiking trail for a quick visit to the Ojai Valley. It's an out and back trail and you can start from either end. Although there's no huge inclines, there are switchbacks built into the mountain sides along the trail, so you can take a detour and gain some elevation. When you do this, you get amazing views of the valley. The trail goes along the valley with views of the surrounding mountains, orange groves, and farms down below. The trail is wide and dogs are welcome. I'd definitely recommend checking out this trail the next time you're here.Read full story
If you're looking for love, you've found it at the Love Cafe!
On a recent weekend trip to Ojai, I was lucky enough to stop at the Love Social Cafe for a quick breakfast before hiking. This place is a total locals spot. You can tell because the vibe is chill and calm, and everyone looks like they come here every weekend. They have a full breakfast menu along with normal coffees and teas. I had the breakfast tacos, and although they were pretty average, they still hit the spot. They have a large outdoor patio area with views of the mountains, and lovely quotes on the walls about mindfulness, joy, and connection. They really take their name to heart!Read full story
If you're looking for an upscale and unique outdoor dining experience... look no further.
One of the most special dining experiences I've had was at The Ranch House in Ojai, just an hour from LA. This upscale Californian restaurant is so unique. It's in a garden setting, with half the restaurant looking out at a rose garden and winding walking paths, while the other is amongst a bamboo forest with small rivers of water flowing through, and terraced tables into the hillside covered in trees. The food is delicious, and is usually a pre-fixed menu. It's pricey, but worth it for a special occasion. I had the ahi and loved it. Their dirty martinis were also superb.Read full story
Stories Bookstore and Cafe is a hipsters dream come true
Stories is a staple in Echo Park. It's right on Sunset in the middle of all the action. It's a bookstore selling both used and new books, and also has a full cafe inside. The cafe is great and sells an assortment of your average coffee, and also a food menu. The magic happens in the back though, where their patio is. If you want a peak at hipster culture, just take a look at this patio. People come here mainly to work on laptops, have a chat with a friend, or read peacefully. Be aware though that the patio fills up fast - every time I've been here the seats are always taken!Read full story
Who knew that Echo Park actually had a lake? I didn't!
I've been spending more time on the east side of LA recently, and didn't know that Echo Park had a lake! Just south of Sunset where all the cool bars and restaurants are in Echo Park, is Echo Park Lake. It's really beautiful and seems to have been recently renovated. There used to be an issue with unhoused individuals taking over the space, but they've done something to avoid that from happening anymore. It makes for a peaceful and beautiful experience. You can rent boats and take them around the lake, and even take out some fun swan pedal boats. There are beautiful lily pads throughout, and you can walk around the lake on a footpath trail. Many people were having picnics and enjoying the view.Read full story
This was some of the best Japanese food I've had!
Full Moon Izakaya in Ojai is a must for your next weekend trip out of LA. Their fish is really fresh and not too badly priced either, considering how good it is. They have great appetizers including fried corn fritters. The salmon carpaccio was delicious and was really interesting because it was sashimi with olive oil, so it was a fusion of cuisines. My favorite was the salmon handroll and the assortment of fresh sashimi. Their soy sauce was also extremely good but not too salty.Read full story
One of my favorite nearby restaurants is The Cloverfield in Santa Monica
Living on the West side of LA, sometimes I feel like there aren't a ton of nearby restaurants that have big outdoor seating patios. The Cloverfield is a great go-to option for outdoor dining and is a short drive from the North-West side of the city. They have a really good menu and great service. It's right by the Santa Monica airport on Airport Ave, so it's surrounded by other restaurants or shops which makes it feel private and quiet. It's also right across the street from a recreation center which makes for some good entertainment.Read full story
I discovered my new favorite bookstore!
DIESEL, A Bookstore, is a great bookstore located in Brentwood in the Country Mart shopping village. It has a huge selection of fiction and nonfiction, and a great section for kids books. I have a bunch of nieces and nephews who love to read, so I will come back here for their birthdays! I like that they had books for younger children too. Before COVID, they used to host events and have people into their store in the evenings. They do have online events happening currently though, and are usually interviews or panels with authors of books that they are promoting. Fun fact - they have a sister location in San Diego!Read full story
I just discovered the Brentwood Country Mart and know where I'll be hanging this weekend!
I've lived on the West side of LA for a while now, but never knew the Brentwood Country Mart existed. I always thought the Country Mart was what you could see from the street from San Vicente and 26th St., but apparently there's a whole little village inside the shops! There are twists and turns and small little alleys connecting so many stores, it's like a high-end maze! There are high-end clothing stores, jewelry shops, book stores, grocery stores and dessert shops, and a very cool food court in the center with 3-4 different restaurants. They have an order at the counter style, and a bunch of tables in the center. It felt very convivial and friendly and seemed like people were having a fun time. There's also free valet if you're going to a shop in the Mart. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity sightings!Read full story
I was less than impressed with the LA Fitness gym in Westwood
Now that COVID-19 has subsided a bit in LA, I started looking into joining a gym once again. I toured a few places and was hopeful about the LA Fitness location in Westwood because it's close to where I live and was looking for somewhere I could zip over too quickly. However, I won't be joining as a new member. They gave me a tour which was nice and the sales associate was informed and friendly, but the space itself seemed pretty bland and basic. Although the bottom floor did have a pretty large weight room, I just didn't feel excited about working out there. There wasn't a fun or high-energy vibe throughout the gym, and it felt sort of depressing. I joined F45 instead!Read full story
The Shed is a surprisingly cool venue in downtown LA
You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but this event space and music venue, The Shed, is owned by a law firm, Miller Law Associates. They had such a huge space in their lot that they decided to convert this large shed into a venue, and it's super cool! The space feels like an industrial barn, and it was a great site for this concert that I went to put on by Sofar Sounds LA. The location is right in the middle of the Arts District in downtown LA, so it's a great spot to catch or show or attend a party because you can grab a drink before or after at a bunch of nearby places.Read full story
Pannikin Coffee is a cool historic coffee house in Encinitas
Most people in North San Diego know about Pannikin Coffee. It's a pretty iconic spot and it's easy to see why when you go. The building is bright yellow and looks like a house, but is actually a converted railroad station from the 1880s. There's a bunch of outdoor seating in the front, and they have some lounge chairs on the corner under some trees. Indoors they have an area that looks like an old pharmacy, but is now being used to sell coffee and other kitchen and home goods. There's also an indoor seating area with a cool loft space, perfect for reading or studying.Read full story
Pali Wine Co is my new favorite wine bar
I really liked Pali Wine Co in downtown LA. They had a great tasting room and a really extensive list of wines by the glass, bottle, or flight. They built out a parklet on the street too which was a nice was to enjoy the scene and people watching in the area. The Arts District has a bunch of fun restaurants and bars so this would be a good place to stop before dinner. I had a glass of Pinot Noir which wasn't terribly expensive and was delicious. They also serve some food items to nibble which you're drinking. Next time I go I want to sit inside because the bar was so cool!Read full story
I've been to a lot of Zinque Cafe locations, but this was my first time at this one!
I'm a big fan of all the Zinque Cafe locations across LA and Orange County, but had never been to the one in the Arts District in downtown LA. This one had a huge indoor space, and a really expansive outdoor patio too. I was there during the day on a Friday and it was surprisingly full, probably with many people working nearby on their lunch breaks. They have a happy hour in the afternoon that I took advantage of with a snack of potato taquitos and a fun sparkling soda. The outdoor patio was really pretty and had a lot of plants all around, and had a fountain in the middle of the space.Read full story
I lucked out and got to see the USC Roski Graduate Building Art Exhibit
In the Arts District in downtown LA, I stumbled upon the USC Roski Art Exhibit. This is the site of the USC Gayle Garner Roski School of Art and Design, which houses their MFA Design program and the MFA Art and MA Curatorial Practices and the Public Sphere graduate programs. The space is modern and hip, and they had a free gallery open to the public. It was really fun to see the students' creations. There was just one security guard there letting people in and ensuring they were wearing a mask. You had to check in online to make sure you weren't experiencing any COVID symptoms, but besides that one step it was easy to view the gallery.Read full story
Verve Coffee Roasters in downtown LA is a great place to get some work done
This Verve Coffee Roasters location is in the Arts District in downtown LA. It's in a really cool area, right next door to one of the most famous and fancy restaurants in LA, Bavel. The indoor space is beautiful and really large and expansive. I liked that the area was really fresh and crisp and it felt clean inside. People were sitting indoors without masks on but it felt safe. They had a great menu of lunch options like avocado toast along with delicious-looking pastries and sweets. I liked that they also had an outdoor patio where people were chatting and working. I'll definitely come back here the next time I'm in the area.Read full story
I went to a concert at the Linden Lofts Apartments in Long Beach
I went to a concert through a company called Sofar Sounds at the Linden Lofts Apartments in downtown Long Beach. The artists and the music was great, but I wasn't too into the location. The building was kind of old and run down, and the courtyard where the concert was held wasn't very new or modern. There was a game room that we had to go through to get to the courtyard, and that was kind of cool, but it looked like it hadn't been updated in years. The area around the building looked nice enough, but definitely thought the location could have been nicer.Read full story
Ballast Point Brewery in Long Beach is a really cool place
I had a great time at Ballast Point Brewery in Long Beach over the weekend. The location is amazing - it's at the very end of a marina and is surrounded by water on the patio. Unfortunately I couldn't get a table outside because the wait was too long, but the indoor space was just as cool. They had floor to ceiling windows where you can watch boats go by in the harbor, and a really large indoor space for dining and drinking. I sat at the bar and had a flight of beers, which were all really good.Read full story
The Apple store in the Century City mall has really great customer service
I needed to return an iPhone case to the Apple store in the Century City mall and was really pleased by their customer service. Usually you can't go into the store unless you have an appointment, but they let me in even though they were really busy. The service counter at the end of the store handled by return easily, even though I was past the two weeks since I bought the product. They didn't even bring it up and handled the transaction really quickly and kindly. Their whole operation was really buttoned up.Read full story
Wahoo's Fish Taco is my favorite casual taqueria for fish tacos
Wahoo's has a bunch of locations in Orange County. The location in San Clemente is great - good service, they get the food out quickly, and it's really close to the ocean which makes it perfect picnic food. I got a healthy burrito bowl and tried their new cauliflower rice which was actually really delicious. I liked their cilantro dressing too.Read full story