California Dreamin’

Ever since I could imagine, one of my dreams was to go to California, specifically Los Angeles, because that’s where all the famous people live (according to pre-teen Emily). I’m happy to say that this dream of mine was fulfilled just about two weeks ago, when my older brother and I left the east coast to spend a few days in California.

This trip was something we have been talking about for quite some time. He’s a year older than me, but stayed in school an extra year, so we both graduated this past May. The idea started as a post-grad trip to Europe for a few weeks. However, with the travel warning and all that fun stuff, we decided to reconsider our options. About a week and a half before we actually left, we decided to make our destinations San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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We landed in San Francisco at around 1:00, got an Uber to our hotel, relaxed for a bit, then went out to explore. First we ate a late lunch/early dinner at the Burger Bar — it was close to our hotel and we were starving when we landed, so we had to settle for something, even if it wasn’t the best quality. We walked around the area we were staying near (Union Square) and Nob Hill, another neighborhood. After a bit of exploring (and a lot of walking up very steep hills), we stopped in a bar to get a drink and catch the end of the Stanley Cup Finals. We had a very early night and I ended up falling asleep at around 9:00! Gotta love jetlag!

The next day was probably my favorite day of the entire trip. After breakfast at the hotel, we got an Uber to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, then walked down to Fort Point, where we had an amazing view of the bridge! I had heard of a place called Lands End that offered a view of the bridge from the other side; we headed there and we had no idea what we were in for. All I can say is I’m glad I wore comfortable clothes and sneakers! We hiked down to Mile Rock beach, stopping for breathtaking views along the way. After hiking back up to where we started, we went to Golden Gate Park to walk around and relax for a bit. We didn’t end up eating lunch that day, but after heading back to the hotel to charge our phones and give our feet a break, we went to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies (cue Full House theme song) and were very disappointed to find that the park was under construction and there was nowhere to sit and enjoy the view and the gorgeous weather. We headed back towards Union Square, walked to/around SoMa and the Financial District, then finally went to dinner at 21st Amendment Brewery. My favorite thing I got was the Hell or High Watermelon beer (pictured below). I mean, come on, who can deny a watermelon flavored beer?! After a very long day of walking, unexpected hikes, and being a tourist, we called it a night and got some rest.

I woke up the next day and my feet and legs were SO sore from the hiking/walking we did the previous day! We headed to Twin Peaks for yet another outdoor adventure but were rewarded with an outstanding view of the city. We then got lunch at In n’ Out (my first experience!). Later, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, which honestly was my least favorite part of San Francisco. It was, as the locals described it, the Times Square of San Francisco. Completely filled with tourists and overpriced boardwalk-like stores and restaurants, I immediately realized this was not the place for me. We quickly walked around just to experience it, then walked to the super crooked street, Lombard Street. Then, we went to the hotel, freshened up, and headed to grab some dinner. We found a place in North Beach called Il Casaro. After spending a semester in Italy, I’ve become a bit of a pizza snob, for obvious reasons. However, I was thoroughly impressed with this place! It had to be the best pizza I’ve consumed since being in Italy, the land of pizza. We hung out in Washington Square for a bit, grabbed a drink at a local bar, then headed back to our hotel.

Next stop: Los Angeles

The following day, we hopped on a flight to our second and final destination. We landed in the City of Angels at around 1:00pm, checked into our hotel in Beverly Hills, then grabbed a bite to eat in Hollywood. We then walked to Hollywood Boulevard to see the Walk of Fame, which was probably my least favorite part of Los Angeles because of all the tourists. (Seeing a pattern here??) Then, of course we had to go up to the Griffith Observatory to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign. *cue Miley Cyrus’s Party in the U.S.A* It was a spectacular view and a beautiful afternoon, but the lighting wasn’t all that great for pictures.

For our final day of the trip, we went over to Santa Monica in the morning, walked around the 3rd Street Promenade — my happy place — and shopped for a bit, then walked to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, so we took in the #views and decided to take the two mile walk down the coast to Venice Beach. What an adventure that was. Venice Beach was interesting, to say the least, but it’s definitely not my scene. I’m glad I was able to experience it, though — definitely something I’ll never forget. We then went to grab a beer at Firestone Walker Brewery, and got dinner at a pizza place in West Hollywood. We had to be up early to catch our flight back home, so we just went back and hung out at the hotel.

It was such an awesome mini-vacation and I’m so glad I got to experience it with my older brother. I think I caught the travel bug again because I’ve been itching for another adventure since I got home!

Any suggestions for a future trip? Let me know! :)

xx Emily

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