One day in LA

To celebrate Brandon’s college graduation and our 5th wedding anniversary, I planned a surprise trip to California—the first of our 50 in 5 journey. Brandon knew to take a week off of work, but he had no idea where we were going. Though he had some guesses, he was truly stunned when we pulled into the airport parking lot for our flight to LAX. #NailedIt

Our weeklong trip began with one day in LA before hitting Highway 1 for our drive to San Francisco. Even with a tight timeline, I had a lot of stops I wanted to squeeze in, and we ended up having a great day while seeing many of the sights.

LA eats

I am sure there are a thousand awesome restaurants in Los Angeles, and I hope to try many of them someday. But I had a special vision for our first meal of the day—breakfast at the diner from “The O.C.” When Brandon and I met and became friends, we bonded over our mutual love of “The O.C.” and its perfect indie-pop soundtrack. The diner is actually located at the Redondo Beach Pier, which wasn’t very far from our hotel in Torrance. 10/10 for nostalgia, 5/10 for food. Still loved it.

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Redondo Beach Pier
Where are you, Seth Cohen?

We ate burgers & fries for lunch at In-N-Out on Sunset Boulevard… couldn’t start a trip in California any other way. Brandon was in heaven! Our dinner was at James’ Beach in Venice Beach. I was cold and starving, and when I saw their glowing sign, I said “that’s it!” before realizing that James’ Beach was a filming location for one of my very favorite comedies, “I Love You, Man.” We had the fish tacos, of course.

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: In-N-Out
Do you need that many fries? Yes, yes you do.

LA sights

I had my heart set on visiting the Griffith Observatory, and since Brandon didn’t get to weigh in on the trip planning I had no one to deter me from living my best tourist life. Griffith was at the top of my list because of its beautiful architecture and its view of the Hollywood sign. Also, I had recently watched “La La Land” at the time I was planning our itinerary. It was Mother’s Day, and there were so many sweet families with young kiddos having picnics on the front lawn.

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Griffith Observatory

In the afternoon we drove over to Beverly Hills. We parked on the street in an affable neighborhood and walked over to the Beverly Hilton, where we spent a few moments auto-watching. People-watching might seem more likely, but no. Brandon had a fit over the number of Rolls Royce Phantoms and the fact that “the owners just let valets drive them like it’s nothing!”

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Beverly Hilton
Visiting the Beverly Hilton was worth it just to see this enormous succulent wall.

A Google search for nearby ice cream led us to Rodeo Drive, which actually wasn’t one of our intended destinations. I was desperate for something cold because my jaw was on fire (an undiagnosed infected wisdom tooth I dealt with for the entire trip). I didn’t have a “Pretty Woman” moment in any of the stores, but we did visit a Sugarfina for the first time, which was life-changing. We ended the day at Venice Beach, and I will never forget our stroll along the Venice Canals. The boardwalk had a fun vibe, but I could return and spend an entire day at the canals, no question about it. Brandon – can we buy a home on the canals?

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Venice Beach

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Venice Canals

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Venice Canals

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Venice Beach

Can't-miss things to do in LA when you only have one day to visit: Venice Beach

Next time

We’ll be back! One day in LA was the perfect way to start 50 in 5, but I’d love to return and spend more time in the city and the nearby beaches. On our next trip, I’d like to visit LACMA, the Museum of Ice Cream, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Santa Monica, and take a Warner Bros. Studio Tour. What else should be on the list?

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