The notion of “planning a trip to LA” seems somewhat absurd to me at first thought. As a native Los Angeleno, when I travel home to LA from Chicago, I get on a plane, drive to my family’s house and commence typical everyday Southern Californian life. Sure, I’ll try a new restaurant here or there, but I typically maintain a pretty regular schedule of friends, family, In-n-Out, repeat.
It’s not much to blog about.
However, a few weeks ago I had to head back home for the bridal shower of my longtime So Cal best friend, Hilary, and noted that I had just 48 hours to spend hanging in the hometown before I had to head back. We started brainstorming on how to pack as much as we could into those 2 days. Surely we could turn 48 little hours into something magical, right?
We decided going just outside of LA was fair game, everybody drives in LA, babes! So, just like that, my epic 48 Hours in (around) LA was born. Two girls. One car. Endless possibilities.
Read on to see how you should spend your next 48 Hours in LA straight from an LA woman herself…
Kicking off the first morning here did not suck in the slightest. Look at that gorgeous marina! We enjoyed a morning stroll around Channel Islands Harbor which is North of Los Angeles, near Oxnard. You could certainly do Marina Del Rey if you wanted to stay LA-centric, as we’ve heard that it is a very popular vacation hotspot for travelers.
Not so long ago, some friends of ours decided to visit Marina Del Rey because they wanted to experience the yacht life. I mean, who would pass up the opportunity to charter a yacht in this beautiful area? I think they did it through a company like OnBoat and they have come highly recommended to them on a number of occasions. Well, they definitely did a good job with our friends because they are already in the middle of planning their next yacht charter. It’s a shame that we didn’t have time to have a look around, but this was on our way to our next adventure and proved to be an ideal jumping-off point.
We nabbed cups of java at Honey Cup Coffee Bar and got a great little workout walking around Channel Islands!
If you know me, you know that power walk worked up an appetite! Luckily, it was a Saturday morning and Channel Islands had just the thing to cure my hunger woes. A glorious farmers market! I don’t think there is any better way to get in touch with an area than to eat straight out of the farmer’s and purveyor’s hands. Farm to table, just skipping the table.
Oxnard is a huge farm community and the goodies were on point! There were fresh breads, gorgeous summer peaches and fresh veggies galore…
So yummy! That jalapeńo cheese bread was my favorite. Of course we bought one, because a) why wouldn’t you buy that bread, but, b) because we had just the place to take it…
Where we went next is so bookmark-worthy you should get your biggest highlighter out now.
With glorious farmers market cheesy buns and some vino in tow, next stop on the 48 Hours in LA tour took us here:
Sure, it looks like just another nice, beachy setup, but that there is Jolly!
The Jolly Oyster, for any oyster lover, is an absolute paradise. I adore oysters and was pretty sure I had died and gone to Kumamoto heaven.
Not only is Jolly beach-side and darling, but aside from the oysters and a few accoutrements, it’s completely BYO. BYO wine, bread, cheese, snacks, hot dogs (yes, they even have grills for customers to use!), whatever you’d like to make the experience most enjoyable.
Grab a table, order your oysters (and on this particular day they had stone crab, too… YAASS) and stay as long as you’d like relaxing, imbibing and slurping away the day in the sunshine. What could be better? Um, nothing.
Had the day just ended there, I would’ve been pretty darn content but guess what? We weren’t done yet. Not even close.
Up next? Santa Barbara!
It had been years since I was in Santa Barbara and man has it changed. The Funk Zone – an amazing arts district with shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms and amazing restaurants – has sprouted some fantastic foodie fare to get really excited about. I couldn’t wait to dig in!
First up, the Valley Project tasting room. Lovely wines from the 5 microclimates and growing regions of Santa Barbara. Highly recommended for any pinot fan.
Then there was Les Marchands because, well, LOOK AT THAT CHEESE. It’s so hard for me to wine without cheese, you know?
This adorable spot was right up my alley. French styling, intimate seating clusters, lots of bubbles by the glass and, my beloved cheese and charcuterie. Praise any day that includes salumi, champagne and raclette as part of its activities.
Santa Barbara was looking pretty fabulous at this point. We had plans to make one final stop at a local, popular, upscale eatery, but true to blogger form, I was completely sidetracked when I saw this pizza at Lucky Penny next door:
I beelined for the menu and begged my dining companions for a change of plan. I guess I’m easily swayed by wood-fired pizza on a paddle. The choice seemed to be a mighty fine one, too, because I adored their Lucky Margherita ‘zzah and shaved kale salad. Super yummy, fresh, rustic food.
We capped the pizza feast off with a sweet treat in the form of artisan popsicles – caramelized pineapple and strawberry buttermilk – from LP for an idyllic ending to an epic day.
And that was just day one…
The next day brought with it an entirely new set of amazing adventures. We got in the car and set our sights on a destination I used to frequent with my father as a kid. Ojai! For those that don’t know, Ojai (pronounced Oh-Hi) is a fabulous artist community just Northwest of LA. It’s known for spiritual retreats, boutique hotels, unique businesses and stunning natural beauty.
Ditching palm trees for cacti, we rolled into Ojai and started out our day with some bad ass shopping at Summer Camp.
This charming shop is a mix of beautiful, local artisan goods and items so evocative of your childhood at Camp Tacaloma, you have to double check to make sure you’re not holding a juice box.
From the wood-wares, to the candles and cards, it’s a great spot to find something special to bring home or gift to a friend.
Yep. That trailer was Summer Camp’s, too, natch. I couldn’t resist the very Insta-worthy moment.
Next we popped over to the famed Ojai Rancho Inn for a little R&R and cocktail time by the pool. With bikes for guests, a teepee to relax in, and more fabulous, rustic décor than you can shake a cactus at, the Ojai Rancho Inn is the perfect destination for those looking to get sucked into a divine vortex of tranquility.
A quick stop to the mecca of all things literary in Ojai, Bart’s Bookstore…
… and then we were on our way back to LA (yes, finally).
But first, In-n-Out. You didn’t think I would miss my animal style fries, did you?
Just the fuel I needed to power on to our final stop in our weekend journey, Venice Beach.
Fun Fact: I lived in Venice Beach part-time with my dad from the age of 4 until about 8 back in the 80’s. We lived on one of the walking streets before yoga studios and trendy restaurants were ever part of the landscape there. It was fish tacos, muscle beach and lots of funky folks. While the bizarre and curious certainly still reside here, some pretty phenomenal locales have popped up, too.
With a mix of indoor and covered outdoor seating, The Tasting Kitchen has a fabulous blend of casual and urbane spaces. We opted for seating inside in a GORGEOUS dining room lined with bookshelves and featuring a “wine table” in the center of the room. It was fab-u-lous.
With rosé in hand (duh) and chandelier glistening above my head, we dove into the menu.
Up first was a glorious apricot toast – avocado who? – that we just fell madly in love with.
I could eat this everyday, forever. Charred bread, ricotta cheese, apricots, honey, whole grain mustard. So simple, yet so mind-blowing. More, please. Just more.
Next up was the octopus and nduja (sausage). I know many of you aren’t octopus fans – which is crazy – when you have it like this, it’s not the least bit rubbery. It’s sweet, delicious, smokey and perfect. Do not miss dem tentacles at The Tasting Kitchen.
We delved into a trio of pastas as our main course, because, why not?
We spun our forks around:
- Red Wine Rigatoni with Beef Cheek
- Tagliarini with Shrimp & Serrano
- Tagliatelle with Chanterelle & Sage
Aren’t they gorgeous?! Dainty portions meant more variety and I loved all three, though the tagliatelle was my lover, for sure.
That concluded our Venice Beach feast and the full 48 Hours in LA. It sure was tasty! I hope it provides some LA-bound inspiration, or maybe road trip motivation to head somewhere wonderful for a jam packed adventure of your own.
Peace out, LA. There’s nowhere I’d rather be from!