A love letter to the holiday of a lifetime
Landing in the haze of a sprawling sun-drenched city, I can almost taste the heat as we get ready to leave the plane. This is my second visit to the Golden Coast, once when I was very small and accompanied by my parents, this time older and arguably wiser with my partner, Pete.
October 2019 brings with it an Indian Summer and California’s Venice Beach is wavy in the desert-like sun. Intoxicating, all consuming and restless.
Sat at the bar we slowly unwind and welcome the familiar smell of IPA and Wood Fired Pizza surrounding us as we watch narratives unfold up and down the boulevard. People watching in L.A. is a well practiced hobby, but in Venice Beach you are sure to find wild stories unravel before your eyes.
Our apartment, just a block away from the sand and a stone’s throw away from Abbot Kinney, is a stunning, self contained home-from-home, full of succulents and soft furnishings, (of which makes me utterly delighted).
Ready to become like the beautiful people, we set out our plan for the week. So should you want to lose yourself in the intoxicating world of LA, dear reader, read on to discover our favourite moments of an unforgettable trip.
1. Lowriding to Malibu ft. proper tacos & massive margaritas
Ever experienced moments of pure joy? I thought I had until we rented lowriders for the day and took our bikes down the beach path to Malibu. I’m not a confident bike rider, but the path is easy and pace is the trick to conquering the dreamy path from muscle beach to the Malibu coastline.
Pitching up at the beach, we sat down next to the froth and watched the waves collapsing along the golden shoreline. If you’re feeling brave, you can jump through to the back and let the waves lift you and release you, or if you’re like me, you can watch from a safe distance with a cool drink to hand, although perhaps not looking so cool..
Before the day ends and we need to return our bikes, we slipped off for a thirst-quenching margarita and proper tacos at Cabo Cantina. The rooftop view in the early evening heat, an American flag blowing lazily in the breeze and a smorgasbord of tacos to dig into – perfect fuel for a pedal through Little Venice canals on the long way home.
2. From slutty breakfasts to fine dining and a sampling of wine on heat soaked Abbot Kinney.
Egg Slut. There, I said it. Believe the hype and get your mouth around one of the yummiest quick breakfasts just off Venice Beach. Prepare to get messy, there’s no way to make this look good.
Our day was slow and lazy, just as we like it on ‘vay-cay’, but this gave me plenty of time to prepare myself for a truly magical dining experience at ROSE. Specialising in small plates that pack-a-punch, not only was every dish deliciously memorable, but presented in the most exquisite way. ROSE has an on-site sommelier with expert knowledge. Attentive and passionate, they spend as much time as you need to choose your perfect accompaniment from a curated list of the finest wines.
The vista at ROSE was the clincher, contemporary and cool with effortless style to match they’re effortlessly delicious food. I still dream daily about their hazelnut humus.
Abbot Kinney is no stranger to elegance and style, but The Other Room bar was a cut above.
Mixing exposed brick, a selective and considered back bar with heavy velvet and dark, intimate vibes surrounds you and seduces you completely. If you are lucky enough to visit, I can promise you that you’ll be leaving warm from wine and sultry romance.
3. Drum and Bass on the boulevard followed by some starry-eyed-star-gazing.
I’m not entirely bothered about strolling the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, but if you can promise me an evening of wild dancing with the man I love, I don’t think I could easily turn you down, and Hollywood, you did not disappoint me.
Down at Station 1640, RESPECT Drum & Bass were set to provide a legendary night. They’re arguably the only outfit in LA to fully hold down the scene and going is something Pete has aways wanted to do. Luckily for us the stars aligned as we happened to be in town when fellow Brit Matt Gresham better known as Logistics; headliner for that RESPECT Thursday. Boy, did he throw down a set. Fresh from his jet lag and flight, Matt slammed down classic Logistic tunes mixed with a beautiful blend of new and future sounding liquid, soul and funk dnb. Alongside him, Mat Zo and a few of the Respect regulars kept the crowd in full swing until the early hours.
The atmosphere was alive and buzzy as friendly LA locals welcomed us rowdy Brits with open arms into the crowd. Safe to say the drum and bass scene is feeling itself in LA, leaving Pete and I staggering over the stars, ready for a long ride home and a chippy tea.
4 . A truly immersive midnight mass at the longest running show of Rocky Horror Picture Show
Feeling FOMO already? Never fear, Rocky Horror Fans, for the Nuart Theatre‘s midnight showing is the longest running midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. Rocky Horror virgin? Welp – I can’t promise they’ll be gentle with you, and if you don’t know the words, prepare to be swept away by a well versed crowd of Rocky Horror enthusiasts.
That being said, there is not an experience quite like it as the crowd envelopes you and you’re treated to a fantastic performance-cum-screening of the cult classic. On that, I’ll say no more, because the surprises are the best part – BUT! Don’t go it alone, if locking lips with the person to your left isn’t your thing.
SN: A truly touching moment. Each one of the volunteers who work incredibly hard on this hilarious and immersive show spend their time campaigning for planned parenthood, which is a kudos move in my books.
5. Beating the crowds and the queues at 6 Flags Resort
Not for the faint hearted, Six Flags Magic Mountain is a thrill seeking, junk food eating and white water flume-ing paradise. Get there at opening times and you’re sure to not only beat the crowds, but give yourself a full day to stomp about the park, play on amusements and throw yourself into some of the wildest tracks LA has to offer. Ever stood up on a roller coaster? Neither had I. And yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Visiting in October also means you’re fully in spoopy territory as the park prepares for Halloween and the world-renowned fright nights!
6. Brushing up on American contemporary art at The Broad
Wanting to experience the city as well as the beach, then The Broad is truly a beacon, home to one of the finest collections of modern American contemporary art. So if musing at Coons is your thing, contemplating Twombly and awing at Saville this is the perfect day for you. If not, the architecture alone is enough to blow you away. As you wind yourself around spiralling staircases the part concrete, part glass exposes the hidden depths of the vaults, with unseen masterpieces just waiting to be discovered. The best part? Entry is completely FREE!
Stand out moment: Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room. Prepare for this brief encounter to bring a tear to your eye.
7. Santa Monica pier followed by a quick snooze on the sand
Prepare for the bright lights on Santa Monica hypnotise you as the attractions whir past. Fall in love in photo-booths and let the salty air whip your hair into a frenzy as you watch the pilgrims of route 66 start and end their journeys.
Watching sunsets in LA are everything they’re cracked up to be. From the deep burning oranges, to the lilac and pastel pink skies floating above the city before it descends into a cool deep navy. Strolling back from Santa Monica, with a little bag of snacks from the pier and cozying up on the sand for a snooze waiting for the sun to go down will embed LA into your soul, guaranteed.
8. Whale watching and waving goodbye to dreamy, hazy, wonderland
Our last day on the West Coast was spent being lulled out of the Newport Beach harbour in search of whales, dolphins and seals. Cruising with Newport Landing Whale Watching set us back around thirty bucks each, but was the most perfect way to say goodbye to a coastline we’d come to call home the past seven days. Armed with binoculars and beers, we spotted bottlenose and pilot dolphins playing in the spray off the bow of our boat mapped across the fuzzy California backdrop.