Last year I was lucky enough to visit both Croatia and Canada in my first two "You have to go here!" blog posts. This is the latest in the series. I've wanted to visit the US and California specifically for about as long as I can remember now due to the awesome weather, abundance of things to do, sights to see and food to eat (as well as how insta friendly it is - @matt_tapley to keep up to date with all my LA posts). After a bumpy start for reasons I will go onto explain, Los Angeles went onto become a must-see City and one that I most definitely have unfinished business with. You have to go here!
My trip would have been literally perfect except for one thing. I thought I'd made an absolute master plan when I decided to visit in January. It would be just after the Christmas period, I wouldn't have those normal back to work blues as I'd have my trip to look forward to, I'd no doubt have a fantastic time and I'd come home with a golden tan from the Golden State, making everyone jealous, leaving me looking like a greek god minus the abs. All of these ideas came to fruition except for the last one seeing as torrential rain hit LA for the first 3 days of my trip which made exploring the extremely outdoors orientated city difficult to say the least. It was definitely not annoying in the slightest when every Uber driver we encountered said "ah thats a shame for you guys, it never rains here". LIES.
The rain however forced us to think outside the box with ideas of things to do and places to shoot and apart from one meltdown on the final day of rain where we nearly gave up and watched my new favourite show (the curse of Oak Island on the History channel, Youtube it, seriously) all day, the rain didn't hinder us too much. Despite having to dodge the rain we found some hidden gems, on the first day we managed to find a building containing some of the best architecture I've seen. The Bradbury building has been featured in multiple films due to its look, most notably the original Blade runner. It's actually a residential building now but the first floor and main lobby where you can enjoy the cast metal stair rails and elevators are open to anyone who wants to go in.
I'm wearing a pair of Adidas Superstar on my feet and you'll see them throughout this blog post because man do they go with EVERYTHING. I highly recommend you get yourself a pair of these purely because they are so versatile. Click here to go to the Adidas page and pick up a pair.
Next we moved on to a really cosy spot called the last bookstore, I had found this place on Instagram as it seems to have become a very "in" place for bloggers to shoot at due to its iconic hole in the wall book feature, but it wasn't snobby or Instagram-y as you might expect. It was really relaxed and had plenty of sofas, you could explore grab a book and read or buy the book. It also seemed like if you wanted you could bring your own book and just chill out in there. After the last bookstore we headed to Grand Central market which as you'd imagine is full of different mini restaurants. Eggslut being one of the most well known along with PB&J, but there are plenty of options that will please everyone. Food markets are a great option to explore while visiting a new city as it gives you a chance to experience a variety of foods quickly and see the different cultures that make up the city as they are usually reflected by the types of food available.
The rain wasn't as constant on the second day so we got up early thanks to jet lag and ventured out while the rain held off, we visited LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) which has an incredible installation outside with hundreds of pretty street lamps all lined up. This is definitely a dream for any Instagrammer so head here to get that money shot for your feed.
Close to LACMA is the Grove mall. Its a closed off street with a string of high end shops and restaurants, it's a really pretty area with a cute little water feature and Frank Sinatra songs being played from speakers dotted around the area. A food market backs onto the Grove so its a fantastic place to spend a few hours wandering then scoff some quesadillas and empanadas and whatever else your heart desires (like we did). However, bring your wallet and life savings, these shops prices aren't for the faint hearted. Still visit here just to window shop and grab some lunch. After lunch we headed to the walk of fame which was a little underwhelming actually. Don't get me wrong, it's still something you have to do just to say you've done it however, I think one of the locals summed it up best to me - "deep down it's just a street with some names on it." Had the weather have been nice I would have been happy to spend longer trying to find some of my favourite celebs but with the weather having taken a turn for the worse it was time to head home.
The third day was meltdown day. After waking up and seeing that it was still pouring with rain, questions were asked. Why do bad things happen to good people? Can I go home to England where it's just wet consistently so it doesn't mess with my expectations? Is there such a thing as a sun dance and does it work? But after snapping ourselves out of our self pity we decided to try and seize the day and do something we were planning for a sunnier day, but hey it might still be just as good. So we grabbed our umbrellas and jumped in an Uber to the Hollywood sign. It's a series of windy, steep roads until you eventually pop out at the Hollywood sign...or in our case where the Hollywood sign should be! Literally staring at my Google maps "It should be right here!!!". Nope. Standing directly underneath the sign, could not see a thing. "TAXI! "(ok, Uber, but that doesn't sound as good does it?). I have to admit it was hilarious at this point and felt like the weather was doing everything it could to be difficult. We managed to cheer ourselves up by visiting Carneys which is a Diner set up in a train carriage on Sunset Boulevard that serves fantastic burgers, hot dogs and chilli cheese fries. After having our fill we headed back to the apartment.
Day 4 was apparently going to be the last day of poor weather, so the mood was much improved, no sulking in sight. I decided to be productive and shoot some content inside the Airbnb that we were in as it was such a cool place. The design was fantastic with a huge window the size of the wall looking over the street and a modern interior which is right up my street. The Adidas outline tee is a really understated, classy choice to wear with a pair of jeans that will still make you look fashionable, especially in the Khaki variant. I'm again wearing my Superstar's because like I told you, they go with everything.
In the afternoon the weather cleared up so we headed to our last destination in DTLA (Downtown). Walt Disney concert hall, it is incredible. We didn't go into the the building as I can't pretend that seeing an orchestra or that sort of thing is my kind of day out, but the reason I wanted to visit is the design of the building itself, it's unlike nothing I've seen before. I'm unsure if it acoustically makes any difference or if it is purely for aesthetic reasons, but it doesn't bother me. Very cool.
Friday. The sun is here! We had planned for this day all week and were ready to roll. Road trip! The order of the day was drive along through Santa Monica, along the Pacific Coast highway, through Malibu and up to Santa Barbara. Basically just see as many nice "beachy" places as possible. After the fiasco of one of us realising there was no memory card in the camera after we were 45 mins into the drive that we'd planned all week (I mean honestly, the anger levels were real. I'm not going to blame anyone or point fingers but all I'll say is. It was not me...). However, this was sorted by stopping and getting a new memory card and from then it was pretty much plain sailing. The coast road was easy to drive on with mesmerising sea views. Santa Barbara was gorgeous, it seems like the ultimate chill weekend away/retirement city. It was just so relaxed there and well kept. An ice cream on the pier was a must to enjoy the sun, joined by the Santa Barbara locals.
On the way home from Santa Barbara we decided to visit El Matador beach which is in Malibu so we raced (at the speed limit) against the sun to make it there in time for sunset. Wow was it worth it, it was incredible, definitely one of the best places I've ever witnessed a sunset at. I'd highly recommend going here if you're ever in LA, it would be perfect to spend the whole day there with some food and drink and watch the sun go down.
Here are the links to my outfit I wore at El Matador.
Adidas Stripe Tee
Adidas Tennoji shorts
I was really pleased at how this outfit came together and think that it hit the California beach look perfectly.
The final part of our road trip was hitting Santa Monica pier at night time to see it all lit up and it didn't disappoint. By this point it was 9pm so the polo and shorts that I was wearing were not the best choice weather wise for the chilly sea front but the warm salt pretzel with cheese dip warmed me up.
Our last full day was probably by far the most physical day that we had. We decided to re-do our failure of a day up at the Hollywood sign now that the sun was out in full force. The Hollywood sign is fantastic but I won't speak too much as that's where I chose to do LA's city run. So you'll need to tune in to that blog post when it's released to find out more about below the sign. After we'd done my city run, I'd seen a viewing point on Instagram called Wisdom tree that had an American flag flying looking out over the entire city up on the top of a hill...or what I thought was a hill! Little did I know it was effectively at the top of a mountain that you had to hike up to. About an hour later, with no drinks packed, a lot of verbal abuse from the person I'd unwillingly dragged up the side of a cliff, we made it and man was it worth it! Absolutely stunning!
I'd recommend trying to head up there early so you avoid the entire family that seemed to be having a reunion and entire photoshoot in front of the view, don't they know I have an instagram to provide for? Selfish if you ask me. After that we decided that since we were up there we may as well go that extra mile both literally and figuratively and take the hike from Wisdom tree to right up to the Hollywood sign to look over. The view from Wisdom tree was better in my opinion but going up and getting so close to the Hollywood sign was a fantastic experience. As soon as we got up there a public announcement came over a hidden speaker to move away from the area (even though there are no signs saying you can't be there), not on your nelly have I just trekked for about 3 hours in total to finally get to one of the most iconic places in LA, for a crappy public announcement to ruin it.
We had saved our next destination all week, waiting for a nice evening to see the sunset over LA. Griffith observatory which a lot of Grand Theft Auto players will recognise is perched above all of LA and it has the most amazing views out over the city. Combine that with a gorgeous Californian sunset and you have absolute gold. Mind you, it felt like every single person/tourist and their dog was up there with the same idea. It was so busy, but very much worth it and something I'd recommend anyone who visits Los Angeles to do. Try to head up there on a weekday as that may help a little. After the sun sets, head into the observatory and enjoy the science displays with pieces of meteorites on display.
The Adidas Gazelle's that I'd also been wearing all week went perfectly with a smart shirt and chinos and were a perfect summer look. You can take a look at a pair by clicking here. The Gazelle's are stitch and turn so they have a classy, seamless look to them.
On our final day we had to check out early, so we took our bags and dropped them at a little pod hotel in Venice which also offered a bag drop service. Our last few hours were spent walking along Venice beach, muscle beach and up to Santa Monica pier. Taking in the hustle and bustle of groups of guys playing basketball, people working out at the famous outdoor gym and abundance of small stores offering food and souvenirs. We underestimated the length of said walk so on our way back we ended up using the scooters that are all over LA. Pretty much Uber for electric scooters, you can hire them on an app, scoot anywhere you want, end the ride and leave them where you please. So we bombed down the beach front on the way back to our bags on our scooters. England needs electric scooters!
My final act in LA, sums up California quite well. An incredible view with some good food. We were lucky enough to have a contact that got us into a members only beach club in Malibu, so we had a nice relaxing hour or two there, ate a pizza and some cookies and were then met with a beautiful sunset. Not bad LA, not bad.
Disclaimer: Although this blog is part of a collaboration, all the views are my own.