Venice Beach & Santa Monica Jet Lag Journal
As I start to look toward the end of the year and look back at all the travel I’ve been fortunate to take over this year, I’m looking back most fondly at this most recent trip I took with my main man over our birthdays’ weekend back at the beginning of October. After working the week away in LA for a work conference, all I wanted for the weekend was lots of light, relaxing days, and space to spread out (and some good meals never hurt the deal either).
I was so pleased to have picked and found this Airbnb in Venice Beach! It was everything we both wanted!
You can see all the light that the space gets–something about that California sun does a body good, I swear. Coming from our tiny Brooklyn apartment, we always relish in a “normal” living room and a full shower/bathroom, so we were in heaven. And guess who was stoked to find out that N64 was also available with Mario Kart Racing? I’ll give you one clue: it wasn’t me. . . If I ever make it back to the area, you can bet all your money, that I will be staying in Karissa and Aaron’s apartment once again!
We started off in Venice at the boardwalk–where else, duh! We stopped in a very cute coffee shop, called Menotti’s Coffee Stop, and I enjoyed my iced coffee immensely. It was strong and pure, so if my ice coffee covers those bases, then I fully endorse any coffee shop that gets the job done with those two key elements. Above is the infamous skate park at Venice Beach. I will say it is fun for about five to ten minutes to watch all the “kids” do their tricks and skate around, up and down, and knowingly understand that I could never ever take up skateboarding–I bruise too easily. So after five minutes, it was off to the independent bookstore, Small World Books.
The bookstore is filled with these handwritten recommendation notes throughout–a detail that I don’t leave unnoticed, as it’s one of my favorite qualities inherent about the independent bookstore. It’s charming, they’re usually insightful, and it’s personal. What did we come away with? The birthday boy took home a tome of Proust. Yes, I dare not kid about books.
This cute home goods and vintage apparel store, The General Store, was on my list to hit up–and it did not disappoint with all its handmade home goods, clean smelling scents of soaps and candles, and a presentation and store layout that I relished in. This store clearly catered to me and interests.
Why did this store cater to me? Well, it was filled with denim, indigo fabrics, clay kitchenware and pottery, and you catch my drift. Oh, and they had some fabulous independent magazines! The store is a clean, white and airy treasure trove. Do go, if you find yourself near Lincoln Road in Venice.
Next up was Abbot Kinney! I had quickly walked the street the night before when we chose a place for dinner and stopped at an outdoor conglomerate of jewelry stands. But today, my birthday was the day I was going to really hit the street and stores up! The first boutique I found myself in on Abbot Kinney, was The Piece Collective. If you’re beginning to see a trend here, you’re right. Much of the Venice spots have a) a ton of space with high ceilings, b) they’re clean and white, so very bright, and c) curated style that skews handmade, hippie, and in bright colors. So basically, every shopping experience was so delightful for me, that I was in a blissful state strolling along Abbot Kinney.
The Piece Collective was the first of many boutiques to come that I had to forcefully hold myself back from buying jewelry or some trinket. So.many.adorable.things.
This hand painted floor mural of jelly fish led to a behind the boutiques scene of a coffee stand, chocolate bar stand, a hat maker, and a crystal stone designer. Oh, the treasures you might find!
At this point I cannot go any further without talking about Lemonade. We popped in for lunch, and boy was I blown away. Not only are their lemonades a force to be reckoned with ( blackberry with thyme and blood orange) but their food is ah-may-zing! So fresh! I ordered a side of Isreali couscous with wild mushrooms, parmesan, and lemon truffle to go along with my chicken, basil, mozzarella sandwich, and it was just to die for. While we were too full for dessert, they looked like the bomb. Oh, and you order cafeteria style, so it’s all seamless and fast. I wish with all my heart, it could come to NYC!
Next up on the Abbot Kinney boutique experience was Firefly, and it was hands down my favorite! And this is why: the jewelry. I could have spent a solid hour alone in this store trying on everything and matching one piece with another, and placing dress up with the jewels. Needless to say, I decided to treat myself on my birthday to some souvenirs, if you will. Firefly, you’re too good!
Another must stop for boutique shopping is Tortoise General Store. A curation all finely made goods from Japan. They were like a rustic version of Muji (for those of you familiar with that store here in NYC). I found myself a very cool mechanical pencil and a hemp sack (that subsequently came in handy for the beach later on).
But the other great part about Tortoise? The back gallery. Shelves and shelves of pottery from Japanese artists, that really and truly was affordable. I thought about purchasing a vase that was only around $40 but I couldn’t bare the thought of having it possibly break in transit even on carry-on back to NYC.
The Japanese just know good design. It’s as simple as that. I’ll spare you more boutique interior shots, but do know there were a couple more handful of stores that you must check out. If you’re up for it, I truly suggest just taking an entire day on Abbott Kinney and walking up one side of the street and walking down the other, which a stop at Blue Bottle or Intelligentia coffee shops for a resurgence of energy.
Abbott Kinney was also besides Lemonade, where we found ourselves for brunch, lunch and dinner. The street was pretty much a one-stop shop for us, but since it was only a 15 min. walk from our Airbnb we found it convenient. Another popular main street is Rose Avenue where we ate one night at Oscar’s Cervateca. A Mexican spot with a mean happy hour deal on food, I highly recommend going during this time frame, if you can make it happen.
But back to food spots on Abbot Kinney. . .
Another brunch spot not to be missed: The Tasting Kitchen. Whoa, nelly, be prepared to make some hard choices on the menu, because you can’t order everything and you must decide, and it’s just soo hard! I caught up with an old friend over their lovely brunch and continued to find solace in the sun and brightness of the space.
Before I move into the Santa Monica half of the trip, it must be said that you should take yourselves straight to Gjelina for dinner. The brick oven pizzas, the farm fresh salads, the wine, the everything–there’s a reason why it’s on the LA Dining lists. It did not disappoint. We also made it to Tavern for my birthday dinner, and while I don’t have any photos to share, it was yet another heavenly dining experience. Either LA has got it going on or I did my research just right to pick all the right spots–or maybe it’s a combo of the two. . .
To segue into the next chapter, I thought this doorway entrance into a Venice home owner’s yard was just the cutest. . . see that light shining through? That the glow that just keeps shining all day long out there. Sigh.
So for a couple of hours for a couple of days, we made sure to spend some time also in Santa Monica. Just a short Uber ride away from our Airbnb, it was too close not to miss. And we had breakfast at Huckleberry one morning. They pretty much offer the standard breakfast menu items such as granola, eggs, scones, more pastries, you get my drift. It was good but not fantastic that I would tell you to rush off and get there ASAP.
We also made it to Blue Plate Oysterette for dinner one night with my sister and her husband–so we had not one, not two, but actually four October birthdays present to celebrate. We of course ordered oysters, Prosecco, and I split a fish special with my sister. It was a fabulous evening out, and even better to catch up with them both.
Next up was to spend a little bit at the Santa Monica Pier and beach. So after we got our fill of the sand and sun for an hour, we made our way over to the Pacific Palisades Park. I had been having a wishful longing for a ferris wheel ride for awhile (since Niagara Falls actually), and marched myself right up to the ferris wheel as soon as it was open so to get my ride in. These rides always end way too fast and once you’re on it, the excitement subsides. But it did give a pretty good view of the beach and park. And I fulfilled my childhood nostalgia.
Next up was to fill up with traditional pier/park fare at Pier Burger. What you see above and before you is pure deliciousness. That’s a hot dog topped with strips of bacon and melted cheese accompanied by fries and an orange Fanta. Ah, it was soooo good. I must have been extra hungry, because the orange Fanta tasted just so right, and the hot dog tasted just so traditional. I know I shouldn’t say this but I will: this was one of my top 3 meals of the trip.
Our last small activity of the trip, was to make sure to visit the Venice Canals and take a stroll around all the lovely homes perched between the canal quadrant. . .
It was a little dried up as you can see due to the time of day and with the tide being out (or is this actually how it is due to the drought?? I’m a little unsure. . .) but we had fun looking at all the homes and walking across the bridges and peering into people’s backyards with envy. It’s a great free activity to do if you’re staying in Venice and are in the mood for a walk.
And thus, concludes the fabulous four days spent in Venice Beach and Santa Monica! I cannot tell a lie: it was a grand ol’ sunny blissful birthday weekend.
Until next time California!
All Airbnb images are from Airbnb. All other images are my own.