Friday, November 4, 2016

California: L.A., Santa Catalina Island and Long Beach!

When my little brother told us he and his fiance were getting married in Sedona, we decided to plan a vacation around their wedding.  After much debate and research online, we made the decision to fly into Pheonix, AZ, rent a car and make the long trek across the desert to L.A. and then drive back for the wedding and our departure.  And that is precisely what we did!

After we landed in Phoenix, we picked up a map and began our journey.  The scenery changes pretty dramatically every hour during this drive, but one thing remains the same...there is literally, nothing in between AZ and CA, besides of course, a few gas stations and Palm Springs.  So hit up a nearby Whole Foods and pick up plenty of SMARTWATER, KINDBARS, fresh fruit and nuts to munch on during the drive, I always love their sandwich station where you can order pretty much anything you'd like to put on a huge, delicious sandwich to take along too!

Most of the way is paved in cacti and mountains and definitely, roads that seem to stretch on forever!

When you hit Palm Springs, look out for all the rows of wind turbines!!!  There are sooo many of them!  Had we had more time, we would've explored Palm Springs, but we were running tight on time as it was so we kept movin!

When you FINALLY make it into California, and especially into L.A., you'll know it!  Stacked highways, and skyscrapers in the distance will invite you in after hours of mountains and dried out landscapes!  It's a welcome change:)

Our first L.A. stop was in the neighborhood of Silver Lake at one of my favorite Instagram shop finds, Myrtle!!!  I had been following Myrtle on Instagram for a couple years and have ordered items online to have shipped back over to the East Coast and now, I was finally here!!!  Most people reach their destination, check into their hotel, refresh and then go out and explore after a 5 hour drive, not us, we dove right in!!!

Myrtle is a beautifully curated boutique featuring independent female designers from around the world, you'll also find special vintage pieces (like a rhinestone bow headband I simply had to buy), and many other eclectic treasures as you shop!  My favorite designer here- Samantha Pleet from Brooklyn, NY, check out her adorable prints and patterns here and on her own website:)

Just next door is another fascinating shop, but this one has a dark twist!  Memento Mori specializes in the beauties of the afterlife, with a mix of Victorian antiques, apothecaries and other under-worldly charms!

Driving and shopping can work up quite the appetite, so we found dinner at Yakuza Sushi Bar and this place rocked some of the best sushi I've ever had in my life!!!  Great place to stop for some hot tea to perk you up, tempura and salmon sushi rolls!!!

After we drove down to our new digs for the next few days at a hotel in Long Beach, we got some sleep and woke up refreshed to start a new day!  That day included an all day tour of nearby Santa Catalina Island about an hours ferry ride into the Pacific:)
The Catalina Express offers many ferry rides to and from the island all day long, so we caught an 8am ferry over and caught a 6pm ferry back.  It is an hours trip, and after we did it, we wouldn't have changed times, a 9-5pm day in Catalina was perfect!!!

Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, we saw tons of them:)

As the views of the island came closer and closer, that's when things got interesting!!!  We couldn't make it across the Atlantic to Italian coast this year, so instead we went to Catalina!  It is definitely the "Italy" of the USA:)  You'll know what I mean as you approach from the water.

Pulling into port our hearts quickened, we couldn't wait to head out and explore this little piece of paradise:)  The colorful houses and palms tree's were calling to us!  The landscape was reminiscent of Manarola!

Once we set foot on dry land we made our way to see about some breakfast!

This was the original place I had looked up prior to our trip, the Original Jack's Country Kitchen.  Apparently, so did everyone else traveling to Santa Catalina Island for the day, there was over an hour wait, and people were actually waiting, seated outside on benches around the restaurant!!!

 I don't know about you, but I had a scheduled itinerary to keep too, and didn't have time to sit around and wait for breakfast so we turned around to walk back down the street and noticed a place just across the road, Coyote Joe's, it wasn't nearly as busy and we were seated right as we walked in and it was FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All those people trying to cram into the other place when this place even had outside seating:)
A thing to keep in mind when you travel, don't be afraid to head off the schedule and find a new place that suits you, you just might thank yourself afterwards;)

Eggs, bacon, potatoes, avocado and tortillas, YES PLEASE!!!!

Now that we were well fed and loving our start on the island, we were ready to go!  Shops and downtown first!

The Steamer Trunk quickly became a new favorite shop!  This place was decked in nautical treasures, everything from sea life home decor, gifts and mermaids galore! 

Lloyd's of Avalon is a vintage treat for kids and adults alike, it's been serving the community since 1934!  It's a great place to bring loved ones back sweets and grab yourself an ice cream cone:)

Another piece of vintage Catalina history can be found at the only antique store on the island, Catalina Pottery!!!  Stop in and see these beautiful vintage wares from another time gone by!  This family owned shop specializes in original Catalina Pottery that was made on the island from 1927-1937, take home a little piece of history!!!

After the shops we took a stroll down the main way along the shoreline and I spotted another stop on our itinerary, atop the highest hill outside the city, straight in front of us, see the white mansion with the flagpole out front...I'll tell you more about that place in a bit;)

But first, let's get ourselves a golf cart to make the trek up there a little more appetizing;)  There are several spots in the downtown area that will rent you a golf cart for an hour or more, choose the time that best suits your needs!  Here we go!

We spotted a submarine as we started out.

And parasailers in the distance:)

We made it to the top, picture!  The views were beautiful!!!

Let's see how we do down the hill:0

Next stop was the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden.  Remember the white mansion atop the hill, that is the William Wrigley Jr. Mansion.  William Wrigley Jr. was an American Chewing Gum industrialist and founder of the William Wrigley Jr Company in 1891.
William Wrigley Jr. had $32 to his name and with it started a business selling scouring soap, with every purchase he gave his customers some baking powder, then he started selling the baking powder because it became more popular than the soap and with it he gave his customers chewing gum, after a time the chewing gum became more popular and that is where he then made his fortune!
Wrigley purchased a controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company in 1919 and with the company received the island.  

Wrigley improved the island in numerous ways!  First, he created jobs for locals by creating the Pebble Beach quarry and Tile Plant, to make use of the clay and minerals found on the island.  In 1929 the Catalina Clay Products Tile and Pottery Plant began producing glazed tiles, dinnerware and other household items.  He built new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building and planted numerous trees, shrubs and flowers on the island to increase it's natural beauty!
Wrigley wanted the public to enjoy Catalina Island for years to come, so his son Philip K. Wrigley established the Catalina Island Conservancy in 1972 and transferred all family ownership to it!
Wrigley is honored at the memorial here, thank you Wrigley, the island and this botanical garden is beautiful!

Back in the cart we made our way to the next stop, but had to stop to take a background pic!

Down for ziplining, take the plunge here at the Zipline Eco Tour;)

As our rental time wore on, it was time to put the petal to the metal in my beachsiders!!!

The houses we zipped past were oh so cute!!!

We began our decent to the Casino Building, here it is from above with the round, red roof.  A popular misconception is that there is, in fact, a casino inside.  There is no casino inside the Casino building, Casino in Italian means Meeting Place and that is exactly what this is, a meeting place for the community to gather for movies, theatrical performances and other special events.

Here it is up close and personal!  Sadly, it was closed when we arrived but the entrance is covered in beautiful mosaic works depicting sea life.

On the way back down the road we passed a beach club, we had a few other stops to make first but figured that's where we wanted come back and have lunch!

We made our way back up another mountain to the Wrigley Mansion, now known as The Inn at Mt. Ada, a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, in case you ever want to stay on the island!  The B&B is closed to the public, but I got to take a sneak peek being a blogger and all.  "I have to get this information to my readers", I pleaded, so they let me in;)

The parlor, the perfect place to curl up with a book and a cup of tea!

Steven and the view!

Outside terrace seating?  Yes, please!

The sitting lounge.

The Dining room.


And cats, there are cats!!!

After seeing the mansion we made our way back down into town to return our cart and back towards the beach club on foot for lunch and chill time.

The Descanso Beach Club hit the spot after all of our sightseeing.  We grabbed a table by the ocean, ordered some great eats and enjoyed a couple glasses of wine while water watching.

After we explored the beaches we explored the club.  I wanted to curl up on lounger and take a nap, but there was too much to see and do!

We walked back past the Casino, one more time and walked hand and hand along the Casino Walk.

Another shot of the Wrigley mansion from the walk.

As we made our way back to the ferry I popped into one last shop!  Ciao-Baci Fine Gifts, a beautiful way to end the day:)

See you later Catalina, we loved you!!!

Back in Long Beach we met the next day with a fantastic breakfast of French faire at Creme de la Crepe!!!  This place is perfect for any meal, anytime!  You can enjoy sweet and savory crepes, wine, and desserts, morning, noon and night:)

These buckwheat savory crepes hit the spot!

And we had to try the sweets!

After breakfast it was back on the road, back up to L.A.!!!

We made a quick stop at the Historical Monument of El Pueblo de Los Angeles.  This area is the perfect place for a Mexican meal followed by colorful, cultural shopping:)

Then we made our way to The Getty Villa, a beautiful museum in L.A. specializing in the art and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome.

This place WOW's from the Get-Go!!!  You'll feel small standing in front of the towering entrance, like you're entering OZ!

We started with lunch on the terrace, and it didn't disappoint!  I usually don't like museum food, I don't like the dishes served or the cafeteria feel, but this place exudes elegance and the meals tasted as beautiful as they looked!!!

I enjoyed roast chicken with root vegetables and a glass of cool white wine, I was hooked!!!

After we filled our tummies we went exploring and oh did we explore!  This place is huge with everlasting twists and turns, indoor spaces followed by outdoor gardens, upstairs levels and downstairs levels.  Take your time and enjoy!!!

This little guy up next was my favorite object in the place!

Mummies!  There are mummies!  These guys were crazy!  It's insane to think about how old the objects here are, some pieces date back to 100 B.C.!!!

This wooden horse key was amazing!!!

When we left the museum hours later, we stopped across the street to take a peak at the ocean, it was breezy!!!

Then we figured, since we were so close we would take an afternoon drive up Mulholland Drive.  It's a long, twisting way to the peaks of these high hills, be careful on those tight turns!!!

Back down on sea level we continued to explore different areas of the city.  We found this wonderful little borough stacked with neat places to see and shop!  Our first stop was the impressive Farmer's Market, loaded with fresh foods, handcrafted goods, wines and spirits and sweets!!!

Across the street was a strip of darling little shops, sadly, this particular day most of them were closed, but just peaking in the windows fluttered my heart!  Check opening days and times before venturing!  Carmela Ice Cream Company and Vintageweave stood out among the crowd:)

We found ourselves, before too long, heading back to the ocean.  Funny how it calls to you when you're near:)  We decided to try out the Santa Monica Pier and I'm so glad we did, I truly felt like a kid again!

After a few rides, games and beehives of cotton candy, we continued our walk back up across the PCH towards the Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica's ultimate shopping paradise.  The Third Street Promenade is loaded with shops, restaurants and everything in between!  As you walk along you'll pass street performers and vendors all with something to offer.  

We ended our day with a late dinner and a good friend we hadn't seen in a while.  We caught up over dinner and drinks and talked long into the night.

We met our last day back in Long Beach  

with breakfast at The Small Cafe, little name, BIG TASTE:)  This place is adorable!  A cozy diner feel, cash only and cute as a button!

Afterwards we took a small stroll through the neighborhood's famous canal streets and bridges.  Long Beach is known as Little Venice for a good reason, it's charming, quaint and full of canals!!!

The colorful houses will brighten your day as well!

We fell in love with this little gem!

And before we knew it, we were back on the road again, this time, heading back east, back to Arizona, back to family and friends and my little brother's wedding:)
See you later California!!!

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