As we packed the car in the morning to make our way to Santa Barbara, we bought breakfast sandwiches from the Inn at Spanish Bay. It was my brilliant idea to take the sandwiches to go so that we could have some time in Santa Barbara, as it was our quickest stop overnight. The ride was four hours, and I wanted to at least see the town before we had to move on to Los Angeles the next morning.
We picked a spot along the 17-mile drive and decided to eat our sandwiches at a picnic table overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Much to our surprise (and disappointment), a seagull swooped in and grabbed my son’s sandwich right out of his hands! They are aggressive, those birds, so beware if you decide to make that decision. I ended up sharing mine with Matt because the seagull dumped the uneaten portion on his plate. It was a funny memory, but my husband and son didn’t enjoy the bird flying into them. (ha ha ha ha)
We drove to Santa Barbara and checked into a very lovely place—The Spanish Garden Inn. It was again, a favorite of mine. With its Spanish influences and charm, replete with an outside terrace garden for eating breakfast, I loved this place. It had a cute balcony, too, which made a perfect writing nook.
We strolled the streets of Santa Barbara—nestled in the valley with extraordinary palm trees and a beautiful beach and pier. We shopped and took our time enjoying the beach area, East and West Beach. We ate dinner at a Mexican place called The Sandbar, where we all enjoyed tacos and burritos. Ice cream at McConnell Brothers was the perfect end to the day as we listened to a band with horns, sax, drums, keyboards, and singers as we sat outside the bar enjoying both the night air and the music.
In the morning, we had breakfast in the beautiful outdoor area, and upon the suggestion of our innkeeper, we strolled to the Courthouse in Santa Barbara and climbed to the top of it, which offered picture perfect views of the city. We couldn’t stay long, however, because we had to get to Los Angeles for a 3 p.m. Warner Bros. tour, which we made just in time.
If you’re looking for a great studio tour, I can fully endorse the Warner Bros. one we took. The guides take you around the back lot, studios, recording studios, and then let you wander the museum with Friends memorabilia and sets, Looney Tunes stuff, Harry Potter costumes and keepsakes, and superheros stuff galore. We spent a total of three hours there and loved it. Trust me when I tell you that it’s well worth it.
After the studio tour, we hopped in the car and made it to Dodgers Stadium just in time for the first inning. Our friend who works in baseball helped us get great seats, and one of my favorite meals of the trip was eating a Dodger Dog in Dodger Stadium. We all love watching baseball, and it was another great end to a day. As an added bonus, it was Fireworks night, so quite literally, we ended that day in Los Angeles with a bang.
Our next couple of days were spent in Los Angeles exploring. We visited Beverly Hills—and my husband got the biggest kick out of going to the Beverly Hills Hotel and sitting at the reserved table of Frank Sinatra, Table #3. The hotel is worth a pit stop if you haven’t been there. They have tons of memorabilia and photographs that adorn the walls, if only they could talk. There’s so much Hollywood history there. We also walked Rodeo Drive and saw all the high-end shops. It’s much smaller than I imagined, but worth the stop. From there, we visited the famous Santa Monica Pier and the kids rode the Ferris Wheel to get some good shots from up high. We ended up spending the evening at the Lowe’s Hotel restaurant right on the beach where we ate, listened to an acoustic musician, and watched the sun go down. Afterwards, we walked the beach and took some photos outside Shutters, a charming hotel just down from the Lowe’s.
On our last full day in Los Angeles, we walked Hollywood Boulevard and saw all the celebrity stars, went to the old Theatre to see the handprints (so many old glam Hollywood stars), and took lots of photos. We planned to go to Universal Studios in the afternoon, but we couldn’t go there until we got a Pink’s hotdog, one of the most notable places to visit in town. Supposedly, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore there…
At Universal Studios Hollywood, we rode the rides, and while it was a much smaller park than the one in Florida we had visited two years ago, we had fun and planned just right amount of time to be there, from 4 p.m. until it closed at 10 p.m. We took the Jimmy Fallon backlot tour (and my son and I got the song “Have a Tramtastic Day” stuck in our heads that Fallon sings as you board the ride, and my daughter and husband didn’t appreciate our sense of humor about that silly song), rode rides such as Forbidden Journey (Harry Potter castle ride), Minions, and others. We ate dinner at Tony Roma’s, but the highlight of the entire day was the light show that is put on at the Harry Potter area in Hogsmeade on the castle. It took our breath away, and we even stayed to watch it again and close down the park.
Of all the places we were visiting, I was least excited about Los Angeles, and yet, I think it was the place I fell in love with the most. The Hollywood Hills are beautiful, and the homes surrounding it with their own personalities and flowers and vines make it a spectacular area to drive through. As well, the Santa Monica Pier and the areas we drove through were so lovely, that I can now fully understand why the Hollywood folks love that town. Before we left for LaJolla the next morning, we drove to the Griffith Observatory (as featured in La La Land) and took photos overlooking all of Hollywood and LA.
I can’t wait to go back.