Three years ago, my biggest dream was to live in Los Angeles. I graduated college and almost exclusively applied to jobs in the City of Angels. After working in West Hollywood, I became enthralled with the city - and my interest was in the entertainment industry. Well, in a shocking turn of events (to myself, that is), I've now been living in San Diego for almost three years. Every so often, I get sad thinking about this unfulfilled dream, but I know deep down that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Anyways, when I found out my favorite band was playing a Valentine's Day concert in downtown L.A., I was thrilled for an excuse to go visit my old stomping grounds with Justin. I took the entire day off and explored both familiar and new places...and in that vein, today's Tuesday Ten is a peek into my day in Los Angeles:
1. Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe
I was introduced to Huckleberry during a business trip a few years ago and was pretty instantly obsessed. This adorable bakery/cafe combo in Santa Monica (just minutes from the water!) uses all local products and produce and features a seasonally rotating menu. Everything is simple and fresh. Last week, I opted for the organic quinoa and market veggies with egg bowl, a cup of house coffee and a blueberry corn meal cake, while Justin got the breakfast tostada. So much yum.
2. Santa Monica Farmer's Market
After indulging at Huckleberry, we walked around Santa Monica, heading towards the pier to admire Malibu's coastline. We ended up stumbling upon the Santa Monica Farmer's Market near Third Street Promenade. The market was huge (it makes the Little Italy Mercato feel small!) - and full of colorful produce and local produce. It was bustling mid-day, and between the sun on my back and the smell of fresh fruit, I was in heaven.
3. Sidecar Doughnuts
I have the biggest sweet tooth, so I was insistent we stop at Sidecar Doughnuts before we left Santa Monica. I opted for a seasonal doughnut: orange cherry with pistachio praline. It was perfectly light and fluffy. Justin opted for the choc-o-lot, perfect for those who love chocolate! The coffee was the perfect cherry on top.
4. Blacktop Coffee
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is find a local coffee shop (if I'm lucky, more than one!). So, once we arrived in downtown LA, we headed to Blacktop Coffee. This quaint espresso bar is located in the Arts District in the prettiest brick building. I opted for the "white" - a cappuccino with almond milk - and perused the connected boutique while the barista crafted my drink. Bonus: a Salt & Straw is right across the street!
5. Arts District Brewing
Another favorite stop of mine when exploring new cities? Breweries. So, we made sure to hit up two before the concert. First stop: Arts District Brewing. This spot in the Arts District is one of LA's only craft breweries. Not only did the bar offer a few solid DIPAs, the space also was decked out with classic bar games and vintage Skeeball machines (note: I won!). Perfection was sitting out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine and my flight and playing Yahtzee. Call me nerdy - I don't care!
6. Angel City Brewery
Second brewery stop: Angel City Brewing. It was just a quick walk away from Arts District Brewing, but had an entirely different vibe. The entire space is decorated with sprawling art pieces and felt gritty (in a good way, trust me!). A permanent taco food truck sits on site (10/10 recommend the nachos). My favorite beer here? The Citrus Wheat. Super refreshing after some hot salsa!
7. The Last Bookstore
While I am a fan of the convenience of ordering books online, nothing beats an actual bookstore. So, we spent some time in The Last Bookstore, California's largest used and new book/record store. The shelves were sprawling with special editions, new books, old books and everything in between. It was set up like a maze - and I was so overwhelmed...in a good way. Bonus: there's an art gallery on the top floor!
As I've mentioned before, I am a big art nerd (I studied it in college!). So, we made sure to visit a museum in LA. So many choices! We settled on MOCA, LA's contemporary art museum. We visited the Grand location. While we were still able to view the permanent collection, we were also given free tickets to make up for the smaller exhibit! Score. The collection was gorgeous, and my favorite part was the room dedicated to Rothko.
9. The Orpheum
Our final stop of the evening: The Orpheum. It's a historic venue (originally created for vaudeville shows) that is absolutely gorgeous inside. It's vintage vibe is beautiful - and it reminded me just a tad of Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
The reason I went to LA in the first place was to see one of my favorite bands: Johnnyswim. It was my fifth time seeing this husband/wife duo...and I swear it was even better than all the times before. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they just put on a really fun show. Give them a listen - but I swear by the fact that they are better live than recorded. Bonus: I got to meet them before the show!