As you well know, I am a huge soccer fan. Huge. It’s one of the main reasons I travel. I’ve been all over the continental US and Canada for USMNT and D.C. United matches, as well as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, England for Liverpool FC, and Brazil for the World Cup.
Over Columbus Day weekend, the US Men’s National Team played Mexico in the playoff match for the right to play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The USMNT lost, so I won’t be talking about that, but I got to spend a wonderful long weekend in LA with some of my closest friends, and had a blast regardless of the match’s outcome.
SANTA MONICA AND KOREATOWN
We landed on Thursday morning and went straight to Santa Monica Pier for lunch and to put our toes in the sand. We didn’t do too much exploring because we had plans for dinner that night, but there also didn’t seem to be much to see. The beach is beautiful, but the pier is super touristy and there are so many pigeons. Gina and I had tacos for lunch, because duh.
After checking into our Airbnb and taking a short nap (jetlag, yaknow?), we headed over to Koreatown for barbecue with some friends that live in LA. We may support different MLS sides, but friendship knows no kit color. If you are ever in LA, I cannot recommend Road to Seoul enough. It’s all you can eat, but you have to eat what you order.
After dinner, Gina and I headed back to LAX to pick up Suzanne, and then we all went home and promptly passed out.
Friday was all about relaxing at the beach. We stayed in an Airbnb about a 20 minute walk from Venice Beach, and spent most of the morning relaxing on the sand. This was my first trip with my new camera, so I wanted to have a wander along the sand and take some pictures of the ocean.
After spending some time relaxing on the beach and getting a reeeeeeal nice sunburn, it was time for lunch. Thanks to a post-it stuck to a menu in our Airbnb advising that they have the best margaritas in town, we went to Lula’s Cocina for lunch. The margs were delish, and so were the tacos (TACOS ARE MY FAVORITE FOOD GROUP, OKAY?).
We went back to our Airbnb for a quick cat nap after lunch. We then headed out to West Hollywood for dinner at ink. ink. is my favorite restaurant in LA, and possibly in the country. So delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I don’t have any photos of my food because I was too busy eating it. Michael Voltaggio won Top Chef way back in the day, and its easy to see why when you eat at his restaurant. I was just sad they didn’t have the lavender soda on the menu this time.
After dinner, we drove over to Pasadena (you really need to rent a car in LA, btw) for the American Outlaws Night Before Party at Barney’s Beanery. The NB4 parties are great because it’s the chance to get together with all of your friends and catch up, drink, and have a good time without the stress of a match (unlike at the tailgates). A sizable group from DC made the trip to LA for the game, but we spent a good couple of hours mingling with friends from Boston, Phoenix, Rhode Island, LA, New York and Beyond.
Saturday was all about the USMNT v. Mexico match. The match was at the Rose Bowl, and we’d heard plenty of horror stories about traffic, so we left Venice Beach late morning and went to Pasadena for a quick lunch before heading to the stadium. The game itself was great, despite the sucky outcome, and it’s always a great time to hang out with friends while at the match.
On Sunday morning, I drove down to Costa Mesa to visit with one of my best friends and her fiance. We decided to head over to Balboa Island for a delicious brunch.
The breakfast enchiladas at Wilma’s Patio were to diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie for. And the iced lattes were so refreshing. Wilma’s is literally The Cutest Place I’ve Ever Been, so get there early as there will be a line.
After brunch, I headed back to LA proper to pick up Suzanne who had been doing some solo sightseeing while I was at brunch. After a quick stop at the Farmer’s Market and The Grove, we drove over to the Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset before our redeye back to DC.
We got to the Observatory kind of late in the day and the parking lot was full, so we parked down by the Greek Theater and caught the shuttle up to the Observatory just in time for sunset. It’s 50 cents each way, so definitely the most cost-conscious way to access the Observatory, unless you like walking up super steep hills with no railings to stop you from going feet over ass down a cliff. I plan on going back the next time I am in LA, as I would like to spend some more time in the museum, as well as checking out the telescopes and the various media displays.
This was my second time in LA and I really enjoyed myself. The weather was nice, the pace was a little slower, and I spent time with amazing friends. I’m thinking I may head back for Camp Cupcake in January, airfares and leave balances permitting. And I’ll be back to California at least twice in 2016, for bachelorette shenanigans and the wedding.