“I never came to the beach or stood by the ocean
I never sat by the shore under the sun with my feet in the sand
But you brought me here and I’m happy that you did
‘Cause now I’m as free as birds catching the wind”-
Miley Cyrus- Malibu
When I planned our trip to California, I wanted to spend considerable time in L.A soaking up the feeling of ‘Old Hollywood’ and capturing a sense for what living in this metropolitan city of stars is like for the Angeleans of today.
Before we headed towards the glitz and glamour, we decided to spend a day exploring the L.A beach towns of Malibu and Santa Monica. Here’s a little look at some of the things we got up to.
We departed Santa Barbara and took the Pacific Highway down to Malibu. The drive was around 1.5 hours and we decided to take the top down and enjoy the warm sea air.
Upon entering Malibu, we noticed the many surfers parking up and heading to the many beaches, surfboards in tow. Amidst this chilled, surfy vibe, we also became aware of the opulent beach front condos and convoy of luxury cars that took over the highway.
We parked the car opposite the historic Malibu Pier and grabbed a table for brunch at Malibu Farm. Malibu Farm is a trendy organic restaurant located on the pier itself. We enjoyed delicious homemade fruit pancakes and avocado eggs accompanied by a cheeky glass of bucks fizz!
After a brief visit to Malibu, we took to the Pacific Highway for a final time. As we approached Santa Monica and departed sunny Malibu, we noticed a thick fog decending on our destination. As bizarre as this seemed, we soon discovered that the ‘June Gloom’ rolling in from the ocean was very common for this area.
We pulled into Shutters on the Beach and our valet kindly greeted us. Shutters is a luxury Santa Monica beach hotel and is famous the world over for being one of the best hotels in L.A.
The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see the ocean from the promenade. Hoping that the fog would soon clear, we hired bikes from the hotel and cycled to Venice Beach to explore the famous Boardwalk.
Venice is always a must see attraction for anyone travelling to L.A and it reminded me of London’s Camden Town but by the sea! The atmosphere is vibrant and full of life, from the colourful cafes and stores to its diverse and eclectic residents. A word of warning- the area is very touristy and can become every crowded, but if go along with an open mind, you should be fine.
Whilst touring Venice, we checked out Muscle Beach, the birthplace of bodybuilding (Arnold Schwarzenegger used to train here in the mid- sixties) and grabbed a bite to eat at EggSlut, an egg lovers paradise!
With the fog finally cleared, we decided to enjoy the pool area at Shutters, before getting ready for the evening.
We walked down to Santa Monica Pier (another tourist trap but well-worth seeing) and explored the surrounding area. Someone had recommended grabbing a drink at Bungalow, a retro cocktail bar with a great outdoor patio, however hunger had struck so we headed straight to Cha Cha Chicken.
Cha Cha Chicken is a a colourful shack on Ocean Avenue serving delicious Caribbean food in a casual setting. The restaurant is BYOB so be sure to grab a bottle of wine or a couple of beers and chow down!
After a delicious dinner, we decided to have drinks in the hotel bar. It is a stunning atrium opposite the ocean where a jazz pianist plays and the cocktails are flowing!
Staying at Shutters was a fabulous experience. It was like we had been whisked back in time to the Santa Monica seafront of days gone by. The rooms were beautifully clean, well decorated and in keeping with a nautical theme and the bed was insane! It was worth treating ourselves with a little touch of luxury before our busy 5 days in L.A which were ahead of us…
And so to Hollywood……