My dear aunt wanted to spend some quality time with me and I’m so glad she drove me down south to Newport Beach. Perfect place to visit if you’re tired of all those crowded beaches. It may be small, though people who live or vacation here know what a wonderful place it is. This one is very clean too. I’d call this the “pearl of the OC”.
What a beautiful city, so much to see and do, great food and shopping.
As soon as we arrived, we went to her favorite bike rental shop — where mom and her rented bicycles two years back. The owner still recognized her and gladly gave us a discount :)
It was so fun to bike around the neighborhood and simply explore Newport Beach and Balboa Island. Seeing all the beautiful houses with yachts/boats at their backyard inspired me to have one for myself when I retire. LOL (if only)
Bike bike bike
Boats at the backyard
All that biking got me exhausted. Rockin’ Baja Lobster Coastal Cantina did not disappoint.
Fish tacos were superb
Spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the beach, appreciating the view and just enjoying the moment.
It was lovely, it was beautiful, it was Newport.
Want to see a spectacular view of downtown LA? Want to hike to the Hollywood sign? I’m sure you do.. Griffith Park is indeed the place to be.
Comprising over 4,000 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It is filled with wonderful attractions — LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory, Hiking trails and more!
It was my first time to visit Griffith Park and I mainly depended on my Google Map App to take me there. Sadly, I got lost a couple of times and it took me to a different place in Los Feliz. But after numerous turns and phone calls we’ve made, we finally found Griffith!
A healthy picnic
We started the afternoon by a having a lovely picnic at the park. You can never go wrong with Nutella, Strawberries and Banana.
Wheat bread with Nutella topped with bananas and strawberries
Our next stop was the Griffith Observatory. Here you can witness a breathtaking view of the city. Tens of millions have come to walk the inside of the building, view the live planetarium shows, or simply gaze out towards the coast and the heavens. The observatory was built with funds from the wealthy mining speculator, Griffith J. Griffith. I guess we all owe it to this man for making astronomy and observation accessible to all. He wanted a great park for a great city.He donated 3,015 acres of Rancho Los Felis to the City of Los Angeles in order to create a public park in his name.
In my hiking attire
Love the view
After appreciating the view and taking the tour at the Observatory, it was finally time to take a hike.
Now we are here!!! It was a good hike. :)
I can’t wait to visit this place again. Definitely a must see in SoCal.
From City Hall to Olvera Street to the ramen at Little Tokyo, Downtown LA has a lot to offer.
My mom used to work in DTLA few years back and during my visit, I really wanted to see and experience the metropolitan life. Who knows, maybe one day I could work there too? I spent the entire day at downtown — I wanted to unleash the inner city girl in me. That is by visiting city hall, riding the metro, having lunch at Little Tokyo, visiting museums and appreciating modern art and experiencing the so called DTLA traffic. One thing I hate about DTLA is the traffic. It is horrible… and most of the roads are one way. Driving could be a hassle here if you are unfamiliar with the area.
On the 101 Freeway
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles City Hall
My first stop was the Los Angeles City Hall. A historical landmark that has an observation deck at the top. This is where I was able to enjoy a panoramic view of the City of Angels at the 27th floor of the building. Entrance is FREE, but you have to sign in at the lobby.
Downtown Los Angeles Skyline
From Spring Street, I walked all the way to 1st Street where Little Tokyo/Japanese Village Plaza is. Here you will find authentic Japanese restaurants, cute mochi and dessert cafes and lots of shops! My favorite shop “Japangeles” has a little kiosk there. You will certainly have that vibe that you are strolling around a little Japan.
Welcome to Little Tokyo!
Those lanterns add an extra feel of Japanese culture
Daikokuya Special Ramen
For my first time in Daikokuya, I was surprised I only waited for 5 minutes to get seated at this famous ramen shop.I came during 12 noon and I expected a queue. There’s always an hour an half wait, but it’s definitely worth it. Hands down, one of the best ramens I ever had in my life. I totally recommend this place, if you’re a ramen lover. The broth is good, rich and flavorful.
OOTD - Cap from Japangeles & Shirt from Brandy MelVille
My next stop was Olvera Street. It is located at N Alameda St.(near Union Station), so I couldn’t just walk from Little Tokyo. It’s probably a 5 minute drive.
It is a great place to visit if you want to act like a tourist.
Little Mexico? Yup, if that title existed, Olvera would fit the mood. Here you get a taste of Mexico. Created in the 1930’s with a purpose “to preserve and present the customs and trades of early California’, Olvera St. is the birthplace of LA. This place is filled with history, modeled after any main plaza in any Mexican town, has cute and colorful kiosks in the middle where they have bands playing in the weekend. Charming, alive with vendors, stores, street carts and authentic Mexican restaurants — it is surely a must-see in LA. Many of the merchants on Olvera Street today are descended from the original vendors.
Cute items from Mexico
Wishing Well at Olvera
The plaza at Olvera where performances take place
Costumes for Sale
Large wooden Olvera Street cross
I was craving for a green tea boba so badly that I decided to go to the DTLA branch of Urth Caffe.
The plan was to head home after Urth, but my body and mind still did not want to. I wanted to visit a museum before calling it a day.Good thing the Museum of Modern Contemporary Art was by the area.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is a really cool art museum in the heart of LA. I’m a huge fan of modern art, and this museum certainly did not disappoint. I was lucky enough to visit on a Thursday, since admission is free. They constantly change their artwork and during my visit, it was all wax and clay creations.
The exhibit was all done by 1,500 people and 1 artist using clay and wax.
The artist made a few wax sculptures and lit them so they burn consistently/all the time and are melting in front of everyone who visits the museum-very cool concept.
That ends my downtown adventure in LA. Pretty amazing day filled with culture, art, nationalism and of course.. food! I cannot wait for my next trip to DTLA.
If you want to see what eating in the city of Angels is like, beyond all the fancy schmancy bistros along Beverly Hills, and all those 5 star top celebrity visited restaurants, then I suggest you try different food trucks in LA. Not that food trucks themselves are anything new of course - but the quality of food and the sheer variety of cuisines on offer right now is extraordinarily high. The variety is crazy, I tell you — from cupcakes, crepes, pancakes, ice cream, sushi, Filipino food, Brazilian steak, vegan delights, Vietnamese food and the list goes on and on. These trucks don’t stay in the same street everyday though. Keep tabs on their Facebook and Twitter pages to find out where they’ll be heading to next.
Since my stay in LA was only for 2 months, I wasn’t able to try all the food trucks in the city. Here are some that I tried:
1. Grilled Cheese Truck
My first ever food truck experience was with the famous Grilled Cheese Truck. I decided it to give it a try since I saw it on TV earlier that day. I was so lucky to catch them in my area too! When I arrived at the food truck festival, the GC truck had the longest queue compared to the other food trucks. It amazed me and I asked myself how can these people wait in line for 30 minutes for bread and cheese? I guess it must be really good! I really wanted to try it out since the hype was crazy
Their grilled cheese is good, but maybe I had set my expectations up a little too high.I had the brie melt and added some basil on it. Pretty good but I guess it’s too expensive for a sandwich.
This food truck is a little over hyped. Their grilled cheese is definitely something you should try at least once. But don’t expect to be knocked off your feet!
2. Kogi BBQ
Spicy Pork Rib tacos, Calamari tacos, Pacman quesadilla — are just some of the best sellers on the menu of this famous food truck. I heard good things about the Kogi BBQ truck so that’s why I had to check it out.
I honestly am not a fan of Korean BBQ or anything that has meat since I’m pescetarian. It is a good thing they had other stuff on the menu besides spicy pork rib. This food truck is an Asian Fusion mixed with Korean and Mexican style. The food here can be amazing and delicious. I was impressed by its service since they were very friendly and speedy.
3. George’s Greek Truck
From the 3 trucks I’ve tried, I got to say this is my favorite. I am huge fan of Mediterranean and Greek food, so I couldn’t miss this food truck — George’s Greek Truck. They serve beef and lamb gyros, kebabs, pita, hummus, feta fries, Greek salads and more. For my afternoon snack, I just had the hummus and pita bread. It was a good choice! Price is reasonable and service is just great.
For more info about the different Los Angeles food trucks, click here: http://www.findlafoodtrucks.com/
Lights, Camera, Action!
LA is the place for seeing where your favorite movies were shot. If you thought movies were made in faraway exotic locales, visiting a studio will burst that bubble. LA can pass for New York, Tokyo and everywhere in between.
My next entry is about my visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. I’ve been to this theme park twice before, and it still remains as one of my favorites. Its a great park to visit if you are into movies, live and interactive shows and crazy rides. I was so stoked to ride the Mummy ride and Jurassic Park ride.
I came here with a fellow Cebuana, Katrina who is one of the craziest girls I know and who is truly down for any sort of adventure.
We started off with the Studio Tour. It is a classic and is probably the best thing in the park since you learn so much about movies and television shows. It’s pretty interesting. What’s great about this ride is that you are on a tram and get to drive through the actual sets of Universal Studios. They always have something new when you visit since it constantly changes… although King Kong, Jaws and Psycho remain.
Fast and the furious.
If you’re asking about my favorite ride in this theme park, i’m gonna have to say it is the Revenge of the Mummy! Believe it or not, but we rode it 5 times non stop. It’s cool but it’s so short!!!
The staff of this ride were so friendly and accommodating. In fact, one of them joined us on our last ride!
We also enjoyed the Jurassic Park ride. We got so wet!
I love Shaved Ice!
Everyone told me to ride the Transformer’s ride. They said it was the newest attraction. Line wasn’t that long so luckily we got to ride it. However, I wasn’t that impressed. It was so-so.
Since we came on a weekday, lining up was not a problem for us. We had the privilege to ride everything, and watch all the shows.
Another great day spent outdoors. I love LA!
I’ve been to museums, shopping centres and other attractions but to SoCal beaches? Not yet. I finally decided to plan a day trip to Santa Monica with a fellow Cebuana and good friend (my G girl), Kiwi.
Both of us wanted to be adventurous that day so we commuted to the famous beach city from the east. It was our first time to take a train and a bus to the destination, which took approximately 2 and 1/2 hours. Pretty long than your normal car ride, but it was an experience.
Kiwi and I at the famous Union Station at DTLA.
Double checkin’ the route
As soon as we arrived in Santa Monica, we took a stroll around 3rd St Promenade. Lots of shops and restaurants here. Bad idea to visit on a weekend, since the place gets so busy and packed.
The Shore Hotel At Santa Monica
Santa Monica Pier
This is the focal point of the Santa Monica beach experience. With great views over the Pacific Ocean and the mountains to the north, this is a must stop photo spot.
What I recommend:
- Visit at a less busy time (maybe in the morning)
- Go all the way to the end of the pier
- Take the BIG BLUE BUS to the pier since parking could get crazy
Beach, sun, pier, food, etc. What else could you ask for? I love Santa Monica!
A sunny Sunday afternoon spent at The Grove. This place should ring a bell to most of you since this is where Mario Lopez’s show, “EXTRA!” is filmed. A lot of celebrities can be spotted here. The main reason why I went to The Grove was because of the famous Farmers Market.
The farmers market has tons of food options with a bit of everything - american, asian, seafood, coffee, candy/desserts, fresh produce, etc.
Headed to Melrose Avenue to see all the designer shops.
The day would not be complete with some sweet treats at Sweet Lady Jane Bakery. Their triple berry shortcake is to die for!
LACMA is hands down, one of my favorite art museums to visit in LA. It is a great place to bring family and friends or even a date for yourself. The museum is huge… and all cannot be seen in one trip. What I like about this museum is that collections are constantly changing and there is always an interesting exhibit for anyone.
The famous lamppost (located outside the museum) that are always in the movies. Most people just visit LACMA for this.
As creative juices flow, minutes turn into hours easily at LACMA. I really enjoyed looking at the wide range of artwork from historical to contemporary. Good day spent at this fantastic museum.
What I recommend:
— bring your student ID for a discount - $10 instead of $15
— look at the LACMA website for free days and new galleries
— bring a friend to take photos
— don’t miss the food trucks across the museum
- HAVE FUN! :)
I found myself walking around Rodeo Drive with my long time friend Christine. Of course, Beverly Hills was part of my must see places in Los Angeles. What to expect? Rows and rows of branded and designer boutiques. All the big fashion and high end firms have a presence here.
Rodeo Drive has been known to be used as a filming location for countless movies and series. One of my favorite TV shows, 90210, obviously has some scenes filmed here. I felt like “Naomi” walking around and checking the designer boutiques out.
After that lovely stroll, we decided to grab a bite at Urth Caffe. This was one of the cafes I’ve been wanting to try for the longest time! I've seen it over Instagram and Twitter since Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been expressing their cravings and love for Urth. We were so lucky that there was a branch nearby. They have one at Melrose, Downtown LA, Santa Monica, Pasadena and Beverly Hills. I love how this place serves organic coffee and tea, how cool is that?
Aside from their organic coffee and tea, they offer healthy and delicious salads, sandwiches and pizzas on the menu. I wanted to order everything on the menu since they all looked and sounded so good. If you want to go people watching and have a cup of coffee, then I suggest you take a visit to Urth.
I apologize once again for being on hiatus.
I spent the summer of 2013 in Southern California. I was out of the country for 56 days, out of my comfort zone and out and about in my city of dreams. It was my first time to travel on a 13 hour flight alone and my first time to be away from my parents for that long. I didn’t know what to expect, but nonetheless I was hopeful and excited for a wonderful adventure ahead.
I spent a month planning what attractions to see, what to do, and of course, where to eat (foodie).
For my first installment of my LA Diaries post, I will be sharing with you all my day at Irvine in SoCal. My good friend Mia and I headed down to Irvine for Easter Sunday. She has been studying at UC Irvine for 4 years now and she’s very familiar with the place. I couldn’t have any better tour guide than her.
Drivin’ down to the OC
The Ferris wheel at the Irvine Spectrum
The Irvine Spectrum is a must see when at Irvine. This mall has all my favorite shops, good restaurants and a cinema too. Perfect if you wanna ditch those indoor malls, and just have an afternoon stroll around with a friend or two.