If you follow me on Instagram (@kristen.ferry), you probably saw some pictures from Dylan and I’s vacation to California! We had a BLAST and I thought it would be fun to share our favorites from the trip with you guys. I’m going to be sharing all the information about choosing a flight, where to stay, things to do, places to eat, and more! I’ll also be including some tips for traveling on a budget that can be applied to ANY trip, not just California.
I’m going to start off with some basic travel tips and what worked for us, and then I will go into the L.A. specific recommendations!
We got a great deal and got a round trip ticket for $177 each! I’ve typically flown out of Omaha because it’s only 1 hour away, but tickets were way cheaper to fly out of Kansas City so we did that. However, KC is 3 hours away which made for a very early morning (2:30am) to fly out and a very late night (4:00am) coming home. So just be aware of that! As far as getting a good deal on a flight goes, it just depends on when and where you’re going. We had a pretty small window to choose from because of other things going on, but the more flexibility you have, the more options you’ll be able to choose from. I also really recommend booking in advance as much as possible! I got automated email updates for our flight and they got ridiculously expensive as it got closer to our trip. We booked the end of March I believe and left June 8. The google flights tracker was really helpful in comparing flights/prices/dates, then we booked through Expedia and flew on Delta. Southwest is a great airline to fly through (if you can get good prices) because each person gets 1 free checked bag, unfortunately, we weren’t able to get tickets through Southwest and had to pay $30 for our one checked bag each way. The app “Hopper” is also a great one to keep an eye on flights you may be interested in.
Luckily, LAX is pretty affordable to fly into. If you’re looking to fly somewhere on a budget (aren’t we all 😉 ), do some research! Typically, most places have their busy seasons and their “off” seasons because of weather/attractions, etc. Talk to people that have gone before or live there, and see what your cheapest options are.
Where to Stay:
We stayed in an Air BnB, which was WAY cheaper than any hotels in the area that we wanted. Price wise, it just depends on where you’re going as far as what’s going to be cheaper (Air BnB vs. hotel). Since we were wanting to be as close to Venice and the beach as possible, an Air BnB was by far cheaper than any hotels. We also didn’t rent a vehicle so we knew wanted to be within walking distance to a lot of things. If you’re driving somewhere, it may work out to find a cheap hotel and then drive to where you want to go.
Specifically regarding the Air BnB route, we definitely learned some things and know what we would do differently next time! We stayed in a single room in someone’s house, where we had access to their common areas (bathroom, kitchen, living room), but they (4 other guys) were still there. They were very nice and accommodating, however, the common areas weren’t as clean as I would have expected and preferred. We planned on getting food for breakfast and eating there every morning, but we ended up only doing that one day because it just wasn’t very clean and we weren’t super comfortable with it. It worked fine for us during this trip because there were only two of us and we didn’t spend much time there anyway (plus it was cheap with a good location). However, next time we will definitely get an Air BnB where we have the whole place to ourselves so that we feel more comfortable to use the space however we’d like. Or, depending on where we’re going, getting a cheap hotel that has complimentary breakfast. By having one meal at your Air BnB/hotel you can save money and also have a healthier meal.
We didn’t rent a vehicle when we got there because it wasn’t in the budget. We were planning on walking or getting an Uber for the most part, which we did! But we also found these scooters EVERYWHERE, and we ended up using those all the time LOL! They were so much fun and super convenient. The three main brands we used were Uber, Lyft, and Wheels. We each downloaded the apps so that we could easily grab whatever one was available when we wanted them. The Uber and Lyft ones were both $0.15/minute, but the Lyft ones also cost a dollar to unlock it each time. The Wheels ones were $0.35/minute and were the fastest of the three! These scooters were just parked on the sidewalks all over the place, you went up and scanned the barcode with the app to unlock it and then parked it on a sidewalk when you were done with it.
For what we needed, these scooters were perfect to go down to the boardwalk (1 mile away) and the entire Venice area; we even took them to the Santa Monica Pier (3 miles away). We still did take an Uber sometimes to go places that were farther away (Hollywood area). I didn’t see anything about these scooters when I was researching transportation options, but there may be a chance that if you’re going to a bigger/popular city they may have something like this. They were a pleasant surprise! 🙂
Now onto our recommendations if you’re headed to the Los Angeles area!
*all of the restaurants/places to eat are in blue
- Beach & Boardwalk
- The Seaside Cafe
- It’s Sugar
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Muscle Beach (closed for renovations when we were there :(, but will be cool when it’s done I’m sure!)
- Venice area restaurants
- Cafe Collage
- The Poke Shack
- Noah’s Bagels
- In-N-Out Burger
- Cafe Buna
- Abbot Kinney Boulevard
- Abbot’s Pizza Company
- Blue Star Donuts
- Salt & Straw
- Gold’s Gym – We went at 4am because Dylan really wanted to meet Mike OHearn, and he did! Mike was super nice and it was totally worth it. We went back again that day because we thought we’d get our money’s worth of the day pass and it was so awesome to get to see the outside area as well.
- Venice Canals – There are 5 (I think..) and a really pretty area to walk around and see all of the neat houses that were on the canals.
- Santa Monica Pier
- The Albright
- Seaside on the Pier
- Pacific Park – the only ride we did was the Ferris Wheel and the view was AMAZING from the top! Totally worth it.
- Los Leones Trail – It got really hot when we started hiking so we didn’t go all the way to the top lookout (3.5 miles). But we made it to the first one (little over 1 mile) and it was beautiful!
Marina del Ray
- Whiskey Red’s – Right by the water so it was a fun area to walk around and look at all the different boats in the harbor. We even saw sea lions right by the restaurant as well!
- There were also places to rent jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards, etc., which would have been a ton of fun!
- Walk of Fame – neat area to walk around and check things out, see the Hollywood sign
- There are a lot of other cool things like the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, Hard Rock Cafe, Universal Studios, etc. (we just didn’t do that because of time and money LOL)
- Cabo Cantina (we were there on “Taco Tuesday” so we got cheap unlimited tacos)
- The Original Farmers Market
- Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts – We love donuts
- I don’t remember the name of it, but there was a place that made personal size pizzas and they were SO good!
- They also had a ton of fun little fudge/toffee/chocolate shops and other food to try! I took a couple of small things back home for my parents.
- The Grove shopping center – Pretty much all of your standard and high-end stores; it’s all outdoors so it’s fun to walk around and check things out.
(the Farmer’s Market and The Grove are connected together)
As you can see, we ate a LOT of food, lol 🙂 I hope you guys found this to be helpful! Whether or not you’re going to Los Angeles, there are lots of helpful tips in this blog post regarding traveling in general. Be sure to comment below and let me know if you have any other questions or recommendations about traveling 🙂
Until next time,