Los Angeles, California: Malibu, Venice & Santa Monica

LA is always a fun escape. A few days of R&R at the delightful Shutters Hotel included indulging in delicious food and then hiking it off in the many canyons surrounding the city. There is plenty to do and my quick visit only scraped the surface, but I was charmed by Venice and adorable Abbot Kinney and left with a list of restaurant recommendations a mile long. Will hopefully be back for some more beach time soon!

Sleep... While there are no lack of amazing hotels in LA, I'm partial to the cozy, preppy vibe (and beach-front location) at Shutters on the BeachThis hotel has a Hamptons meets the west coast vibe, and is a great place to indulge in a few days of R&R. The spa is heavenly and the rooms are decorated to make you feel like you are at home. Another fun option is the Petit Ermitage, a bohemian hideaway in West Hollywood. Read my full overview over on TravelDo.se.

Pack... The beachy fashion scene here is on point, but remember you are on the water so it can still get chilly at night. Cutoff shorts and easy dresses are perfect for the daytime. And don't forget your bathing suit and a cover up for lounging poolside. 

Bring home... Lots of goodies from my shopping exploits up and down Abbot Kinney. If you're not careful you'll end up with an overstuffed suitcase like me! 

{ wander }

Abbot Kinney - The best street for shopping! I thoroughly enjoyed my first time here popping in and out of all the shops. Current/Elliot, Velvet, Marine Layer, Cuyana... to name a few of my favorites. I recommend an afternoon wandering up Abbot Kinney, and stopping at Salt & Straw for some of the most inventive flavors of ice cream when you need a sugar rush to keep you going. 

Gjusta Goods - A new discovery this most recent trip. Located next to the ever popular Gjusta, this shop is stocked with vintage finds and unique goods from all over the world. It's a fun place to browse. I was taken with the incredibly soft Gjusta-made pillows, and wish I'd snagged one to bring home.

Brentwood Country Mart - A fun place to spend a few hours, wandering through the amazing selection of shops (Intermix! Jenni Kayne! James Perse! and more), grab a coffee or a bite to eat and if you are lucky spot a celeb or two.

Hikes - So many hikes! Pick a canyon and go explore.

Bike to Venice Canals - We borrowed bikes from Shutters and rode up to Venice to explore the canals. Lots of people watching, but the path gets busy in the afternoons. I'd recommend doing this in the morning to avoid the rush and having to constantly dodge other bikers, walkers and joggers. 

The Class - One of the highlights was trying out a new-to-LA workout called The Class, a cathartic and incredibly challenging workout with each exercise lasting the length of a well-matched song. My mom and I are both obsessed and itching to go back. Their original location is in NYC so you can also check out a class there. 

{ eat }

Tasting Kitchen (Venice) - This was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Come hungry and do the 5 course tasting menu. The only decision you'll have to make is what wine to order, and the waitress will even help navigate that depending on what the rest of the meal will entail. The entire meal will be a surprise from the kitchen which makes for such a fun experience. This is a great spot for a special occasion or just an amazing meal. Enjoy! 

Rose Cafe (Venice) - Casual and relaxed, this popular spot is open all day. We loved the pasta and the chicken, but everything we ordered was devoured. A good place for groups, the restaurant is spacious and also has plenty of open seating in the bar if you arrive without a reservation. 

Malibu Farm (Malibu) - Fresh & delicious farm-to-table food. You can choose from the Restaurant (slightly larger menu at the beginning of the pier) or the Pier Cafe (more casual counter service overlooking the ocean). Grab a table on the deck to eat overlooking the Malibu Pier. 

Gjelina  (Venice) - One of those amazing restaurants that actually lived up to the hype. Thin, interesting pizzas, fresh salads and more veggie sides that you can count - there are too many options to be satisfied in one trip. 

Gjelina Take Away (Venice) - Delicious Gjelina pizza, sandwiches and salads to go if you don't have time to stop in to the full service restaurant next door.

Gjusta (Venice) - emphasis here is on the bakery, but they have great take away salad and sandwich options for a quick and yummy breakfast or lunch.

The Butcher's Daughter (Venice) - Fresh, delicious vegetarian food in a lovely setting. The kind of place I would happily come to sit all day. 

Farmshop (Brentwood) - Located in the Brentwood Country Mart, this sister restaurant to the northern California location has a cozy, neighborhood vibe. Be sure to browse the well-curated market attached to the restaurant before you leave. 

Rustic Canyon (Santa Monica)This wine bar and restaurant was a real standout, and I would go back in a heartbeat. The thoughtfully crafted menu highlights seasonal and local ingredients in a creative and interesting way, and an impressive wine list rounds out the experience. 

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{ march 2016. updated october 2017 }