LOS ANGELES: Adventures in my Own Back Yard

LOS ANGELES: Adventures in my Own Back Yard

Stef Hollywoodsign

It’s a rare occurrence that I’m  home these days. Being a travel journalist takes me to far flung places around the globe, and at any given time, I can be away for two months at a time. “Home” is actually what I call base camp, because it seems to be more and more, my place to come down off my adventures and unwind.

Of course, that means catching up on laundry, cleaning, spending time with my husband and 8 animal-kids. It’s really no vacation of course, because I’m also working from here. So, when David Lee, from Gobackpacking.com said he was coming to Los Angeles, during the time I’d actually be here, I was thrilled. It would be my excuse to live some local adventures, some which I hadn’t experienced for years, and a few since childhood!

Dave of course had a checklist of things to see, and then I added some insider ideas where we locals go.

We started off with the night of his arrival at a swanky sushi restaurant called Katsuya. Katsuya has several locations around Los Angeles. It’s the place to spy celebrities and on any given evening (we were there on a Wednesday night)- a bevy of sports cars ranging from Ferraris to Bentleys.

Traffic is always heavy in Los Angeles, and knowing when to try and go on off traffic times can be iffy. So, Thursday being one of L.A.’s worst traffic days, we decided to move some things around and see Hollywood, and the very touristy area on Hollywood Blvd at Highland. The massive Kodak Theater, Grauman’s Chinese Theater , and then a coffee at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. We did manage to get to the lookout area to see Hollywood sign in the morning. The look out point off of Mullholland Drive, near the Hollywood Fwy- off Cahuenga Blvd. beware that the turn is only has about with parking for 6 cars or so. If timed wrong, you’ll hit what we did, a series of tourist vans and buses. The look out offers panoramas, with beach views, too.

There are many places to choose from in Hollywood to eat. But, if you’re looking for stars, they won’t be anywhere touristy. Look for non-touristy restaurants on a piece of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood called, Sunset Plaza. There’s everything from French fare from Le Petit Four, to Chin Chin Chinese food, to Cafe Med for Italian.

We headed to the Santa Monica pier, and we snacked on truffle french fries at the beautiful Casa Del Mar hotel’s bar, complete with ocean views.

Thursday night, my friend Kristin Luna- from Camelsandchocolates.com, dropped into town on assignment. We ended up in Malibu at the famous Tony Tavernas restaurant, in the Malibu Country Mart. Typically, on any given night- this is where you could see a star or two.

Friday- again, with traffic considerations, Dave and I headed for Beverly Hills. I showed him the town, he thought it smaller than he pictured in his mind, we walked Rodeo Drive, but really- local’s hit Canon and Beverly Drive to eat, play, and shop. We headed onto South Beverly Drive for a peek and taste test of Kim Kardashian’s Famous Cupcakes. All I can say- she’s my new superhero marketing maven. WOW!

We headed to my two other haunts after lunch at The Grille on the Alley, where in most cases when I’m in town, you’ll find me. 1. Barney’s Greengrass atop Barney’s New York. Another great celeb siting spot, (we saw the Govenator there), and 2. Sprinkles Cupcakes. Ode to Wednesday’s and Sunday’s= dark chocolate with coconut. Hands down- the best cupcakes in Los Angeles. (Yes, sorry to say Kim, they beat your cupcakes, however, you have the marketing maven thing sewn up!)

Friday’s dinner was dinner at Santa Monica’s locale’s hang out, Tex Mex Mexican Restaurant.

Saturday came all too quick. dave’s last day consisted of  a visit to the Griffith Park Observatory, great views- Fat Burger for a tasty lunch, a tweet-up at The Farmer’s Market, followed by a night with Marty and Elaine from The Dresden Room. I love this place. You might remember the Dresden Room highlighted in the movie, Swingers, and Target commercials featuring Elvis Presley and Priscilla look-a-likes (that’s Marty and Elaine) singing kitschy renditions of Muskrat Love and Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. Don’t let all the kitsch fool you, they are both accomplished musicians. That night we had the honor of listening to them perform some smooth jazz, and professional guest singers were highligted from the crowd.

Always a night to remember when visiting The Dresden Room.

I’ve been jaded living here in Los Angeles. It took a visit from my friend, Dave to bring back my love for this city. Sometimes, it helps to find adventures in your own back yard, being a local tourist for the day, to appreciate where your “home” is.