A couple weeks ago, I decided to take a week off of “life” and go to California with my dad, brother and sister. Now, for me, traveling to California is extremely overwhelming because I am a planner and there were SO MANY PLACES I “needed” to go to. After realizing that it was going to be impossible to hit all the spots I wanted to, I decided to prioritize a couple of places and try to go with the flow for the rest of the time. It ended up being a week filled with amazing food, amazing times with my family, and a time to reflect. A lot was going on in my life when I was there. My long-term relationship had just ended, and I really was forced to stay present and ponder what I really am looking for in my life. This trip was EXACTLY what I needed and I already want to go back! Below, I highlight almost everywhere that I went to, enjoy!
My family and I woke up bright and early to catch our flight to LA! I was hungry by the time I got to my gate, so I decided to grab some airport food. I usually go to CIBO, which is a store and restaurant in the airport that actually has healthy options, but it was too far from our gate. I decided to go to a breakfast place and try to modify something. I got a classic paleo breakfast. Plate of eggs with bacon, added spinach. Yes, they probably cooked it in nasty canola oil, but there’s only so much you can do. I usually have the tendency to snack on the plane, but I often times experience bloating and discomfort when eating in the air, so I decided to fast for the plane ride. I was a little bit uncomfortable from the breakfast I ate, even after taking digestive enzymes, but fasting on the actual plane was a good move for me.
In N’ Out
After arriving and waiting for our rental Jeep, my whole family wanted In N’ Out, and I knew I had to try it. After researching their secret menu, I saw they have a “protein style” burger which is the patties wrapped in lettuce. I ordered a double burger with no cheese and it was delicious! I tried some fries as well and they were just okay, but overall In N’ Out is definitely worth the hype. My sister is vegetarian and she ordered a grilled cheese and said it was delicious, so that’s always an option for all you meat-free peeps out there.
The house my dad rented was an Airbnb a block away from Venice Beach. It was absolutely beautiful. The main living room acted as a bedroom, there was a separate kitchen, a bathroom, and another bedroom. My sister and I claimed the extra bedroom and there was a door in our room that led right out to the balcony. I sat up there every morning and night meditating and taking it all in. I can honestly say that if I had to choose one place in my life where I felt the most calm and content, it would be sitting out on that balcony.
Before I arrived in LA, I was researching different meditation centers to check out and Ceremony Meditation was one of the best reviewed and it was right in Abbot Kinney. The space is absolutely beautiful and nothing like anywhere I’ve been before. When you walk in, it’s a large shop filled with crystals, Buddhas, tarot cards, etc. I wanted to buy everything in the store. You then walk straight back and it leads you in the back outside. It is a wooden deck with a couch and then a large sand pit in the center with Ohm symbols everywhere. There is also a giant Buddha waterfall across the sand pit. The actual meditations are held in a small shed-like building a little further back. It is a small, dark space with about nine sitting pillows set up. Everyone that was in the same meditation with me was extremely warm and friendly, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a meditation center. The meditation we did was called “No Mud No Lotus” taught by Peter Opperman which had to do with learning how to move through shitty events in your life in a healthy way, and knowing that better things are to come. I really enjoyed the meditation and I felt absolutely amazing afterward.
I visited Ceremony Meditation again a couple of days later for a meditation called Future Self and it was truly life changing. It was taught again by Peter Opperman. This time, we sat in cushioned chairs that adjusted whether you wanted to sit or lie down. We also wore headphones and it was extremely soothing and I truly tuned everything out. I would go as far to say that this was the deepest meditation I had ever entered into. I really got to see what I wanted for myself in my future and “meet” and receive advice from my future self. I walked away with the experience of a lifetime, a purple Buddha statue, and a couple of crystals. I know for a fact if I lived near a Ceremony Meditation I would be one happy soul.
ABBOT’S PIZZA COMPANY
My family and I wandered past this place and there was a sign for gluten free pizza, so we decided to stop in. The sell pizza by the slice or in entire pizzas. My family got cheese and sausage and I got the gluten free salad pizza which was a gluten free crust topped with lettuce, lots of veggies, and avocado. It was very good and my family said their gluten-filled pizza was great as well!
Salt & Straw
Although I didn’t actually get the chance to get ice cream from here, it smelled amazing and the flavors were very unique and looked delicious. They also have a vegan option. The line was out the door, but if you happen to pass one in LA I highly recommend popping in.
The Landmark Theater
The theatrer was super adorable, but I was more impressed with the snacks they had! Although I didn’t get anything, they had dried fruit, organic candies, and “healthier” options alongside the regular movie theater candy. Only in LA! We saw the movie Isle of Dogs, the new Wes Anderson movie and it was pretty good! Without giving too much away, it gives me Fantastic Mr. Fox vibes, but that’s my favorite movie so Isle of Dogs didn’t really compare. Whether you’re a dog lover or a Wes Anderson fanatic, the movie is worth seeing.
I had about ten yoga studios I was dying to check out while I was in LA but I only ended up making it to one. Right away I knew it was going to be an adorable space. You enter through the back, and right when you walk up the stairs the studio begins. We waited down in the little lobby until the last class got dismissed. It was a lofted space and it was set up with a Buddha at the front of the space, which is always a good sign. I took a Vinyasa yoga class and it was pretty good. It was extremely slow moving and there was no music, which forced me to be extremely mindful about my movements. I’m someone that enjoys a challenge and music in my yoga classes, but it was nice to mix it up. Overall, the studio was very homey and I could tell there were a lot of regulars in the class.
This was on my list before I got to LA and I’m glad I checked it out. It’s a small space with a huge line out the door, but it moves quickly. You go up to the register, order, and the food is made pretty much in front of you. It seemed they were most well known for their breakfast sandwiches. My dad got the Fairfax sandwich and said it was delicious. I ordered the “slut” which was awkward to order, but very unique and delicious. It was an egg poached on top of a jar of potato puree. They usually serve it with bread, but I opted for the side salad and they were super accommodating. Highly recommend checking this place out for a quick and easy breakfast.
MENOTTI’S COFFEE SHOP
I didn’t have a lot of coffee shops on my list because I don’t drink coffee but, my dad wanted a tea after breakfast so we headed to Monottis which is right off Venice beach. I ordered an iced chai with almond milk. The chai was lightly sweetened unfortunately, but it had an amazing ginger flavor that made it worth it. Definitely a cool vibe coffee shop.
After riding bikes to the beach with my sister, we decided to go shopping. I had only seen Sweaty Betty online and didn’t realize they had a store. All of the stores in LA are really cool and a lot of them have an outdoor aspect to them. Sweaty Betty has really cute workout clothes and they had Health-Ade kombucha on tap in the store! All the way in the back of the store they had something called the “Zen Den” which was a cool outdoor hangout space. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, it’s cool space to checkout and drink some booch.
This was one of the top places to go to on my list because of how often I see it featured on Instagram. The space reminds me of True Food Kitchen, and the menu was much more vegan based that I had thought. Unfortunately, we went later in the day so I wasn’t able to try the much raved about gluten-free cinnamon roll. My sister got the Illuminated Immune boosting smoothie, and I got a “Brave” shot packed with lemon, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and oil of oregano. Every time I found a wellness shot, I always got it because I had started feeling a little bit sick and I was not about to be sick in LA. As far as food goes, I got the Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer with Buffalo Adobo Sauce and it was one of the most delicious meals I had. I had never made anything like that before and the vegan Cashew Aoli dipping sauce was insane. I also got the vegan Mushroom Carnitas Taco which was very good. I get nervous about eating out at vegan-based restaurants because often times it’s hard to find soy-free options. Luckily, our server was very understanding and had an ingredients list to check right on his iPad. This is somewhere I would definitely love to go back to, especially for the cinnamon roll.
Jeni’s Ice Cream
Yes, we have a Jeni’s in Chicago and I always recommend it to people for high quality ice cream because they use grass-fed dairy and simple ingredients, but I had never had it myself! They recently came out with a dairy-free dark chocolate flavor so I decided to give it a try. I looked up the ingredients and they’re pretty simple. I was happy to see that they use coconut cream as their base rather than soy. It was just as thick and creamy as regular ice cream and it was absolutely delicious.
After a morning of yoga on the beach and shopping around, I headed to Moon Juice to finally mean Christina Rice in person! Christina and I had met via Instagram and for awhile, I was her intern for Actually Adultish and she was my health coach. She is such a hardworking and intelligent individual and I highly recommend checking out her website and utilizing her services. It’s always interesting meeting someone that you only know from online because you feel like you already know them! Anyways, Moon Juice is a brand and shop that makes different adaptogenic powders and dusts to support you in different ways. I ordered the Matcha Moon which had sesame butter, coconut meat and other yummy adaptogens. It was delicious poured over ice! I also picked up one of their Beauty Dust chocolates which had ashwagandha, one of my favorite adaptogens and I ate it on the plane ride home.
I did not eat here, but I walked by it several times and popped in with Christina and wish I would have gotten the chance to eat. If you’re not aware of the Bulletproof brand, created by Dave Asprey, he is most known for his Bulletproof “FAT” coffee. He endorses the Paleo, ketogenic, high-fat lifestyle and the menu is a dream! They make their own coconut flour tortillas, and it looks like they have a good breakfast selection. I will definitely be visiting next time I’m in LA.
I was way too excited for Erewhon. If you’re not familiar, it is a grocery store resembling Whole Foods, but on steroids. They carry all of the amazing specialty products that you see on Instagram and they really seem to “get to” when it comes to embodying a true health foods store. I had gone there quickly the night before and ran in to get dinner, Magestic Garlic hummus and some other snacks for my family, but I was excited to eat there! The “hot bar” is out of this world and it was so hard to decide on one entree and two sides. I ended up getting the Vegan/Paleo lasagna for my entree. It was eggplant based with an amazing “creamy” cashew cream that was so delicious. As my sides I opted for the purple sweet potato mash and crispy brussel sprouts. The outdoor patio is really cute to dine in as well. It was one of the best meals I had in LA hands down and I wish so desperately that we had one in Chicago. If you haven’t heard of the famous Erewhon Paleo bread, I picked some up and carried that bad boy through security in my purse. I have not found any Paleo pre-baked bread that doesn’t taste like a sponge, except for this one. The ingredients are mind blowing and it’s so good! I only have two slices left in my freezer and I’m pretty upset about it. They also have a coffee bar and I got something called a Chagaccino which I will now forever be craving. It’s a non coffee adaptogenic drink with chug, coconut cream, and other magical ingredients. Erewehon is a MUST if you’re in LA.
3rd Street Promenade
If you like shopping, you’ve got to hit up the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. They have everything from Brandy Melville to Urban Outfitters and an Apple Store. There are also lots of yummy restaurants, which brings me to my next point.
We decided to grab a bite here before we headed to the Lakers game. I was still full from lunch, but I ended up getting an alcoholic kombucha “beer” which was super good! My sister opted for the gluten free mac n cheese which I tried and as a mac n cheese lover, it was amazing. The cheese was crispy on top and creamy inside. They also had a lot of other bar food like options such as burgers and salads. A great place for everyone to find something.
My dad was nice enough to buy a tickets to the Lakers game at the Staples center! I actually really enjoy going to sports games, especially basketball. Although we didn’t see Justin Bieber sitting court side, the Lakers did at least wine, and we got free Lakers neck pillows!
This was also on my list of places to go, and I’m so glad I ended up going for breakfast. It was just my dad and I, and sitting outside was so wonderful. There was a fire pit and lots of awesome plans- very aesthetically pleasing. I knew right away I needed to get the duck dish. It was called Duck Confit and it consisted of potatoes, veggies and duck hash, a sunny side up Duck egg, with grainy mustard. My dad got the Kumquat yogurt bowl with granola. The menu was filled with so many delicious and healthy options, it was hard to choose! Definitely recommend checking out this adorable higher end spot!
My dad really wanted to check these out, and I have to say they were pretty cool. We were only able to drive by them, but they were super beautiful. The houses surrounding the canals were ultimate goals. If I type that I’m going to live there one day does that count as manifesting!?
If you know me, you know the way to my heart is a grass-fed burger. When I found out that Burger Lounge has a grass-fed PALEO burger, I pretty much flipped out. My family and I went there and had an amazing meal! The staff was extremely kind and accommodating, and all the food was delicious. I got the Paleo burger which was grilled zucchini topped with grass-fed beef, bacon, veggies, and guac. It was super good and I love the fact that it was on a bed of zucchini. My dad and brother got regular burgers, chicken tenders (which looked amazingly crispy), some onion rings and french fries. They also accommodated my sister and made her grilled cheese! My siblings also enjoyed some delicious looking milkshakes. Arguably, the best part of the meal was the BBQ sauce made in house. I love that LA has truly healthy “fast-food” burger joints around town. Best burger in LA goes to Burger Lounge for sure.
Kippy’s Ice Cream
Paleo, refined sugar free, vegan ice cream that is actually creamy!? I think yes! Kippy’s is an adorable ice cream shop with a ton of different Paleo ice cream flavors made with coconut cream and sweetened with honey, dates, and one flavor is only sweetened with vanilla! I opted for the double chocolate and strawberry combo. Not to mention, they have amazing toppings including two house made “fudge” and “caramel” sauces that only have three ingredients each: coconut oil, honey, and cacao/pink salt! If I had one of these in Chicago I would be in trouble because it’s every Paleo’s dream ice cream shop.
I didn’t really get my taco fix while in LA, until I convinced my dad to go to Tocaya one night for dinner. There’s a taco there for everyone! There’s vegan options, “bowls” which can be made Paleo, and quesadillas. After being on the phone ordering for about thirty minutes asking the women what was soy/gluten free, I decided on a grilled chicken taco, a shredded chicken taco, and a carne asada taco topped with their house made soy-free nut-free cheese. The tacos were small but delicious and very filling. I also recommend ordering ahead of time because it is a small space and there was a line out the door when we went to pick up our order. I definitely recommend it if you’re in a taco mood (but when am I not in a taco mood!?)
My last day was spent shopping, going back to In N Out, and heading home. This trip meant a lot to me and came at a very necessary time in my life. It opened my eyes to the fact that I am my own independent person and sometimes, I really love being by myself. It opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t really want to live in Chicago for much longer, at least for a little while. It opened my eyes to the love of travel and exploration. It made me feel comfortable about the way I want to live my mindful, healthy life. I can confidently say I will be in LA soon, and it excites me that I barely scratched the surface with exploring LA and all of the wonderful spaces and restaurants it has to offer. Until next time.