Welcome to my blog! I hope you find inspiration to take a travel challenge yourself and/or find ideas of where to visit in California and what to do in those places! Enjoy! 

January: Los Angeles, CA

January: Los Angeles, CA

Moral of the story... Don't bring the dogs. 

YES. These were the first words that came to my mind when I saw where we were going for Month #1 of our 12 month journey. My grandparents have always lived in Northern California, along with the rest of my family from my mother's side, and the trip to the Southern half of the state was just never made. Our beach trips consisted of drives Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey... Not Santa Monica, Manhattan or Venice. 2017 was my lucky year and I was able to visit the ins and outs of Los Angeles and I fell in love. I am a city girl through and through and found my deep love for big cities while at school in Seattle, WA. I explored all that Los Angeles has to offer, I went on studio tours, became amazed at Universal, went to live tapings of shows and of course, finally visited the famous Southern California beaches. 

Mom and I planned our January vacation for the end of month due to my travels to Washington earlier in the month. In October we drove down to the L.A. area to see a taping of "The Voice" and to hangout by the beach and happened to stay near Manhattan that time as well. We have grown to like the town and find the hotel prices to be much more affordable. 

About two weeks or so before, I found a Hilton, close to Manhattan again, that happened to be dog friendly. My mother and I own three rescues and have not found a dog sitter in our town yet, and thought it would be an okay idea to bring them along. In October, we drove them to my grandparents which is almost an hour and a half in the wrong direction and I missed my dogs since traveling to Washington for almost a month, so bringing them on the trip was the move! 

Saturday Morning... We begin our trip around 8:30 A.M., heading down Cal Route 99, for once in the daylight. Every other time I have gone to L.A., I have flown or driven down before dawn to beat the rush and make it to the city in time to have the day to play.  Personally, we choose to drive 99 instead of 5 because there are things to look at and towns to see. Compared to the drive up and down Interstate 5, which has lots and lots of nothing. On this road trip we pealed Halos, ate Fig Bars and stopped one too many times to count to let the dogs out for a quick potty break and run. Rolling into Los Angeles County around 1:00 P.M., we keep driving South, heading straight for the hotel. 

We made our arrival to the hotel, fed the dogs, and took a rest before my mother's hangriness began... And this is no understatement, she was HANGRY. We quickly loaded the dogs back up into the canopy and head down to the town of Manhattan Beach. Personally, I am not starving, but am anxious to find a place to eat and fast for my mother's sake. We receive "good parking karma" as my mother describes it, pay our toll at the parking meter and say good-bye to the dogs. 

Mom and I start to head up Manhattan Beach Blvd. in search of quick and affordable bite to eat. One of the first shops we run into is the "Manhattan Pizzeria," and both being in the mood for pizza agreed quickly upon eating at this spot. The pizza here was tasty, crispy and thin and the joint had easy-going beach town vibes with excellent customer service. (Whole review on Pizza Place in "Food & Drink")

After filling our bellies, an after dinner Starbucks was obviously in order. (My mother is the Starbucks QUEEN) Mom ordered her regular Chai and I just got a water not truly feeling like a coffee. After receiving our order, we made our way around town, walking through some of the shops and just window-shopping others. The sun was beginning to fade into the coastline and a walk for the dogs was in order so we headed back to leash them up and let them out of the truck. 

Through the now darkness, we walked our three silly dogs up and down the path, trying to keep their leashes from becoming completely intertwined the whole time. The dark had spread so fast and there wasn't much lighting on the pathway except for near the pier, which we had since walked far away from so we decided it was time to leave the beach. We wanted to go check out a shop that holds a limited amount of shops, yet a large online presence that both of us had been forever curious about. 

I am an avid wearer of Lululemon and stay true to the brand almost through and through. I find their pants, especially, to never fall off when working out and overall enjoy my shopping experiences in-store or online with them. I always see commercials and ads for Kate Hudson's Fabletics and was so curious as to how the actual "VIP" program works and if their workout gear came anywhere close to Lululemon's. Well to our luck, the hotel was less than 10 miles away from the mall where one of the stores was located and thought it would be a amusing adventure to end the night. 

Side note: We found the cheapest gas ever by this mall, the Del Amo Fashion Center. Gas prices are crazy high anywhere in L.A., but we found something closer to the price of $3 in this area. 

Receiving parking karma once again, we found a spot and made our way into the mall. I am personally not a fan of malls due to their large and confusing structure, but this just happen to be where Fabletics was located. W-O-W. This place was gigantic. Somehow we parked on the correct side of the mall, but this place was at least two-stories, possibly three and had every kind of store one could possibly think of placed inside. After finally acquiring access to the mall map, which was touchscreen and very confusing to use, we found out how close we were to Fabletics and made our way to the store. We bummed around Fabletics looking at all they had to offer. I follow Demi Lovato on a lot of social media and was particularly interested in how her collection would shape up. What I found out by visiting this store is that I will not be joining the VIP Program and that I am not exceptionally intrigued by what they have to offer. The pants I felt I enjoyed the feel and look of the most ranged prices up into the $80 ranges which is close to full-price at Lulu and possibly even more than what they go for at their outlet stores, which I often visit. It was pleasant outing that definitely completed our night, instead of just heading straight back to the hotel from the beach, but in conclusion, Fabletics is not for me. 

We made our way back to the hotel and took the dogs out for one last walk around the hotel grounds. Heading up the stairs with three dogs on hand can be hard as one can imagine, but we managed our way up to the room. We start to settle in for the night, turn the tv on, put out some water for the dogs and put our pajamas on. Lights off it is. We leave the television on for noise for the dogs, since we have a paranoid Border Collie that needs to respond to every sound heard. While trying to fall asleep, both my mother and I cannot get past how hard the bed is and are unable to fall asleep. I am so disappointed, because I am usually not one to complain about hotel beds, due to their temporary state, yet this was unbearable. (Whole post on Pros and Cons of Hotel in "Hotels" section) Since staying at the Homewood Suites, every room felt quite homey and large, yet the bed was ruining the experience for us. Though, we both were unable to obtain much sleep throughout the night, we made it through and now plan to bring foam mattress toppers on our road trips from now on. 

After a night of close to no sleep, our lovely Border Collie decided it was time to wake up around 5 A.M. to go outside and get fed. After basically sleep-walking the dogs outside to go potty and back in to get fed, we tried to fall back asleep for an hour or so more, but again failed miserably. 7 A.M. was the time that the breakfast opened and again Panda (Border Collie) let us know... He heard all the racket of everyone getting up and wanted to let us know that since everyone else was up, it was time for us to get up. We began to get dressed and headed down to breakfast. DELICIOUS. I have always been a fan of free breakfast because hello.... It is free, haha. But it wasn't your basic cereal and packaged yogurt combo, this breakfast was fantastic. The sausages were large and juicy and the fresh vanilla yogurt combined with the frozen blueberries tasted like a delicacy. After thoroughly enjoying our breakfast, we decided it was time to head back to the beach for a morning walk. 

We took the dogs on a morning walk along Manhattan again and found out that the people of L.A. or at least of the Manhattan Beach area, pretend to be dog people, but definitely are not. We have three dogs, and everybody else had one. Everyone kept their headphones in, head down and their dogs yanked to their side. We did not feel completely welcomed and this made our morning a not completely enjoyable experience. As I have mentioned several times already, Panda is a bit crazy, so when he sees a chance to interact with a new "friend," he takes it. What I mean by this is he wants to smell this new friend and may say "hello" with a few barks. People began to tell him to be quiet or make sour faces as they walked by. Compared to places we have lived before or even other places we have taken our dogs on vacation, this was uncommon. We have never received such rude and unloving comments and/or glares towards our dogs and did not feel deserving of any of these we recieved.

After an only partially successful morning because even though the dogs were not completely welcomed, the sun shining against the water and it was a beautiful morning. It was a Sunday in L.A. and actually happened to be Free Museum Day for the area. The magazine my mom and I took inspiration from for these travels suggested we go to a museum so the timing happened to be perfect. We decided on going to one of the smaller museums that had not predicted such crazy crowds, The Craft and Folk Art Museum. What we did not realize is that we were heading straight into Museum Central. The La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Craft and Folk Art Museum and the Peterson Automotive Museum were all within four or five blocks of each other. The place was packed and we could not find parking to save our lives. We kept looking because we were determined to end our trip right and finally found that the Auto Museum had a parking garage we could use... Parking karma! The parking garage was filling up fast and we were sent straight to the top, where we thought we became lucky in finding the last spot under the shade overhang. Boy were we wrong. I am going to loop back to the rest of my this story, we have brought the dogs everywhere with us, either walking them with us or leaving them to nap in the back of the truck with NO real problems, except for people hating on my dog Panda earlier in the morning. Well, we ran into a problem. We filled the water bowl for the dogs and gave them each a cookie before heading to the museum. While walking away from the truck, our Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle Mix), Sparky, began to whine. The only time he usually whines is when Panda (his best friend) goes to the groomer without him, but this was so unusual. We kept walking away and made sure to get out of eyes sight, but he continued to whine... The whining grew louder and more obnoxious. We decided to go back to the car and check on them one more time before leaving for good. Well... We couldn't hold Sparky with the full responsibility of ruining the end of our trip because when we first left and he started whining, a child who had just pulled up in the parking spot behind us noticed him. He began to make this awful screeching sound trying to get my dogs attention and he sure did, because all he did from then on was make the situation worse. Every time we walked away, he mimicked the same noise of the child. Who knows if he would have ever stopped because I know it takes at least 30 minutes to stop when Panda leaves, so almost in tears, I hopped back in the car. I was so upset that our trip had to end like this because some child couldn't just leave my dog alone. I was too worried that someone would report us for essentially doing nothing wrong. It was a nice day in LA, not too hot, they were in the shade and had a bowl of water with them, but it takes one person misreading the situation to ruin the day for us even more than it had been by not getting to visit the museum.

Looking on the positive side of things, we made it out of the parking garage in just under 30 minutes, making it so we didn't have to pay for parking. Gladly, I can laugh about this now. On our way out, we decided since March's destination is Palm Springs, we could head to L.A. before hand to visit some museums, so reviews on some L.A .museums are still to come. 

Thank you guys for making it all the way through my first post and I hope I gave you some ideas on where to stay, what to do and where to eat on your trip to L.A. I promise from now on, I will be taking pictures of the hotel, my food and overall just of the locations we visit. 

And again... the moral of the story... Do not bring the dogs. : ) 

Alexis Newman

February: Lake Tahoe, CA

February: Lake Tahoe, CA

Introduction: Escaping in California

Introduction: Escaping in California