Hi, I left my heart in L.A. 💛
Los Angeles, California… you will always have a large place in my heart. Here are some of my favourite spots that I visited during my time in Los Angeles.
I grew up watching The Hills on MTV and so my initial impression was glitz and glam but I knew that wouldn’t be the reality. The real, true L.A. is multicultural, bustling with people with different life stories and searching for “truth.”
I witnessed families receive the Word and revival run through its streets. I saw redemption and God moving even in the most hopeless places.
I myself found healing in L.A. and some of it happened in the places listed below but majority of it happened in the prayer chapel on base.
Long story short, I never ever, ever thought that I would walk the streets of Downtown Los Angeles or watch the sunset at Griffith Observatory or eat mexican food on Hollywood & Vine or eat churros on the beach beside Santa Monica Pier or have the Pacific ocean nearly take my flip flops at Malibu beach or go thrifting in Pasedena and buy coffee which was way too expensive or eat Korean BBQ for the first time or eat ice cream cake in celebration of a dear friend.
1. Santa Monica Pier
We explored Santa Monica as a YWAM DTS school the day after majority of us all arrived. We drove old school pop tunes in the car while breathing in salty air as we arrived to a busy car park met by long stretches of sand. We sunbathed, ate churros and mangoes with sprinkled tajin, drank cold water and ate chips on the beach. Then, we explored the pier. It was a short walk from where we were sat and vendors selling street food with colourful umbrellas laced the sidewalk. The pier was busy, but not too overwhelming. There was a buzz in the air and that could’ve just been me being an absolute ball of excitement. We of course, got coffee at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf cafe. After walking through crowds we stopped at magicians and searched for the loopholes. We also got to know each other more and took pictures of moments. After a while we spotted the infamous ferris wheel and of course we would pay $10 to go on the ferris wheel. Looking out over the edge, I couldn’t believe that I was in AMERICA, no poop that, CALIFORNIA. A dream, truly a miraculous dream that only God could’ve ordained. We laughed and joked as the carriage rocked back and forth. After the ferris wheel I was in search of food. I paid $5 for a delicious hot dog that filled me right up. At the end of the pier we saw Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. that apparently features in a Tom Hanks movie. Then we joked about jumping into the clear blue sea at the end of the pier but, getting thrown off the pier on the second day of a discipleship training school would NOT have been a good look.
I managed to go to Hollywood twice, there was a big group of us and we went for FREE on the buses and then we paid around $3 for the Metro. I love love LOVE adventure and the Metro itself really was one. So many interesting people and strange smells, very urban and colourful. Yes, I was definitely nervous at times but we made it! Unfortunately Hollywood wasn’t one of my most favourite places to go to. Underneath all of the glitz and glamour that we see on the screen there’s a lot of poverty and hurting people in this area but still as a tourist I was fascinated by everything. The Chinese Theatre was stunning and I couldn’t quite believe all of the famous people that had been there had touched the concrete floors. I mean HUMPHREY BOGART, come on now. It echoed with old hollywood glamour, sandwiched in time by a grey slab. Fascinating. There were so many stars that we passed as well one of my favourites? Marykate and Ashley Olsen – I truly was OBSESSED with them when I was younger. We also saw Jimmy Kimmel’s studios (the outside of course). We ate at a beautiful mexican place and explored thrift stores, apprently the world’s largest record store, Amoeba and more.
3. Griffith Observatory
You best believe I showed my whole DTS La La Land. We watched the ending in the courtyard at the base and there was UPROAR. It was like the (sometimes bleak) reality of love and life hit them and I felt super responsible but we watched it in preparation for going to the Griffith Observatory as a school. The drive there was stunning and we aimed to get there for sunset. We made it in perfect timing to capture the gorgeous hills of Hollywood. It was busy, super busy. We watched the live showing of the tesla coil demonstration and explored all of the different science parts. Were we expecting it fully to look like this? Yes. Except it didn’t capture the part were we all lost each other a bazillion times and still had time to watch the sun slink into the horizon.
4. Venice Beach
I went to Venice Beach a few times. The majority of these times were because our base did church there every few Sundays and then the final time I went was during YWAM United where we joined in on Venice Beach Church, handed flyers out, spoke to people about Jesus and prayed for people.
Venice Beach has a lot going on there. Your senses are immediately hyper-aware of the distractions, lights, business and faint smell of marijuana and incense. People are friendly, the spiritual warfare was real and I think I spent the majority if not all of my time there, praying. We went to see the skate park and art in the surrounding area but I never actually managed to see the beach. Hence why I’ve added a photo not taken by me to show you what it looked like.
Doing church while having a rave with all of the lights going blinking was an experience! We also experienced a YouTuber doing the most there and rehearsing what I could only assume was supposed to be an “unplanned” video at least ten times! Overall, people are super friendly and they each have their own stories – we were welcomed even with so many different religions and beliefs floating around.
The drive to Malibu Beach was breathtaking. Sandy-coloured cliffs dropped low into valleys of green. Almost like the journey there was a hidden secret just for us. As it opened out into miles of pure blue and powder white sand we knew that was the cue to pump Miley Cyrus’s Malibu out of our speakers. With Malibu blasting out of our speakers we marvelled at Malibu and the business of Pacific Coast Hightway. It reminded me of Zoey 101 which was actually filmed here at Pepperdine University. A beautiful quiet beach town that instantly made me feel calm and serene. I’m convinced that Malibu is a slice of heaven on earth. When we arrived we saw the infamous Nobu and we walked along the pier that had a quaint, rustic, coffee shop painted white called Malibu Farm. We spent our day tucked in an opening beside the pier in the ocean blue, reading, taking photos and enjoying each other’s company. We ate sandwiches from Trader Joe’s and ate salted almond butter almonds while watching the tide roll in and out. We almost got bamboozled by the sea which nearly took half of our stuff away. When the day drew to a close we saw a man preparing a proposal, it was so boho and beautiful. Before going home we stopped at a nearby ice cream place called Malibu Yoghurt and Ice Cream and I bought birthday cake flavoured ice cream with cookie dough balls – it was delightful.
The next time I visited Malibu… it was for my beautiful dear friend, Alisha. We drove to Point Dume, a quieter and more secluded spot and walked the length of the beach, watched the cliff climbers and climbed the rocks. I would definitely recommend stopping here if you want an even quieter place to sit and marvel at the ocean.
6. Downtown L.A.
Downtown L.A. is a little rough around the edges but has such beautiful parts and wonderful people. Our good friend Jada so kindly drove us down to DTLA. I was so excited. Jenna, Alisha, Jada, Tom and I packed into our car and watched as the highway turned into skyscrapers. I had to put my nose right up to the window to see the top of them. Amazed and bewildered by the scenes. We started off parked reaI close to Grand Central Market. Being a total foodie, I was in heaven. It was packed and busy but there were so many different smells and an underground market selling vintage and homemade things. Right across the road was Angels Flight. We went on it because I recently showed a few of my friends La La Land and we knew that there were a few spots that were filmed in the movie. Namely the summer montage scene when they tap dance at the top of the train cart. And thus we’d visited the place it was filmed. We were also able to visit The Broad, Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Last Bookstore. We finished off the day driving to a nearby Salt and Straw, a beautiful ice cream place. I got a gingerbread flavour and have been craving one ever since.
7. Beverley Hills
We decided to visit Beverley Hills one weekend and were advised to dress fancy. Everything here is truly boujee. We visited it purely for the experience. The experience of saying “we visited Beverley Hills.” Driving around I had many a “pinch me” moment. The mansions were huge and straight out of a magazine. It was crazy to think that people actually lived here. Nothing profound to say here but wealth was definitely evident. From the mansions, the sprinklers, the cars to the fact that even the fire hydrants were gold! It was such an adventure walking the cobbled streets of perfection, being extra mindful of not breaking anything in the chic stores and feeling out of place in my jumpsuit and strappy sandals. Everyone was dressed like they just fell off of the runway. Cars revved at impatience towards the traffic lights. I knew I wouldn’t even be able to afford a keychain at one of these stores but I was just grateful to be here. What we did manage to do was visit Pink’s, a Hollywood favourite that was created in 1939 by Paul and Betty Pink, with a pushcart they purchased for $50, which money they borrowed from Betty’s mother. They sell delicious hotdogs and have sold them to a lot of celebrities (as pictured above). I highly recommend if you’re in the area, to eat there. The queue was long at first but we were at the front in little to no time, the food was also decently priced having just been walking the streets of Beverley Hills just half an hour before.
8. The Grove + The Americana
I was so grateful to be able to visit California around Autumn/Christmas time. We visited The Americana and The Grove more than once. Which is something I’ve only ever watched a vlogger do from the other side of a screen. These shopping malls were absolutely stunning, everything was trimmed to perfection and the Christmas decorations were perfect. There was so much to see and so much to do, to visit it at such a busy time as well, you could feel the warmth of the holiday season. At the Americana, the tram, fountains, lamps and giant Christmas Tree were such a highlight. The Grove was also beautiful with a gorgeous tram and old-fashioned sweet shop. I would recommend going to the Barnes & Noble stores to spend time looking through the books in wonder.
9. Los Angeles Central Library
I visited Los Angeles Central Library with my great friend Liz. We parked underneath and explored the grounds before we went in. There was so much to look at. It was under maintenance when we went there so we weren’t able to see any of the water features in action but there were so many etchings and, hidden words and phrases to look at. Walking in and exploring the other floors, it’s easy to get lost. It felt more like a museum and library rolled into one where the ceilings were high and intricately painted. There were sections for every genre you could ever think of. Shelves and shelves of books spanning years, decades of knowledge and wisdom of others.
Lastly, we have Pasadena. I arranged for a bunch of us to go charity shopping…I mean thrifting. We visited Goodwill and many others as well as eating and getting coffee. We visited a beautiful coffee shop called Copa Vida. We held pumpkins in the street and ate hotdogs, dirty fries and burgers from Dirt Dog. I would highly recommend walking around Pasadena – it was beautiful in the crisp, warm Californian sun.