Hi, and welcome to a new edition of the MELSAYS PODCAST!
We are December 1st, just one month left until the new year! Finishing this year off strong with a handful of new podcast episodes coming your way soon. I recorded this one while I was down in San Diego just a few weeks ago.
My guest for today is Danielle Black Lyons, she is the co-founder of Textured Waves, a community that was founded to propagate the culture and sport of women’s surfing towards women of colour and underrepresented demographics through representation, community and sisterly camaraderie. She shares her experience in the water, as a mom and as a visual artist.
Hope you’ll enjoy our chat!
The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Also, feel free to send me some guest suggestions for future episodes!
I just recently got back from a week in Tofino and while I was there, I had the opportunity to chat with two incredible women that are part of the local surf community. If you haven’t been to Tofino, it’s a wonderful surf town located on the very edge of the continent in British Columbia, there’s no place quite like it. There’s a huge community of female entrepreneurs and surfers that live there so I wanted to chat with some of them for the podcast to find out more about their line of work and the community they live in.
Today’s guest is Bryanna Bradley, she is a local photographer and visual storyteller from Tofino, who has photographed not only the local surf community in Tofino but has been able to travel around the world and document a ton of incredible surfers and surfing events. I was thrilled she invited me into her cozy home in Tofino and we got to sit down for a nice chat!
The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Also, feel free to send me some guest suggestions for future episodes!
SLO CAL is without a doubt one of the most underrated regions of California. Located smack dab in the middle between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this county is host to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire state, from beautiful beaches to pristine mountains and valleys, there’s really something for everyone. SLO CAL is home to cities like San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Morro Bay just to name a few. Though it was impossible to visit the entire county in the 3 days I spent there earlier this month, I was able to discover some amazing local gems. I completely fell in love with all of the outdoor and wellness activities that you can do in the area so I decided to share with you today some of my favourites.
1) Relax at East Wellbeing & Tea – Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, this luxurious concept spa and tea room is the perfect quiet oasis for anyone looking for a little self-care during their vacation. Specialized in Eastern massage techniques, all of the rooms at East Wellbeing & Tea have been carefully created and decorated drawing inspiration from different parts of the world. They offer a wide array of treatments such as massages, acupuncture, facials, baths and cupping just to name a few. I had the opportunity to enjoy their 60-minute Signature East Massage, which also included a 30-minute soak in this beautiful in-suite tub prior to my treatment. Once your treatment done, you can enjoy some of their healthy organic and plant-based snacks or organic teas while reading and relaxing either indoors or outside at their cafe.
2) Go Trail running at Bishop Peak – There is an abundance of hiking and trail running trails located in the entire SLO CAL region. With the area nestled between the Nine Sisters (five of which have beautiful trails to hike/run on), a string of beautiful mountains that stretches from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay, there is plenty of terrain to discover. Bishop Peak is easily accessible from downtown SLO. You can also visit some of the local State Parks such as Montana de Oro or opt for the challenging Hazard Peak that offers 360-degree views of the coastline and Morro Rock.
3) Surf at Morro Bay – If you’re into watersports and want to spend time at the ocean, there’s plenty to do at Morro Bay. Whether you want to kayak, SUP or just go for a surf session, both the bay and the ocean are available to you. Plus, chances are you’ll be able to scope out some local marine life such as dolphins, seals and otters playing in the waves or just straight up chilling in the bay. The stunning Morro Rock is a beautiful backdrop for your water adventures. The large sandy beach and Morro Bay is perfect for a picnic lunch or a post-surf nap. Though the water can be a tad chilly, the lack of crowds in the surf lineup is a major plus. If you came without any gear, do not fret, the local Azhiaziam surf shop has everything you will need for some fun activities in the water. And if you’re planning on spending a few days being active in the water, stay at the 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites, located right on the main street in Morro Bay. They have beautiful suites that come with a fireplace and a patio that overlooks the ocean and Morro Rock.
4) Visit the Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday night, the city of San Luis Obispo and its neighbouring towns get together on Higuera Street to support local artisans and farmers while also grabbing some delicious grub and watching some of the best local musical acts perform. The market has become a must-attend for locals and a great way for visitors to really catch the spirit of the region. I made a few delicious local discoveries while at the market such as Whalebird Kombucha and Atsa Superfood Bars, companies that were both started by young locals.
5) Explore the Sand Dunes at Pismo Beach – Just off the scenic highway 1, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area are the last remaining coastal sand dunes that are open to off-highway vehicles in California. There’s around 1,500 acres of dunes to play around in. If you’re looking for a great place to rent a dune buggy or ATV, check out SunBuggy, not only do they have one of the largest fleets of rentals but they will also drive you to and from the recreation area. It’s a great outing for thrill-seekers!
Other suggestions: visit the local wine country in Edna Valley, go bouldering at The Pad Climbing in SLO, rent a bike and cycle from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach on the Bob Jones City to Sea Trail.
A big thank you to Visit SLO CAL and their partners for all of their help setting this trip up. Watch for a special plant-based food post coming soon!
Video by: The Offners. Shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.
With Tofino being one of the summer travel hotspots in British Columbia, there’s no doubt that a lot of people will be coming to the area in the next couple of months. Having said that, there are lots of great things to do in and around Tofino, so I wanted to highlight a few of my discoveries from my first trip there last week!
1) Go surfing at Long Beach – Long Beach is definitely one of the most coveted surf spots in all of Canada. The long strip of sandy beach draws people from all around the world and with reason. It’s a great spot to learn how to surf or catch some smooth waves with your longboard. It does tend to get a little crowded this time of year, but the beach is so vast that there’s always a quieter spot somewhere in the water. It’s also an ideal spot to enjoy a post-surf picnic, BBQ and even watch the sunset.
2) Grab a beer from Tofino Brewing Co. – You can’t go to Tofino and not want to stop by their one and only brewery in the area, the Tofino Brewing Co. Their brewery is located on Industrial Way, on the way into downtown. You can get a tasting flight for just $10 and they also serve the local Tofino Kombucha, if you’re more in the mood for a non-alcoholic beverage. The spot is quaint, decorated with lots of surfing photos, and artwork. It’s a fun and casual place to go post-surf!
3) Visit Ucluelet – Ucluelet is located just a short drive away from Tofino. This small town is a lot quieter than Tofino but offers just as many things to do. I highly recommend doing the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse hike, visiting Small Beach, grabbing a homemade snack from Zoë’s Bakery and going shopping at Gypsy Drifter, the cutest bohemian-inspired shop! You can also hop on a sea plane for a tour of the area, go SUPing or visit their aquarium.
4) Tofitian Café – Looking for a place to grab your morning java or a homemade snack? You’ll want to go to Tofitian. It’s a super popular spot with both locals and visitors because they serve up delicious scones, muffins and croissants as well as tasty matcha lattés, coffees and drinks. The café is located in a cute shopping area, where you can sit on picnic tables and enjoy the proximity to the woods.
5) Rainforest Trail – There are tons of hikes to do in the area, but one that must be added to your list is the Rainforest Trail. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park, this lush green trail will make you feel like you’re in a magical wonderland. Though it tends to get crowded in the summer, there’s always room to feel alone in the vast forest. There are tons of different loops that you can choose from, which will please everyone from a newbie to a seasoned hiker!
California is without a doubt one of the most popular destinations for fitness and outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Whether it’s the ocean, the mountains or the desert, there are plenty of landscapes to explore and be active in. You can also find some of the best fitness studios in all of North America.
On my latest Californian adventure, I was able to try out some of the area’s latest and greatest fitness activities thanks to Visit California. With a state that is so rich in fitness, the activities below were only a little taste of what you can actually do while traveling to the area.
1) Aerial Yoga – Looking to spice up your yoga classes? Why not try an aerial yoga session on a rooftop in beautiful La Jolla. Located just a few minutes from downtown San Diego, Trilogy Sanctuary offers a fun variety of yoga and aerial arts classes for all skill levels. Their holistic approach to the activity allows you to have the most enjoyable and relaxing experience while also savouring their beautiful beach city views. Added bonus, they also have a vegan café that is perfect for a post-workout treat.
2) Beach Spin – Indoor spin has got nothing on this one-of-a-kind beach fitness experience. The Del Coronado Hotel is the one responsible for creating this unique class on their luxurious waterfront property. Each spin bike is equipped with Beats by Dr. Dre® headphones that are loaded with high energy music. The hotel’s instructors will lead you through a 50-minute full-body workout that will make you burn 500+ calories. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch dolphins or marine life while pedalling away on your bike!
3) Kayaking Tour – The rad folks over at Everyday California, located in La Jolla, offer a wide variety of ocean-related adventures. Their 2hr kayak tour is not only a great workout but also a fun way to learn about the local history, environment and marine life. Their knowledgeable guides will take you out across the La Jolla ecological reserve for some fun in the sun. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see some local residents – the La Jolla sea lions and also kayak surf back in!
4) WERQ – Located in Huntington Beach, Studio Fusion offers a handful of fun fitness and dance classes for all-ages. Their signature class WERQ, puts their own unique twist on dance fitness as we know it, by combining cardiovascular and strength endurance dance moves to the hottest Top 40 Pop, Rock and Hip Hop music. This class is was a ton of fun and also a great way to sweat!
5) Surfing – Sure, it’s a well known fact that the entire state of California offers pristine surfing conditions but if you’re looking for a great school to learn with or to perfect your surfing chops, check out Toes on the Nose Adventure. They offer small group surf expeditions in Huntington Beach with some great local surf teachers. They’ll take you out just in front of their shop and teach you all the skills necessary to get up on a wave and have a great time while doing so!
6) Beach Yoga – If you’re looking to unwind after a busy week of fitness activities, try make sure you give beach yoga a try. This is one of the most relaxing experiences you’ll ever have on the beach. Also organized by Toes on the Nose Adventure, this small group yoga session is tailored to your individual needs and skill level.
Watch the little recap video of my trip below! For more #fitspiration, go to Visit California‘s website here.
1) Go surfing. This may seem obvious but surfing is Kauai is TOPNOTCH. Prior to visiting Kauai, I had never surfed in such clear and warm water. Mexico pales in comparison to Kauai. You can find all sorts of surf breaks around the entire island that will suit any level of surfer. Newbies will love Hanalei Bay and the local favorite Anini Beach or Keālia Beach (Andy Irons’ favorite surf spot) while more advanced surfers will love Poipu Beach and Tunnels. The summer is great if you’re looking for chill waves with not a lot of force. That said, the current can get quite strong around the island, so it’s always better to go in the water with a buddy or somewhere where there’s a lifeguard. Since I was new to the island, it also took me a little bit of time to get familiarized with the swell and different breaks. There are lots of sharp corals in the water so little boots or water shoes can be helpful.
2) Fly over the island with Blue Hawaiian. I’m not a huge fan of helicopters but flying over Kauai is a must if you can swing it. It is one the pricer excursions you can do while in Kauai but well worth the money. It’s really the best way to see the island inside and out, as a lot of the island is wild and only accessible via boat or helicopter. Not only is the scenery unreal but you will learn a tremendous amount about the island’s history, evolution, etc. The 80-minute tour left me speechless. We got the chance to fly over the breathtaking Waimea Canyon, Mana Waiapuna also known as the “Jurassic Park Falls’, got up close and personal with the Na Pali Coast and the Bali Hai Cliffs, which made me pinch myself a couple of times, what a sight! We also got a full tour of the different little towns and regions of the island. The Blue Hawaiian team were excellent tour guides and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Flying over the island just makes you appreciate nature that much more and makes you want to do anything in your power to conserve such beauty.
3) Get food at Java Kai. Located on the east side of Kauai, in the historic Kapaa town, this local hotspot is the perfect place for breakfast, lunch or a mid-day snack. All of their food is homemade from scratch. Their menu is filled with local specialties, healthy and vegetarian treats and colorful bites. There’s also a great community vibe at the shop making you want to come back again and again. I’m secretly hoping they’ll open up other locations in the US or Canada in the near future.
4) Go horseback riding at Silver Falls Ranch. One of the best ways to explore the garden island is by horse. The Silver Falls Ranch offers unique horseback riding excursions that allow you to explore the pristine scenery of the island. Led by informative and professional guides, these half-day excursions allow you to fully explore local nature, wildlife while also making a stop at a beautiful waterfall for a swim and a Hawaiian lunch. The groups are small and the horses are all exceptionally well trained. My horse “Ohia”, named after a beautiful local tree was such a joy to ride with. It’s a great way to venture off into areas of the island you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
5) Visit the Koloa Rum Company. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary while in Kauai, head over to the Koloa Rum Company in Lihue. The rum company is located on the former Kilohana Plantation. In addition to being able to visit the plantation via train and by foot, you can also go for complimentary tastings that are offered every half-hour starting at 10 am daily. Koloa Rum produces single-batch Hawaiian rum with locally sourced ingredients at their distillery located near the town of Kalaheo. The rum is distilled twice using their vintage 1,210-gallon copper-pot still with a copper column and condenser. Their goal is to produce quality products while using sustainable practices and while also preserving the open agricultural space of the island. They first started producing rum in 2009 and have since won many international competitions and awards for the delicious rum they produce. From coffee to coconut, pineapple and sugar, the different flavoured rums are sure to please everyone.
A few weeks ago, during the Nike Women’s 15k race weekend in Toronto, I had the privilege of meeting one of the top female surfers in the world – Lakey Peterson. Lakey is a 20-year-old professional surfer from California currently ranked #7 on the WSL World Tour. She started surfing at the age of 5 and began her rookie year on the ASP Women’s World Championship Tour at the age of 17! If you’ve seen Lakey compete before, you know she’s a powerhouse in the water. She’s such a great athlete to watch because she always seems so fearless against the other competitors. I’ve had the privilege of watching her compete and she’s incredibly inspiring. I’m beyond thrilled that she took a few minutes out of her busy training schedule before the US Open of Surfing to answer a few of my questions. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions with Lakey Peterson:
1) What first drew you to surfing? What is it about surfing that you love so much?
I think for me it has always just been such a freeing feeling when I surf… I forget about everything else in life and am entirely in the moment. Not many things in this world that make you do that or feel that.
2) What are your thoughts on the current level of women’s surfing in the world?
It’s really exciting to be a part of women’s surfing at the moment… The girls are absolutely ripping at the moment. We are all pushing each other to surf better and more powerful. I believe the future is really bright.
3) How do you usually prepare for a competition? What is your day of competition routine?
During contest I am always up by 5 or 5:30. I’ll have a bite of fruit and go for a warm up surf. Then eat breakfast, lots of veggies, 1 egg and avocado. Before my heat I listen to my music, warm up, talk to my coach and off I go.
4) What are some of your favorite breaks to surf and why?
When I am back home in California, Rincon Point is by far my favorite place in the world to surf. I also Love Fiji and Honolua Bay
5) What are your next career goals? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
In 5 year i hope I am still on tour surfing and going for the world title. I want surfing to be my life for as long as possible. So hopefully I’ll be on tour until I am 30 or so. After that I want to really help people with nutrition and fitness. I am starting a website called TheSaltyCoconut.com it’s going to be all about healthy living. Amazing style tips, recipes, workouts, photography etc. So i hope that goes well and I can turn it into a business and carrier one day.
Catch Lakey Peterson compete at the US Open of Surfing this week and check out her new website TheSaltyCoconut.comthat launches Friday July 31st at 10am PST.
I first heard of the southern California artist Skye Walker a few years ago. I believe I found his website through a Liquid Salt mag post. I was immediately drawn to his art because of the beautiful ocean and nature themes. The mural Skye is standing in front of on the above photo was the first piece I saw of his and absolutely fell in love with it. Yes, I may have a little bias for redheads but his art really spoke to me, it made me feel peaceful. Over the years, I’ve followed his journey and am stoked on all the success he’s been getting as of late. I can’t wait to go back to Leucadia in a few weeks to see this amazing mural in person! I hope you will be as inspired as I am when you read the interview below. Here are my 5 Questions With Skye Walker:
1) When did you start making art? Do you recall the first drawing that really marked you and made you think this was what you wanted to do for a living?
I always say that I picked up a crayon and started drawing and never stopped, but that is pretty true. I was always drawing, doodling and escaping into fun worlds with my art as a kid. Hundreds of hours of drawing in my room and loving every minute of it. I remember the moment I wanted to be an artist for life and for a career. We were living in Gardnerville, Nevada at the time and I was 8 years old. I had drawn some cartoons of Garfield the cat that I thought were awesome, so I sent them to Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis. A few weeks later I got a letter from Mr. Davis (or his secretary) but he signed it, and it said he received the drawings and he liked them a lot! My jaw hit the floor and I was blown away that he liked my art enough to write a letter back. So from that moment on I decided to be an artist for life and if I could, for a career. I remember the exact moment I had that realization too, sitting at the breakfast table.
2) What inspires your art? Your art revolves a lot around ocean and nature themes, why is that?
Growing up If I wasn’t drawing, I was outside playing. We lived in quite a few places growing up like California, Nevada, Spain, Hawaii, Colorado and Oregon. My sister and I were introduced to nature and camping and being in our natural surroundings by our parents. So, naturally, I gravitated to things like surfing, snowboarding and biking. Luckily we didn’t have iPhones, computers or the internet then. We never got a Nintendo (even though I wanted one) but I’m glad I didn’t get it.
So being in nature inspired a lot of my art, as well as figure drawing and the human form. I do mix the elements of nature with the human body a lot. Usually the female figure represents mother earth and her interaction with our surroundings whether it’s subtle or more prominent. I think if I had grown up in an urban setting my art would certainly reflect those themes. But they reflect nature, the oceans, mountains, skies and trees- but I certainly try to present them in different ways and I’m always trying to evolve my style and themes.
3) As years go by, how do you push yourself to keep growing as an artist?
This is a great question. Just as we all have to keep growing and pushing ourselves as humans as we strive to survive and adapt, artists have to do the same with their art. Case in point, I was working in the Outdoor Sports industry as an Art Director and was pretty burnt out with the same old graphic design projects. But that job security was hard to leave, until I was let go along with 35 other people when the economy hit the fan. While this was frustrating, it freed me from the confines of that job artistically and let me focus on my own art and projects… but it really opened things up for me to return to doing large scale murals.
I had done a lot of murals in high school and in college, but I didn’t see a career in it at all. It was fun, but a lot of work. Flash forward 9 years and my artist friend Alex Krastev referred Whole Foods to me as they were building a new store in my town of Encinitas. They contacted me about doing murals and that kick started a fire for me to focus on murals. Since then I have completed about 23+ murals from San Diego to LA to Denver to Austin and back again.
Murals allow me to push myself as an artist all the time. To figure out spacial issues with large scale art that I can’t do on a small scale or on the computer. It’s also like solving a problem each time too, what paints will be best, what colors, how do I reach those heights, how do I get the scale I need and host of other issues… but I love it because it’s always challenging and it’s always pushing me artistically to create new ideas to work with the space that’s given to me.
So if my friend hadn’t referred me to Whole Foods, I would probably still be doing smaller scale paintings and graphic design (which I still do) and not thinking of murals. But since that happened, it opened my eyes to new horizons with art. Murals are an amazing way to bring art to the public eye and change the image of a neighborhood. But the best part about it is that it’s never easy and it forces me to push myself artistically every time. It’s easy to sit at a computer and research ideas, new ways of thinking and such… but getting out and thinking on your feet and creating with your hands does wonders for my thought process and gets me out of my comfort zone. That’s when the real creativity begins.
4) You’ve had the chance to create murals and work on special projects with a lot of renowned clients from Whole Foods to Rip Curl and Nike, what have been some of your most memorable projects to date?
My first real job out of college was at Rip Curl as their graphic designer for apparel. This was memorable because I’d never designed a t-shirt before, so I had to fake it until I figured it out. But that job was rad, made some great friends, went to Australia twice and surfed my brains out. Also designed a couple thousand t-shirts and other graphics, really helped me cut my teeth on some fast paced graphic design work.
I’d have to say lately though, the mural jobs & projects all have such memorable situations and experiences, it’s awesome. I had an assistant in Austin, Texas who turned out to be an ex-convict with crazy stories. Did a mural in Denver in between a blizzard praying the paint would stick to the wall, it went from 60 degrees to 7 then to 40 and back again. Since the murals are so big, everything that’s involved to create them is so much bigger which makes it all very memorable.
I just finished a mural for The Hub, Hillcrest Marketplace in San Diego and a woman walked up and said: “This is so wonderful, you’ve lifted the spirit of this whole neighborhood!”. I was very touched by that, she truly meant what she said and that made me feel like what I was doing was good and important. Ten minutes later a car sped by and a guy yelled: “Looks terrible!”. The Yin & Yang of it all, which makes creating murals so memorable. I can’t get those experiences in my home office!
5) For those who don’t know, you are also a surfer. Where are some of your favorite places to go surf?
Ah yes, surfing. A real love in my life. There is nothing quite like it and I don’t know where I’d be without it. I love taking surf trips whenever I can and experiencing new places and waves. I surf my local breaks pretty often and I try to get up and down the coast a bit to get out of the neighborhood and surf some different spots. I’ve learned as I get older that my favorite place to surf is wherever I am at that moment, whether it’s 2 foot slop or 6 feet and glassy. Just being in the ocean is wonderful.
Last summer, while I was in California, I had the chance to check out for the second year in a row, an all-girl surfing competition called the Supergirl Pro that was being held in Oceanside. Over the years I’ve been following the professional circuit of surfers as much as I can but as of late, I’ve been paying particular attention to not only the women surfers but also the up and comers. Last year, one of the names I kept hearing, was French surfer Pauline Ado. Pauline is currently ranked 13th in the ASP World Tour. Over the past year, she’s really grown into her own and has really been rivalling all of the ladies at the top of her field. What I like so much about her, is that she always seems so laid back but also incredibly focused. This past year, she’s only ben home for a few weeks, recently traveling to Mexico and up next on her itinerary will be the US as well as Europe and Hawaii to finish the year. She’s beyond talented and I’m therefore incredibly thrilled to have seen her surf and now to have her featured on the blog. Here’s are my 5 Questions With Pauline Ado:
1) When did your passion for surfing start? Do you remember the first time you surfed?
I was 8 years old the first time I started surfing. Before that I would spend all summer at the beach playing in the water, catching waves with my bodyboard and trying to stand up on it with a group of friends. The first time I really surfed though is not a clear memory. I just remember standing up and having a lot of fun. I loved it straight away !
2) What is it about surfing you love so much?
First of course, I loved the feeling on a wave. The speed, the adrenaline… I also loved being in the water. When I am surfing I forget about the rest, I like that feeling of being in the moment, focusing on the sensations. You never get twice the same wave in surfing, there’s no routine and it’s always exciting !
3) You are now a part of the ASP World Tour. You are currently ranked 13th in the Women’s World Championship Tour. How much has the sport evolved for women over the past couple of years? Do you find the women are finally starting to get the attention and respect they deserve?
I think a few years ago only a few surfers would stand out and get the attention. Right now there are so many good surfers on tour with different styles and strengths. You never know who is going to shine in a comp and the top surfers are never safe. It makes it interesting.
4) How important are finding the right sponsors and team to support you? Is France and La Côte Basque supportive of their surfers?
I have been very lucky in this area getting sponsors at an early age. Right now I am still riding for RipCurl who have been supporting me since I was 10… and my family have always had my back. Surfing is an individual sport but you can’t go anywhere alone. Being surrounded by people you trust and believe in you is the key. Having the right support gives you so many opportunities… We have good support in the South West of France, surfing is part of the culture in this area but it’s not one of the biggest sports in France… but we are slowly getting the attention.
5) Through surfing and competing you’ve been able to travel the world, what are some of the most memorable moments thus far in your career?
I have been to many countries and I feel so lucky. I have seen beautiful places, beaches and cultures. Surprisingly one my favorite place I went to was Iceland. Nature is so beautiful and powerful there. It was mind-blowing !
Last month, I was able to spend a few days in my favorite place on earth – Southern California. It’s always so lovely seeing all of my friends, discovering new places to eat and shop as well as spending time surfing at the beach. Didn’t do too much shopping on this past trip, so the following post will be more of a #foodporn post. Like I did with my last travel post (see here), here are some of my new favorite things about SoCal.
1 – Ace Hotel – When I went last month, the hotel had opened a few weeks prior. The Ace Hotel is a small chain of hotels, they can be found in New York City, Palm Springs, Portland and most recently Los Angeles. It is located in the historic United Artists building in downtown LA. I had the pleasure of going to their new bistro LA Chapter. Not only were the food and drinks incredibly tasty, the atmosphere was very chic yet also laid back and also we had the funniest waiter. The menu was original and fairly priced. After dinner, I took a tour of the hotel. I loved all the books and music in the lobby, everything about the building was absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend checking out the hotel, if not for a stay then for a brunch, lunch or dinner. You can make reservations easily via Open Table.
2 – Urth Caffé – Alright, this place isn’t a new place but it’s become a staple when I’m in Los Angeles. I purposely plan my day around the different Urth locations in and around Los Angeles. Honestly, the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. It opens super early in the morning and stays open until late at night. Some of my Urth favs: Almond Milk Green Tea Latte, the Urth Salad, any of their croissants, the Coconut Pound Cake and their homemade granola. My mouth waters, as I write this post. I think I’ve developed an addiction to Urth Caffé!!
3 – Veggie Grill– Is a chain of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free restaurants that serve food cafeteria style. I knew one of their latest locations had just opened up in Carlsbad, so I took the opportunity to pay them a visit. They have a very extensive menu, great homemade drinks and pride themselves in only serving healthy food that is good for the mind and body. I ordered the Crispy Chickin’ Plate as well as a side order of their Mac N’ Cheese. Both plates were very filling and all tasted pretty good. You can get a good meal for under $15. My favorite was their cauli mashed potatoes!
4 – Los Feliz – Is a new area I got to explore on this past trip located just west of Hollywood. It’s a beautiful neighborhood with lot’s of pretty homes as well as a little “downtown” area located on Vermont Street with plenty of super cute shops, bookstores and yummy restaurants. I checked out the French bistro Le Figaro for brunch. They offered all the best typical French specialties and also had a counter section, where you could buy baked goods and desserts to go. I wish I could have spent more time in the area, it’s definitely on my list of places to go back to on my next visit.
5 – Laurel Hardware – Is a trendy relatively new restaurant and bar located on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. I met up with friends there for dinner one night. There are two rooms and an incredibly big patio at the back. The first room is quieter and has a more “dinning room” vibe where as the back room has a lot more of a “bar” feel to it. Lot’s of local models,musicians and young entrepreneurs have been seen flocking to this place. The night I went, the place was definitely filled with lot’s of young and beautiful people. Small but solid food and drink menu. The menu contained lot’s of sharing plates including many vegetarian options. I loved their open kitchen concept as well as the fresh flowers and candles that were on each table.
All in all, another incredibly memorable trip with tons of new discoveries!