Weekend Getaway – Long Beach

This Halloween weekend, I made the drive out to Long Beach. It was the last place I took an actual “road trip” to a couple years ago, and it’s one of the places in the greater Los Angeles area that I feel comfortable driving in and navigating. I haven’t been out of town since New Orleans in February, and I was starting to feel a little caged in. Sometimes it seems like a waste to leave only for a day or two, but sometimes these quick trips are the cures for my bouts of anxiety (or ennui depending on the situation).

The dogs and I stayed in a Motel 6 again, because I’m just comfortable in a Motel 6. I don’t know why I always stay at Motel 6; I think the short answer is because it’s cheap, convenient, and pretty much the only motel I feel “at home” in. I say that because it was the only place my parents and I ever rented from when I was a kid (well, the only place  that didn’t scare me half to death – but more on that later), so when I check into one I feel like I’m carrying on some kind of family tradition. A very cheap, sometimes shady, tradition.

When we got into town, I stopped at Veggie Grill for dinner. I’ve had them a couple times before, and they’re one of the best vegetarian/vegan places I’ve come across, at home and not. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but I like it because it’s big on flavor, while still being healthy. I hate being on the road and eating McDonald’s after Carl’s Jr. after Burger King. Plus, we don’t have a Veggie Grill back home, so the added novelty was a bonus.

Other than that, we just explored. We went to Recreation Park and Uptown Dog Park, and visited the marina.I planned on stopping at Rosie’s Dog Beach before we left, but an early-morning power outage forced me to be on my way much too early for that. It wasn’t the greatest, most lavish weekend getaway ever, but it was relaxing. It was problem-free. It was everything I needed at the present moment, and that’s the hallmark of a good  time.

 

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Five Things to Do in Santa Monica

venice-beachLos Angeles is one of my favorite places for a weekend getaway. If you’ve been there before, I don’t need to tell you it is practically perfect in every way (except for the traffic, of course). One of my favorite things about it is – you can go to the greater Los Angeles area a hundred times and still not see everything they have to offer. This list just scratches the surface of all that Santa Monica has to offer; I encourage you to venture off this path and find your own adventures as well.

Santa Monica Pier

You can spend an entire afternoon on the Santa Monica Pier. From riding the Ferris wheel, paddleboard competitions, to lunch or dinner at Bubba Gump’s, Santa Monica Pier is one of the top spots to visit in the greater Los Angeles area. The pier originally opened in 1909, and has seen become an iconic

Parking can be a pain at the pier, just as it is at any beach. You can plan in advance and reserve a parking spot for a discounted price, which might be useful if you’ll be in the area for multiple days.

Stop at the Camera Obscura

If you’re into anything vintage or offbeat, you’ll want to visit the Camera Obscura. The Camera Obscura allows its patrons to see Santa Monica through the lense of the past. Located near Palisades Park inside the former Senior Recreation Center, visitors can look through one of the oldest optical inventions known to man at the surrounding city. Another perk to visiting the Camera Obscura is –it’s free.

Visit California Heritage Museum

The California Heritage Museum celebrates the diverse aspects of California culture and history through its engaging exhibits and commitment to community preservation. Located inside the home of Santa Monica’s founding grandson, Roy Jones, The California Heritage Museum is a quaint little gallery right by the beach. Past exhibits include “Mexican Calendar Girls”, “Every Tattoo Tells a Tale” and “Awkward Family Photos”.

Take a Bike Tour

Bike tours are incredibly popular in Los Angeles, especially during the summertime. Biking is an ideal way to explore not only the beaches, but the surrounding neighborhoods and shops also. There are a number of tour companies to book through, but Santa Monica Bike Center and Pedal or Not come highly recommended.

Take a Stroll along the Boardwalk

From Santa Monica, you can take the boardwalk along the beach and over to Venice Beach. The boardwalk has multitude of sights along the way, including: artists, musicians, performers, food stands, and artisans selling anything from hula hoops to flower crowns.  Along the bike path you’ll find Muscle Beach and its