My Dad flew in yesterday morning from Georgia. Since LAX is already right by the beach, we decided to spend the day riding the coast.
Our first stop was Dockweiler Beach, which is situated right outside LAX. If you've ever flown out of that airport over the Pacific, this is the beach you fly over. Kind of noisy for a relaxing day at the beach, but if you're into watching planes, it's kind of the ideal location, no?
Dockweiler's biggest draw, aside from plane watching, is that it's the only beach in L.A. county that allows fire on the beach. People will come here in the evenings and have bonfires in the provided firepits.
Afterwards, we drove down the Coastline to Manhattan Beach.
My Dad doesn't meet a stranger (a common trait of Southerners), so it was pretty funny watching him approach and make friends with a bunch of surfers. After his curiosity was sated, we got in the car again and headed down to the Pier for lunch at El Sombrero.
While we were eating, the marine layer started burning off a bit. By the time we made it back down to the beach, it had mostly burned off - which is bad news for my fair skinned Dad.
So, we got back in the car and headed down the Coast again. We stopped in Redondo so they could snap a photo, then continued on to the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There were several things on PV that I knew would interest him greatly, and since the Marine Layer was so heavy, I knew this would be easier on his fair skin.
Our first stop was to hike the cliffs.
Next, we drove over to Point Vicente to catch some end of season whale watching. We were there 5 minutes, and my Dad spotted a blow. Unbelievable. We watched it for around a half an hour, and then he walked over and made friends with the professional whale watching crew.
Next, was the one place I was excited to show him the most - Wayfarer's Chapel. My Dad has a degree in architecture - building things, and drawing plats, is a passion of his. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of architectural jobs back home in rural South Georgia, so he became a land surveyor instead. It's always fun when he comes to visit, because he notices things in skyscrapers and in everyday construction that I would never have noticed.
We walked around the chapel for a little while, then headed home to pick up the kids.
During one of my last visits, I met a native who told me that the Palos Verdes Peninsula, specifically Point Vicente, is the best place in the Los Angeles area to watch the migration of the whales outside of getting on a boat. Whale watching has long been on my list of things to do, and since it was still in season, the kids, my hubby & I woke up early one morning and made the quick half hour drive down to PV to whale watch.
By the time we got there, the spotting crew had long been out on the deck of the museum, and they'd already seen 11 grey whales within just a few hours.
The marine layer rolled in, the marine layer rolled out, and it rolled back in again. We saw tugboats. We saw sailboats. Know what we'd not seen? Whales.
So, we packed up and headed into San Pedro for quick lunch of burritos at Pina's. We wanted something fast, because we didn't want to miss much - and Pina's was just the trick. After we'd stuffed ourselves, we headed back out to Point Vicente again.
In our absence, the spotting crew had seen a pod, so the count had gone up to 23. We excitedly set up post against the fence and waited. Sure enough, before long, we saw bubbles! Then, a fin! And then...a baby came up, as well! They were right against the coastline! I couldn't believe it!
Next, came pod of dolphins hunting for food in the kelp.
Around that time, the marine layer broke out giving way to the beautiful blue Southern California skies we know and love.
If you go:
- take binoculars. You can see the whales that come up close to the coastline with the unaided eye, but after extended periods of time searching, your eyes start to hurt.
- OR, You can rent a pair of binoculars at the Museum if you surrender your license.
- You can keep tabs on what has been spotted by checking the whiteboard up on the platform by the spotters.
- Take a picnic lunch and make a day out of it. There are plenty of tables and places to sit and eat, and there are trails if you get bored. However...
- Watch out for rattlesnakes!
The nearly all glass Chapel, designed by Lloyd Wright, is a functioning Church set in a grove of redwoods on the hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Weddings, baptisms, funerals, Easter and Christmas services are actively performed here. If you stay here long enough during your visit, you'll hear the Church bell toll. A gentle reminder that this is not just an incredible piece of architecture, this is a place of worship.
I shot Wayfarer's Chapel twice before I was happy with the results. On the first trip, the lighting was dappled and distracting. I watched the forecast down in Palos Verdes closely and waited until I knew the lighting would be just right for what I wanted to do. And so, when the time was right, I headed back down to try again.
In the past year+, my husband I both have had professional engagements that have required us to meet up on Hollywood Boulevard in the evening. Aside from the clubs and the bars and the gimmicky touristy places, there actually are some really good restaurants along the drag. I'm always so impressed with the lights late at night; however, I've never really taken anything other than my cell phone camera, because I felt it was completely inappropriate. Plus, I'm *usually* carrying a clutch.
I had another team dinner on Hollywood BLVD with The Artisan Group last night, so I decided to carry a really big bag and hide my gear in it. I would just wait until after the dinner was over, and then discreetly slip out and wander the area by myself afterwards. Technically, that's not really the best or safest idea. Really, it's kind of a foolish thing for a single woman to do late at night; however, I've got street smarts from my younger, wilder years and put my RBF to good use, as well.
Musso & Frank is one of the oldest restaurants on the drag. In fact, my husband's 75 year old Uncle K. used to park valet there when he was in college. There's still parking right behind the building, so just turn down one of the side streets either before or after passing it and you'll find it. You can walk right into the back entrance and avoid alleyways all together. I always get the Fetuccini Alfredo, but that's because we don't eat cheese at home thanks to my son's milk allergy and I'm seriously deprived. It can be touristy, but it's also an iconic restaurant full of Hollywood history. Usually when we go (late at night), there are families and people in business attire handling business.
The Roosevelt is another iconic Hollywood Landmark also rich with Hollywood history. My friend Janet (a walking Encyclopedia of L.A. history, I might add) will regale you with stories of it's hauntings. Apparently, the people who work or have worked there have some crazy, crazy stories.
The Taft Building is a recently restored historic building on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. You might not notice it if you're paying attention to the Capital Records building, the catchy Hollywood & Vine sign, or Pantages theater across the Street.
Wood & Vine, which is on the street level of the Taft Building, is a fairly recent addition to the Boulevard. It's probably my favorite restaurant on this street, and arguably less touristy than many of the others. The food is delicious, the staff is incredibly attentive, and the interior is styled beautifully. My favorite is the back patio, with it's firepits, string lights and classic films being streamed against the wall. I found it to be very romantic and couldn't resist stealing a snuggle with my husband here.
But if we're going to be really honest here - let me show you my favorite place to eat in Hollywood.
Yup. It's a chain. Go ahead and ask me how much I care. I told you when I started this entry we don't get cheese at home thanks to my son's milk allergy. Do you realize how absolutely delicious cheese is? Welp, that right there, my friends, is a photo of some bomb *ss cheese. The LAist agrees.