Last month, Kyle and I visited California for the first time ever. The warm sunshine was a welcome relief from Virginia's freezing temperatures. The post-holiday blues were real this year, but they quickly disappeared as we cruised along the Pacific Coast Highway.
We spent a total of three days in LA. On our first day, we walked around the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Our AirBnB was right in the middle of Hollywood, so it only took us a few minutes to walk there. The Walk of Fame runs over a mile along Hollywood Boulevard and includes more than 2,500 stars embedded in the sidewalk. The coral-pink, brass-rimmed stars are essentially public monuments to celebrate successful men and women in the entertainment industry. (Some fun facts: 1. Anyone can nominate a celebrity for a star, but the star must provide written consent for the nomination. 2. Every nomination application must include a sponsor who will pay the $30,000 fee to create, install, and maintain the star. 3. Fictional celebrities are allowed! Mickey Mouse was the first to be inducted in 1978.)
While strolling along the Walk of Fame, we stopped at Grauman's Chinese Theater. The theater opened in 1927 and has since been home to several movie premieres, including the 1977 launch of Star Wars. In 2013, the owners partnered with IMAX to create the largest IMAX auditorium in the world. It seats 932 people! In front of the Chinese Theater are several concrete blocks with handprints, footprints, and signatures of popular motion picture personalities.
We ended our first day by grabbing dinner at Outlaws Cafe with a friend who moved to California to pursue writing/directing. The restaurant served amazing burgers with giant steak fries, garlic parmesan chips, and brownies with cayenne pepper. It was amazing!
On our second day, we explored Venice Beach and Santa Monica. We encountered some interesting souls at Venice Beach. We did a good bit of people watching as we made our way down the boardwalk! Kyle and I both loved Santa Monica. We really enjoyed walking around Pier 66 and riding the Pacific Wheel. Despite January being off-season, Pacific Park was flooded with tourists. The weather was absolutely perfect, though.
On our third day, we drove to Malibu and hiked Point Dume. Our walk to the peak of Point Dume was easy and fun. The scenic view was stunning. In the distance, we could see white sand beaches, gently sloping mountains, and an endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean. It was a cooler day, and the beaches were quiet and secluded. Apparently, from this point, you can sometimes spot whales along the coast.
My favorite part of our time in Los Angeles occurred that night, when we drove to the Griffith Observatory at sunset. It was really crowded at the top, so we parked half a mile from the observatory. The walk up was steep but relaxing, and there were several hiking trails leading down into the canyon below.
The Griffith Observatory offers spectacular views of Downtown Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign, and the Pacific Ocean. It opened in 1935, and it's now renowned as a national leader in public astronomy. Inside the observatory, you can see a variety of things, such as astronomical tools and landscapes, planetary exhibits, a depiction of the history of the universe, scale models of the solar system, and meteorite displays. A small fee is charged for planetarium shows, but admission to the grounds and buildings is free.
After walking around the building for awhile, we watched the sun go down. It was the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. The colors were so rich and vivid, and the smog created a serene, hazy glow. We got lucky because it was pretty cloudy that day, and we didn't think the sun would peep through the clouds. In the beginning, it was hard to see anything, but halfway through, the sun exploded into a dizzying array of oranges and yellows. It was gorgeous.
After three days in Los Angeles, we jumped on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed to San Diego.