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Cambria coastline

A few weeks ago I decided to take a spontaneous road trip to Cambria. The end of October is one of the best times to visit Cambria to see the elephant seals lounging on the beach, which solidified my decision to go there. The other popular times for elephant seal watching is end of February and in May, but Cambria is beautiful all year round.

STAY

Cambria Beach Lodge – I loved everything about my stay at Cambria Beach Lodge. It’s located across from Moonstone Beach and the picturesque boardwalk that lines the oceanfront. Each room has a modern beachy feel, supplied with a cozy wool blanket, tasty snacks, wine, and the surf report written on a chalkboard hanging on the wall. I loved watching the sunset from the front patio and waking up to a tasty breakfast in the lobby with ocean views.

Cambria Beach LodgeCambria Beach Lodge

SEE

Moonstone Beach – Moonstone Beach is the famous beach that lines the Cambria coastline. There’s a picturesque one-mile wood plank boardwalk that lines the coast and this popular surf spot. I caught the boardwalk in front of the hotel and walked along the beach and into the forrest area until it ended, before ending up in town. Moonstone Beach doesn’t have many shells, but there’s lots of beautiful drift wood to collect.

Cambria Moonstone Beach

Hearst Castle – When I was young we spent many family vacations driving up the coast and stopping at Hearst Castle. The legendary estate was inherited by William Randolph Hearst in 1919. He then developed it into what it is today and purchased more land around the stately home, and in Cambria. In the 1920s Hearst started one of the first print media companies and was a major producer of movie newsreels. Some of these historic newsreels can be viewed during a tour of Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle

Elephant Seals – From Hearst Castle, drive a few miles north up Highway 1 until you see signs for elephant seal viewing. This enclave is one of the best places to watch the elephant seals. There’s a secluded fenced area perched on top of the cliff not far from the sand, where you can witness nature at its finest. The seals lounge, bark, swim, and roll in the sand. It’s like an episode on National Geographic IRL.

elephant seals CambriaSan Simeon elephant seals

SHOP

Home Arts – This quaint shop is filled with beachy home decor, chic furniture, and children’s finds. There’s a little bit of everything and so many things that I wanted. I walked out with a cozy poncho sweater and a brass buck, which is now on my desk.

Cambria Shopping

Linn’s – So it’s not what you normally think of when you hear shop; it’s a pie shop. Linn’s is known for their olallieberry pies and it’s a tasty must buy. All of the pies are made in house and olallieberries are pretty famous in Cambria. It’s like going to Napa and not tasting the wine. You need to taste something with olallieberries and I would suggest the pie.

Note: I’m already planning my next weekend getaway. Big Sur, Joshua Tree, Palm Springs, and San Diego are topping the list right now.

Venice-Beach-Sign

STAY

Hotel Erwin – Hotel Erwin has some of the best views of the coast in Venice, and is located just steps away from the ocean and famous boardwalk. Locals and tourists enjoy sunset cocktails on the roof. One of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen was on the roof at Hotel Erwin.

Venice Beach House – For something less hipster and more California beach house chic, book a room at this quaint inn. The home was built in 1911 by Venice Beach developer Abbot Kinney. The house fit perfectly in his romantic concept of Venice in America.

Venice Beach, Natalie Zimmerman, Shopping

SEE 

Venice Canals – One of my favorite things to do in Venice Beach is walk the canals. It’s peaceful and relaxing, makes for some cute pictures, and you can check out all of the different houses along the way. The man-made canals were built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney, but since then a lot of the canals have been drained and turned into sidewalks.

Venice Boardwalk – Muscle Beach and the boardwalk are often times what people think of when they hear beaches in Los Angeles. The boardwalk stretches about a half mile along the sand. From here you can look out over the Pacific Ocean and watch the surfers and boats roll by. Shops, restaurants, street art and artists, all make up the famed boardwalk.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Abbot Kinney Boulevard – This upscale shopping district is a nice place to get away from the crowds down by the beach. There are lots of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. There are too many to list, so make it a destination and check them all out. It’s one of my favorite shopping destinations in LA.

SHOP

Late Sunday Afternoon – It feels like you’re walking into someone’s home when you step into Late Sunday Afternoon. It’s located on the trendy strip of Lincoln Blvd in Venice, where new restaurants and shops are popping up all the time. The company works with dead-stock fabrics from downtown LA to make scarves, ascots, pocket squares, and more. They also sell unique gifts from other creatives, which makes up their small local shop and factory.

Late-Sunday-Afternoon-Venice

Christy Dawn – Christy Dawn, the founder and designer, uses deadstock fabric for all of her vintage inspired designs. Her classic looks are made by artisans in downtown Los Angeles. In order to minimize their carbon footprint, Christy Dawn uses deadstock fabric and sews a limited number of pieces, numbering each one that is made.

LCD – The high end boutique focuses on supporting new up-and-coming designers and emerging their customers in these designs. They also work with new jewelry designers, photographers, and artists. This is a location for all fashion and art lovers.

Strange Invisible Perfumes – Although it’s sold internationally and online, the best place to shop for these perfumes is at the flagship store on Abbot Kinney. The owner developed the brand to make high-end perfumes from authentic botanical essences. All of the natural fragrances are bottled in Venice.

Note: Fist three photos by Abigail Collins.

Meditation-Mount-Ojai

This weekend I spent some time in Ojai with my best friend and family. I’ve posted about Ojai before {here and here}, and wanted to share some more finds I’ve discovered.  There are still so many restaurants and places I want to go back and checkout. It makes it easy to go up there when I love seeing my family there too.

My friend and I started the morning early at Meditation Mount. I definitely suggest going to the 8:30-9:00am meditation class. It’s held every morning the center is open, which is Wednesday through Sunday. This not only sets your day spreading peace and calming your mind, but it’s the best thing about the center, besides the view. After the meditation, take a very short walk to the end of the path to enjoy the view.

Ojai-Mountains

We then made our way to some estate sales and stopped to have breakfast at The Framer and the Cook. This organic restaurant is also a small organic market, where fresh bread is baked daily, and canisters of loose leaf tea can be mixed and matched to create your own blend.

After breakfast we hit up three different thrift stores on the main drag in town. New 2 You was very shopable, which is hard to find in a secondhand store. Next to it is Pink Thrift, my other favorite. The shop smells like essential oils and incense, so your clothes come home smelling like Ojai and not dusty old closet. It makes me not want to wash the clothes I bought.

Weekend in Ojai

We arrived at my cousins’ relaxing ranch-style house later in the afternoon for a swim and to soak up the sun. I felt like a kid again jumping and diving into the pool. That’s the best feeling. After swimming and snacking, we enjoyed a light dinner and good conversation.

Weekend-in-Ojai

Note: Already looking forward to my next weekend in Ojai.

Best hikes in LA, Reseda Blvd hike

One of my favorite things to do is hiking. If you follow me on Instagram, you will notice that I go on a lot of hikes, even when I’m traveling. I try to go once a week and love checking out different hikes. There are a few that I go on quite often, suggest to fellow hikers, and take friends on when they visit. Here are my favorite hikes in L.A..

Caballero Canyon Trail – I hike this 3.4 mile {out and back} trail most often. There isn’t any shade, so it’s best to go in the morning or on a foggy day, plus it’s uphill all the way to the lookout point. At the top of the hike, on Dirt Mulholland Drive, there’s a bench with beautiful views of the valley.

Caballero Canyon trail

Fryman Canyon -This 3 mile loop in Studio City is pretty popular among hikers, so if you don’t know the way, you can follow the crowd. It’s a fairly easy trail and is also dog friendly. That’s something to keep in mind when hiking in LA, check to make sure it’s dog friendly and if they can be off leash.

Fryman Canyon hike, hike Los Angeles

Topanga State Park – There are so many hikes in Topanga State Park, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Some of the hikes on this list {Los Liones and Caballero Canyon}, lead into Topanga State Park. There’s a large parking lot with a day fee to park, but if you want to avoid paying, you can park outside the entrance on the road. Here you can hike all day deep into the Santa Monica Mountains.

Topanga State Park hike

Malibu Creek State Park – Another location with tons of trails. You really feel like you are out of the city when you are here. The Santa Monica Mountains surround the park, filled with rolling hills, oak trees, and tall grass. If you want to do more than just hiking, you can also camp, go rock climbing, and horseback riding. It’s a nature getaway without having to leave the city.

Malibu Creek State Park hike

Los Liones Trail – The hike can either be 2.6 miles out and back or if you really want to go for it, 7.8 miles round trip. If you go for the longer stretch you end up at Parker Mesa Overlook, which offers a higher elevation view of the ocean. If you decide you don’t want to make the higher arduous hike, Los Liones ends at a clearing on the ridge with a bench and views of Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, and the ocean.

Parker Mesa Overlook, Los Liones hike

Griffith Park – This is an extremely popular place to hike, especially for tourists and out of town guests. There are lots of hikes in the park. My favorite is Mount Hollywood, which is the star of Griffith Park. It can be reached from the Observatory and offers 360-degree views of the city. I love looking over the ridge and seeing Griffith Observatory with the downtown skyline in the background.

Griffith Park hike, best hikes in LA

Paramount Ranch – A 4 mile loop that ends at a Western town that serves as a filming location. Most recently HBO’s Westworld was filmed at Paramount Ranch. Paramount Pictures used to own the land, but it’s now preserved by the National Parks Services. The old prop town was built in the 1950’s and can be explored after a moderate hike.

Paramount Ranch filming location

Note: It was hard to narrow down the best hikes in LA, there are so many to choose from.

Ojai Spa, Ojai Valley Inn

When your friend tells you that she’s staying at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and wants you to come visit, you do it. This beautiful resort is located about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, so it makes for a relaxing weekend getaway from the city. There’s a peacefulness to the resort that you immediately feel as you coast up the long driveway. It pulled me in all day. Along with laughing with my dear friend, it was exactly what I needed.

We started the day with breakfast at The Oak Kitchen on the patio overlooking the golf course and huge oak trees {hence the name}. A quick bite turned into a few hours and we found ourselves catching up and calling an old friend. I’m sure the people next to us hated that we had her on speaker phone.

Ojai Valley Inn SpaOjai Valley Inn poolAfter breakfast she gave me a private tour of the property, starting with her Spanish-style room. I really felt like I was staying there. We checked out the spa, which only made me want to book a service and spend the rest of the day there. But we moved on and walked to the Artist’s Colony, a cute cottage with an artist in residence the leads painting classes. There are guest artists that lead other classes depending on the schedule. The room next door is an apothecary center where you can make and mix your own oils and scents.

We made our way around the walking path to the adults only pool. This is where we soaked up the sun for the rest of the day. We ordered drinks, which were delivered to us in the pool, and floated on one of the highly coveted pool loungers. Supposedly there are only 7 or 8, so you have to snag them early. We succeed in doing that. After a few hours in the pool we relaxed in the comfy lounge chairs and ordered some chips and guac. My go-to poolside snack.

Ojai Valley PoolOjai Valley Inn Spa

I was sad when it was time to say good-bye to my friend. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. A full day of laughs, relaxing in a gorgeous setting, good food and drinks. I’m looking forward to a full weekend at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. I might have to go book it now.

Ojai Valley Inn, Pool Note: This was the perfect daycation.