While this post is long long lonngggg overdue (I blame it on the holidays!), today I’m sharing details about our parents’ visit over the Thanksgiving holiday! This was the first time since living here that both of our parents came out at the same time — and my dad’s first trip out here since I moved! We had a full house — my mom and dad stayed at our place in the guest bedroom, while Al’s mom and Bob stayed in the Hotel Hermosa down the street, just a half mile from the beach! Everyone flew in earlier in the week so we had a couple of days before Thanksgiving to really explore and show them around some of our favorite places! At the tail end of the trip, my parents’ flight got pushed back a day so I even got to spend a bonus day with them…which was the best, because I really wasn’t ready for them to leave yet!
A Parents’ Trip Itinerary:
When guests land after a long trip from the East Coast, I usually like to take them on a walk to stretch their legs, or directly down to the beach because they don’t have that back at home! This time, we took my parents to our favorite little spot in our neighborhood — Natureba —for açaí bowls and beirut sandwiches (Dad’s first açaí!) and then we went for a walk around our neighborhood! That evening, we picked up Lori and Bob and found a nice spot on the beach where we enjoyed some wine and cheese and a beautiful West Coast sunset … the best way to kick off a California trip! Once the sun went down, we made our way up to Hook & Plow for one of the best dinner’s in Hermosa. And that’s how you start off a vacation!
The next day we had fully reserved to spend the entire day up in the Studio City area at Warner Brothers Studio for the WB Studio Tour! We were recommended this tour by multiple friends and coworkers — especially for out of town guests — and we were more than pleased with this outcome … this tour is pretty awesome. And if you go when we did, you actually hit the “off season” so it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it usually is. The tour splits you up into groups of about 15 and you spend the day with in an open-sided tram with your tour guide … he/she drives you all around the Warner Brothers lot (which is huge by the way!) and you get off and walk through all the different sets and sound stages, while learning all about movie (and tv) magic! Some of my favorite sets included the Friends “Central Perk” coffee shop, all things Harry Potter related, the Ellen soundstage all decorated for the Christmas special, and the stage that housed all of the bat mobiles for the Batman movies! They call this tour “The Best Studio Tour in LA!” and I can definitely see why … we had a great time and I think now we’re all watching tv and movies a litttttle differentl …. like, did you know they didn’t film a single episode of Friends in NY at all!? Yep. It’s all designed sets on the WB lot … the same sets that they use for hundreds of other shows and movies … sometimes it’s as simple as adding or taking away a few potted trees! Pretty incredible stuff. You’ll be starving after this tour — its roughly 3 hours long — so we suggest grabbing a hearty meal at Aroma Cafe on Tujunga Ave. This has been our little date spot since I moved out here .. and only recently did I discover that it’s a popular spot for celebrities to go too! Everything here is delicious … I won’t even recommend anything because it’s all.so.good.
For actual Thanksgiving Day, we slept in, took a nice leisurely walk in Hermosa Beach with the pup, and spent the rest of the day cooking and snacking and watching football! Our neighbor, Lauren, had her dad and sister, sister’s boyfriend, and friend from Grad School, all in town too, so we thought we would do a joint-Thanksgiving this year! For the last couple of Thanksgivings, Laur and Josh have always welcomed Alex and me into their family to celebrate with them when we couldn’t be with ours. And over the last few years, they have truly become our family. (I mean, we share a wall, after all!) So, to finally have our families all meet one another was a pretty special thing to me. All of us sitting around the coffee table, drinking beers and eating hors d’oeurves, and then sharing a meal together around one giant dinner table … that stuff filled my heart up to the very brim. Of everything we did that week — this part was my favorite. Because being with family — blood or not — is what the holidays are all about, and that’s what makes Thanksgiving my favorite holiday of the year. There aren’t any gifts or pressure involved … it’s about coming together to prepare a meal (thanks for handling that turkey, mom and dad!) and then sitting down to enjoy it together. There’s nothing better than that. I think I’ll always look back and remember this as my favorite LA Thanksgiving.
We thought we’d spend our day-after Thanksgiving meal with a long bike ride along the coast … one of my favorite activities! We rented bikes from a shop in Hermosa and rode all the way to Venice (and back!) where we stopped for lunch at Cows End Cafe and then walked around the Venice Canals, which were absolutely beautiful and full after LA received some much-needed rain! We also made a pit stop to try out the new Bird Scooter fad…and seeing my dad on a Bird Scooter was honestly one of the highlights of their trip for me, ha!!!! It was pretty cool getting to watch them all see the different beaches along the coast … they are very different from east coast beaches! At the end of the day, we rode 23 miles roundtrip, so we had some much-deserved beers afterwards 😉
We took most of our mornings slowly … and made all of our breakfasts at the apartment! On Saturday we visited the dog park and then milled about Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches for Small Business Saturday … and of course I had to take them to Brothers Burritos for lunch because that is my brother, Jim’s, favorite spot! We hit the newly-renovated Roundhouse Aquarium on the end of Manhattan Beach Pier just before sunset. I have so many memories of my dad taking us to the Baltimore Aquarium growing up, so this was fun for me to take him to this (much smaller!) aquarium. It had been closed for a year or so while they completely redid the place, and it looks phenomenal! A total upgrade. We walked out the doors just as the sun was setting and so we got to see another stunning sunset. My mom made a comment about how everything in our little area seems to revolve around the sunset…the day’s plans and where you end up…and I guess I never thought about that before, but I like it so much; that we are subconsciously revolving our day around the sun, soaking in its gift. I love that that’s a thing. We spend so much of our time outside, that it only seems right to take a minute to pause and say thank you for the daylight.
While Al took his mom and Bob to Griffith Observatory for the day, I brought my parents to this really cool little “speakeasy” in El Segundo, called R6 Distillery. It has a really old-timey vibe to it. And although you can only order one drink per person (they’re technically only a tasting room), it’s a really neat spot to stop in and decompress for a little while. They’re especially known for their whiskey if you have any whiskey drinkers in your life!
We’re all pretty big beer fans in our families, so we spent an evening at CommonSpace Brewery in Hawthorne, where we sat around and all played Scrabble together over some IPAs and Impossible Burgers! And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to LA without stopping at In N Out Burger!
Another stop we made was the Redondo Pier which ended up being my dad’s favorite place, I think! We walked around and saw all the fishermen, the old boats, and giant pelicans. We heard a man playing the saxophone in an echoey parking garage. We sipped beers at the King Harbor Tasting Room right on the water … and then we enjoyed some more beers at Tony’s … the big round bar that sits highest up on the Pier and offers a pretty remarkable view of the Pacific Ocean. I hadn’t even thought to take them here, but my dad saw it and wanted to go in, and now I’m like, “why haven’t I taken everyone here!?”
On, what I thought their last morning would be, I woke my parents up early so that we could walk along the beach and drink coffee together before I had to head into work. Early mornings, before many people are down there, are my favorite times to be at the beach. The sun reflecting on the water was just perfect that morning, and so we sipped our coffee in travel mugs and walked along the water.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts about our parents’ visit, was just the normal every day kind of stuff. Going to Home Depot to pick out a new grill … and then to pick up a few other household projects while we were there 😉 They fixed our front screen door that had been falling apart for the last couple of months that we just never got around to … mom rearranged some kitchen furniture in a way that we love even better now, we hung some things up, put other plans into motion … we enjoyed some beers in the backyard watching the hummingbirds come and go from the feeders. All the normal stuff we would do had we been back in PA. It just felt easy. I think that’s the thing about when parents come to visit — it should always feel easy. I think, overall, they’re just happy to see you happy and surviving and living a good life.
Mom, Dad, Lori, and Bob — we can’t say thank you enough for coming to visit us over Thanksgiving. We hope you all had as much fun as we did. My heart still feels full every time I think about us all sitting together in our little living room, just enjoying one another’s company. We are so thankful for the love you have taught us and continue to teach us every day … and we are so thankful that we got to share our little life that we are making out here, with you for a week. Please come back, anytime! We send you all of our love! – Lauren and Alex