I went to the location on 519 Central Ave NE and was instantly obsessed with the retro decor. It is very spacious for a donut shop in my opinion, perfect to sit and play a board game with friends or to relax and get some work done. I got the VANILLA STARLET and CHOCOLATE DARLING for only $1.50 each! The donuts were so fresh and the icing tasted homemade. Definitely a must stop, especially since it is in the same neighborhood as a lot below.
Yes they have a very cute mural wall that will probably end up on your Instagram but you have to go inside. They sell lot and lots of homemade crafts, decor, stationary and more. It is the perfect place to get a unique souvenir or gift.
I am a big fan of thrifting / vintage shopping especially when I travel because every city can have a lil bit of a different style to offer. This store had some incredible items such as vinyl, postcards, patches, and much more. I got this vintage dress below, some old Lee shorts, and of course a car shift I just can’t help it. They also have great furniture if you are local!
I always love to browse record stores when traveling so I was glad I found one within walking distance of the art institute. They sell a lot more than vinyl and they have quiet the selection. The place also has a cool bit of history you can read about on their site.
I have been dreaming of going here since that You’re Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s Mall Party (1997) movie. While I did not ride any roller coasters, I did really enjoy this custom lighting fitting at A&F and the butterfly art instillation. It is a more tourist destination but it is worth walking around.
One of the most interesting and unexpected stops on the trip had to be this sculpture garden outside of a different art museum. Who doesn’t want to look at a giant spoon with a cherry on top by a small body of water?
Take the scenic route, ride a scooter (even in a dress over a bridge), try to see the fireworks after a Twins game.
I have spent enough time on Greyhound buses that smelled like tuna fish and in airport terminals relating too hard to the song title “Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack” by The Wonder Years to feel justified in giving travel tips. So let’s just get right into it – this will cover everything on how to save money and I may do other installments on getting the most out of destinations / trips and doing so stress free.
Sky Scanner, Google Flights, and Southwest Low Fare Calendar
If you are flying these are my 3 main tools. Sky Scanner is great because they do not take commission and let you book right through the airlines sites once you find the deal you want. You can also set price alerts for a certain route / dates and get a notification when the price drops. If you don’t have specific dates in mind you can look at the price range for an entire month and also include nearby airports to get you the best deal – this is really helpful for the east coast where many airports in cities like NYC and DC are very close to each other. They also can search for hotels and car rentals!
Google Flights is similar and good for a quick overview but I find they exclude some airlines and make you book through their site which can be confusing.
Southwest Low Fare Calendar is my go to because I find their rapid rewards system to be the easiest to actually earn and spend points with. I actually have their credit card and I got so many points after opening it that I flew between Baltimore and Chicago probably 6 times for free by booking with points. But basically the calendar lets you look at an entire month of flights either by points or currency. Sometimes I will book one way with points and the other with money to save money. Southwest is nice because there is no crazy fees – 2 bags fly literally free. It isn’t the most glamorous airline but as long as you check in on time you usually can get a window seat and nothing is extra cost. If you’re super about comfort for like a long flight maybe not the best but I have used them for 4-5 hour flights and honestly never had an issue. A neck pillow and some snacks are your best friend.
This site works literally anywhere in the world so it’s great for international travel. Compare your options: plane, train, bus, car, ferry, bike share, driving and walking directions all in one search.You’d be surprised how often it is cheaper to take a bus or train over flying and if you have the time because it could save you over $100. Also really helpful if you just want to visit a nearby town or take a day trip.
I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a hotel because my default is now Airbnb. I think this saves money not only on upfront cost / fees but on food; most Airbnbs give you access to a full kitchen so you can save a lot of money by grocery shopping, bringing your own food, or being able to save your leftovers when you do eat out. Also many Airbnb hosts are great locally resources who can recommend you local spots and tell you whether or not typical tourist stops are worth your time and money. If you refer friends or use it for the first time you can usually get a discount so here is my link for $40 off! Airbnb now lets you book Experiences as well as Homes, and Restaurants. https://www.airbnb.com/c/hannahh7338?currency=USD
If you read my LA post you’d know how much I enjoyed using Turo. Basically you are “renting” someone’s personal car and you do not have to be 25 to use the service. Pick up the car or get it delivered, wherever you need it. I actually got mine right at the airport which was very convenient. In major cities that lack public transportation, using lots of rideshare like Lyft is great but can definitely add up. Having your own car even for a few hours allows you a lot more freedom to make stops, visit nearby towns, and not have to worry about waiting. For $25 off your first booking use this link https://turo.com/c/hannahh417
I think Groupon is very underrated when it comes to travel. If you don’t know about Groupon it is an e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services. Basically you can buy discounted offers based on a city. So you can put the city you are traveling to in the search bar and find deals for like restaurants, museums, concerts, spas, and all sorts of experiences like wine tasting or axe throwing.
Pack snacks and bring a water bottle
Might seem obvious – but airport water and food is expensive but TSA does allow food through as well as empty water bottles.
I grew up wishing I lived in California. I always wore Roxy and Billabong clothes boasting the name of Cali beaches I had never been to. I don’t know what to blame my obsession on -maybe watching too much Hannah Montana or all the summers stealing my dad’s Beach Boys CDs – I just knew I was happiest in the sunshine. It seemed like a place I would never get to go to for some reason, like it really only existed inside the TV.
When I was learning to drive my daydream motivation was the idea of being able to cruise up the SR -1 or at least the Pacific Coast Highway. I wouldn’t end up getting my driver’s license until I was 23 (because that is when was best for me) and the day I passed my driving test I started realizing I had to make that high school daydream a reality. So here I was booking flights to Phoenix for 8123 fest and I thought, this is to close to California to not go? So I extended my trip, pit in reservations for a rental car, and texted my pink glowing friend Kika asking if I could crash. Surprise! It all came together. 4 days in the sunshine – spending time with myself and reflecting on how far I have come was exactly what I did not know I needed. I spent too much money on ice cream, I rolled the windows down in every car I got in, I blasted all the records I wanted to experience in the Golden State and actually let myself take a break for once. So thank you LA, I hope I see you real soon.
Rent a car and drive up Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu is…magic. I put on LANY in my little red rental car and started driving up the coast holding back tears because there was this whisper coming through the rolled down windows saying, “you made it”. Suddenly the simplistic production style of 3 act LANY made sense – the sound of crashing waves, seagulls squawking, motorcycle engines purring, conversations from open door cafes spilling out into the streets – all the sounds mixed into the songs themselves like it was meant to be heard this way. It was the most present I had felt in weeks, leaving behind the Chicago winter for shorts and checkerboard Vans. And I wish I had someone to share it with – I am so lucky to have people worth missing – but also it was sweet just to have that moment with myself where I truly felt pink and blushing and proud. I cherish that. Thanks Malibu.
If you’re under 25 and looking for a rental car in a major city so you have more freedom to explore – use Turo! You rent someone else’s car and it is SO affordable: Get $25 off your first trip
El Matador State Beach
Go at sunset. Just go. I missed the ocean so much that my heart grew 2 sizes just being there; my curly hair also growing from the sea salt air. I was so in awe of the colors and the landscape. Boulders break up the beach, tide pools wait to be explored, canyons stretch out for miles, lush green grass fights to re-grow in areas once charred from fires, palm tree stand strong, bluffs drop off to offer views of water meeting sand. I was instantly mesmerized. I have always felt a strong connection to the ocean and the moon and what I didn’t even realize was that was the night of the super blood wolf moon…a literal LUNAR eclipse. That was home for me. I couldn’t stop smiling. I have learned home is so much less a place and so much more a feeling and I had that in Malibu.
Venice Beach Boardwalk can be…crazy. But I found it really nice on a weekday afternoon. It is definitely a more tourist stop – but it holds a lot of cultural history for everything from music / art to skating and poetry. I had flashbacks to watching Lords of Dogtown in 5th grade and sitting in class writing on my Vans with sharpie. And if you can’t pack a skateboard, you can at least ride a scooter.
I will always recommend thrifting while travelling because you can find unique places that may tie to local fashion different than that of where you live. Plus this store has a great view of the Venice sign.
Lots of lil treasures and local artists featured in this boutique.
Melrose / Fairfax-ish
Okay shoppers, Instagram lovers, foodies – this is the spot for you.
If you’ve been wanting to try Glossier without paying for shipping, you have to check out their store. All their products are out to be tested and played without and the inside is absolutely gorgeous. My recommendations: Priming Moisturizer, Glitter Gelee, Stretch Concealer, Generation G lipstick in Leo. And yes this is the store with the “canyon” selfie room.
Listen, I get that a lot of “vintage” stuff is overpriced BUT do I justify it because it is usually better quality and a more sustainable AND unique alternative? Yes. So I told myself I could buy once vintage piece in LA and this was the spot for that.
This was a total lucky find – but I picked up this neon heart (which I have always wanted a neon sign) for $40 and had no issue travelling with it! They also have an online store and the owner was so sweet and helpful.
Lots of stores and entertainment / events. Not a must see but it is in the area if you want to shop in a non-mall setting and many of the shops aren’t all around the US. I think all the food options and is close to the farmers market.
Look for Pop Ups
There is always something going on in LA – including pop ups. When I was there I went to a Benefit one that had free ice cream with purchase, lots of photo ops and freebies.
Walk through show rooms
From luxury to street wear, Melrose and N Fairfax Ave and surrounding area is the place to window shop (mainly because I do not have the money for actual shopping). But seriously the visual merchandising and aesthetics of many of these stores are incredible and display products like art in a very interesting way. Stores like Fred Segal, Posers, Suru, American Rebel, Sorella Boutique, Golf Wang, Supreme, and more.
Walk Melrose Ave and find all the street art
Walls, alleys, the sidewalk – this area comes alive from the street are. Some is poetic, some politic, others simply artistic but it is all worth walking around and taking a look at.
Best part – it is free! But reserve tickets ahead on the website. Their collection has an incredible collection of modern art, graffiti, collage / conceptual art, pop art and more . Some of my favorite artists featured are Jean‐Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Barbara Kruger, and Roy Lichtenstein. It is a must visit and a nice, cool break during a busy day,
Just gonna be straight up – I did not go to Eggslut because the line was whack BUT Wexler’s Deli had great egg & cheese bagel sandwiches and lots of other options. The whole market is an experience and a great place to stop even if just for a snack.
Citywalk in a fun way to experience all things Universal without having to pay to enter the park itself. It is a good night activity when you aren’t ready to go home but don’t really want to “go out”. But easily the best part is a chance to get Voodoo Doughnuts.
It is easy to forget to eat meals, especially healthy ones, when traveling. Luckily LA has many healthy and veggie options but my favorite has to be Lemonade for salads, sandwiches, bowls and of course lemonade.
I am bad at geography so just know this is in Hollywood. But anyway this store has been on my record store bucket list for years. The outside and decor has a throwback vibe and is one of the largest independent record stores carrying everything from vinyl and CDs to tshirts, books, posters, memorabilia, movies and more. Even if you aren’t a collector or music lover, I think you’d appreciate this spot. It also hosts in store performances and carries exclusive art / vinyl.
This very well be my #1 recommendation next to Malibu. Maybe it is my obsession with the La La Land soundtrack or all things celestial but I think Griffith Observatory is pure magic. Sitting like a castle at the top of south facing Mount Hollywood; the location offers a view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. At sunset the entire sky lights up in gradient shades of pink, orange, and violent that eventually fade to show off the city lights. Tourist take their selfies with the Hollywood sign, photographers come with their gear to capture the perfect moment, couples bask in each others company, and everyone seems to genuinely be in awe of the atmosphere that surrounds this place.
Don’t forget to go inside and maybe learn a thing or two, pay for a Planetarium show.