what we loved about Venice // our trip to LA


WE LOVED LA! We arrived in the city for the tail end of our trip out west, which was the best way to do it for so many reasons. Mostly, because it was the place I was most excited to see. My first ever visit! And hopefully not my last. The first two nights in Los Angeles we stayed in Venice. I had done a lot of blog reading and Pinterest searching and for us, this seemed like a really fun part of the city to stay. And it was! Venice is amazing…


The first thing we did after checking into our Airbnb was head to the beach to catch the sunset. We made it just in time and the night was perfect. We strolled the beach, watched the sun set over the water, and took in the sights and sounds of everything around us. Venice Beach is home to many skateboarders — which was one of the most interesting things to watch while we were there. Zan remembered right away that Venice is where the movie Lords of Dogtown is based on — about the surf and skateboarding trends that originated in Venice in the 1970s — and now I really want to see it!

After our beach walk we headed over to Gjelina for dinner, which came highly recommended and was completely fun and delicious. For pretty much all of this trip we went off recommendations from blogs and instagram friends and we loved every place we ate at so much. There were so many things we wanted to try we ended up eating a lot! First breakfast, check. Second breakfast, CHECK. Every day pretty much went like that and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. We had to try it all!


This was our little backyard Airbnb, which ended up working out perfectly. We stayed on Superba Ave in Venice and it was a great location with easy access to everything we wanted to do. Here is the link for anyone looking for a place to stay! It was small (and without a kitchen), but the bed was comfortable and they had bikes available for use so it was a win win for me! We most often always stay in an Airbnb when we visit a new place. We have had great luck with the hosts and it’s such a great way to feel like you’re part of the neighborhood, which is my favorite thing.


The first spot we visited on our first full morning in town was Intelligenista Coffee on Abbott Kinney. An awesome interior where they brew your cup right before your eyes. It’s all very scientific in there and I loved it. We got two drinks and a pastry and sat for awhile enjoying the space and bustle of the morning.

After we were all fueled up it was time for our canal walk! I had heard about the Venice Canals so many times and it was the perfect day to experience them for ourselves. Blue skies and warm air. I was in heaven coming straight from our East Coast winter — HEAVEN! Here are some photos from our morning walking the canals…


I loved all the blooms and getting to peek in on all the gardens and patios. I loved this pink house above and would gladly live in it myself! :) Since our trip Zan and I have talked about visiting Venice again someday soon and we would love to stay in a house on the canal next time. It would be so fun!

After we strolled the canals for a good while we stopped into Superba Food + Bread which was wonderful (and also steps away from our Airbnb!). We were just popping in for a second coffee and a snack but if I were staying here longer I would have definitely come back for a full breakfast or lunch. Homemade bread and pastries. LOOK AT THEIR MENU! It’s mouth watering.


{also the bathroom! I loved it.} ^^

From there we headed to Santa Monica to check out the pier and start our hunt for poke. Zan was on a mission to find some and who was I to stop him?? We walked the Pier for a bit and then headed up towards Santa Monica Blvd to Sweet Fin Poke. For those who don’t know (I just recently discovered), Poke is a Hawaiian dish that I can only describe as a sushi salad. It has all your basic sushi ingredients, but is served in a bowl instead of in a roll. IT IS DELICIOUS! I got mine spicy tuna style with rice and seaweed. I can’t remember exactly what Zan got, but I do remember him having the hardest time deciding what to order — he wanted to try everything!!!


Sweet Fin was so well designed too! I love the light installation, the booth fabric (hey tye-die!) and the beach inspired polaroids on the walls. Such a fun spot for lunch — and everybody seemed to think it too — the line was long but worth it!

After lunch we headed back to Venice to walk Abbot Kinney for the afternoon.


I would equate Abbot Kinney in LA to Newbury Street in Boston … but better. (Sorry, Boston.) It’s actually more like a mix of Newbury Street and all my favorite shops in the South End, plus a few awesome restaurants. I love to shop so it’s not hard for me to love a street like Abbot Kinney, but Zan loved it too. So, WINNER!


A few of my favorite shops were:

Urbanic Paper Boutique
Alternative Apparel (Zan loves these shirts!)
Linus Bike
The Piece Collective
Ilan Dei Venice

And food, drinks, and coffee!

Another Kind of Sunrise
Gjelina (they have take-out lunch too!)
The Butcher’s Daughter
Intelligenista Coffee
The Other Room (good drinks)
Salt and Straw (yum, ice cream!)


After the excitement of shopping we headed the beach for a bit to just enjoy the sun and the sand. It felt so good to be outside! Zan had made dinner reservations for 6:30, so we had a little time to spare. We walked the length of the beach and the boardwalk, got some drinks at the Venice Ale House, then headed over to The Rose Cafe for dinner…


The Venice Ale House was great. Craft beers and great people watching right on the boardwalk. Zan debated his life long dream of purchasing a longboard which he later fulfilled! I love how he knows what he loves and just tries new things when he feels inspired. It inspires me!


Next stop, The Rose Cafe!!

This place was recommended to us from Zan’s friend from work and it was everything. I loved the atmosphere and the food and drinks were all delicious. This was one of my favorite nights of our trip– talking about anything and everything under the sun and feeling happy and content. Just a very laid back night and we had the best time together.


The next morning was our last full day in LA so we jam packed it the best way we knew how. (I am 100% a cup overfloweth type. Can you tell?? Probably because I can’t help but keep filling it up. So much world to see!) We got up early to take the bikes out and rode down the boardwalk towards Santa Monica. Having the access to the bikes was one of the best perks of our Airbnb. From Venice we rode down the beach bike path as far as the Santa Monica Pier and even beyond. We were looking for “THE BEST DONUTS IN THE WORLD” {a tip I got from instagram!}, but because of the way the highway cut close to the beach we weren’t able to ride there without going way out of our way.

{ But fear not! We did make it to the donut shop eventually. :) }


As a backup to donuts, we stopped at Gjgusta for coffee and shared a breakfast sandwich. I always like to believe that everything happens for a reason, and this was definitely the reason we weren’t able to find the donuts. Gjusta is AMAZING. So unassuming from the outside and so glorious when you step in. We ordered delicious lattes and sat in their light-strung outdoor space. The perfect way to start the day.


After we were showered and checked out of our Airbnb we made one last stop in Venice for brunch — The Butcher’s Daughter! Talk about an interior design lovers dream. There was macrame and hanging plants and texture and typography all over the place. I was loving it…


Your heart eyes are popping out, right? RIGHT. I got the best acai bowl with an iced coffee and Zan ordered avocado toast. MMMmmmm. The Butcher’s Daughter! Put it on your list!

OH, VENICE! I loved you a billion times over!


And we will be back again! xo

Sunrise Hike at Red Rock

Red Rock Canyon

On the last morning of our trip to Vegas we headed out to Red Rock Canyon for a sunrise hike. Do you remember how we do a New Hampshire Hut-to-Hut hike every summer? Well it’s Zan’s uncle Tim who organized that every year and it was Zan’s uncle Tim who was in Vegas at the very same time we were. Hiking is Tim’s favorite way to exercise and we were happy to tag along. Luckies!

It is so nice to have family in a faraway place while you’re traveling. We were able to see a lot of family on this trip (people we don’t often see AND people we do!) and it was just the best. Tim knew a just-right trail that was perfect timing for our morning. We got the the Canyon just as the sun was making it’s mark against the sky and we reached the summit of our hike while the light was golden and gorgeous…

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So beautiful! Hands down one of the highlights of our whole trip.


Downtown Las Vegas + The Strip

Las Vegas

Oh man, Las Vegas.


What a fun little adventure. :) We went for two nights over our trip to the West Coast and saw a LOT in 36 hours. While we were visiting we stayed at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino because they had a pretty good deal on rooms during the time we were there. As it turns out, many hotels have all different kinds of rates at different times, so we just looked for one that wasn’t too ridiculous as we knew we wouldn’t be spending much time in our hotel. We never do on these types of trips! Too much to do! TOO MUCH TO SEE!

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On the first night of our stay we came into town on the later side and grabbed a quick dinner before heading to the Mirage to see the Cirque Du Soleil show LOVE — a tribute to the Beatles. It was really good and my first Cirque ever! I loved the music and of course, the movement and acrobatics wowed me. Seriously, WOW!

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The next day was when Zan was working, so I dropped him off in the early morning so I could have the rental car and then I went to find breakfast at Makers and Finders in Downtown Las Vegas. I had read about it in the Townske guide I mentioned before and it was the perfect place to start my day. I had a really delicious oatmeal, fruit, and honey bowl and a lavender latte — which was amazing. Highly recommend. :)

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After that I had my 10:00 tour at the Neon Museum which I wrote more about here. Again, I loved this tour. So cool to see the old signage and lights. Such a fun piece of typography history.

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Next up, I needed some lunch. I decided to try PublicUs and am so glad I did. It had such a cool vibe and great food too. That open faced fig and prosciutto sandwich is the meal of my dreams.

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I had a great time walking down Freemont Street, which was the first ever paved street in Las Vegas and where many of the first casinos were located. So much old school in this city! I loved that.

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The Container Park was another cool attraction to stumble upon — a shopping and food center made entirely of old shipping containers. There was a park for kids inside and many places to eat and sit to take a break from the sun.

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After walking around downtown Las Vegas I headed back to the strip to spend some time wandering around the Bellagio…

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The center courtyard was a wonderland of flowers and origami art and Japanese inspired decor. I was in awe from the minute I walked inside. Museum quality, I tell ya. That hotel is incredible.

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When Zan finished with work for the day he and I continued to walk the strip, exploring this and that and trying to just take it all in. There is so much to see and we didn’t really have an agenda which was nice. We just wandered the length of the strip stopping wherever looked interesting. We walked around the hotel New York, New York, went to the Coca-Cola Store and sampled different cokes from around the world, and eventually ended up back at the Bellagio for dinner.

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This is the Chihuly installation on the ceiling of the lobby in the Bellagio. INCREDIBLE! (I had to say it again.)

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For dinner we met up with Zan’s uncle who was in Vegas for the NAB conference, which was happening at the same time that we were there. We ate at Lago in the Bellagio and it was really magnificent. It was tapas-style, which is always my favorite. Really truly delicious food (I LOVED the mussels!) and we had the best view in all of Vegas — I am convinced!)…

Las Vegas

We sat right in front of the famous fountains! Every 15 minutes they go off with a different “choreographed number”, if you will. I loved every minute of it. From there we took a walk through the Venetian hotel, which is amazingly set up just like Venice. Since we went there on part of our honeymoon it was really fun to see. They even had gondoliers taking people on rides through the “Grand Canal”. Ha! This place is such a trip.

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The morning we left Vegas we got up before the sun to hike at Red Rock. I have lots of photos from our visit there and will do another post on that next. So many photos! I am trying to break them up for the sake of scrolling. Before leaving the city we had breakfast at Bouchon inside the Venetian hotel. It came highly recommended and was the perfect way to end our stay before heading back to LA.

Vegas, baby! I loved it!

a morning in palm springs.


Palm Springs! What a perfectly colorful, wonderful place.

A little back story: The original idea for this trip came when Zan had a work assignment in Las Vegas for the same week as my April Vacation. He works in clinical research for anyone wondering and his company does clinical trials all over the county. He knew about his site visit a few months before my vacation so he thought it would be fun for me to come too and we would make a trip of it. I was sold instantly ! Travel! Wahooo! It is one of my love languages.

We decided to make a detour on our route to Las Vegas and head to Palm Springs for breakfast and then Joshua Tree for an afternoon jaunt through the desert. Because of some last minute stuff Zan had to do for work, and rotten timing (I think I may have (gasp) tried to pack too much sightseeing into one day), we never ended up making it to Joshua Tree, which was certainly a disappointment. I had eagerly booked tickets to a show in Vegas for later that night and because of that we just ultimately ran out of time! The sadness! I have been wanting to see that desert for many years but our luck was just not there for that adventure on this particular day. I guess it just means we will have to come back to this area again anther time, which in the end isn’t such an unlucky thing at all.

Anyway. Onward!

We did happily get to spend a good amount of time in Palm Springs and man do I LOVE that town. We were visiting between Coachella weekends — on Monday morning, so it was actually pretty sleepy when we were there, but I imagine it was a pretty hopping place the day before we arrived. A blast, I’m sure!

Here are some photos from our time exploring…

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Right before your come to Palm Springs on the highway from L.A. you pass by a massive number of windmills. It was an amazing sight!

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Then, suddenly– you are in a in a wonderland of Palm trees. Those mountains in the backdrop are something to write home about too. And skies so blue!

We first try to stop at Cheeky’s because it had amazing reviews and I’d read several “guides to Palm Springs” that raved about it– but the wait time was super long and at this point we wanted to move through the sites rather quickly. We decided to try to Ace Hotel instead and were very happy we did! Lots of space and not too many people. Plus, it’s the Ace! You’ve got to love it, right?

I definitely did…

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This weaving is HUGE AND PERFECT!

It was while we were at the Ace that Zan found out he needed to do some work, so he went back to the car to get his computer and we camped out at King’s Highway for awhile– Zan typing away and me wandering the grounds of the hotel. The whole place is magnificent! I would really love to stay overnight some day.

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When Zan was done we decided to do a bit of the Palm Springs Modern Mid-Century Architecture Tour — I was able to purchase the app so we could do a self guided tour. It was fun, but I kept wanted to go inside the houses! If I decided to do it again, or had more time I would definitely try to look up if there are any tours that bring you through the inside of homes. (Fun fact: my favorite thing to do as a child was to go inside model homes in new neighborhood developments and also to visit the RV exhibits at the State Fair and the local mall. HA! I remember just LOVING touring the inside of houses! And I still do!)

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I loved this street and the flowers and the succulents and the palm trees! So pretty.

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Our last stop was a walk through the colorful Saguaro Hotel. How fun does this place look?? It’s supposedly a hot spot for Coachella weekenders and I can totally see why.

And that’s it! Our bright visit to the most rainbow magical land. So colorful. So fun.