Fact: I love California.
You’re shocked, I know…
Labor Day weekend, my family flew out to spend a few days in sunny California. My parents have been here before, but it was my brother’s first visit to the west coast and I was so excited to see his reaction to life out here. Thankfully, we were able to get good deals on non-stop flights between Cleveland and Los Angeles (shoutouts to Spirit and Frontier airlines, the real MVPs). Aside from their first meal in Cali being Uber Eats - delivered Panda Express, I made sure their trip was filled with things they wouldn’t normally see in their hometown.
My parents had never really seen LA, aside from driving away from or to the airport, so they were looking forward to spending our first full day exploring the city. We started the day out in Hollywood. As we were parking, I tried to prepare my family for what awaited them. Hollywood looks glamorous in the movies but, let’s be real: it’s a little ratch out there. The area is more dirty and dingy than most people expect when they think of Hollywood. But it is a very entertaining experience. We walked along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and occasionally stopped so Mom could take pictures of all the stars whose names she recognized. We walked past Spiderman and Superman (who my brother absolutely refused to have his picture made with - lame). At one point, out of the corner of my eye, I could see a man sitting on a stool with a large object wrapped around his arms. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a giant boa constrictor. Knowing my dad is absolutely terrified of snakes, I tried to discreetly move him to the other side. But it was too late. He noticed and literally ran to the other side of the sidewalk. It was great.
We walked down to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre so I could show my family the handprints and footprints of the stars. My favorite is Shirley Temple’s tiny prints - Mom enjoyed seeing Marilyn Monroe’s and Clark Gable’s. We also walked around the Dolby Theatre where there were spectacular views of the Hollywood sign from its higher levels. Of course, we had to stop at the Starbucks there so I could indulge in my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and Mom learned what “breve” was.
Our next stop was supposed to be Rodeo Drive, but we were feeling a little tired and drained from walking around in the heat all morning, so we settled for a nice drive through the area. We cruised around Beverly Hills, drove through the back roads of Bel Air (some houses had security guards sitting out front) and even took a side trip to Brentwood to see the house where Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered (that morbid idea came from Mom). Dad found the address online for the house where the Beverly Hillbillies was filmed but, sadly, there was a huge gate in front and tall shrubbery so we could not actually see it.
Weeks prior, I had made reservations for us at my favorite hidden restaurant in Malibu, so we decided to make our way over to the ‘Bu. Being Labor Day weekend, the beaches were packed. I finally found a stretch of beachside land with ample parking and what looked like a staircase leading down to the water. Perfect! But, alas, the stairs ended abruptly and a rocky cliff hung below. Yet it still provided a great spot to take selfies with the ocean in the background. After a few family photos, I started to notice that there were quite a few littered objects in the vicinity… I told the fam that we should probably leave before we accidentally touch anything and got diseases. (Apparently this spot was visited many times before but not for going down to the beach… )
For dinner, we went to the Malibu Cafe. The restaurant is actually part of a ranch. The property is huge. My reservations were for the restaurant itself so we had a nice little table overlooking the grounds. There is a small field with games such as corn hole, table tennis and pool. There are also little food stands if you want BBQ instead of eating from the regular menu and even a smoothie bar. The venue is outdoors and there were chandeliers hanging from the trees and beautiful flowers in bloom. We ordered a rotisserie chicken and a rack of ribs to split between the four of us. The food was so good, even the bees enjoyed it. Literally. There were at least four bees surrounding me as I tried to eat. I was so terrified of being stung, I froze with my eyes closed mid-bite. The waitress came over with a plate of coffee grounds and let them on fire - the smoke made the bees flee. I sat in smoke for 20 minutes but it was so worth it. I think they can smell fear… But we still had a great time.
After an awesome day in the LA region, we packed up and drove out to mi casa in Indio.
The next morning, my brother seemed a little shocked at his surroundings. I guess he thought I was exaggerating when I told him I lived in the desert. I also got to show him what a real roadrunner was and that, no, they are not the size of the roadrunners on the cartoons. Mom and I went for mani pedis, then I took the whole fam to In-N-Out. I wish you guys could have seen my brother’s face when he took the first bite out of his burger. I believe he is converted.
I drove my family down Highway 111, which goes through basically every city in the valley, and stopped in downtown Palm Springs. I showed them our own little “walk of fame” and we agreed that PS is at least cleaner than Hollywood. Mom wanted to stop in every souvenir store so that happened. Dad didn’t like the musty smell of some of the stores, and he ended up accidentally sitting outside by some very loud happy hour participants… I had my brother go and rescue him. For dinner, I took them to another one of my favorites: Jackalope Ranch. This place has the BEST tri tip and brisket I have ever had. It also has a huge grounds (indoor and outdoor) with an old fashioned saloon and outdoor waterfalls. My brother said he had “never seen anything like it”. And he’s never impressed.
On our way to the airport the next day, I stopped at the Habit so my family could give me their opinion on how it compares to In-N-Out. Of course, In-N-Out was the better burger.
I hated that my family had to leave so soon, but I am so glad they were able to visit and let me show them a few of my favorite things. We are already planning their next trip out here (which will be a full week) and have brought up Disneyland and San Diego in those talks as well. Until next time!