Travels to Sunny Southern California

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa Monica

A couple of weeks ago I went to southern California for a work trip. We stayed in a suburb outside of Los Angeles for two weeks. I’ve never been to LA, so it was nice to cross it off my bucket list. We worked during the day, but got to try great food, see the sites, and try lots of wine in our down time.

We stayed in Glendale, CA. The weather was warm, but there was absolutely no humidity! In the morning the air was cool with a slight breeze and I got in some great runs. Our hotel was in walking distance of some great food options and a nice outdoor mall area. I did some research before we left and saw this dumpling restaurant was nearby. Almost a year ago I was in Jakarta for another work trip (at my previous job) and we ate at this same dumpling place in Indonesia. There are several types of dumplings including vegetarian, pork, shrimp, chicken, and other options like fried rice and sautéed vegetables. Almost everything is served family style.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Din Tai Fung

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Din Tai Fung

We also ate at the Granville Café, which serves organic food, that is sustainable, and hormone-free meat. I loved the Mint Roasted Beet Salad on their menu. We also went to Porto’s several times, which is a Cuban Bakery/Café. The pastries were out of this world! I even bought a 8 inch cinnamon bundt cake to bring back for my parents!

We spent most of our evenings at the outdoor mall near the hotel called “Americana at Brand.” There was a Sprinkles Cupcake Store there, with the famous “Cupcake ATM.” I tried the vegan Red Velvet cupcake one night, it was delicious.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Sprinkles
Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Sprinkles Red Velvet Vegan

There was a dancing fountain, similar to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, except much smaller!

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Americana at Brand Fountains
Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Americana at Brand Fountain

Some of the other restaurants we tried at the outdoor mall were:
Frida Mexican
Katsuya (Sushi/Asian)
Trattoria Amici

We went to a Dodgers Baseball game one night. They were giving away a bobble head as a promotion. We had a good time hanging out after work at the game, but it definitely got a little chilly towards the end of the night.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Dodgers Game

One night we ventured into LA to eat dinner near the water at the MisFit Bar. We got there just in time for happy hour. I ordered a Brussel Sprout salad and a guacamole crostini. Both were phenomenal, and so were the drinks!

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa Monica

Over the weekend we drove down to Temecula Valley to tour some wineries. Temecula is approximately 1.5 hours from Glendale. We made reservations at one vineyard for lunch and another for dinner. Our first stop was Falkner Winery, which is where we ate lunch. This was the smallest of the four vineyards we visited. During our tasting, the waitress gave us 2 for 1 tasting tickets to another winery, Loirmar. I liked the Falkner Winery the most. It was the smallest, it wasn’t super crowded, and it wasn’t overly commercialized like the other three we visited.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California  - Vineyards

After lunch we visited Lorimar and had another set of tastings there. We brought a deck of cards to play with and spent a couple of hours enjoying the weather and the wine. The third vineyard we went to was Wilson’s Creek. I was looking forward to this winery because I wanted to try the almond champagne. Instead of doing a tasting at Wilson’s Creek we bought a bottle of the almond champagne to split. It was great, I even bought two bottles back in my suit case! The last vineyard we visited was South Coast. It was the only winery with a restaurant open for dinner. After some wine tastings and dinner, we headed back to Glendale. It was a long, but fun day.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Winery

On Sunday we drove into Venice Beach to eat brunch and then go to the Santa Monica Pier. We put our feet in the Pacific Ocean, and played some old school arcade games at the pier.

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa Monica
Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa MonicaLiving on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa Monica

We saw the iconic Route 66 sign at the beginning of the pier!

Living on Saltwater - Travels to California - Santa Monica

Overall it was a good trip for both work and fun. I had a good time, but I was ready to come home!

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