Soaking up the California Sun

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve had an aching desire to travel to California. A combination of the allure of warm weather and the knowledge that Los Angeles is home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame enabled my pre-teen brain to become all-consumed with the idea of checking out the Golden State.

There’s a reason they say, “West Coast, Best Coast,” right?

Picturing California like a scene from a Lana Del Rey music video.
Image courtesy of


That childhood dream finally became a reality 12 years later, and I owe it all to my semester spent abroad in Prague. In the spring of 2015, I was randomly assigned to room with a girl from Southern California during our four-month study abroad program. Let’s just say there’s something about rooming with a stranger in a country you’re both not familiar with that speeds up the process of cultivating a friendship.

Needless to say, that roommate, Jordan, is the reason I was able to finally soak in the California sun. After our study abroad program came to a close, we stayed in touch (as I did with my other roommates), and my 2016 spring break plans eventually formed.

With Jordan’s willingness to house me in mind, I booked a flight to Southern California and spent my spring break checking out the sites, trying new foods, and enjoying the fact that I had escaped the Upstate NY tundra.

Let the photos below serve as my words of encouragement to head to West Coast if you haven’t been before and cross off these places on your own bucket list.

Venice Beach

Since Jordan had to work in L.A. on Monday, I spent the day exploring Old Towne Orange, where she resides and where her school Chapman University is located. My time was spent shopping, trying delicious food, and soaking up the sun in her backyard. Add the Growl Juice Pub and Pizza Press to your list of food spots to check out.

Santa Monica 

Jordan had to work again on Tuesday, so I woke up at the crack of dawn to experience her daily hour and a half commute into L.A. (a 45-min drive without traffic). I had heard the rumors about how congested it gets on the 405 every day, and I can now confirm that they are true. My stress levels rose while we were bumper to bumper, and I wasn’t even the one behind the wheel. Needless to say Jordan is an excellent driver, and I most likely would have been in at least five accidents had we traded seats.

Me driving in L.A.

While Jordan was at work, I went and explored Santa Monica, checking out the famous pier and 3rd Street Promenade. I managed to walk 13 miles during the 12 hours I was left alone, so I treated myself to some well-deserved beers on the pier while I waited for her to get out of work.

Places of Interest: 

Urth Caffe in Santa Monica

The Albright on Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles 

Places of Interest: 

The Hollywood Sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Cabo Wabo Cantina  

Laguna Beach & Thousand Steps Beach

Places of Interest: 

Thousand Steps Beach 

In-N-Out (I know this isn’t a location, but it deserves its own section of praise)

Jordan worked at In-N-Out for 3 years and raves about the place, so we penciled in some time for me to finally experience it. Since there are no In-N-Outs on the East Coast, I was excited to try the fast food chain and was expecting it to far exceed what I was used to in terms of fast food.

The answer: It did.

I ordered a Double-Double cheeseburger, Animal Fries, and a chocolate shake. Afterwards, I was in a food coma. So much food, but so good.

After a packed week of living that “West Coast sunshine dream,” as Tim McGraw sings, I am now back in chilly New York waiting for warmer days. Los Angeles has officially been added to the list of locations that I’ll be looking for jobs in, and I’m waiting for the day that I can officially make the Golden State my home.



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