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Greater LA area: SoCal Part 2

Much to our amazement, there is more to the LA area than just Harry Potter World.  While we were there; we got some local culture down in the murals district and visiting the Getty.  We ate at some local trendy restaurants and of course, we spent time walking the beach and setting foot in the Pacific.  The younger couples were our travel guides and did a wonderful job of showing us new areas, fun places, and great eats!

It has been a long time since either of us were in downtown LA.  So it was a real treat to visit and see new places we did not even know were there. A unique place for lunch down on 3rdSt, Wurstkuche, gave us a taste of Germany with exotic grilled sausage and Pilsner beers. Choices like Mango Jalapeno, Sundried Tomato & Mozzarella and Louisiana Hot Link were at the top of our list!The “Last Book Store” downtown is CA’s largest used book store and just like you would expect in LA, it is both eccentric and quaint.  With over 250,000 books covering 22,000 sq ft and sorted into three stories, it was a fascinating place to visit and browse.  There is even a “tunnel of books” you can walk through as you are searching.While we were downtown, we walked over to the Bradbury building. A classic turn-of-the-century building with wrought iron railings and stairways, an old open cage elevator and ornate stonework.  It is the oldest commercial building remaining in the central city.   It has appeared in numerous movies including: Blade Runner, Lethal Weapon 4, and Chinatown.  It even has its own weird ghost story.We also checked out one of LA’s iconic buildings, Los Angeles City Hall and from there explored Grand Park.  The “Central Park” of LA, Grand Park is a promenade of water fountains, tree-shaded sidewalks, courtyards and lawns.  It is relatively new having just opened in 2012.Sundays are for Brunch, so that is what we did. Headed down into the Santa Monica area and had a wonderful brunch at Taste. Then it was off to The Getty.  Now to be honest, when we have a short time in an area, we do not usually go to galleries/museums.  In this case though, we were sure glad we did.  “Our” travel guides had this on the list as a must-see.  Wow, I had no idea!  I have driven by it numerous times on the 101 freeway, but did not know what it was.  A simply amazing collection: Monets, Rembrandts, 12thcentury books, and a collection of sculptures.  It was not just the art, but the building and grounds were really something.  The building is designed on a grid that carries through not just the walls, but also the pathways and sidewalks.  The gardens included a flowing stream and a cactus garden overlooking the city.  Sure are glad we went!

What trip to LA would be complete without a trip to Santa Monica?  Most associated with its pier, Santa Monica is a wide area of fun, beach, parks, culture, shopping and eating.  We tried our best to see most of them.  We found a great place to park along Ocean Ave and walked and explored Ocean Park and Palisades Park.   These palm tree lined parks run above Hwy 1, the Pacific Coast Highway ,and have tremendous views of the ocean and beach.  We opted against going to the pier and headed down to the beach.  170 steps down a wood plank trail from the parks to a bridge crossing the PCH and then onto the beach.  There was even a boardwalk out to the edge.  We did get to the water, but it was kind of chilly. After a nice walk and climb back up, we headed over to the 3rdSt Promenade.  Our travel guides wanted to show us the trendy and eclectic shops, food stops and just people watch.   We did manage to stop in at Stephano’s Pizzeria for a slice to go!We ended up with a half day the day we left, so after a straw poll, we decided to head on out to Malibu.  We drove up the 101 and then cut across the canyons and hills into Malibu near Pepperdine University.  Wow, I have no idea how anyone gets any studying done with the ocean view from campus.  We headed on out to the beaches and found a place to look for whales.  None to be found, but we did see some porpoises.   We had lunch at Paradise Cove Beach Caféand then walked the beach.  It was warmer, so we got our feet wet in the Pacific Ocean. We drove up and down the coast on the PCH, then headed into Venice Beach.  Decided not to get out and walk, as we were short on time, but even from the car we got in some pretty interesting people watching.  Limited on time or not, we still found time to stop for ice cream at Salt & Straw.

While our trip to L.A. was focused on Harry Potter World, we did manage to get a great feel for activities and local cultures in L.A.  We had a wonderful time and our travel guides were at the top of their game showing us new areas, fun places and great eats!  While it was tough saying good-bye; it was a great family vacation weekend and we cannot wait for the next one.

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