LA Trip: Little Tokyo & Santa Monica

Take us back to Los Angeles! Please!Los Angeles_1Toni and I spent last weekend in the City of Angels – and it was a blast! We only stayed for a short time (3.5 days, 3 nights), but we did a lot for the little time we had in the city. We packed in as much fun as possible by preparing an itinerary for our trip…however, things didn’t always go as planned – which was expected. Here is what we planned for our first day in LA:

SATURDAY

  • 7:40 am – Arrive at LAX!
  • 8:30 am – Take Flyaway bus to Union Station
  • 10:30 am – Arrive at Apartment
  • 1:00 pm – Arrive at Santa Monica
    • Bike on The Strand
    • Eat at In-n-Out Burger
  • 8:00 pm – Pacific Park
  • 10:30 pm – Arrive at Apartment

Upon our arrival, we found out that the apartment we rented was not available until 1:00 pm! We had 2.5 hours to kill, so we decided to take the rail to Little Tokyo for lunch…with our luggages. Toni’s cousin, Ging, suggested one of her favorite ramen spots in downtown LA (DTLA) known as Shin-Sen-Gumi. Before we made our way to Little Tokyo, we couldn’t help but take a few photos at Union Station.Union Station_1.JPGUnion Station_4.JPGUnion Station_2.JPGUnion Station_5.JPGShin Sen Gumi_3.JPGShin Sen Gumi_5.JPGShin Sen Gumi_6.JPGShin Sen Gumi_4.JPGShin Sen Gumi_1Shin Sen Gumi_2After filling up our bellies with ramen, we walked around the Japanese Village Plaza. Cute red and white lanterns were hung everywhere. We stopped by a macaroon bakery (‘latte) and checked out a sneaker store while we were there.Little Tokyo_3Little Tokyo_4Lette_2Before finding the bus stop to get to our apartment, we snapped some photos of the revolving sculpture in front of the Japanese American National Museum. Little Tokyo_2Little Tokyo_2.JPGWe took a short nap at the apartment before heading to Santa Monica…carrying our luggages for almost 3 hours really drained our energy. Instead of taking the bus, we decided to take an Uber to Santa Monica since it would get us there faster.Santa Monica_8We were dropped off in front of Santa Monica Beach Bicycle Rentals where we rented a couple of beach cruisers ($10 each). Santa Monica_7 Santa Monica_6It has been a long time since I’ve biked…and it has been an even longer time since I used a bike without handbrakes! It took me a minute to get use to being on a bike again, haha. The Strand at Santa Monica was crowded when we got there. Bikers were overtaking each other and ringing their bells while we made frequent stops to let people on foot cross the path. We even saw a couple of people fall off their bikes and crash into other bikers. As we got closer to Venice/Marina Del Rey, the crowd started to dissipate and we biked the rest of the path without having to worry too much about other people.

We had a ton of fun and enjoyed every bit of it…even navigating through the crowds of people. The weather was perfect and the scenery was pretty!

We made our first stop to walk down the Venice Pier to give our butts a rest – which were already sore! Venice_7.JPG Venice_6.JPG Venice_5.JPG Venice_1 Venice_3 Venice_4 Venice_2After a nice walk down the pier, we made our way to In-n-Out Burger…which was located about 2 miles from the beach in Marina Del Rey. Toni had never been to In-n-Out Burger before, so it was something we needed to do before leaving LA…even if it meant biking along a busy street – which we did!   INnOut_1.jpgINnOut_2.JPG Santa Monica_5Venice Canal_1We headed back to Santa Monica during the sunset…and it was absolutely beautiful. It was a great way to end our bike ride!Santa Monica_3 Santa Monica_4 Santa Monica_1 Santa Monica_2 Pacific Park_7We continued our adventure at Pacific Park after returning the bikes. I loved seeing all the colorful lights at night! The rides were pretty expensive, so we only went on one ride – the ferris wheel (Pacific Wheel). Fun fact: According to the Pacific Park website, the Pacific Wheel is the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel.Pacific Park_6.JPG Pacific Park_5.JPG Pacific Park_4.JPG Pacific Park_3.JPG Pacific Park_2.JPG Pacific Park_1.JPGPacific Park_8.jpgAfter Pacific Park, we attempted to catch the bus all the way back to our apartment — but realized how complicated it would be after talking to a local. We also wanted to avoid walking to our apartment at night since the location was a bit “sketchy”. We also didn’t want to pay for an Uber from Santa Monica to DTLA…so we decided to get on a bus to DTLA and catch an Uber from there.

We quickly learned a few things on our first day. Here are a few tips from us:

  • Know when you can check into your rental apartment – If you are like us and plan to walk or take the public transit to get to places, knowing your check-in time is important (especially if you are trying to do a lot in a small amount time). We booked the apartment through AirBnb and didn’t bother to review the itinerary they sent. We had assumed the check-in time was the same as the check-out time and that wasn’t very smart of us. Anyways, carrying and walking around with our luggages for about 3 hours was a pain…not to mention, this hiccup will affect your plans for the rest of the day.
  • Do research on the place you are staying and find a place that is close to a bus stop – Upon our arrival, the face of the building had been vandalized. It wasn’t the most comforting thing to see when you’re new to a city…and it made us feel a little unsafe. Also, we immediately didn’t feel like we would be comfortable walking in the neighborhood at night so it would have been nice to have a bus stop nearby. I was hoping to walk to our apartment from the Staple Center (which was about a 10 minute walk), but I didn’t factor in all the homeless people hanging out under the overpass. Thank goodness Uber was invented and is affordable!
  • Do not assume the public transit runs under the same company – When preparing our trip, I used Google Maps to figure out which buses to take to get from A to B…but, I later realized that not all the buses run under the same company. Coordinating the buses was challenging and stressful since timing was crucial (and buses don’t always arrive on time). We didn’t think it was worth spending a lot of time coordinating bus schedules during our short time here. Instead, we took the buses to get as close to our destination as possible and called an Uber to take us the rest of the way. In the end, we bought a multi-day pass for the Metro – but barely used it and ended up wasting money.

This is how our first day actually went:

SATURDAY

  • 7:40 am – Arrived at LAX!
  • 8:30 am – Took the Flyaway bus to Union Station
  • 9:15 am – Took the Metro rail to Little Tokyo (DTLA)
    • Lunch at Shin-Sen-Gumi Restuarant
  • 1:00 pm – Arrived at apartment
  • 3:00 pm – Arrvied at Santa Monica
    • Biked on The Strand to Marina Del Rey
    • Biked to In-n-Out Burger for dinner
  • 8:30 pm – Pacific Park
  • 11:30 pm – Arrived at apartment

Even after all the unexpected things that happened, we both agree that this was our favorite day of the trip!

 

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