Weekend in LA

Anniversary Escape, part 1

“Weekend in L.A.”

In celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary and my husband’s 50th birthday, we had planned a trip to Hawaii for the first two weeks in September.  Unfortunately, un unprecedented TWO hurricanes also decided to threaten the Hawaiian Islands over Labor Day weekend, so we had to make some last-minute adjustments in the itinerary – substituting a weekend in Los Angeles for our stay in Oahu.

Annie on the beach

Considering the LA portion of the trip was planned on VERY short notice (less than 48 hours prior to departure), it turned out to be a fabulous weekend in a place we probably would never have visited otherwise.  I got a great last-minute deal on a two night stay at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, which is just 15 minutes from the Los Angeles airport, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a brief stopover like ours.

Ritz Carlton view

We flew from Boston on Friday morning, and landed at LAX just after noon. First impressions weren’t great, as the Hertz counter was swamped that holiday weekend, and the line wrapped around the inside of the building. When we finally got our car, we tried to hit an In N Out Burger on our way to the hotel, but that parking lot was absolute chaos as well, so we decided to just go check in.

Once we arrived at the Ritz Carlton, all was forgiven!  They welcomed us graciously, upgraded our room, poured us some celebratory champagne, and promised to deliver the bags while we went and had some lunch. The hotel restaurant staff was equally amazing. They chatted with us about LA, gave us some great restaurant recommendations, and were so excited about our onward plans to Hawaii that they treated us to complimentary Mai Tais 🙂 Not a bad way to start the weekend!

Mai Tai #1

After lunch, we freshened up and headed out for a drive south down the coast. We stopped in Manhattan Beach to walk around the pier and the shops, drove through some adorable neighborhoods along the coast (Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Palos Verdes) and then had a quick dinner in a local pizza place and went back for an early bedtime. The hotel had left us a bottle of champagne and a very nice anniversary note 🙂

Manhattan Beach

Not yet having adjusted to the time difference, we were up and out EARLY on Saturday morning for some more sightseeing.  We grabbed breakfast at a nearby Panera and headed into the city to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame (touristy, but you have to do it, lol); drove through Hollywood; and visited Griffith Park for the gorgeous views over the city and the obligatory photos of the Hollywood sign (I really wished we were dressed for a hike, as there were tons of people out enjoying some exercise on a sunny Saturday).

Griffith Park view 2 Griffith Park view

After that we wound our way down Rodeo Drive and poked around Beverly Hills; we spent some time sunning ourselves at the Santa Monica Pier, and strolled the Third St Promenade, stopping for fish tacos for lunch.  That afternoon, we took a scenic drive through the surrounding canyons and hills, and then headed back through Venice Beach to the hotel.

Rte 66 santa monica sign Ferris wheel at santa monica pier LA Santa Monica pier

Back in Marina del Rey, we grabbed a quick nap, and then wandered around the marina to daydream about boats. The weather was absolutely perfect (75 and sunny), and we enjoyed a cocktail and some great So-Cal people watching at the pool bar 🙂  We had dinner reservations at Moonshadows  in Malibu, so we took a little drive through Malibu before our sunset dinner overlooking the Pacific.


The food was good, the atmosphere was lovely, and I would definitely recommend it.  The traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway heading back that evening was rough. Couldn’t face that every day, but we really enjoyed being Californians for a weekend!


You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)