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Exploring LA, Malibu and Santa Monica

Exploring LA, Malibu and Santa Monica

As kids, we watched Baywatch, then the Beverly Hills 90210 as teenagers, and later the Two and a Half Men and the Big Bang Theory. All these TV series shaped our imagination of LA. We hoped this would be that part of our trip when we would rest on a beach, sunbathe and see the luxurious LA life from a close.

Los Angeles

Well, we were a bit disappointed by LA. The most notable characteristic of the city is highways. Six-lane roads, with almost constant congestion, cut through the city in all directions.

Downtown LA

On our first morning in LA, we went to the downtown. It was Sunday, late morning and the city was deserted. There were few confused tourists, like us, looking for nice things to capture on camera and many homeless people begging for money. We googled few things worth to see and walked around for a couple of hours. The highlights of the morning were: coffee at the Verve DTLA, the Last Bookstore, and the Bradbury Building.

Walt Disney Hall

Bradbury Building

Griffith Observatory

In the afternoon, we drove to the Griffith Observatory. Entrance is free and in the hallways of the observatory are installations explaining everything about the sun, stars, planets, atoms, chemical compounds, light spectrum, etc. Some installations are interactive, and everything is well explained and presented. Anyone from small kids to adults can learn something interesting. For example how the position of the Sun in the sky is changing through a year, how the moon and the sun influence tides or why and how the moon goes through different phases.

From the area around the observatory, you can see the skyline of downtown LA and Santa Monica. It’s also a great spot to take a picture of the Hollywood sign.

downtown LA

Hollywood sign

Walk of Fame

From the observatory, we continued to the Hollywood Boulevard to walk down the Walk of Fame. We didn’t recognize a lot of names, but we still found stars of many actors and characters we know.

Walk of Fame, LA

Right in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater are concrete blocks with footprints, handprints, and signatures of Hollywood movie stars. It was fun to compare our hands and feet with theirs.

Walk of Fame, LA

Caltech, Pasadena

We spend the next morning in Pasadena, exploring the grounds of Caltech, one of the top tech universities in the world. On Monday morning the campus was calm. The campus is nicely organized and well kept, with small buildings, trees and flower beds in between them and benches where you can sit and study. Or, in our case, sit and enjoy a beautiful day with a cup of coffee from the university’s cafeteria.

coffee at Caltech

LA overlooks & Beverly Hills

From Caltech, we drove to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. There are several overlooks along the Mulholland Drive where you can park and enjoy views of LA or North Hollywood. The houses in this part of LA are very luxurious with a first-class view. We drove down the Beverly Hills admiring streets lined with Palm Trees, beautiful houses and well-taken care of gardens.

Last stop of the day was Rodeo Drive. Around 7 pm, all the shops were already closed, and the street was half-empty.

LA overlook

North Hollywood overlook

Palm Drive

Rodeo drive

Beverly Hills


We decided to spend the last day of our stay in LA on Malibu Beach and Santa Monica Beach. First, we took Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most beautiful highways in the US, to Malibu. The highway goes along the coast and provides stunning views of the ocean and posh beach houses.

On our way to Malibu, we stopped for a late breakfast at SunLife Organics, a small, stylish place, serving organic juices, smoothies, salads, etc. We tried their acai bowls and listened to a discussion between yoga enthusiasts who just finished their classes. We learned about all the new and trendy classes one must try and whether the green juice shots or smoothies are better to refuel after yoga. 😉 After the breakfast, we continued to our morning destination – Point Dume State Beach.

The day before I Googled things to see/do in Malibu and Point Dume was high on every list of things I found. The beach was deserted, probably because it was just about 17 degrees and cloudy. We spend some time walking on the beach, and we hiked up to the Point Dume.

Point Dume, Malibu

Point Dume, Malibu

Point Dume, Malibu

Point Dume, Malibu

Santa Monica

We returned to Santa Monica, had lunch on the Third Street Promenade and continued to the beach. The Santa Monica beach was much more crowded than the Point Dume beach. The famous Santa Monica Pier, an end of the Route 66 was full of people and small shops packed with cheap souvenirs. We ended our day with a dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar and were looking forward to the next morning when we said goodbye to the LA.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Next morning, we drove up north to the Sequoia National Park. I’ll share pictures from the park next time. Until then you can check out the posts from previous days of our trip, in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.