Trip date: February 2020
A friend was going to spend a couple of days in Santa Monica after attending a conference in Southern California and invited me down for the weekend. The flights into LAX were ridiculously expensive but I had a lot of miles on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card so used those for a Premium Class seat on Alaska Air and still earned miles towards Elite Status! I got to the airport with plenty of time and had a breakfast mimosa in the Priority Pass Lounge.
There was a new area for Lyft/Uber at LAX when I arrived, you basically were sent a code by the app and then matched it up with the car/driver. It was easy and quick and soon I was on my way to the Gateway Hotel. This is a good standard hotel if you want to stay in Santa Monica proper. It's about a 2-mile walk to the beach from here but was pretty central for us getting around via Uber.
My friend wanted to check out the Petersen Auto Museum so off we went to the Mid-Wilshire area of LA. The outside of the museum is really interesting with ribbons of steel wrapping around the bright red building.
We started with a late lunch at their restaurant Drago which is California inspired Italian cuisine. Salads, fried calamari, some wine. It was tasty, easy and the service was great.
Now I'm not a huge car fan but I love design and history so I found the museum to be really interesting! I mean how can someone not love looking at this Bugatti?
We spent about 2 hours exploring the different rooms and exhibits. There is history of the automobile, a room of cars used in movies and TV shows, futuristic cars, cars from the past, etc.
There was an exhibit of Metallica singer James Hetfield's custom car collection which were both odd and cool!
It was just about time for a cocktail so we left the museum and headed towards Santa Monica Pier for drinks at The Lobster
. This is a perfect spot to sip on some well made margaritas and watch the gorgeous sunset.
Dinner that evening was at the absolutely wonderful Pasjoli
. I'd go to Santa Monica for this restaurant alone! The restaurant's exposed brick walls, marble tabletops, and open kitchen were relaxing and casually elegant.
Everything we ordered was delicious! We started with a round of cocktails, followed by beautiful scallops that were blanketed in a ridiculous amount of caviar. My deconstructed cassoulet was perfect and we shared a truly decadent rice pudding for dessert.
The restaurant is known for their duck press which after they roast a whole duck for two, and use breasts, legs, and crackling skin in a series of dishes, they press the entire duck carcass and create a heady sauce. This requires advance pre order which I will absolutely do if I ever get here again!
The next morning we headed to the Venice Beach area and queued up at EggSlut
for their uber popular breakfast sandwich. I've had it once before, in Las Vegas when a friend brought me one by the pool, but this came right off the griddle and was perfect!
Our waiter the night before had suggested Menotti's
for coffee. Not only is the coffee excellent but there is a secret menu if you can find it. A good recommendation!
We spent the rest of the day walking from Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we needed to walk off that EggSlut!
I might have been to the pier when I was quite young (I was born in LA) but I don't remember. We didn't go on any rides but it was fun to wander around the amusement park, see where Route 66 famously ends, and watch all the beachgoers.
We had checked out of the hotel and left our bags earlier, so it was easy to just stop into the lobby, pick them up, and head to LAX which is just about 20 minutes away.
Quick but fun weekend and also my last flight as the global COVID-19 pandemic closed everything down just weeks after returning home. I'm looking forward to jetting off at a moments notice again one day!
All photos from Santa Monica here
**As I visited all of these places before the COVID-19 pandemic, please double check on opening hours. And fingers crossed these businesses all stay in business!**
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