A patchwork quilt of neighbourhoods, beaches, highways and cities; as Jack Kerouac once said, LA is ‘a jungle’. As you’ll agree, it’s a jungle most people have traversed and one whose tourist hot spots are heaving all year round. But what if we opened our little black book and took you down the insider’s lane of this tourist highway and further into the surrounding hotspots of Southern California? With the unique lowdown on LA from our travel experts, we’ve created an itinerary that will have you navigating SoCal like a native ‘Angeleno’ as you dip and dive into the best parts of the City of Angels, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs.
Starting in Los Angeles
Flying into LA, we’ll whisk you out of the airport and straight into your classic all-American roadster. Starting your SoCal roadtrip in LA, this city has something for everyone. We’ve carefully picked the brains of the locals to provide you with an all-encompassing itinerary that taps deep into the rhythm of the city and goes beyond the usual tourist traps. You’ll be staying at Viceroy Santa Monica, an iconic hotel on Ocean Avenue. It’s been the hideout for rock legends, supermodels and screen sirens so we’ve decided it’s the perfect place for you to catch some shut eye whilst getting a taste of true Hollywood glamour.Read more
So, you’ve got your glamorous base in the thick of the action, now where to go? With the top down on your classic Mustang, ride the Pacific Coast Highway north to Little Dume Beach, a local haunt not yet on the ‘trail’. Chill out in true LA style and catch some waves before jumping in that Mustang and heading back to the heart of the city for some tacos at FRIDA, a little place highly recommended by the locals. Whilst you’re in LA, you also can’t miss the opportunity to explore Franklin Canyon. In the true manner of LA contrasts, you’ll see yourself jumping from the glitz of downtown LA to the ultimate seclusion of this natural beauty in no time as you drive the 5 minutes out of Beverley Hills to the canyon. Here you can set off with one of our guides as you hike the trails or go solo and relax by the mammoth lake; a great way to escape the buzzing atmosphere of the city.
Now, you’ve seen Little Dume and Franklin, some of the most beautiful and relaxing spots LA has to offer; so we’d say it’s time for you to discover LA under the cover of darkness. A favourite watering hole of ours and one not many people know about is The Lock and Key in Koreatown. This 1920’s styled bar exudes a ‘Gatsby-esque’ vibe and you’ll love the personalised cocktails. On another of your nights, we’d point you in the direction of Chez Jay in Santa Monica. We’re on hand throughout to book you in at your favourite haunts and share some of our insider tips.
From LA you’ll head north up the coast of California to Santa Barbara. Check into San Ysidro Ranch in the wine country and settle into this resort that lies nestled in the Montecito foothills. A popular wedding venue amongst tourists and A-listers alike, you’re sure to enjoy a taste of the celebrity lifestyle here.
Only one hour from LA, Santa Barbara is a perfect mix of chilled out culture and scenery with some great little restaurants, bars and cultural sights. The city itself is small and has a great feel and the area is blessed with some beautiful beaches, including our favourite – East Beach. When you’re feeling hungry, be sure to visit Toma restaurant and bar. It’s a family run place serving delicious Italian food and as it’s a hit with the locals, you know it’s going to be good. Nearby you’ve also got the Ojai Valley which, with its world-class wineries, is definitely worth a visit. Exuding a charming and ‘healthy’ vibe, take a drive up there if you fancy anything from a relaxing spa to leisurely hike or chilled sauvignon.
Your last stop on this SoCal trip will be Palm Springs. An unmistakable retro vibe with a buzzing atmosphere – Palm Springs holds strong as a top hotspot for all native Californians. The accommodation we have chosen for you is the iconic Viceroy Palm Springs; the ultimate downtown spa resort. Here you can relax and unwind before heading out to see which way our little black book will have you going on the last leg of your American adventure.
There are a few must-sees and dos in Palm Springs, and one of them has to be checking out Palm Springs Art Museum and the fantastic extrovert art work it houses. We’ll also point you in the direction of the VillageFest, a downtown festival with hundreds of stalls selling mouth-watering food, hand crafted jewellery and beautiful artwork. Finally, to finish your time in Palm Springs, take the Aerial Tramway at sunset. You get spectacular views over the whole of Palm Springs and deep into the Coachella Valley, a fitting way to end your day as you watch the sun set on your iconic trip across the sunshine state.