California Day 2: Lots of Driving, Salvation Mountain, & Downtown LA

Day 2 was a lot of driving, but still super fun. We started our day in our cute Airbnb by Joshua Tree. We saw the sun slowly rise through the windows and I eventually got up to actually see it. It was really beautiful. We got ready super quick and hopped in the giant SUV. Our first stop of the day was 1.5 hours south, AKA Salvation Mountain. I saw Salvation Mountain in the movie “Into The Wild” and it looked cool/interesting. We figured we should go while we were already pretty close.

The drive was super easy (especially for me since I just sat in the passenger seat!) and pretty. We passed so many palm trees and the Salton Sea on the way. Salvation Mountain ended up being in the middle of nowhere. It was easy to park at and there was quite a bit to explore. I really had no idea what to expect.

It was super cool though. You could climb (walk around is probably the correct word) pretty much anywhere you wanted as long as you stayed on the “yellow brick road.” You could go all the way to the top or go into some of the little coves. It was all so colorful and fun. I took a bunch of pictures which I could barely see since it was so bright and sweat a lot during my time there. We also met a man from New Hampshire who thought it was going to be an actual mountain he could climb, which I thought was funny. I can see why he would think that because a colorful, artwork mountain is not something you see every day. I am glad we went and we got some really cool photos.

After Salvation Mountain we spent so much time in the car. We planned to meet up with friends to go to the beach, and Connor and I technically ended up there. We tried to go to Newport Beach but the timing didn’t end up being great, it was super crowded, and it was a bit gloomy out. I really want to go to Newport at some point since it looks very nice, but this wasn’t the trip for it after all. We decided to go toward Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney to walk around.

I visited Abbot Kinney when I went to LA with my dad in college and it was so nice, so I wanted to show Connor. Somehow we found parking and we were able to walk around. There are so many yummy restaurants, coffee shops, and stores to go into. It feels very California on that street to me.

We got late lunch at Lemonade, which ended up being on the first corner we turned on the street. I love Lemonade for a few reasons. It isn’t too expensive and it’s fairly healthy. It is also a fun place to try different things. Lemonade is cafeteria style but instead of the classic jello, mashed potatoes, and green beans, there are fun veggie dishes, grain dishes, and things like stuffed avocados. They also have the best lemonade. The blood orange is by far the best.

After Lemonade, we popped into Cha Cha Matcha since I love it and a matcha sounded a nice. Cha Cha Matcha is definitely an instagrammable place, but it also has great matcha drinks. I just got a latte, but there are other drinks to try too. We finished up our time on Abbot Kinney by going into a few shops. My favorite was Urbanic. It’s a gift shop with cute cards/gifts and a back patio full of plants. I ended up with 3 greeting cards for friends/family.

It was finally time to drop off our rental car, so we took it back to Enterprise and Ubered to our hotel. We decided everything would be easier for our last day if we didn’t have to worry about parking and driving a giant SUV through LA. I think it was the right decision.

I picked a hotel in downtown LA since neither of us had really been downtown before. We stayed at the Freehand and I LOVED it. The lobby was really dark which I didn’t love. It brought me back to my middle school days wandering through Abercrombie and Hollister haha. But other than that, it was amazing. Everyone who worked there was super cool and friendly. The lobby has a ton of seating, a bar, a coffee shop, and a flower shop. There is also a rooftop pool and bar. We never got to use the pool, but I would love to go back sometime.

Our room was small, but all we needed. I am pretty sure the Freehand has more of a hostel set-up in addition to private rooms. The room seemed so clean which I liked. Sometimes I don’t feel “at home” in hotels but this one seemed pretty great.

We got ready super quick and met up with the friends we were supposed to go to the beach with. We decided on drinks/rooftops and dinner. Everywhere we went was within walking distance of our hotel which was perfect! Our first stop was The Standard. I think this was my favorite rooftop of the night. The drinks were amazing, the view was great, and there was a decent amount of seating.

The next rooftop was at the Intercontinental. This one seemed a bit fancier, but we could still get in with our more casual outfits. There was a $10 cover fee but the view was worth it. I didn’t get a fancy drink at this spot, so I can’t recommend anything. However, it seemed like the bartenders put a lot of effort into the fancy cocktails, so they are probably worth the price tag. We spent a good amount of time at this rooftop chatting and enjoying the view, but then we were ready for dinner.

We walked a few blocks and got Italian food at Bottega Louie. We each split a pizza. Connor and I got a Tartufo pizza that had mushrooms and egg on it, which was amazing. All of the food looked delicious and there was a giant case of any dessert you could imagine.

Our last stop was the Freehand (the hotel we stayed at). The rooftop sounded really fun, so we gave it a try. It was very crowded and it had a tiki bar vibe. The drinks were expensive, but SO good. I got “Neon Nights” and it was the perfect mix of fruity and smoky from the mezcal. Once we finished our drinks, we called it a night and said goodbye to our friends.

Stay tuned for the last California post!!

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