California Dreamin': Some Things To Do In Palm Springs + L.A.

*This post has been modified since it's original post date.

Up until April 23, 2015, I'd only been to L.A. once, and it was for work. I had a terrible experience and left The City of Angels knowing no more about its plethora of delicious Mexican food than when I began.

As a birthday present, I organized a trip for my husband. The plan was to first hole up in Palm Springs (intentionally post Coachella) and then drive to L.A. to visit friends. We've been looking forward to the trip for months, but we had no idea we'd be so glamoured by the idyllic weather and scenic palm tree–lined skylines. California, you have our hearts. Here is a look at our west coast adventure.

We flew into Phoenix (long story) and drove to Palm Springs. First stop: In-N-Out Burger, obviously. Sweet, glorious burger.

We stayed at Sparrow's Lodge in Palm Springs, and arrived with heavy suitcases and light-hearted ambitions. Greeted with sangria upon arrival, we immediately changed into fresh clothes, ready to relax. 

We rented bikes and rode to The Ace for lunch at Kings Highway. We felt immediately welcome when we noticed the "Five Leaves Burger" on the menu.

Five Leaves is a very delicious, very popular restaurant about a 10-minute walk from our apartment. Needless to say, we were happy to see a slice of Brooklyn in Palm Springs. Turns out, the chefs from Five Leaves had taken over the kitchen at Kings Highway for a period of time.

We biked around town until it was time to get ready for a night of eating and drinking, as one does on vacation. As my husband put it, "It's vacation because we wake up and drink coffee until it's time to drink alcohol."

Workshop Kitchen + Bar came recommended, so we grabbed a cocktail there.

Then...Bootlegger Tiki...where we drank until we missed dinner.

Which means we ate a late dinner at a BBQ restaurant in a strip mall. What I'm learning about California is this--just because it's in a strip mall, doesn't mean it's not good.

The next day we waved goodbye to our peaceful cabin at Sparrows Lodge and made our way to Los Angeles, where the best of friends awaited us. We spent the afternoon getting a taste of "what life was like in L.A.." That night, we went to an authentic Oaxacan restaurant and ended up at karaoke bar in a Korean Mall. The usual.

The morning greeted us with green smoothies and coffee, even though we were hangover-free. How you ask? I take a B Vitamin each night that I have more than 2 drinks. Works like a charm. (Side note: I drink water like it's my job, so that helps, too.)

We departed East L.A. for Santa Monica to visit another set of friends. This time, we were prepping for a mystical night at The Magic Castle.

MAGIC! I can't reveal to you anything else about that night because then it wouldn't be so magical, but mostly because we drank our way through the castle and witnessed all kinds of tricks that I could never convey in words.

The next morning we were lured out of our beds by Huckleberry. I wanted to eat every sandwich, salad, pastry, and entrée on the menu. If my magic power could be expanding my stomach to fit it all, I would have done it.

Then we bopped around town--Fred Segal, Barneys, Shutters, the works. I mostly wanted to see if people in L.A. really shopped the way they do in Clueless.

At Shutters I ordered this crazy good SusieCakes Carrot Cake, thankfully, because the 24 mini cupcakes I ordered for my husband's birthday party went uneaten. I forgot them in the refrigerator and didn't realize it until we were at dinner. #StoryOfMyLife

After truly soaking up the sun, we reached the be-all, end-all meal of our trip: Gjelina. If you do anything in any part of not walk to this restaurant in Abbott Kinney.

I leave you there, not because we didn't then go enjoy our night in Venice, but because Gjelina deserves a mic drop.

I was in awe of both Palm Springs and L.A. Maybe because I've been stuck in the concrete jungle for so long. As of the day we got back, I began eagerly planning my next West Coast adventure. Pacific Coast Highway maybe?