So, a little back story on how we ended up spending a weekend in Santa Monica, besides the fact that the last time I had been in that area, I was a fairly young child and hardly remember it of course. Anywho, Drew and I have been dating for five years now (woop woop)! And without fail, at some point during the NBA season, he mentions how we should go to a Lakers game. Every year we would play this game where he mentions said game and I reply, “Yeah, we totally should!” and then nothing happens. Kind of like the San Diego Padres baseball games lol. Well, being the wonderful and thoughtful girlfriend that I am, I purchased us tickets to the Lakers vs. Cavaliers game in March at the Staples Center as Drew’s Christmas present. Yeah, I’m the type of person that will by “us” a gift as “your” present. I mean, I really wanted to go as well! So, instead of just driving up for just the game and then driving home, we decided to make a weekend out of it.
Of course, March of 2018 will now forever be known as the time California got a shit ton of rain in a very short amount of time. I’m being dramatic, but of course the weekend we have a trip planned, is that time when we got a shit ton of rain in a very short period of time. So if you’re looking for ideas on what to do on a rainy weekend in Santa Monica, you’ve come to the right place! Of course my itinerary involves a lot of food and alcohol but I mean, what else are you supposed to do?
Day 1 San Diego to Santa Monica
The drive to Santa Monica is a swift hour and a half drive. Until you hit the beach cities you have to go through to get to Santa Monica. Holy moly. I think it took us a half hour to go five miles. Regardless, we made it to our hotel safe and sound.
We checked into the Le Meridian Delfina Santa Monica. I will admit, the rooms need a bit of a face lift, but what was lacking in the room, the staff and other amenities made up for! Oh, and free valet parking!
The front desk was very accommodating and even upgraded us to a deluxe room! Now, this hotel had a few features we utilized and were very grateful for during this rainy weekend. First of all, upon check in, you’re greeted with a glass of champagne. Now what I’m not sure many guests know is that starting at 11am, you can approach the front desk at any time and ask for a glass! How cool is that?? I successfully got a few glasses, so I’m not sure if they put a cap on it? Just to be safe, I went to a different person each time I needed a refill.
They also have a golf cart that will take you anywhere you need to go within a 2 mile radius for FREE! It’s one of those obnoxious golf carts with a bunch of ads plastered all over it but whatever, we didn’t have to mess with uber or lyft. You just tell them where you want to go and when you’re ready to be picked back up, you text a number and they will be there in a jiffy!
We were starving once we got to the hotel Friday afternoon, so we ended up just eating at the hotel bar which ended up being quite tasty! I got the chicken flat bread and Drew got the hamburger. The bartender was very nice and even gave of us a few ideas on what to do and where to eat.
After we freshened up, and after a few glasses of champagne, we took the golf cart to the Santa Monica Pier to walk around. Day light savings was taking place that Sunday so the sun still set pretty early. The first thing we stumbled upon was the arcade. Yes, I know it’s filthy. Yes, I know it’s a tourist trap. But it looked like so much fun!
We got five dollars worth of quarters and went to town. We did it all. Like I fully channeled my inner “child who had their birthday at Chucke E Cheese three years in a row” and went to town. Basketball, Skeeball, Wack-A-Mole, that old race car game you played at pizza parlors and my personal favorite, Mario Cart. Myself and Princess Peach were killing it throughout the whole race and then Drew came out of nowhere and blew my damn tires out and beat me out for first. I was just a bit salty about it.
The most surprising thing I observed was how many homeless people were playing. Some of them had huge armfuls of tickets they had won and were able to redeem them for snacks! They were having the time of their lives. Amazing how stepping into an arcade can make you feel like a carefree kid again.
After exhausting our five dollars and giving what little tickets we earned away, we spent the rest of the evening slowly strolling up the boardwalk and taking in all the lights and excitement.
Day 2 Santa Monica
The official day California got a shit ton of rain in a very short amount of time. Luckily, we were armed with a huge golf umbrella so we were still able to tackle the day! Although, whoever says an umbrella, no matter the size, can fit two people is an absolute liar.
Breakfast – Dogtown Coffee
We started the day with breakfast and coffee at Dogtown Coffee. I got their breakfast burrito and Drew had their açaí bowl as well as this really yummy savory pastry called a Bourekas. It’s a flakey pastry filled with feta cheese. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds.
After breakfast, we wandered around Santa Monica and also went back to the pier to see what it looked like during the day. They had a really cool food festival event going on that was fun to walk through. Kind of wish I had known about that so I wouldn’t have eaten so much at breakfast.
After walking around for a while, the rain really started to come down. We called up our golf cart friend and scurried back to the hotel. And you probably guessed it, it was most definitely champagne time!
Lunch – Manchego
Once the rain cleared up some, we ventured out for some lunch. We ended up at Manchego and it instantly transported me back to my days in Spain. This place knew how to do tapas, and they knew how to do them right! I settled down with some red wine and helped myself to their garlic shrimp and crispy jamon tostado with burrata cheese and fig jam. Drooooooooool. I wish I would have gotten some photos but I was so excited for good tapas in the states, I lost all my senses.
Not going to lie, we definitely napped after that feast. As much as I hate napping on vacation, I just couldn’t help it with my current food baby and the gloomy rainy weather. It probably would have been more productive to go check out one of the many amazing museums around…oops. Good thing we only live a hour and a half away!
Dinner – Forma
Choose your pasta, choose your cheese, they then take the pasta and MIX IT IN A HUGE CHEESE WHEEL. Of course I got the Cacio e Pepe and it was glorious. Once I publish my Europe blog, you’ll understand my love for Cacio e Pepe. The arancini was also delicious and of course we couldn’t skip out on the nutella bread pudding. That would just be rude.
Day 3 Venice Beach
I definitely woke up with a food hangover from dinner at Forma the night before. It was so worth it. After packing up all of our belongings we checked out of the Le Meridian Delfina and ventured into Venice Beach.
The Venice Beach boardwalk is just absolute madness. It is sensory overload! But it’s so much fun! Pretty sure I was just walking around with my mouth hanging open. Anything and everything was happening there. The strong smell of weed, huge murals at every alley, youtubers making videos (we actually saw quite a few making rap videos haha) and just a bunch of random happenings. This place is ALIVE. Once my senses were overloaded, we made our way toward Abbot Kinney, which I’m not ashamed to admit, is much more my scene. But first, we of course had to get a picture in front of the infamous Venice sign! They had it decorated for St. Patrick’s Day hence the O’Venice.
Abbot Kinney is such a trendy street. So many fun shops and restaurants!
Lunch – Salt and Straw
Yes, we had ice cream for lunch and it was glorious. There are so many fun flavors to try! But of course me being me, went with their classic salted caramel. One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell is the first time she took my brother and me to Baskin Robins. We were pretty small and she held us up to see all the different flavors and read them all to us as well as let us have a few tasters. When it came time to order, I asked for vanilla and Shane asked for Chocolate haha. Classic.
We also stopped in at Tom’s Flagship Coffee Shop for a coffee. This place has such a cute back patio! It was a great place to relax and kick our feet up for a while.
After coffee, we hopped in the car and headed for the Staples Center where I made the biggest noob mistake ever. We got all the way to LIVE where we were meeting friends for dinner and I realized I forgot the basketball tickets in the car. Oops.
Dinner – Katsuya Live
Not going to lie, this was a disappointment. I don’t recommend at all. Unless you enjoy very white washed sushi, then enjoy to your heart’s content! Everything was either fried or smothered in spicy mayo. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a sushi snob. However, we were meeting friends so I shut my spoiled sushi self up and enjoyed my damn spicy mayo with a hint of sushi.
The Lakers game was so much fun! I wasn’t expecting it to go by so quickly. If you have to pee, you might want to hold it until halftime because by the time you annoyingly climb over strangers, use the restroom, and then climb back over them, a quarter is already gone. But it was so exciting being at a NBA game! It was my first one and I quite enjoyed watching Jack Nicholson get up to high five a player and the player didn’t notice him lololol. Poor guy.
After the game, we made our way back to San Diego discussing our favorite parts of the trip (one of my favorite things to do while one is ending). Overall, we had a pretty great time! Although the rain was a bummer and I wish we would have tried a couple more restaurants (that just means we will have to come back on a sunny weekend), we still enjoyed our weekend away.
Do you have any tips for Santa Monica? I would love to hear them so I can start building up my list of things to do/try for next time! Leave them in the comments below. And as always, I hope you enjoyed this blog post and let me know if you have or plan on trying anything from this rainy day guide!