The Pacific Coast Highway was lovely to follow. It took us through lots of scenic little spots all the way to Los Angeles. It would have been great to stop off in more of them and explore a little more, but we were very conscious of time restraints.
We reached Los Angeles late afternoon and traffic started to get progressively worse the closer we got. We tried to find a hook up at a campsite on Huntington Beach where they had recently had the US Surf Open competition, but unfortunately they were all booked up. We then called a campsite near Long Beach and managed to book a spot without hook up for the night and so made our way there. The site itself was quite near where the Queen Mary Cruise Liner was berthed and you could pay to go on and take a look. There was an exhibition about Princess Diana on at the time. (We didn't actually go on board though).
Our campsite had a swimming pool, laundry, lovely clean showers and they were very helpful. To be honest, the area was a little industrial as it was near the docks, but wewere just glad to have found somewhere, as we didn't seem to have as many options here.
We bedded down for the night and then the next morning spent an hour in the pool before showering packing up. We had managed to book a site for the evening in Malibu, and then headed off towards Hollywood .
We took the freeway across town.
The traffic was busy, but we got to Hollywood at about lunchtime. We found somewhere to park the van which gave us a couple of hours to explore the Walk of Fame which was plenty really. I photographed a couple of stars for actors that I admired.
It was a bit like Oxford Street with lots of tourist type shops, but we couldn't go to Hollywood without seeing it.
We stopped and had lunch in an Italian restaurant and then drove down Sunset Boulevard, through Beverley Hills (my budget didn't stretch to shopping on Rodeo Drive though, unfortunately)
and on to Santa Monica. My sister had visited here last year and had recommended it to me.
The beach here was fantastic. We tried to stop off for a couple of hours to go on the beach, but parking for the van cost $20 which we found shocking. With hindsight we should have bitten their hand off, as the next day when we returned to spend the day on the beach there, the cost had gone up to $35 to park the van!
We continued on to Malibu up the coast, got caught up in rush hour traffic and were completely exhausted when we got there. The site was located on one side of the Pacific Coast Highway, a very busy route and the beach was located on the other side. We did cross the highway and go to the beach for an hour, but by then the beach was in shade and it was a little chilly which was a bit disappointing. Here's the view from the campsite in Malibu.
The next day we decided to head back into Santa Monica and spend the day at the beach there. Santa Monica beach was fabulous, exactly what I imagined Californian beaches to be like. I would definitely recommend visiting here to anyone.
After almost having to pry the $35 from OH's wallet for the car park (it did seem pretty steep for a day at the beach), we started to explore. It was pretty cloudy/misty most of the morning, the sun breaking through at about 2pm which was the latest we'd experienced so far. In the meantime, we visited the pier where OH and Little Bird went on the Rollercoaster which they said was really good fun. I chickened out.
We enjoyed playing on the outdoor gymnasium which Little Bird particularly enjoyed and she made up little routines for the beam which we took video's and photos of her carrying out.
There were rings, high bars, asymmetric bars, parallel bars, beams, a grass floor area. It was fabulous. I wish we had something like this in the UK.
Our last few hours here were spent sat on the beach and in the ocean. We had an encounter with a life guard who kindly came up and warned us not to use an inflatable in the water. He was very polite and professional. I didn't think to take a photo.
There was a great cycle path that cut through the beach and you could cycle the three miles or so up to Venice Beach. It got incredibly busy as the day wore on and it was pretty hard to cross at times. This photo was taken earlier on in the morning so there wasn't much traffic at the time.
I really loved Santa Monica and would love to return and spend a few days there mooching around the shops and cafes, cycling along to Venice beach and generally spending more time on this lovely beach. If we are ever fortunate enough to return to California and continue our journey up to San Francisco and beyond, I would love to start off from here. It was a great place with a very relaxed feel and lots of interesting things to do.
In my next post, we head out of LA in some very busy traffic and return to the desert and visit a town called Chloride on our way to the Grand Canyon.