Amir and I just celebrated our six year anniversary by taking an amazing local, Southern California trip. Like any person in the world, this vacation was very much needed. Work, child, life – that old bag. The anniversary trip inadvertently ended up having a vintage theme from staying in a refurbished airstream to taking a restored rail car to Santa Barbara. Perhaps not so inadvertently as sub-consciously? Let’s go over the itinerary.
SoCal Anniversary Trip Itinerary:
- Head home to pick up the kiddo
Did you see how I put in the words relax in? It was important that Amir and I relax on our vacation. We made a conscience decision to just chill. Talk to each other, have some coffee, whatever. Ya see, when we were younger we thought people who went and on “relaxing vacations” were idiots. Yeah, I said it – idiots. We thought, there is so much to do why just sit? Looks like we were the idiots because relaxing vacations are amazing! Relaxing aside we did get out there and explore – just in a different way.
So Friday arrives and we drop Colette off with my in-laws and head to LA. When we arrive we’re hungry so we head over to Masa of Echo Park, Bakery and Cafe. Now we did Yelp it, but we didn’t scroll through endlessly because Yelp is a bottomless pit of indecision. If we were going to relax we had to pick a place quickly. Lucky for us this restaurant was voted to have one of the best pizza’s in LA! Deep dish pizza. Now having been to Chicago, and eaten several deep dish pizzas, we feel confident to judge a Chicago-style pizza. Verdict: loved it. Amir even thinks it might be better than actual Chicago deep dish pizzas. Fair warning: pizzas do take about 40 minutes to cook so order the bread and salad because they’re delicious too.
We decided to take a walk after lunch and, as luck would have it, there were a few shops around the restaurant. We went into, Out of the Closet, a thrift store and some other rather hipster stores – it is Echo Park after all. I ended up purchasing $2 light green sunglasses to match my 60’s clutch for the train ride – more on that later. We also bought Colette a gift. It’s a super cool dinosaur egg that you submerge in water and the dinosaur breaks out of the egg in a few days and hatches!
ECHO PARK AIRSTREAM
Next we headed over to the airstream. We chose the airstream for two reasons. One of them being proximity to Union Station, because our train headed out early next morning. The second being affordability, because staying in downtown LA is dumb expensive.
We found the airstream on Airbnb and once we saw it we stopped looking. Because it’s an airstream in LA and that’s super cool. The airstream was clean, beautifully restored, and had views of Hollywood and the Hollywood sign! It also came stocked with coffee beans, condiments, a few snacks, oatmeal, and a full kitchen of accessories, if we chose to cook. It’s a private space with a porch, picnic table and lots of chairs for sitting. The only draw back is it’s small. I’m mostly talking about the bathroom because it’s miniature, but that doesn’t bother me enough to not want to go again. I’d highly recommend staying in the airstream to anyone!
Once I stopped taking pictures Amir and I relaxed. The environment was so minimalist and clean it just invites you to chill. So we just sat, looked at each other and casually talked. WHAT?! Yea, I know, freedom is amazing. But I love my kid, blah, blah, blah… After a few hours of bliss we headed to Clifton’s in downtown LA to get our cool side on.
DOWNTOWN LA – CLIFTON’S
OH MY GOSH. YOU GUYS!!! How did I not know about Clifton’s?!?! It’s so freakin’ cool, it’s everything I want in a joint! Listen, this entire trip was cool, so amazing, but I really loved Clifton’s. Here’s a little back history on it and why I had no clue it existed.
On their website they say it’s, “the world’s largest public cafeteria and California’s lone survivor from the Golden Age of Cafeterias.” How about that? The “Cabinet of Curiosities”, originally opening in 1935. According to the LA Times a developer purchased it in 2010, worked on it for five years, and ten million dollars later reopened it! It reopened in the fall of 2015.
They have five different areas:
- Clifton’s Cafeteria
- The Monarch
- The Brookdale
- Gothic Bar
- Pacific Seas
My picture collage above, but it doesn’t do Clifton’s justice. It’s this crazy building with all sorts of antique and vintage items EVERYWHERE. And the different areas make it so much cooler. You can be in this room, with this vibe, then leave and go into a different vibe. It’s so odd. Pacific Seas was by far the coolest area. It’s located behind a secret door. Call me a sucker but that’s cool. Nowhere in my existence is there a secret door leading to anything.
The first room you enter is the map room, which is the largest picture in my collage above. Then you meander through and reach this dark, groovy Polynesian inspired room. They advise reservations for the area, if not, you’ll wait in a line to go up. We waited in a line when it first opened, 7pm Friday night, and we were in immediately but no doubt the later the night, the longer it takes.
I’d like to point out that we went Friday night, which I think makes the place cooler. Don’t get me wrong I’ll be headed down there for lunch with Colette because I think she’ll like it too. Taxidermy is so interesting to kids. But I highly recommend you go at night, with your special person or a group of friends. Ladies night anyone?
Lastly, make sure when you walk around the place to go into every nook and cranny. I don’t want to tell you why or even expanded upon Clifton’s anymore because I think this quirky place is best explored and not thoroughly explained. If you ask yourself, hey, where does that archway over there lead? What about this cove or these stairs? Then follow your explorer instincts and go. You’ll be happy you did.
Clifton’s is on Broadway and 7th in the jewelry district of downtown Los Angeles.
*Don’t worry guys, we didn’t actually drink alcohol. As Muslims we don’t drink alcohol. So when I say drinks I mean, any kind of non-alcoholic liquid you consume. By the way the Pacific Seas has amazing non-alcoholic drinks!
Wait? What about the train ride and Santa Barbara? Read about it here – Southern California Anniversary Trip – Part Two.