In November, I moved to beautiful Irvine, California. I was previously living in Texas but my company had relocated me for a new role. I moved with my boyfriend who I had met in college at Kansas State University. Naturally, when you live somewhere warm like California you quickly have friends from the midwest willing to visit you in January because it is FREEZING in Kansas.
So I planned the ultimate girl’s weekend. 4 of my closest friends from college were flying out to see me and I had stocked up on wine, tequila and air mattresses. We had the best weekend and I felt like I got to show them so many of the best pieces of Southern California! Here are some of the things we enjoyed and I hope you can experience a few as well!
Day 1: Laguna Beach
The girl’s arrived midday to the LAX airport. We grabbed lunch at an awesome quick spot called Mendocino Farms about 5 minutes from the airport. We got settled in at my tiny, 700-square-foot apartment, popped open a bottle of wine and started getting dressed up for Laguna Beach.
My favorite thing to do in Laguna Beach is to watch the Sunset from a little spot called The Cliff. This is a unique spot located right on the water. On the property is a bar, a restaurant and lots of little local artisan shops. The shops have everything from paintings to jewelry to homemade soaps. You can grab a glass of wine and wander the shops on the property until sunset. At sunset you’ll have the perfect view and there are nice outdoor heating lamps and live music begins shortly after sunset.
There are some cute boutiques between the Cliff and where we ate dinner. My favorite is this store with hundreds of thousands of pairs of funny socks in it! The perfect souvenir to bring home to family/friends for cheap! There are also many free art galleries you can explore around The Cliff.
Next, we went to dinner a short walk down the hill at Carmelita’s. Carmelita’s has mexican dishes that are to die for! The atmosphere is the best part of this restaurant. It is tiny inside the restaurant. There are maybe 15 tables inside and it is always packed. You will want to make a reservation on their website in advance.
You can finish your evening with Gelato from Gelato Paradiso a short walk away. This is a famous little spot on Laguna Beach but we were too stuffed from the Mexican food to have Gelato.
Day 2: Disneyland
So, I spent a lot of time wondering if it would be worth it for a $130 ticket to Disneyland as adults. The answer is, 100% YES DO IT IT WAS SO FRICKEN FUN! Here is my best advice: Go on a weekday if possible. Buy the most basic ticket you can and then download the DisneyLand app and buy a fastpass for each person in your group (this is an extra $15 per person but every 90 minutes you can select another fastpass). Fastpass is the way to go, we hardly waited in any lines for the major lines. Most importantly, get assigned seat tickets to the evening show. When we attended, the evening show was titled “Fantasmic”. It was incredible but we could hardly see, I regret not getting seats for it early.
The whole day was incredible, there was no whining and complaining, we didn’t wait in lines, the food was fairly cheap and we packed snacks and water bottles. I also bought cute Minnie Mouse ears for everyone on Amazon in advance and they were so fun! Everyone in the park was wearing $30 Minnie Mouse ears but ours were only $5 from Amazon!
In the evening a 5th one of my girlfriends arrived as a surprise! We hit the hot tub and enjoyed more wine to finish off our day!
Day 3: Huntington Beach and Newport Beach
We woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for a morning beach cruise on Bicycles. We drove to Huntington Beach where there are tons of rental shops along the beach (all of the bikes are very worn out so don’t expect anything too nice). We rented one of those golf cart pedaling things that holds 6 people. Major regrets! It was so hard! We made it about a half a mile to Sandy’s beach grill where we ordered Mimosa’s and enjoyed the sun.
Huntington Beach is known as Surf City, USA. If you walk out onto the Huntington Beach pier you can often spend some time watching the surfers catch some great waves!
After we freshened up for the afternoon we ubered from Irvine to the Newport Beach area. We bought $10 Groupon’s for a 60-minute sunset cruise on Newport Beach that included 1 drink ticket. The cruise was a great way to enjoy the beautiful coastline at Sunset. I would totally recommend the cruise and I would guess they will continue the Groupon for a while. Before purchasing the Groupon, make sure the cruise company has enough tickets for your group on the day of your visit.
We stopped at a fortune teller shop nearby and for the first time ever, I had my palm read. It was pretty mind blowing how much of what she said resonated with me.
We ate a late dinner at Angelina’s which is an Italian restaurant back in Irvine. (If you go get the Bolognese, so good!)
Day 4: Hollywood
On the evening of day 4 the girls would fly out of Los Angeles so we decided to visit Hollywood.
We stopped for lunch at one of my favorite spots in Long Beach. If you put Desano’s, Long Beach in your maps it will take you to this quirky little eatery with 5 or 6 different vendors. All of the seating is outdoors and it is a great spot for a large group. They have pizza, burgers, waffles, ramen and more.
Once in Los Angeles we walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard taking photos of the stars on the street of our favorite actors and musicians. The Jimmy Kimmel studio is on Hollywood Boulevard and I was recently told that if you go online, tickets for the show filmings are free you just have to get tickets early enough. There are a lot of interesting people and street performers to watch on Hollywood Boulevard. The girls also wanted to see the famous Hollywood sign but we didn’t have time to hike the entire Griffith Observatory so we drove to a much simpler viewing spot that the locals know. This secret viewing spot is the top of the Home Depot parking garage in Hollywood haha! From here you can see the sign from a distance. It is just enough to say you’ve seen it.
You would definitely want to rent a car if you plan on exploring like this. Most of the destinations we visited were about 20-30 minutes from Irvine and Los Angeles. California is such a great place to visit with friends, let me know if you explore these areas!