Monday, November 9, 2015

(Kid-Free!) Weekend in Los Angeles

I sat on an airplane (alone!) last night with my laptop at my fingertips and recapped a wonderful weekend trip to Los Angeles. Andi has business in LA this week, and suggested I tag along the weekend prior to make a mini vacation of it. The logistics of flights, lodging and babysitters don’t always fall into place so smoothly, but this time they did and we took advantage. I hopped on a flight with Andi late Friday night in route to L.A. for a leisurely weekend away.

Our family travels quite a bit, but it’d been a while since Andi and I vacationed together without the kids. Pre-Aden days, to be exact. I love that our kids are reaching ages where it's more feasible to leave them with a babysitter because time away together sure does wonders to rejuvenate Andi and I both personally and as a couple.

As always, Andi took care of all the travel accommodations for this past weekend in L.A. He booked us a hotel room at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Ray and researched possible restaurants and activities to fill our weekend together. He left plans open-ended though, so we could do whatever we felt like in the moment. So different than our regular life with kids in tow! Even traveling in the Minneapolis airport was fun for me. Friday night, Andi and I stopped for dinner and drinks at Syrdyks before our flight and I thoroughly enjoyed every leisurely minute of our dinner together in the airport before departing to LA. My airport trips with the kids typically include quick passes through Starbucks (if I'm lucky!) and mandatory visits to the children's play area in Terminal C. This trip was all about the two of us, and it was FAB. 

It was hard to tell upon our arrival late Friday night, but our hotel was located right on the marina with a sweeping view of sailboats and the ocean. Not surprisingly, Andi told the hotel it was our anniversary (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), so I nodded and smiled when the receptionist greeted us with well-wishes and plastic flutes of champagne at check-in. It's always nice to be greeted so warmly, and we were celebrating being alone together for 48 straight hours! We dropped our bags in our hotel room and headed outdoors for a quick walk along the marina harbor. 

Saturday morning, Andi and I woke up early by L.A. standards (around 7:30am Minnesota time, which felt like sleeping in for an eternity to us). Not wanting to loose the exercise mojo I've got going on these days, I hopped down to the hotel gym and squeezed in a 30-minute workout while Andi mapped out entertainment options for the day. Shortly after I returned, we left the hotel and walked to nearby Venice Beach for breakfast. Andi picked a restaurant called Gjelina and we were seated on an adorably funky outdoor patio amongst a busy breakfast crowd. We ordered coffees, a plate of smoked salmon and toast to share, a side of softly scrambled eggs, and a slice of warm buckwheat banana bread. All the locals around us were wrapped up in chunky sweaters and scarves, but Andi and I thought the temperature was crisp, cool and perfect. Oh, happy day!

After breakfast, we grabbed more coffee at Intelligentsia (bring me alllll the coffee!) and walked along the scenic Venice Beach boardwalk to take in the sights. Andi lived in Southern California for a time, so the eclectic vibe of Venice Beach wasn't new to him, but it was my first time experiencing it. So many walks of life! Skateboarders, basketball players, bicyclists, surfers, bums, hippies, muscle-heads and so much more. The Venice Beach boardwalk is truly a melting pot of people -- so much so, that no one seemed out of place. I could've sat and people-watched for hours. Eventually, Andi and I decided to head back to our hotel in Marina Del Ray to spend a few hours by the pool.

Laying poolside didn't last long before Andi and I grew hungry for lunch. We opted to eat somewhere other than the hotel, so we changed back into regular clothes and cabbed to nearby SugarFish for sushi. This place was amazing (or maybe I was famished?!). Andi and I opted for a sampler menu which included edamame, salmon, scallops, tuna, snapper, yellow tail and blue crab. The fish was fresh and delicious and we devoured every single bite. Afterwards, we capped off our lunches with a small cup of coconut milk frozen yogurt from Pinkberry.  

It was so strange not having an agenda for the day. After lunch, Andi and I walked along the marina harbor for a while before hopping in a cab to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. Once there, we wandered around crowded sidewalks filled with shoppers. Somehow, Andi and I always end up in shopping malls on vacation and I have no idea why -- we never buy anything! More specifically, we hate crowds of people! I think Andi and I both felt a little overwhelmed by the masses, so eventually we popped in The Independence for cocktails and sustenance. I ordered the happy hour house red and Andi had the "Doheny" (bourbon, apricot brandy and jerry thomas bitters). We shared french fries and steak bites, and all was right in our worlds again.

After happy hour, we caught an Uber cab back to the hotel to relax for a bit. As a parent, how often do you get the chance to crawl into bed in the middle of the afternoon and watch TV or a take a nap? Never? Heh, you better believe we took advantage. Andi snoozed for a few minutes while I caught the first half of the Nebraska game on television. A while later, we headed south to Manhattan Beach for dinner and a comedy show. Andi picked Manhattan Beach Post for dinner and we shared several small plates -- a salted pretzel, blistering blue lake green beans and a sustainable "never ever" farm-raised steak ribeye. The food was just okay for me (Andi was pleased, however), but the atmosphere and service were fun and energetic.

We'd planned to catch a comedy show at Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, but unfortunately missed admittance by three people. Andi said he'd almost purchased advanced tickets at several points earlier in the day, but not wanting to fully commit to plans (as was the theme of our weekend) he didn't buy them. No worries though; instead of seeing a comedy show, we bought more frozen yogurt and walked along the pier before heading back to our hotel in Marina Del Ray.

Andi and I walked over 23,000 steps and covered 10 miles on Saturday, but that didn't stop us from hitting the pavement bright and early Sunday morning. We rented bicycles from our hotel and rode to the Venice Beach area for breakfast. We stopped for breakfast at Flake, a popular corner cafe and ordered coffees, the Super Cro-Jo and the Rad Muffin sandwiches. The food was nothing fancy, but tasty just the same. After breakfast, we biked up the boardwalk to the Santa Monica Pier and walked around there for a bit before biking back to the hotel. I seriously cannot remember the last time I rode a bicycle! It was such a neat way to sight-see.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend morning!

My flight departed L.A. mid-afternoon Sunday, so Andi and I had just enough time to hit the pool one more time and grab dinner at the hotel's restaurant Cast & Plow.

And, just when I was settling in to vacation life!

While our weekend in Los Angeles together was fun and different than the usual, I missed my kiddos terribly and Andi had to get to work. I headed to the airport Sunday afternoon and greeted Tory and Aden when they woke up this morning at home.

So thankful for the opportunity to get away and reconnect with Andi, and to pacify my travel bug with a little weekend getaway. Much needed and very appreciated.


  1. oooh that is amazing! What a wonderful way to spend the weekend without kids. Definitely good for a marriage. All the food - yum. All the coffee - always!