California Dreaming: Five Days in LA

Every March, most college students set off to spring break on the wonderful, booze-filled beaches of Cabo or Florida. Not me though! I jet set to the cleanest, warmest beach in the U.S. — Venice Beach, California.

All jokes aside, Venice is a great destination for those not looking to have a typical spring break. Our deciding factors came down to a low-cost Airbnb, no rental car and a variety of activities.

Big Spends

Flights: With multiple direct flights to LAX, prices averaged around $200 one-way. Not the worst for a college student, but on par with similar destinations. 

Food: Normally, I skimp on meals; but this trip served as a splurge for a lack of travel during the pandemic. We ate out for almost every meal with dinners averaging to almost $180 a night for three people. Additionally, most restaurants had auto-gratuity added or other employee health fees.

Big Saves

Stay: Our Airbnb at $130 a night provided the perfect spot for recharging after long days. Jessica, our host, was kind and provided great recommendations! As three female college students, we felt extremely comfortable in our stay as we were in an attached suite to the house.

Transportation: Overall, we saved by not renting a car and using ride-sharing to get around. However, we spent between $25-40 per ride when we did need to drive places. Either way, I wouldn’t rent a car as parking is limited, expensive and Uber/ Lyft are widely available.

It wouldn’t be a travel blog without a detailed daily itinerary for you to review now would it? 


Day 1: Arrival to LA

  • If there’s one thing LA has too much of, it’s Italian restaurants. Our first dinner at Laurel Hardware provided a great meal to start off our trip with a cozy ambiance inside and out. Drinks averaged $15-18 and most food items fell in the $20-40 range.

Day 2: Exploration Day

  • We began our day walking to Menotti’s for some of the best coffee I’ve ever had and enjoying it on the Venice Boardwalk. Tasked with finding breakfast, our second stop led us to Gjusta. This local bakery, deli and cafe uses locally sourced products to craft their menu.
  • The beach was our afternoon rest stop after buying provisions for the week, followed that evening by dinner at The Rose.
  • The Rose wasn’t my favorite dinner as the ambiance put us next to the busy street however, the shareable plates were the best part. Our favorite were the sweet potatoes. 

Day 3: City Day

  • We ventured into Hollywood and Griffith Park hiking up to the Griffith Observatory. This one mile hike straight uphill fulfilled our exercise for the day and had us winded.
  • To save money, we walked from Griffith Park to the Hollywood Walk of Fame which wasn’t our best or safest decision, but we rolled with it.
  • We finished out our afternoon with a ride back to Santa Monica’s Blue Plate Oysterette for seafood. The indoors was well decorated, but we ate street side to enjoy the weather.
  • After laying out by the beach for the rest of the afternoon, we washed up and headed out to Wabi on Rose for sushi and cocktails.
  • Somehow we got stuck with the “least desirable” tables each time we ate out, but the ambiance inside and out was gorgeous.

Day 4: Beach Day

  • Another chill day in the books, we woke up late and strolled to Venice Beach stopping at our favorite, Menotti’s, for coffee. Our Airbnb host let us use her bikes so we trekked up and down the beach and grabbed lunch at the Fig Tree.
  • Service at the Fig Tree wasn’t the best, but we enjoyed our meal. Nothing to necessarily write home about.
  • Finishing the day, we ended on Abbott Kinney at Gjelina for dinner. Another American food restaurant with a wonderful ambiance, but nothing to write home about except our seat next to a C-list celebrity who was … a little much.

Day 5: Malibu

  • The gals headed home Friday morning so I had the afternoon to explore with Courtney in LA. We drove out to Malibu to explore the Getty Villa. If you’re interested in Greek and Roman art this is a must see. The expansive collection, combined with the beautiful grounds left us in awe.
Getty Villa Gardens
  • We continued down the Pacific Coast Highway to the Malibu Pier to grab coffee at the Farm Pier Cafe which I would have loved to eat at had I known it was there!

All in all, the trip to LA was relaxing and a great stay for those looking to combine city and beach. A quick flight and a cheap stay were definite pros, but there are cheaper beach vacations available.

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