For those of you who follow along with us on social media, you’ll have seen that this week I finally shared the surprise birthday plans I’ve been secretly organizing for Julio’s upcoming birthday. When I asked him this year if he wanted a gift or an experience, he opted for the second and that meant I wanted to do something extra special for him.
You can of course watch his reaction to the surprise by clicking here – but I thought ahead of us getting on the plane to head to Los Angeles, I’d share what we have planned and how #DiscoverLA is definitely a destination you need to experience for yourself this year!
Now I should preface that we are by no means the kind of people who spoil each other with trips all the time. In fact we’re on a pretty strict budget while we continue to save for adoption so first and foremost, I needed a destination that wasn’t going to break the bank. Flights on Air Canada were actually very affordable and I booked them as early as I could when I decided this was the trip I wanted to curate for Julio.
Did you know that L.A. Tourism’s new global campaign #Now Playing invites people onto L.A.’s center stage where global phenoms that start in a garage, culinary empires that begin with a food truck? Having personally been to LA a few times over the course of my blogging career, I have loved experiencing new things each time. But what I love the most about this trip is that it will be Julio’s first time ever so we can explore it through his eyes.
Being that we are only taking a few days (something to note for those of you who prefer to take smaller vacations a few times a year like we do over one large one) I wanted to ensure we made it memorable.
Firstly, finding a hotel. Los Angeles has some of the most famous ones in the world, but when it comes to memorable and oh-so-Instagramable, The Garland was the one for us.
Bright sun pours in from floor to ceiling windows. An open fireplace warms cool California nights. Artisanal cocktails and farm fresh eats await your request. Welcoming and warm, yet distinctively retro, this is the California dream come true. Every design detail has been handpicked to evoke the whimsy and thoughtful aesthetic of a bygone era. This is your urban oasis, secluded within seven lush acres, yet minutes from excitement and thrills of LA.
The great part about this quintessential Californian property is also that it has a shuttle to the crowning jewel of this birthday trip – a shuttle service to and from Universal Studios Hollywood and the newly launched Super Nintendo World. For those of you who know my husband by now, you know that he might just be the biggest Nintendo fan on the planet. We’ll spend the majority of his birthday there and exploring the park – a first for me too since I’ve never been to a major American theme park like this before!
Considered the entertainment capital of L.A., Universal Studios Hollywood includes a movie-based theme park and Studio Tour. As a leading global entertainment destination, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers highly themed immersive lands that translate to real-life interpretations of iconic movie and television shows. Recent additions include UPER NINTENDO WORLD™, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ™,” “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family. The adjacent Universal CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex also includes the all-new multi-million dollar, completely redesigned Universal CityWalk Cinema, featuring deluxe recliner seating in screening room quality theatres, and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert stage.
I’m going to do my best to not lose Julio in all the fabulous excitement I know he’s going to be feeling!
And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to a city known around the world for its food scene with a visit to some of the hottest spots in town. We’ve made reservations firstly at Grandmaster Recorders.
Grandmaster Recorders is a modern restaurant, rooftop and bar that has transformed the original Grandmaster Recorders recording studio that was operating since 1971. Our restaurant is a celebration of Italian cuisine with modern Australian influence that utilizes the abundance of Californian produce to ensure the highest quality.
And the other spot I am beyond excited to try is Front Yard which is actually located inside of our hotel.
A unique neighborhood gathering place, The Front Yard, showcases LA’s diverse flavors in a setting as casual and comfortable as an evening at an old friend’s house. Come on over anytime and we’ll set you a place around the table.
And while I don’t think I could’ve convinced Julio to do those infamous LA hikes, I did want to make sure to book a tour experience that would help us get some steps in and get to see some iconic landmarks at the same time. That’s where Hike with Bikes and Hikes LA came in!
L.A. is truly a hiker’s paradise. Visitors are amazed by the natural beauty and breathtaking views they encounter on this daytime adventure high into the hills. Guides take visitors up to the summit of Mount Hollywood where all of L.A. can be seen, from the skyscrapers of downtown to the coast, everything can be seen. Plus, the hikes include a visit to a vista overlooking the Hollywood sign, along the route, tour guides share the history of Griffith Park, the Hollywood Sign and include interactive video presentations showing what has been filmed in the park.
We’re still considering a visit to The Academy Museum should our schedule permit, and it’s definitely somewhere I would recommend adding to your to do list on your visit for sure. The world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies. Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. More than a museum, this dynamic film center will offer unparalleled experiences and insights into movies and moviemaking.
Adding to the fact that we’re going to do our darndest to squeeze in a drag show, walk down Rodeo drive, and see if we can’t see some celebrities, I can’t wait to explore a city I’ve loved for so long with my husband on his first time. Make sure to follow along with us to see what he loved most!
If you’re not following me yet, find me at @dothedaniel on all social media platforms
Photos: Daniel Reyes Cocka and participating brands
Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year
*Please note that this may be a sponsored post and promotional consideration may have been offered by participating brands – our disclosure can be found at all times by clicking here.