As part of our 5-day Disney California adventure, we had the opportunity to explore the glitz and charm of Los Angeles along with the spectacular beaches and attractions of Orange County.
Our tour bus left Disneyland Resort early in the morning to take us to our first stop, The Grove, a trendy shopping and dining destination located in central LA. It’s an outdoor shopping area with trendy shops like Anthropologie, Khiels, Topshop/Topman, and department stores like Nordstrom and Barneys New York.
We started off at Stylehaus, which is an upscale membership-based clothing boutique that provides personalized styling services. For an annual fee, clients can receive at-home closet consultations, early access to seasonal collections, exclusive discounts and more. We were introduced to some of their popular items and exclusive pieces that were created by up and coming local designers. We were lucky enough to check out the latest fashion trends and view a showcase of outfits chosen by their talented stylists.
I can report that trends like polished grunge, plaid printed silk blouses, checkerboard prints, mixing leather colours, crop tops, and printed suits are in for this fall season. Janelle and Cassidy looked great in outfits styled by Jessica. To learn more about these trends and the specific wardrobe pieces, check out their informative style blog.
After some shopping around the Grove, we had lunch at The Original Farmers Market (@farmersmarketla) which was just a few steps away. Established in 1934, it is the oldest farmers market in the city. With over 100 shops and grocers and a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, you can be sure that you’ll satisfy your hunger pangs here. Everything from seafood, to Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, and Southeast Asian can be found at this outdoor food haven.
Kimberly from the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board insisted that we try the tasty tacos and snapper ceviche (below) from ¡Loteria! Grill. Thanks to our friend Jeff from Vancouver, we also couldn’t resist ordering mee goreng from Singapore’s Banana Leaf (left). It was a great lunch and we left the farmers market feeling fully satisfied.
Next up, we made our way into Hollywood where we took part in the Hollywood Movie Stars’ Home Tour by Starline Tours. These open top sightseeing vans start from the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd and work their way through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Bel-Air, to view movie stars’ homes. Other tours offered through Starline include the TMZ Hollywood Tour, and the Hop-On-Hop-Off Double Decker City Tour. Celebrity sightings are quite common on these tours, and we even managed to catch a glimpse of Gwen Stefani (or some other woman) sunbathing in her spacious backyard and pool area.
After spending a few hours in the sun soaked van, we were all quite hungry and headed over to the Hollywood Bowl for the Kristin Chenoweth concert. Before the start of the show, we enjoyed a lovely picnic dinner on the outdoor dining deck. We helped ourselves to salads, sandwiches, and other goodies provided by our hosts. Though the dinner was wonderful, what impressed us the most were the portable and disposable pre-filled wine cups made by Stack Wines. Packaged in fours, you can choose between a few varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio. They make the perfect complement for picnics like these. Funny thing about the Hollywood Bowl is you’re free to bring in alcoholic beverages, but DSLR cameras are not allowed. Strange indeed.
Guess who’s the most popular guy at dinner? Of course the guy who brought the portable battery charger (above). I was surprised that I was the only blogger in the group who had one of these. You can buy one from Amazon from this link. I’m able to charge my phone around 7 times on a single charge with this device. If you do a lot of traveling, having one of these is a must, especially given that most smartphones these days only last for about 5 hours on a charge.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kristin Chenoweth, she is a singer and actress originally from Oklahoma. She also guest-starred in the FOX television musical comedy-drama Glee as April Rhodes, and sang alongside Will Schuester. Her voice was amazing, and her comedic interludes between songs were hilarious. The Hollywood Bowl is a stunning open air venue, and since there is no roof, they even had fireworks at the beginning and end of the show. Whether you are a local or a visitor in LA, it’s definitely worth checking out a show at the Hollywood Bowl.
The next day, we boarded the LuxBus, a modern luxury charter bus. As bloggers, we knew how important it was to power our devices throughout the day, so having outlets on all the seats as we explored Orange County was a welcome sight. If you are staying in Anaheim, destinations like Las Vegas, Los Angeles/Hollywood, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld San Diego, and Legoland are just a LuxBus ride away.
While LA has The Grove, Orange County is home to Fashion Island (below left), which offers a nice blend of high-end department stores and fashion boutiques. There, you’ll find trendy shops like Kitson, Trina Turk, Ella Moss, and department stores like Neiman Marcus. When it comes to food, there’s no shortage of dining options at Fashion Island.
For our next stop, we headed over to the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival (above right) in Laguna Beach. With over 200 artists featured there, we took our time to appreciate the pieces showcased at this annual festival. The festival gets its name from the wood chips on the floor, with artists selling various arts and crafts including jewellery, pottery, ceramics, photographs, paintings, textiles, and more. There is also an area for food, beer, and live music, which keeps the ambiance lively.
After spending some time there, we were ushered off to our next stop at Dana Point Harbor for a 90-minute catamaran wine cruise offered through Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, perfect for a boat cruise after a long day of shopping.
Aboard the cruise, we sampled wines from The Organic Cellar and enjoyed platters of cheese, crackers, and other nibbles. The Organic Cellar specializes in importing and distributing natural, organic, and biodynamic wines from around the world.
After the cruise, we went to Doheny Beach for a bonfire cookout. It was established as California’s first state beach, and covers 62 acres of beautiful oceanfront. We met two state police officers who educated us on what they do to keep the peace, as well as the rules of the beach. Unlike most parks in Greater Vancouver, you can have bonfires at Doheny as long as they are contained in the designated fire pits. We enjoyed hot dogs and s’mores, and it was the perfect way to cap off our day in Orange County.
We were also fortunate enough to catch the Elephant Parade, which was also taking place at the beach. Started in 2006 as a socially-conscious business enterprise, Elephant Parade has since rapidly grown from a grassroots movement into a global crusade with tremendous support from the community. Through the sale of merchandise and auction of the original art pieces, the exhibition has raised over $6 million dollars to help support the conservation of the global elephant population and raise awareness of issues affecting their dramatic plight. Shown below are a just few of our favourite elephants. Some of them were really well done and thought out.
We had a blast in Los Angeles and Orange County and would like to thank the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, and Disney Parks Canada for being amazing hosts and for a fun 5 days in California. We made new friends and saw different sides of Southern California that we never even knew existed. We’ll definitely be back again soon!
Disclosure: Although we were comped for almost everything, we were not paid in any way to write this review. All opinions are our own.