spring in Sonoma

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L.A. itineraries by personality

Super-helpful guides from Gwyneth Paltrow/goop mean no more sending visiting friends and family to the same ol’ places. Click a personality type below for tailor-made LA itineraries.

Kids               classichealthconscious

hipster               art

images: goop

yosemite time-lapse

Watch it…and be amazed/tempted to drive there now.

college tour


let’s go: los angeles

Today we present our favorite L.A. guides, itineraries, and advice in one go-to place. We think you’ll love this resource as much as you’ll love your trip to la-la land. Happy travels!

Fathom for Kate Spade Los Angeles City Guide: Enjoy all that’s charming, pretty and stylish in L.A. Advice on where to eat brunch, shop (a stop at Kate Spade is an obv reco), and sleep, among other things. Also includes a “packing list” (you’d hate to arrive without your sunnies and turkish towel!) and travel tips “cheat sheet.”

My LA to Z Guides: So, celebs spend A LOT of time in L.A. and Los Angeles Magazine gets them to dish all their fav spots so we can enjoy the same park as the Jolie-Pitt kiddos, eat where Wolfgang Puck dines, and tie on our bowling shoes next to Vivica Fox. Ultimately, these guides represent the advice of locals who have taste and money, but also were once starving actors who know where the best $2 taco truck sits…so you’ll find a lot of good stuff here.

goop Los Angeles City Guide: Speaking of celebs…from Gwyneth Paltrow comes a stellar, comprehensive App guide to L.A. that covers everything from hikes and health to kids and culture. We love the mini-guides on each of Los Angeles’ many distinct and worthwhile neighborhoods, not to mention the convenience of having all this info on our iPhone.  The downsides to this guide: it’ll cost you $3.99 and if you are looking for Gwyneth’s personal and particular L.A. advice (where she would stay, where she would eat, etc.)  you won’t find it here… it’s clearly the work of a team that has done its research to provide you with a number of great options instead.  But hey, the options are all up to snuff.

broke girls guide to L.A.: For those visiting L.A. without a celeb’s budget (or who just can’t stand paying full price).  We love the weekend itineraries (planned for us! huzzah!), off-the-radar recommendations, discounts, and daily hot spotting that helps us keep up with what’s cool in the coolest city.

PLUS…more guides:

Shop L.A.

Food L.A.

Design L.A.

Kid-friendly L.A.

Cold-day L.A. (it happens…and locals freak out when it does)

Free L.A.

ALSO:  10 Apps to Make your Trip to Los Angeles More Heavenly

AND: don’t forget a perfect los angeles souvenir


love soured: the world’s best bread

There are few foods more synonymous with California (and San Francisco in particular) than perfectly blistered sourdough bread.  Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the bread’s unique hole-y texture and complex tang first perplex and then totally win-over first-time tasters.  It’s likely the best bread you will ever eat and for many Californians it’s also tradition — some households don’t stock any other type of bread and those that make their own take pride in a starter or “mother dough” that has often been passed down from one generation to the next. Today we’re sharing the love for this loaf with our ultimate sourdough bread guide: what it is, why you should eat it, where to get it, and how to make and enjoy it.  We think you’ll fall in love, too.  xoxo.

What makes sourdough special is its “mother dough” or “mother starter” made of bacteria (we love the scientific name: lactobacillus sanfranciscensis).  Read all about it here. We love this bread for its simplicity: a true sourdough is made of just starter, water, sea salt, and flour. You can feel good about feeding it to the kiddos: sourdough has no preservatives, no sugar, no junk. Mild gluten intolerants can usually eat sourdough without any trouble, and some people even claim that their switch to sourdough has helped alleviate hair loss and other ailments. Beware of breads labeled “sourdough” that really aren’t; a quick check of the ingredients is all you need to do to make sure you’ve got the real deal.

Is your mouth watering for some bread yet?  Top places to pick up a loaf:

Tartine: Their super gorgeous Country Bread (featured in this post’s photos) is lacey and flavorful. Many consider this the best bread you can buy. Tip:  bread is fresh out of the oven at 5pm Tuesday-Saturday.

The Cheese Board Collective: Their seeded baguettes are the perfect accompaniment to (what else?) cheese.

Boudin: Due to its many shops located throughout California, this is the place where most tourists will try sourdough, and that’s not a bad thing. The great thing about Boudin is that they will ship their bread (plus gift baskets and bread subscriptions) throughout the U.S.  – hello good sourdough in North Dakota! Tip: take some croutons home with you — use to make a quick and amazing kale caesar salad.

Acme Bread: Many of the best restaurants serve Acme’s sourdough. Thankfully they sell through many grocers (even Costco!) so you can, too.

PLUS…The Other Guys. These are much harder to find (think fresh still-warm loafs being sold from tailgates, tents, etc.), but you should definitely buy bread from these guys if you get a chance:

Mike Zakowski: Head to the farmers market the next time you are in Sonoma and look for his loafs under the name “BEJKR.” This guy has competed in the equivalent of the bread olympics (which really exist).

Josey Baker: Seriously, his last name is Baker. So you know it’s good.

Jack Bezian: We love his signage at So Cal farmers markets: “Roman soldiers had only sourdough bread to get protein, as did the Alaskan prospectors.” Not sure that claim convinces us to eat sourdough, but his great tasting loafs do.

To make a great sourdough loaf you’ll need a great sourdough recipe. Tartine Bread and The Cheese Board Collective Works cookbooks detail the process and will help you create super good bread.  You can also get Tartine’s recipe here, but without the in-depth chapter of advice and technique described in the cookbook. Want to cheat? Buy pre-made starter here or even get it for free.

You’ll need some bread baking tools: digital metric scalebench knife, combo dutch oven (or a regular dutch), and a thermometer.

For extra sour bread you’ll want to add 1/16 – 1/8 tsp. citric acid.

Finally, you’ll need some advice on how to maintain your starter.

The absolute best way to savor homemade sourdough is to serve it warm with best-quality organic unsalted butter and truffle salt.  As Fallon says, it’ll blow your pants off. But it’s also the perfect loaf for sandwiches, tomato bread salad, french toast, garlic bread, and an infinite number of other recipes. Use stale bread to make delish croutons and sourdough starter for all sorts of things – such as pizza crust and waffles. Really, there’s no end to what you can make once you’ve got the basic sourdough recipe down. Happy baking!

tropic of california

Visit the conservancies at San Francisco and San Diego for tropical temperatures and bright flowers. You’ll see some of the oldest plants on the planet and beat the cold dry air!
For the kiddos at SF: They’ll love the special garden boom town railway display on exhibit through April 14. Free admission to all visitors on the first Tuesday of every month.
For the kiddos at San Diego: They’ll love the Touch and Smell Garden and the Carnivorous Plant Bog, featuring Venus Fly Traps and Pitcher plants. Free admission to all visitors Friday through Wednesday.

los angeles & santa monica: for kiddos

The Santa Monica/LA  area is amazing for a quick getaway, even with little ones in tow. Here’s our itinerary:

Day One

arrival: If you are flying in, skip the chaos of LAX and catch an early morning flight into Burbank’s Bob Hope airport.  Deplaning on the tarmac is fun for the kids and will instantly put you in SoCal vacation mode. Pick up your rental car; anything topless (convertible, Jeep, etc.) is well worth the added expense when you are driving along the coast. Just make sure it has the trunk space you need for all that kiddo luggage, and (if you don’t have one on your smart phone) a navigation system.

breakfast: From the airport, head straight away to Hollywood. Open at 7:30am, The Waffle has a mile-long menu that reads like a kid’s breakfast wish list: chocolate waffles with whip cream, sticky bun waffles, red velvet waffles with cream cheese frosting, etc. The menu also includes plenty non-waffle breakfast fare. The cool retro vibe, outdoor seating, and local dogs lounging on the patio with their breakfasting owners make it fun.

activity: Griffith Park. There’s a lot happening here and it’s all on the cheap; the amazing observatory (free admission; kids under 5 can only go to the first planetarium show of the day at 10:45am on weekends); train rides, merry-go-round, and lots of park help burn energy. Plus, you’ll love the stellar views from the observatory rooftop over LA all the way out to the ocean. With older kids you might consider parking the car along the street at the lower level of the park and hiking the steep dirt trail up to the observatory.

lunch: If you want to stay around the park, try the Trails Café for lemonade and the hot dog on a stick wrapped in flakey dough (vegetarian dogs available too!). Beware that the wait for food can be on the long side. Seating is at outdoor picnic tables.  If you are ready to leave the park, head back to Hollywood for Tender Greens – cafeteria-style seasonal salads, soups, sandwiches, carved meat, and best-ever mashed potatoes. There’s valet parking in the back (afterall, this is Hollywood) and the restaurant is within walking distance to your next activity (just make sure you OK it with valet – a good tip helps – to leave your rental there for a couple hours after you lunch).

activity: Catch a movie at Arclight Hollywood. The historic location, reserved plush seating, gourmet popcorn, cafe, bar, and premium technology make this the best movie-going experience you will ever have (even if you are watching another kiddie pick). If there isn’t a family-friendly movie playing at Arclight, head over to El Capitan – the lavish and old-timey Hollywood theater rotates Disney films and boasts a Disney-themed soda fountain next door.

hotel: After the movie, the kids can nap in the car as you drive to Oceana Hotel Santa Monica. This hotel is perfect for families – large upgraded suites, eager staff, in-room babysitting, and a boutique hotel vibe.  Check-in is a breeze (call ahead to make sure your correct room is ready); valet up front and your bags will be whisked to your room. Reserve hotel babysitting for the evening in advance – you’ll need it to head out for an adults-only dinner. The kids can swim while you relax by the pool with a refreshing drink (and maybe a bite to eat? try the mushroom tempura…), or you can all head across the street to the miles-long park with ocean views.

dinner: Order up some dinner poolside or in-room for the kids. Once the babysitter arrives you’re off to nearby Via Veneto ($$$) or Hosteria del Piccolo ($$) for a superb Italian supper.

Day Two

breakfast: If it’s Sunday head to the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Local vendors serve up fresh pressed juices and memorable hot breakfast plates that you can eat at outdoor tables while listening to live music. After, little ones will love the pony rides and petting zoo. Grab SoCal’s greatest espresso/hot chocolate down the street at Intelligentsia.

activity: Take a walk from Intelligentsia to Firefly + Kid Firefly for some shopping. Then, drive to Santa Monica Pier. Grab a phosphate, egg cream, or malt from Soda Jerk and enjoy the rides. arcade, and shops.

lunch: Take a drive up the coast to John’s Garden – a sandwich/smoothie shack that serves healthy fare (plus requisite pb&j) at picnic tables in a park setting.  The kids can mingle at the playground while you wait for your food to arrive.

activity: Head back to the hotel for swimming/napping, or to Third Street Promenade (pedestrian-only outdoor shopping district) for more shopping. Kids will delight in the animal topiaries, whimsical fountains, and street performers. The whole family will enjoy a turn through the eccentric SoCal offerings at Kitson.

dinner: Enjoy ocean views and fresh seafood at Duke’s, where kids will love the housemade chicken tenders and Hula Pie.

Day Three

breakfast: Pick up some pastries at Huckleberry before driving to the Santa Monica Municipal Airport; kids can eat their breakfast at the fun outdoor public viewing decks.

activity: Spend the morning on the beach.

lunch: Drive to Beverly Hills and picnic 90210-style. Pick up supplies at Joan’s on Third. Little ones can split the huge grilled cheese or crustless pbj. Take your bags of gourmet food to nearby Beverly Hills Garden Park (where kids can climb on the iconic sign) or  Will Rogers Memorial Park (where kids will enjoy the fountain filled with turtles and fish; you’ll love gawking at the surrounding real estate) before hopping back in the car to the airport!


pajama party

Which would you choose for a little hotel getaway? Shutters // BHH

For Shutters:

  1. Liberty for J. Crew pajama ($198)
  2. C. Wonder small dopp kit ($48)
  3. Guerlain Super Aqua Mask Intensive Sheets ($117)
  4. Preserve Recycled toothbrush ($4)
  5. Marvis Aquatic Mint toothpaste ($6)

For BHH:

  1. Olivia Von Halle silk pajama ($500)
  2. Aerin Essentials Makeup Bag ($48)
  3. Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask ($32)
  4. Supersmile toothbrush ($9)
  5. Euthymol toothpaste – it’s pink! ($9.95)


Timber Cove Inn. The panoramic Sonoma coast ocean view is the real draw here, but the cozy bar and lounge lurred us indoors and there we discovered that this place is cooking!  We ate all our meals at the Inn and none disappointed.  Each dish was fresh (we saw the chef pluck greens from the resort’s garden), thoughtfully prepared, and presented well. Once fed, there’s not much happening here — a walk along the adjacent coastal trails and you will have exhausted the resort’s activity offerings.  But it’s not just the trails that might make you reluctant to head to your room. A coveted junior suite has been updated, but most rooms are strange configurations with outdated bathrooms, stained carpets, cheap furnishings, paper-thin walls, and overly large flat screen TVs. The in-room gas fireplace provides some ambiance, but it is rather noisy, clicking on and off to regulate the room’s temperature. Still, the sound of ocean waves wafting through the room’s window makes it easy to overlook these flaws for a night or two.


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