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With Kentucky in the rearview and Tennessee return trips already formulating in my mind, I still had one last destination on the big ‘ol state hop I was on. Next stop, California.

Los Angeles

It was Father’s Day weekend, the perfect excuse to visit my dad in his freshly adopted city for the first time. It was to be my first true dose of LA, a couple days sequestered in Venice last year aside.

When my dad first announced he was leaving Philadelphia to take an exciting new job in Los Angeles, I admit I was skeptical. This was the year my dad was meant to retire, and I was selfishly looking forward to seeing more of him. Yet the man loves to work — and I suppose I do have my own work ethic to thank for that. But now, not only were international visits unlikely anytime soon, so were our chances of running into each other on the East Coast.

Los Angeles Office

But it didn’t take long after landing for me to realize my dad was happy in The Golden State — really happy. He has a new job full of challenges, a new house full of DIY projects, and a new climate sans snow. And best of all, for the weekend, he had his two youngest daughters in town to celebrate.

Seeing my family happy makes me happy.

Weekend in Los AngelesMy dad would want me to tell you he’s already proudly completed multiple renovations to his backyard

Garage Sale-ing in LA

Our first priority for the weekend was an important one — relaxing. I got off the plane Wednesday night with a sinus infection that had only gained traction since I left Kentucky (“so should we drive home or to the hospital?” was my dad’s greeting off the plane) and my dad and sister, who arrived Thursday, both keep the most insane office hours of anyone I know — so suffice it to say we were all looking forward to a little collective downtime over the weekend.

Friday was Take Your Daughter to Work Day, in which we visited my dad’s office and then took what felt like hours to navigate Downtown Los Angeles traffic back to his house to wait for various furniture delivery people. Saturday was pool day. However, lounging didn’t last long. Despite those deliveries, at some point my dad started to get a little self-conscious about the still unfurnished state of his home — my sister and I’s favorite game of CEO or College Student?, played by pointing at DIY styrofoam media stands and laughing, was clearly starting to take a toll — and so we revived a beloved Saturday morning Baackes tradition. Competitive garage sale-ing.

Garage Sale-ing in LA

Los Angeles Graffiti

Because this is LA, we also mixed in a bit of street art peeping and old prop lot scouring. In the end we walked away with some major scores, including a few lamps, some kitchen gadgets, a lead on a booth for the kitchen nook… oh, and a car. Yup. When I overheard my dad asking to test drive the white convertible with the cardboard For Sale sign on it while I was browsing through some 25 cent books, I figured we were just sneaking a silly fantasy ride into our day. So no one was more surprised than my sister and I when we pulled back into the driveway and he made an offer. We giggled the whole way home!

You gotta love a man who buys his shoes at Payless but spontaneously purchases white convertibles at garage sales.

Los Angeles Graffiti

Los Angeles might be known for nightlife, but our evenings were pretty subdued. On Friday evening we had made our way to LACMA for dinner and a free outdoor jazz concert that we hated so much it was hilarious. Saturday evening, we kicked things off with a drink at Angel City Brewery, where I introduced my dad and sister to two of my LA friends, Spencer and Lindsay. Later, the family indulged me by agreeing to see a movie at one of the old one-screen marque theaters I’d become obsessed with. We settled on Vista, due to both its proximity to my Dad’s place and the fact that it was showing Jurassic World.

For me, it was the highlight of the weekend! I don’t know if it was the history of the theater, the amazing-ness of the movie we saw or the fact that my dad dropped us off to buy tickets, turned around to park, and then yelled from the stop light in front of the theater, “DON’T FORGET I’M A SENIOR!” to the amusement of everyone in line — but it was the perfect LA evening. (Gotta love that senior discount.)

Vista Theatre Los Angeles

Vista Theatre Los Angeles

Sunday was Father’s Day, and we assured my dad we’d be up for any cheesy tourist activity he wanted to attempt. And so we went for gold — a double-decker bus tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Open Top Bus Tour Los Angeles

Los Angeles Gas Station

We decided to forgo any hopping-on or hopping-off in favor of snagging the best seats on the roof, staring out at the scenery and zoning out to the pre-recorded narration in our headphones. As total LA newbies, I have to say it was a helpful way to get the lay of the land for a small portion of this sprawling city, and I found myself keeping a note in my phone of restaurants, bars and streets that I wanted to return to.

Later, we capped off the night with dinner at a steakhouse my dad had already become a regular at — he managed to sniff one out even in Koreatown — and the world premiere of the long anticipated Will Ferrel and Kristin Wiig Lifetime movie. I told you things got crazy!

Open Top Bus Tour Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Los Angeles

Open Top Bus Tour Los Angeles

I admit, Los Angeles didn’t win me over on this trip. It’s so spread out, it’s so hard to get around, and it’s so hard to do right. So many of the iconic places I’ve always heard about in LA, when I see them I think… really? That’s it? I mean like literally The Viper Room is basically in a strip mall, Chateau Marmont looked like a Lake George theme hotel about to go into foreclosure, the Chinese Theater was like Times Square on diet pills, and the highlight of many a city block I got lost driving down was a Subway Sandwich franchise. Frankly, I’ve struggled to find the magic in Los Angeles — and when I do, I struggle with how long it takes to get to said magic due to traffic and difficult driving conditions.

I know plenty of LA lovers are going to be like, “those are all tourist spots!” and “you looked in the wrong places!” and “you’re biased towards New York!,” and I am here to assure you that each and every one of those accusations is true. The good news is, now that one of my favorite humans is living there, I have no shortage of LA in my future (in fact, I’d return later in the summer for a much longer trip). So fear not — I have plenty of quality time with this city ahead.

Open Top Bus Tour Los Angeles

But this trip? It was all about quality time with these two. And that meant it would be a winning weekend, no matter where we were.

Next up, back to New York!

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42 Comments...
  • Janice Stringer
    November 4 2015

    Family time with a loving family, what’s not to love! πŸ™‚
    Janice Stringer recently posted..How to Create New Neural Pathways in your Brain through Travel

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I am a lucky girl. Love me some family time.

  • becky hutner
    November 4 2015

    Why did I have the sneaking feeling this post wasn’t going to be titled “LA: My New Favorite City!” ?? I get it…it’s not for everyone but a well curated trip has the potential to be epic. And I know you know these are tourist places & have said so in this post but just for the record, in my 16 yrs in LA, I’ve been to the Chateau, Chinese Theater & Viper Room exactly one time each. LA is about the neighborhoods for me & not trying to hop between more than 2 in a day or the traffic could seriously provoke a Michael Douglas Falling Down moment!!
    becky hutner recently posted..Canadian in…London??

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Ha, I know, I know… and LA is growing on me slowly. My subsequent trip definitely gave me a slightly sunnier outlook but as someone who is rattled by getting lost and taking wrong turns, LA and I were bound to have a rough start. Your suggestions have definitely helped! πŸ™‚

  • Sarah
    November 4 2015

    LA never won me over….. Immediately after visiting, I feel in love with New York and never looked back!
    Sarah recently posted..Silent Testimony

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Tell me about it! It’s hard for any city to be in NY’s shadow πŸ™‚

  • Kacy
    November 4 2015

    I love that he bought a car at the garage sale. Totally sounds like something one of my uncles would do. My family is mostly in Oklahoma (gonna go ahead and guess you’ve never been there, haha) and although it’s far from an exciting travel location I’m always excited to go for the quality time. I can’t say LA is at the top of my to-visit list, but I look forward to hearing more about it in your future posts!
    Kacy recently posted..Fall at the U.S. National Arboretum

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I am indeed yet to hit Oklahoma! I do love visiting my fam in less-than-tourist-ready places across the US, though. Decatur, Illinois, anyone?

  • Anca | Globaloud
    November 4 2015

    We never had family trips when I was younger, so I just discovered how is it to travel with the family members 2 years ago. Although it was much different than I usually travel, I loved it. It was all about trying new food and visiting museums instead of sleepless night, alcohol and adventures.
    Reading about your trip reminded me of all the trips I did with my family since then and it got me thinking what is our next family destination.
    Anca | Globaloud recently posted..From Khaosan Road to Chaos-On-Road

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I love traveling with family. Mostly it’s me visiting them wherever they may be, but sometimes we even get motivated to do big group trips πŸ™‚ It’s definitely a nice break from traveling alone!

  • Jenia
    November 4 2015

    We visited LA this summer, and weren’t immediate converts either. I do have to say two very important ingredients for LA (as seems to me anyway) are food (it is rather GLORIOUS here) and cool people to hang with (for you that’s no problem since you have your dad there). Looking forward to hearing more about LA, as I am sure you will be back πŸ™‚
    Jenia recently posted..One day in Tirana, Albania

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Indeed! I actually have another trip out there to write about already πŸ™‚

  • Jael
    November 4 2015

    Wasn’t really planning on commenting on this post but your dad’s just too adorable! Gotta love a man who chooses work over retirement.

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Aw, I couldn’t agree more. I do appreciate the work ethic he’s passed on!

  • Leah
    November 4 2015

    So lovely to hear that your dad is so happy in LA! And I’m sure it will grow on you, slowly but surely, over the course of subsequent visits. But where’s a picture of the new car!? πŸ™‚
    Leah recently posted..Month in Review: October 2015

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I know! I do have lots of pictures of it from my subsequent trip, as I took it to both San Diego and Palm Springs, but I think we were too stunned by the whole thing to even think of taking a hilarious bought-a-car-at-a-garage-sale picture. Major blogging fail.

  • I have to agree with you, LA does have some great hikes and museums, but it has never done too much for me either. Luckily San Diego (my hometown and one of the best cities in the country!) is just 2 hours away πŸ™‚
    Jenny @ Till the Money Runs Out recently posted..New Orleans Commander’s Palace 25¢ Martini Lunch Hour

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      Post about that beautiful city coming soon πŸ™‚

  • Martha
    November 4 2015

    You and your dad are so cute!

    I’m not a big fan of LA either, but I do have to admit it has some beautiful sights to see. I think it has a bit of the “Paris effect” going on (if that’s not a thing, it should be!)

    • Alex
      November 4 2015

      I agree! We’ve seen it in so many movies and heard about it in so much pop culture, it’s hard to have it live up to the hype.

  • Alex
    November 5 2015

    Oh goodness, I love the family pic! I also spent father’s day with my family watching Will Ferrell’s Lifetime movie haha!
    Alex recently posted..10 Prettiest Towns in Europe

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      That’s hilarious… I wonder how many other families did the same!

  • Dominique
    November 5 2015

    The last picture is such a cute family picture! I’d have to knock my dad out with a shovel to take a photo with him (unless he’s in a silly halloween costume; he loves taking pictures then) πŸ™‚
    Dominique recently posted..Thessaloniki – Wine and Dine

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Ha! Mine is usually a pretty good sport… I tell him it’s for the blog and he plays along!

  • Britt
    November 5 2015

    This post validated my decision to skip LA for NYE for my small stopover in the US between Europe and Mexico next year. Everyone seems to echo similar sentiments about LA.

    It’s great to catch up with your dad after a long absence, especially when he is happy. I considered delaying my trip mid way through this year because of dad’s health issues so it’s great to be leaving in two weeks knowing he is in a good place. Your dad sounds like lots of fun; anyone who loves garage sale shopping is great in my book!
    Britt recently posted..Fonda Mexican (Melbourne Food Review)

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      And I wonder where I got my bargain-hunting ways πŸ˜‰ Glad to hear your dad — both our dads! — are doing well.

  • Julia Nix
    November 6 2015

    You definitely inherited your dad’s work ethics. And he used to post comments in your blog. It was rather delightful.

    • Alex
      November 8 2015

      Ha, I know… I used to love that. He’s a bit too busy these days, but maybe when he finally does retire we’ll find him here again πŸ™‚

  • Eva Casey
    November 9 2015

    I’m definitely one of those NYers who loves LA, and I feel like I can’t admit it without getting a patronizing smile. Haha! I’m allowed to love both, right?? But for real, I went to LA for the first time last summer for a week, with an open mind but not expecting much. I think I just love the Cali, laid back vibe! I definitely agree with other commenters about choosing a neighborhood for the day and thoroughly exploring it. Some of my favorites were Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz, and Culver City! Plus a drive up in the mountains is spectacular! That said, I also love driving, which probably helps the whole hours of stop and go traffic thing go down easier. That movie theatre looks amazing!!
    Eva Casey recently posted..Wanderlust Wednesday – Where Am I Going?

    • Alex
      November 11 2015

      You are indeed allowed to love both! In a subsequent trip to LA (post coming soon!) I loved exploring Silver Lake and the Downtown area. I love driving in certain circumstances but LA traffic (and constantly feeling lost) isn’t one of them πŸ™‚

  • Natalie
    November 9 2015

    I’m not a huge fan of LA either. I lived there for a couple years and loved the weather but hated the traffic and cost of living. I was also dirt poor as I was an AmeriCorps volunteer, but I was definitely ready to leave after a couple years. I love big cities, but I can’t believe they don’t have better public transit. That was a deal breaker for me.
    Natalie recently posted..Backpacking Europe-Prague (Bone Church)

    • Alex
      November 11 2015

      Yeah, that’s one of my issues with LA for sure. Everyone’s like, oh hey there’s a metro system! But um, it doesn’t seem very workable to me. The one positive thing I will say about getting around the city is I was able to use Uber’s share feature for getting to and from the airport and it was cheap and seamless.

  • Erika
    November 11 2015

    I strongly believe that LA just isn’t a city for tourists. It really takes some getting used to — you have to know and understand all its quirks first. I’ve lived here for about seven years, and I hated it for the first 3 or 4. But now that I know how to endure the traffic, what areas to go to and which ones to avoid, and where the charm can be found, I appreciate it a lot more. I think the trick is to not compare it to New York. I love New York, but LA is just… different.
    Erika recently posted..How to Make a Really Awesome Margarita

    • Alex
      November 15 2015

      One of my friends in LA is dating a guy who grew up there, and he says the same thing πŸ™‚ My next trip did allow me to discover a lot more to love about it…

  • Leigh
    November 13 2015

    I have never felt the pull of LA, especially when San Diego and Palm Springs are nearby options. I suspect someday I’ll make a weekend of it – I would love to do a cheesy girls trip and be in the guest audience of some talk shows or game shows πŸ™‚
    Leigh recently posted..Chicago’s Historic Pullman Neighborhood

    • Alex
      November 15 2015

      Ha, my best friend and her sister did just that in LA right before I met them in Las Vegas! I loved watching their snaps from The Price is Right πŸ˜›

  • Amy | Toothbrush Travels
    November 15 2015

    Can’t beat family weekends and so glad you managed to have a good one without finding a love for the location xo
    Amy | Toothbrush Travels recently posted..MΓͺn-An-Tol

    • Alex
      November 21 2015

      Can’t go wrong with this crew πŸ™‚

  • Chris
    January 13 2016

    Interesting take, as LA has never really struck me as my kind of city either (not a fan of a place where walking is unusual).

    That said, the theatre looks a gem!

    P.S. No pic of the convertible?
    Chris recently posted..Chavin de Huantar: A lesson in loathing (group tours)…

    • Alex
      January 14 2016

      I know, I don’t know what I was thinking! I think I was just in such shock that I didn’t think to snap one, ha ha. There will be plenty coming up from the road trip I took it on to San Diego and Palm Springs!

  • Grim
    January 20 2016

    I always used to look at Los Angeles with a raised eyebrow and a suspicious attitude, but after spending a week there I can honestly say I fell in love. It’s not so much the fact that it has everything (It sure does!!!!) but it’s more the fact that just about everything there is trying to make something of themselves….being surrounded by that much ambition is contagious, and makes one want to take on the world. Though, I do wish driving wasn’t so difficult there….

    • Alex
      January 21 2016

      I see what you mean, and it is inspiring to be around so many creative people. They are just pretty darn spread out in LA πŸ˜›

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