Both Los Angeles and San Diego are friendly cities with much to see and do beyond beautiful beaches, and, easy to get to for those who love driving! And once there, if you feel the way I do about super freeways, I like to park the car and use Uber/Lyft. That is the easiest, especially in these cities.

On a recent trip, I wanted to see both cities in a new way. Arriving in LA, I opted to stay out in Studio City, located not too far from Rodeo Drive, Hollywood, in hopes to view all of its sights, and downtown LA. I chose the Beverly Garland Hotel, named after Beverly Garland, who some of you may know well from My Three Sons. This hotel was founded by her and her husband and passed on to her children. It is a charming hotel set in several acres of gardens, has a lovely pool, several different patio areas and a cool bar/restaurant called the Front Porch, which attracts not only hotel guests but people in the area. It truly has a vibe with good food and drinks! What I liked most about this hotel is its location—it’s not even miles from sights you might want to include like Universal Studios. The hotel even operates a frequent shuttle bus to and fro to Universal Studios. On Sundays, within walking distance of the hotel, there is a wonderful outdoor market, with lots of local fresh produce and breads. Also, there is a fun shopping area called Tujunga Village filled with small boutique stores, shops and plenty of fresh coffee, pastry and light lunch and dinner fare.

One of our favorite breakfast places was called Vivian’s Millennium Café, a few blocks away on Ventura. This place really has a long history in Hollywood. It is spacious with inside/outside eating (mornings in December in LA can be chilly), and lots of selection on the menu. Another great place close-by on Cahuenga Blvd. is Sweet Lily Bakery Café, with a French feel. When we were not eating, we went off to see the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena (right in the heart where they were setting up for the Rosebowl Parade). This is a small museum with outdoor gardens, entry walkway lined with Rodins, and a special Picasso exhibit of “Woman With A Book”. We also went to the Huntington Gardens, wandered the gardens, learned about the wealthy New York society owners, and enjoyed several museums, one of which was inside their mansion. Must also mention the Getty Museum in Santa Monica Hills, and the Getty Villa in Malibu, both outstanding! Before we knew it, it was time to head south.

San Diego is a third the size of LA, but it does have its freeways and the narrow fast bridge to Coronado Island, where we chose to stay. While the Del Coronado Hotel is “the” place to be, truthfully, it is very large for my tastes and at this time of year is over-flowing with visitors and families. One of its best assets is sitting outside their main bar (if you are lucky to get a seat and pay about $24 per glass of wine), photographing the sunset in different stages. Their Christmas décor this year was awesome, with many red and green lights shooting up into palm trees whose trunks were wrapped in twinkling little white lights. And they even had a dramatic nightly light show on one of their lawns dwarfed by evergreen trees. For holiday décor, the Del Coronado wins hands down! But just a block away is the delightful 1906 Lodge, dating back from then, but updated now, even with an underground parking garage for leaving the car. This Inn outdid itself with daily breakfast and afternoon happy hour. We couldn’t have been happier!

In San Diego, we took one of our favorite rides out to Point Loma Military cemetery where pristine white grave markers extend f peacefully down to the ocean. Then we did some serious shopping in and around Old Town. There was also a wonderful international import store (Fair Trade Décor) on Orange Avenue in Coronado. Some of our meal highlights were eating in the Italian area of San Diego. There, we had superb fresh fish at Ironside—not really an Italian restaurant—but with large dining spaces inside and outside on sidewalk. Another time for late lunch we went to La Cruda, a little Mexican restaurant in the Mexican Barrio, with down-home Mexican food. Our last outing was to Quiero in Imperial Beach, practically on the Mexican border, for yummy tacos of all imaginable ingredients. It is the new year, and I hope you return to our western cities and explore something new!

Linda Stack owns Travelinda LLC, lives in SaddeBrooke, and can be contacted via email at

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