We woke early and the sun was shining bright. It was warmer than it had been the past couple of mornings and we were grateful that the day had been saved for Malibu. The drive was beautiful and didn’t take long for us to make our way towards the residential coastline. We began to see the scene we had grown to love so much-surfers lining the beach, waiting to catch the next wave. The sand stretched out on one side and the rocky canyon landscape on the other. We rolled our windows down and breathed in the salty crisp air as we made our way up the hill to our first stop.

Getty Villa

My first thought was, oh how wonderful would it be if this were my home? I knew the answer to that question. Pretty fantastic actually. In 1954, J.Paul Getty built a gallery adjacent to his home in the Pacific Palisades (even the name of the neighborhood is wonderful) but he soon needed more space and The Getty Villa was born. Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum was the inspiration of the design of this Villa and it’s beautifully done, down to every last detail. Oddly, Getty died before ever visiting the Villa, it opening in 1974 and Getty’s passing in 1976.

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Walking in, the entrance sets the tone of an archaeological dig. It’s very Jurassic Park in his modernness but that quickly changes once you enter the gardens. Since we were early, we had coffee and pastries on their terrace, high above the entrance of the Villa. It was quiet and calm as we were early and the first ones there. After a leisurely breakfast looking over the Pacific Ocean, we made our way to the property and it was stunning. Fountains, arbors, ponds, statues take you back to Roman times and it’s hard to not feel as though you are a Roman King or Queen in your private garden.

Since we had a lot to do in Malibu, we only popped into the museum quickly. It was as beautiful inside as out and if you are into Greek and Roman history, it will be worth it for you to check out. The museum is free, but parking is $15 or $10 after 4p.m. We were so early though, nobody was there to take our payment so we got in for free! They open at 10am and we arrived around 9:40 so maybe you can get lucky too!

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The beach was calling to us so we made our way to the famous Zuma Beach. Proclaimed to be the cleanest beach in Los Angeles, it turned out to also be the most peaceful. It’s been used in movies and television and you’ve surely seen it. Featured in Planet of the Apes, Baywatch, I Dream of Jeannie and America’s Next Top Model. We were four of maybe twelve people on the beach, all of us spread out and taking in the beauty. It was quiet and tranquil and I had just arrived and already missed it. As long as I’ve lived now, without the beach nearby, I thought that I was doing fine without it. It pulls to me though and being there on the beach that day, I felt at home. We sat and watched the waves crash, picked up seashells and drew hearts in the sand. It was a perfect Sunday morning in every way.

Rinsing off, which was no easy task, we made our way towards the shopping center in Malibu. Malibu Country Mart and The Lumber Yard. Lined with incredibly expensive shops and coffee bars. People were beginning to pull in, in their Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s. We enjoyed strolling along and soon built up an appetite for our next stop-lunch.

Neptune’s Net 

 This place is special and you absolutely positively must must must MUST go. I can’t think of any reason why someone wouldn’t like it. I miss it already and still crave those fish tacos I had which were by far the best I’ve ever had in my entire life. No exaggeration.

Neptune’s Net was already on my radar but the decision was made when my dear friend Jamie highly recommended it. Located at the other end of Malibu, opposite the direction of the shops and back the way we came. We pulled in and were fortunate to find a spot to park. The perfume of fresh seafood wafted in the air, mixed with the briny salty smell of the Pacific Ocean I thought I had landed myself in Heaven, not a beach restaurant in Malibu. Inside was crazy and hectic and you have to move fast. I grabbed a table with my father-in-law, lucky there was one to be had by the window. J and his mother went towards the back to the line to order for us. In line, you select your beverages and they do have a great beer selection. On the wall above are the menu items. There is another side to the restaurant which is called the Seafood Side where you can get piles of crab legs and shellfish, peel and eat shrimp by the pound.

I opted for Calamari, something I never get in the landlocked state of Missouri and it was sensational. Again, and I cannot stress enough, how amazing my fish tacos were. Paired with a California Pale Ale it was a perfect Sunday lunch. We shared a table with two other men, clad in biker gear who struck up a conversation with us asking where we were from. One man ended up being French and conversed with my mother-in-law in his native tongue while the other began to sing, “Barcelona, Barcelona” in alto. It was an environment where locals gathered as much as tourists. Harleys lined the front of Neptune’s Net and even more were parked across the street on a little strip of sand on the beach side. After lunch, we made our way across to watch the surfers once more before making our way back to the heart of Los Angeles.

The Grove 

Shopping at its finest. Better (and more affordable) than Rodeo, on par with Abbot Kinney-The Grove is a mecca for fashionistas and a place that should not be missed. A beautiful oasis, with ponds, trees, greenery and grass in the courtyard where people hung out on blankets as they slurped smoothies and iced coffee. Nordstrom towered up above and a two-level trolley transported shoppers to either end of the mall. It was there that we went to Top Shop and Zara and don’t get me started on Anthropologie. At the end of the day, it is home to shops that you can just about find in any big city but it’s so much more beautiful and very well done. It’s open late too, until 10 p.m during the week and 8pm on Sunday, though we were lucky, I could see parking potentially being a nightmare.

L.A. LIVE

It was a tad shocking going from peaceful Malibu to busy downtown Los Angeles. In front of The iconic Staples Center we stood, surrounded by restaurants and hotels. J and his father were looking to buy tickets for the Lakers Game, it was his father’s dream to see Kobe Bryant play, this being his last season-they had to go. Maribel and I opted out went off to do our own thing. That thing, ended up being the spa at the Ritz-Carlton. Located adjacent to the Marriott Hotel, we took the elevator to the second floor. Immediately we could smell that chlorine-sauna smell with a hint of rose and lavender undertones. Walking in, even the lobby was an oasis of comfort. We opted for a twenty-five minute foot and calf massage and were given a glass of Prosecco. The receptionist led us back to one of the most beautiful little rooms. Rosy pink lounge chairs lined the wall, with little glass tables and soft light next to them. Across from that was the sauna and the showers. The showers were white-tiled floor to ceiling with gold tile mosaics and shower heads from every angle. Leading into the dressing room were white vanities with flowers in vases and cucumber-infused water and white towels on a stand next to them. We were given our lockers with plush down robes and slippers. We were told with our massage that we could make use of all the facility for as long as we wanted. We changed into our robes and Maribel and I, alone in the dressing room, did a little happy dance together as we laughed and exclaimed how delighted we were with our choice.

It was relaxing as we hoped and our massage was wonderful. If you have the opportunity, $90 for a massage and use of the spa is quite a deal. Our glasses were never empty and they provided dry fruit and nuts for snacking between sauna visits. The massage was the ideal way to recover after hours of walking up and down Venice Beach the day prior.

Nest & The Original Pantry 

After such a decadent experience, I had to treat Maribel to a drink and dessert at Wolfgang Puck’s Restaurant and Bar on the 24th floor of the Ritz called Nest. We nestled into a table by the window on the bar side and ordered wine and a delicious chocolate mousse dessert. With views of the city, it is a must in my book.

When the Lakers game was done, loads of people clad in their teams gear flooded the bar so we made our way to meet the boys for a bite to eat. From high above to down below we went to a breakfast place, not fancy at all. During our wait in the line outside, we learned what a staple this place is in the city. Since 1924 the plaque beams, it has never been closed and has never been without a customer. The Original Pantry Cafe,  is known for its pancakes so that is what I ordered. Buttery and melt-in-your-mouth good I inhaled them as well as the mega chocolate milkshake I ordered. Keep in mind, they take cash only and service is quick! Use the time in line to think about what you want. As much planning as we did, it was nice to find this historic place by chance.

On the drive back home, as we all looked out at the city in silence as our bellies were full and our eyes tired, I quietly said goodnight to the city that I had called ‘home’ for the last couple of days. I felt honored to have had the chance to be a part of a town so full of life and adventure. Even if the mark I made on the city was brief, such beautiful and lasting memories were made and I can only hope I get to visit again one day.

The last installment in my Wanderful Guide in L.A. will post soon, featuring other stops and recommendations that did not make it into the previous posts. As always, #wanderfullifestyle with your L.A. photos and other wanderful adventures!