When we arrived in LA our first stop of our winding road trip was Huntington Beach. The laid back beach town, friendly to surfing locals and landlocked tourists was a perfect choice to unwind after a long flight.
Image via Hilton.com
We stayed at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, a large hotel with an island feel. With surfboard inspiration from the wall decor to the “Do Not Disturb” signs it was clear we had arrived in Surf City.
For the first two days of our trip we shuffled through the sand on Huntington and Laguna Beach and climbed (via rental car) up the cliffs of Laguna Beach for some real estate inspiration and admiration.
In Huntington Beach we met with a high school buddy of Mark’s at what seems to be “the” place to eat in Huntington Beach, Duke’s. The restaurant sits squarely at the base of the Huntington Beach pier and is perfect for catching sunsets like this one.
The view is amazing and the food is exactly what you would expect, Hawaiian “inspired”, beach fare: fresh fish of all kinds, rice dishes, coconut and macadamia nut everything. The best item of the night, without question isn’t even on the menu, it was the ahi tuna tacos. These are worth asking for, and maybe or maybe not sharing with a friend.
If Huntington Beach is a surfer’s paradise, the artist in us all would love Laguna Beach. With homes nestled high on the cliff side and down toward the beach, Laguna offers a landscape that is hard to find elsewhere and certainly not on the East Coast. As you drive up the cliffs of Laguna Beach it is nearly impossible to not be taken in by the beautiful homes that are buried and built into the mountain. The only thing more breathtaking is the view.
Custom Trolley Sign at Tuvalu
Closer to sea level are the prerequisite finds in any beach town: coffee shops, souvenirs, more ice cream shops than necessary, and in particular to this town a well edited collection of galleries and boutiques.
On Forest Avenue, you’ll find my favorite Laguna Beach store, Tuvalu, and it’s across the street neighbor 230 Forest Avenue, the site of my favorite Laguna Beach meal.
Shopping then eating. Walking into Tuvalu, I immediately felt the urge to pull a Veruca Salt and ceremoniously declare, “I want it all”. Seriously. If you have a lust for coastal decor and an aesthetic that is more chic than chintz, this is your place. Even the starfish seem sophisticated.
Off to lunch – the morning overcast has lifted, the air is cool and the sun is bright. We sat outside at 230 Forest Avenue for a delightful and delicious Pacific coast lunch.
230 Forest Avenue, at night, via 230 Forest Avenue
Mark ordered something off the specials menu, and I had the Maui Onion Soup and the Field Greens Salad. Here is the thing, I am not normally one to order a “field greens salad” – they aren’t generally too exciting, they typically are not different than a bagged salad. But not here, no, sir. Much of the produce we eat, the fruits, vegetables and salad greens come from California, so when we talk about eating fresh, and local, this is the place to do it. Each bite of each field green was bursting with flavor and good preview of the many delicious meals yet to come.
Next stop, Beverly Hills, what a thrill!