Sometimes a long drive isn’t in the cards…Sometimes the closer the better. Los Angeles is brimming with hidden gems that are close enough to avoid the whining and far enough to escape the every day blahs. Two of these are a quick trip up the PCH or down Sunset Boulevard.
Beach air, exercise (or not), horses and a taste of vintage LA; Will Rogers State Historic Park epitomizes the Santa Monica experience. 80 years ago Will Rogers was the highest paid actor, columnist, philosopher and radio personality, in Hollywood. He turned his amassed wealth into 186 gorgeous acres located, in what is now, the Pacific Palisades. His wife, Betty, gave the ranch to California in 1944 and it has since become a beautiful place to ride horses, hike, check out a polo match (games start in May) or fly a kite across their pristine green acreage.
The main hiking trail at Will Rogers State Historic Park is called Inspiration Loop. It is not only family friendly (short, not at all challenging) but also has incredible mid-hike views. It costs $12 per car to park, but if you want you can park down the hill a ways for free and walk up (during the week there is free neighborhood parking, but don’t dare park there on the weekend unless you want a hefty ticket!).
For a delicious lunch, stop by Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica before heading over to Will Rogers. One of the most popular and best sandwich joints in LA, it is often packed and there is quite the wait if you go during the lunch rush. But if you go earlier in the day or pre-order online you can beat the crowds. The bread itself is worth it. The most popular sandwiches are the Godmother and the Poorboy but even a simple turkey is delish. So burn off those calories with a hike and then eat your way to Eden. You might just find yourself feeling inspired.
It can be lovely to spend the day by the shore but crowded beaches are the pits. You want to relax under your umbrella or dip your toes in the ocean while your kids safely build sand castles, but alas, the intrusive family next to you brought the largest 80’s boom box they could find and like to shake their sandy towels off right on top of you. And that is only after it took you an hour to find twenty dollar parking. Santa Monica is beautiful, but on a hot summer day, swarming with everyone and their distant 800 cousins. Instead of braving the sea of people, drive an extra half hour down the coast to Malibu. There you’ll find a small, quiet and fairly unknown beach called El Matador. Keep your eyes peeled because its hard to find the turn off.
El Matador beach is once of the small “pocket beaches” that fall under the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach umbrella. Spring break is the perfect time to enjoy El Matador. The rock formations are fun for kids to explore and the water usually gets an A or A+ rating from Heal the Bay. It may be difficult for very little legs to walk down the stairs to get to the beach (and its not at all handicap or stroller friendly), but for older kids and teens (and parents, of course) this is a great place to play, picnic or just chill. Go to the beach earlier in the day, and stop by Duke’s Malibu for lunch on the way home. You’ll really finish the day trip off right with Duke’s Hawaiian vibe, waves crashing right on the windows and yummy eats. You may even spot some dolphins swimming by.