We settled into our campsite in Acton, CA late afternoon, after our long drive from San Benito. We listened to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods book to pass the time on the road, and thoroughly enjoyed digging deeper into the myths and legends! We interspersed this with Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run Autobiography, which we are all thoroughly enjoying. We have always enjoyed his music, but listening to his autobiography has taken our appreciation for him as an artist to a whole new level. Once we had finished setting up the RV, we all piled back in the truck and drove to Venice Beach for dinner at Cafe Gratitude. We had visited this location several years ago, and our meal was every bit as good as we had anticipated! Juliette was especially excited about this outing, as it was something she’d been looking forward to since we left Victoria.
The next morning we woke the kids with a big surprise - a two day visit to Universal Studios! The kids are very into all things Harry Potter & Hogwarts related, so our first stop was of course the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We really enjoyed visiting all of the Harry Potter sites and rides, and branched out to explore the rest of the park afterwards. The kids loved all of the rides and excitement, although the adults found it all a bit overwhelming! We ended up finding food on site, which was both limited and expensive - unfortunately the park has lots of restrictions around packaging for bringing in your own food (no glass, under a certain size) which compounded with the weight of carrying containers around all day led us to purchase on site. We stayed until the park closed, taking full advantage of the lighter line ups in the evening and all fell asleep quickly as soon as we got home!
The following morning we made our way back to Universal Studios, taking in our favourite rides and everything we hadn’t seen the day before. Harry Potter was definitely the highlight, but we also enjoyed the Minions ride and the Studio Tour! The park closed at 6pm, at which point we made our way over to Shojin, a vegan Japanese restaurant recommended by a friend. The food was incredible, innovative and delicious! The highlights for us were the Spicy Ramen Noodle Bowl, the Dynamite Roll and the delicious Friend Banana Dessert, although everything we had was incredible. Dominic and Juliette shared the tasting menu, an excellent option if you come in with a big appetite! Our experience was wonderful, we would highly recommend Shojin to anyone traveling to LA. We made our way back to our camp site and again fell asleep quickly - wiped out by all of our theme park activities!
The following morning we got packed up, and Juliette headed back to Venice Beach to visit the Living Libations store while Dom took the kids to the park. Living Libations is a fantastic company whose products we have used for several years now. Their flagship store is located in Venice Beach, there are also products available at The Big Carrot in Toronto and The Light Cellar in Calgary, but the flagship store provided a fantastic opportunity to see everything in person, and to stock up on some sunscreen before we head through the Southern States.
Los Angeles Highlights
Cafe Gratitude - We went to both LA locations a couple of years ago, and fell in love with Cafe Gratitude. Their food options are lovely, as is the atmosphere.
Shojin - A friend recommended Shojin to us, and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience! We went to the downtown location, but have heard that their second location in Culver City is fantastic as well. We went with the tasting menu, which we found to be a fantastic option, but definitely bring your appetite!