We recently celebrated seven years of marriage with our first baby-free getaway up the coast in Venice Beach, CA. We spent two nights in this peaceful, modern guest house, graciously hosted last minute by a sweet family of three, equipped with two beach cruisers, and walking and biking distance to everything. We spent our weekend cruising the town, exploring new spots, drinking good coffee, eating good food, lounging about, and not changing a single diaper.
Attempting to sleep in to a reasonable hour was apparently a fools errand. But the upside to having your internal clock hijacked by your baby's sunrise schedule is the ability to get up and out before what feels like the rest of the world has even woken up. Experiencing a place in those quiet morning hours has become a favorite for us while traveling.
Less than a block from our weekend abode, our first morning began with coffee and croissants at Superba Food + Bread. A bright, open space with a California cozy vibe, menagerie of pastries, and mural of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours to boot.
Abbot Kinney Blvd. - a famous, trendy stretch of shops and restaurants we're always fond of visiting when in L.A., was a quick bike ride away. We cruised over, grabbed a couple of Iced New Orleans from Blue Bottle Coffee, and wandered the boulevard before the heat and Saturday crowds emerged.
The oceanfront Venice Beach Skatepark sits in the heart of Venice Beach and draws a consistent, and eclectic, crowd. We joined the rail of onlookers to watch the variety of skaters and skill levels - a dad teaching his son, old and young dudes, and one badass woman, as some would say, shredding the gnar.
We plopped ourselves on the beach for some much needed lounging, a.k.a. not chasing a toddler around.
Once we soaked up our share of sunshine, we headed back to Abbot Kinney for lunch at the beautifully designed, plant filled The Butcher's Daughter where we shared a delicious surfer's breakfast and biscuits and jam. Roaming in and out of shops, afternoon donuts from Blue Star, and (more) coffee from Intelligentsia followed. On our ride back "home" to rest and wash up, we stopped in the always inspiring General Store, a long admired handmade and vintage goods shop.
We biked over to the Venice Canals, imagined and built in 1905 by namesake to the boulevard, Abbot Kinney. His idea was to re-create the Venice experience, gondolas and all, right here in Southern California. Though that original endeavor failed, the canals remain a novelty and perfect place for an evening stroll or "picnic" dinner.
While we didn't visit Venice during our Italy trip two years ago (maybe I'll actually get around to blogging that someday), eating pizza at golden hour on a canal with old boats and waterfront homes was a close second to our Italian experience.
Before hitting the road on our final morning, we cruised the (obviously) scenic boardwalk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica. Our destination was Sidecar Doughnuts. As avid donut enthusiasts, we're still drooling over those delights.
As our last hurrah, we stopped by the famous Muscle Beach, literally a gymnast and bodybuilder playground. I could manage about 30 seconds of hanging and swinging from the rings. Luke, on the other hand, was much more daring and went for the monkey bars - 8 feet apart and 9 feet high. He gave a solid three tries before the bars got the best of him and tore one of his raw hands open. He sucked it up and washed it off like the tough Kansas boy he is.
We packed up our weekend and returned to parenthood a little more married, a little more rested, a little more caffeinated, and a lot more grateful - for each other and sacred time away, for living in such a darn beautiful place, for going home to our sweet baby girl, and for the loving grandma who cared for her while we indulged.
Now to make this a monthly occurrence . . . a girl can dream.