Late last year, my boyfriend and I took a week-long trip to Southern California after a long year of no travel due to COVID. We got invited to my cousin’s wedding in Santa Barbara and also thought it’d be perfect timing to spend Thanksgiving with Davis’ family. So in November, we jetted off to California to spend the first half the week in SoCal, followed by Northern California the rest of the week.
This trip was really fulfilling overall since we got to spend a lot of quality time with family but also got a chance to play tourists at the same time. Even though I’d been to Los Angeles many times in the past, I got to check out places I hadn’t been before, while also enjoying places I had been before but with someone special.
In the next few posts, I’ll be sharing some of my highlights from the trip, primarily focusing on places I think you’d enjoy if you ever go to LA!
Firefly Studio City
On one of the first nights in SoCal, we had dinner with Davis’ family friends in Studio City. The restaurant is called Firefly Studio City and prides itself on being “one of the most romantic restaurants in Los Angeles.” I could absolutely see that given its ambiance. The interior was dimly lit with a classy library bar. The outdoor patio, where we sat, was decorated with ivy, heat lamps and hanging lights, which created a whimsical and rustic charm.
Meanwhile, the food, was unequivocally superb — both in taste and presentation. I ordered the diver scallops, which, according to the menu, included fire-roasted eggplant, squash blossoms, chickpea and spinach almond puree. For dessert, Davis and I shared the chocolate pot de creme with baked custard, chantilly cream and topped with hazelnuts.
And there was, of course, plenty of wine to go around.
With great company, outstanding food and service, and a beautiful setting, it all contributed to a wonderful evening.
Universal Studios Hollywood
I’d been to Universal Studios many times in the past, but it had been a while. The theme park had also made several upgrades over the past few years, and with all the COVID protocols — including proof of vaccination and masks at all times — it was almost like a completely new experience.
One attraction I had been yearning to see: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
It was much smaller than I had anticipated (the one in Florida is likely much bigger), but there were so many fun features!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a Hogwarts Express conductor, who spoke to passersby as if they were getting ready to board the train to Hogwarts. We snapped a quick photo with the conductor and made our way through Diagon Alley, lined with storefronts of souvenir shops and eateries, with the Hogwarts castle looming behind.
We first rode Flight of the Hippogriff, which really reminded me of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Disneyland. After a few screams, we then checked out Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a motion-based ride that also reminded me of another Disneyland ride — Star Tours.
We spent another hour or so perusing some of the shops and, of course, trying the famed butter beer — which tasted a lot like a root beer float or cream soda if you ask me.
Some of the other highlights of Universal Studios were the Studio Backlot Tour and The Revenge of the Mummy ride.
We left the park just before it closed at 6 p.m. (I don’t remember it closing that early in the past, but I figured these were COVID-modified hours). Since we skipped lunch and were wiped out, we were starving! So we grabbed some burgers and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets in CityWalk — the perfect way to end a fun day at Universal Studios.