L.A. Escape: The Oceanfront Staycation

The dog-days of summer happen a little later in Los Angeles. As the rest of the country heads back to school and cooler temperatures settle in, L.A. tends to heat up, leaving those of us without air conditioning to swelter in the September heat.

What’s great about a coastal staycation, besides the cool ocean breezes, is the savings on travel costs. Acting as a tourist in your own city doesn’t require plane fare or rental car. Here’s an ideal getaway that will leave you with a beachy glow, not an empty bank account.

Where to Stay:

Venice Beach has long maintained its unique culture, despite the invasion of Silicon Beach and SnapChat. It remains one of the best places to behave like a tourist in your own city, offering unique eateries, ocean breezes and a circus-like boardwalk, all in three square miles.

Opt for one of the panoramic ocean view rooms at Hotel Erwin
Opt for one of the panoramic ocean view rooms at Hotel Erwin

Your best bet’s to check into the swanky Hotel Erwin, the only boutique hotel in the area and just a block from the beach. The space was recently remodeled and now has a cool, 1970’s bohemian vibe. The halls are decked out in photographs of rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant. Opt for one of the panoramic ocean view rooms, which provide a bird’s-eye view of Muscle Beach, the basketball courts, the skate park and the boardwalk’s epicenter.

The space was recently remodeled and now has a cool, 1970’s bohemian vibe
The space was recently remodeled and now has a cool, 1970’s bohemian vibe

During the day, the hotel offers complimentary Solé bikes, so make sure to cruise up and down the beach bike path to take in the scene. For those who want to flex their biceps, the stay also includes complimentary access to Gold’s Gym.

For night owls, the hotel’s High Rooftop Lounge serves cocktails until midnight on weekends. Head on up to watch the sunset over the Pacific or to chill to the nightly DJ.

Where to Eat:

Bike (or walk) up the beach to neighboring Santa Monica to enjoy dinner at Ashland Hill. The outdoor patio restaurant on Main Street is perfect for watching the late summer sky turn pink as the sun sets. The crowd is mostly locals who know where to go for a good beer and burger.

I recommend starting with the perfectly toasted crispy cauliflower, served with salmoriglio (a Southern Italian sauce), parmesan, saffron aioli and pickled vegetables. Choose from about 10 local beers on tap or take a walk on the wild side and order their “beer nerd beer,” a hard-to-find brew that rotates on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the gin-and-tonic list includes some of the best summer cocktails to be had.

A burger so good they put their name on it
A burger so good they put their name on it

The joint may be most famous, however, for their burgers. The namesake burger is a juicy eight-ounce Niman Ranch patty topped with lettuce, sharp cheddar, tomato, pickles, caramelized onion and house sauce. It comes with a side of parmesan fries, but add the cornbread fritters with jalapeño and cheddar for a side dish with a kick. If you’re looking for something other than a burger, the crisp fried chicken sandwich -- beer battered chicken topped with cole slaw, Sriracha aioli and pickles -- is a great example of one of the hottest current trends in the city.

This intimate spot beneath the Hotel Erwin is a quiet refuge from the excitement of the boardwalk. The narrow space, low lighting and wood paneling is reminiscent of below-deck aboard a luxury ocean-liner.

The restaurant specializes in remarkable execution of relatively simple dishes. Pair one of the amazing barrel-aged cocktails with the robust cheese and charcuterie plate — showcasing domestic cured meats and northern California cheeses. And for lobster roll purists, enjoy meaty chunks of Maine lobster in toasted Hawaiian bread.

The robust cheese and charcuterie plate — showcasing domestic cured meats and northern California cheeses.
The robust cheese and charcuterie plate — showcasing domestic cured meats and northern California cheeses.

The large plate menu has several highlights, but if you’ve spent the day biking, surfing and sunning, I highly recommend the short rib rigatoni to replace those much-needed carbs. The tender short rib-and-pasta dish is topped with parmesan and a touch Fresno chili. If you’re craving protein, the roasted free-range chicken is cooked to perfection and served with a farro risotto and flavorful English peas.

For lobster roll purists, enjoy meaty chunks of Maine lobster in toasted Hawaiian bread.
For lobster roll purists, enjoy meaty chunks of Maine lobster in toasted Hawaiian bread.

Save room for dessert because the honey-lavender crème brûlée is a must-try blend of tastes served with semifreddo s’mores and berries.

Espresso Yo Self

For a quick pick-me-up in the morning, drop into Espresso Yo Self, just steps off the beach. The coffee stand serves up both hot and cold Blue Bottle coffee and delicious scoops of chilled bread pudding. Go ahead and treat “yo self” on your oceanfront staycation.

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