I still can’t believe that just a few weeks ago I was waking up to the California sunshine seeping through the palm trees and the beautiful, cool, dry West Coast air blowing through my open window, deciding what to see in Los Angeles. I had never been to California… minus the few hours I spent in Death Valley a couple of years ago, which clearly doesn’t count. Haha. Los Angeles was literally perfect. Very few times do I fall in love with a place so quickly and that’s what happened in L.A.

Last September I met my sweet friend Emily Magers at the Delight House Photography Intensive in Chelan, Washington. We shared a bed there in a chilly house for three nights so you can pretty much say we’re best friends. No really, we had so many good conversations and I instantly fell in love with Emily’s authenticity and courage to just be herself and share what’s on her heart and mind. We have the SAME exact sense of humor and I don’t think we fully realized it until I visited her in California! We had talked for months about me flying out there and I was sitting at my desk one day in July and decided to just book the ticket. I was going to be there for a full WEEK and I couldn’t wait for Emily to show me around her side of the country!!!

I walked into this trip a little differently than I normally do when traveling because I really wanted to see southern California through Emily’s eyes and perspective. I did minimal research on what to see and where to go and I told her that. However, I DID come across an article highlighting the Kardashians’ favorite spots across L.A. and so naturally the bucketlist I provided Emily with included quite a few of those items. LOL. Along with no-brainer touristy spots like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, Chinese Theatre, Santa Monica Pier, etc. Thankfully Emily was up for driving us to all of these places and more!! And she saved me from wasting my time wandering around places like Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard. We just drove past those! ;)

I loved all of our time in the car together talking life, relationships, business, marriage, Jesus. I’ve found such a beautiful friend in Emily and we couldn’t stop saying how much the time seemed to stretch out while we were together – it felt like I had been living at her house for much longer than 7 days by the time I flew home!!! It was the BEST and we can only chalk it up to God totally making our time feel longer and fuller together than it normally would have. We had so much fun and made so many memories and laughed SO hard that I still start to crack up thinking about some of the things that were said & done. I can’t thank Emily enough for all the love and hospitality she and her family provided me with.

So now it’s time to relive those memories!!! We’re going on a mini (yet incredibly comprehensive) tour of L.A. today and I’m SO EXCITED to bring you along!!! Enjoy these highlights of one of the most beautifully colorful & cultural cities on earth!

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My first view of L.A. when we pulled up to the Griffith was a little shocking… because I was not expecting all the smog!!! I had heard about it but had never really pictured how foggy the city might look from a view like this!! I mean, just look at it! It was hazy the ENTIRE time I was in California. I might have just hit it on a bad week. But it was still beautiful, and I was so surprised by how HUGE this city is! I thought just one little piece of skyscrapers was L.A… but there are multiple pockets of skyscrapers and that just blows my mind!!!

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The Griffith was so pretty, crowded, yet pretty! I really enjoyed it, especailly the free exhibit on space inside. Next time I’m in the city, I’m going to come back here for a nighttime view of the skyline and possibly do some stargazing through this telescope!!

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And then… there is was. The Hollywood sign!!!! I am not exaggerating when I say that tears actually welled up in my eyes when I saw this. It has always been a HUGE dream of mine to see the Hollywood sign… I don’t know why… but it just felt so glamorous and exciting and like such a far-off impossible dream because until recent years, I had never been to the West Coast, let alone L.A. But here I was. Seeing it in real life. It was amazing!!!

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And then it was off to downtown!!! Also here’s Emily planning her next Instagram caption. Haha.

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We were headed to the walk of fame so I could see Drew Barrymore’s star!! I’ve been told I look like her since I was literally 4 years old, so this has always been another dream of mine! It was insane!!! And I swear there were a few people doing double takes while I was standing there taking pictures by it! ;)

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Melrose!!! Surreal!

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Emily suggested Urth Cafe for lunch, and oh my gosh talk about the best salad I’ve ever had… here’s the thing with California. I swear that because the Salad Bowl region is not too far away, the veggies are fresher and pack more flavor!!! There are so many restuarants dedicated to a strictly plant-based menu, but Urth still had chicken, so I didn’t get to try a fully vegan salad quite yet but it would come!! But for now how INCREDIBLE DOES THIS LOOK. *takes lunch break*

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After that we headed to Beverly Hills!!! BLAST THE SONG AS YOU’RE VIEWING THESE. We definitely did as we rolled up with the windows down. Hahaha Emily probably hates me for embarassing her but OH WELL! :)

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Somewhere between Melrose and Beverly, we stopped to get coffee and I wandered right into my FAVORITE CHOCOLATE STORE IN THE U.S.! It was absolute coincidence and the best surprise!! There are only two Compartes locations in the country (and then they sell their chocolates at boutiques across numerous states) but this was an actual Compartes store. YUMMM. The walls were lined with all kinds of goodies!! I definitely spent over $30 on 3 chocolate bars but that’s totally okay.

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We drove around through Rodeo and Sunset Boulevard to marvel at the storefronts!!

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While we were in the Beverly Hills area, we also stopped at the iconic, the one and only…. BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL. It was gorgeous and I loved picturing Elizabeth Taylor here on her multiple honeymoons just wandering the grounds, laying by the pool, ordering room service… this is truly a unique place that has so much history and culture!! It felt like I was on the set of a movie from the 1930s glamour era. I LOVED IT.

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Emily mentioned to me that there might be a place I’d like to see called Greystone Manor. This was built by some really rich person (I think from the oil industry) and ended tragically with a murder suicide but, minor details. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And the view of the city is just unreal!! I couldn’t imagine living here!

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To close out the day we headed up the coast to Malibu for my engagement session at sunset. I took some test shots of Emily… isn’t she gorgeous?

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As I waited for my couple to arrive I took in the views, the smell of the air, the warmth of the sun on my skin. I couldn’t believe I was about to shoot here!!! It was the best ending to our first little bit of L.A. adventures… and there is still more to come!!! California, you’re killin me. I can’t wait to go back!!!! More coming soon including San Diego, Santa Monica, the canals, Venice Beach, and more…!!!

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