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Grab some friends and head out on an epic trip right within our own country. This summer Ryan and I took a roadtrip through California with some friends and created a lifetime of memories in a week-long trip.

California road trip

Summer is my favorite season of the year…. except if I have to experience it in Florida, where I live. It’s insanely hot, humid, bug-filled and rains almost every day. I have to stay inside to survive. Yet if you know me– I am a wilderness girl all the way. Fresh air. Trees. Flowers. Plants. Hills. I LOVE it all!

My friend Erin found this shirt and describes me perfectly…

Adventure is out there t-shirt

I’ve made a pact with myself and the kids (and gotten the OK from my husband) to head out for a month every summer with the kids and explore our beautiful country. Sometimes Ryan can join us for a little bit of it, yet other times he can’t. Either way, we go. I go. And I don’t return until I must (which is usually right before school starts for the kids).

We’ve done road trips to New York, Raleigh, Portland… and this year we returned to our homeland— Southern California.

A Classic California Road Trip

Our California road trip was such a great trip that I just had to share it with you! So here’s a little guide I made to remember the trip and share it with you. Enjoy!


We started the morning at Aroma Cafe in Studio City for some coffee, fresh fruit and egg dishes. This is a great celebrity spotting place that has incredibly delicious food and the best ambiance. I may be partial since I lived 2 blocks from here for a little bit, but I don’t think so.

Cafe Aroma on California Road Trip

Then we went to Runyon Canyon to do an epic hike and get a great view of LA and work up our appetite for more LA food.

Runyon Canyon Park
Walking Runyon Canyon
Love locks at Runyon Canyon in California
Views from Runyon Canyon hike
Ryan loves Jen

Larchmont Village

From there we went to Paramount Studios and got a tour of the lot, thanks to my father-in-law who works there. We had lunch in Larchmont Village at Cafe Gratitude, where the ambiance and prices were def star-worthy. We split meals to keep the cost affordable and try more dishes. Then we stopped at Salt N Straw to get the best ice cream in the world. Yes, they are a Portland-based shop, yet anytime I spot one I cannot resist!

Paramount Pictures Studios
Cafe Gratitude
Salt and Straw
Ice cream from Salt and Straw

Next up was Hollywood Boulevard. We got in and out as quick as we could because it was crazy! Yet we did see our fav actors and musicians “stars” on our way. From there we went to In N Out in Brentwood (so we could drive through Beverly Hills and down Sunset Boulevard). In N Out is a tradition for us— anytime we are in California, we MUST eat In N Out. It was Erin’s first time and we were all so excited for her. Let’s just say it didn’t disappoint and we went there for a few meals to keep costs down and our tastebuds happy.

First time eating at In N Out

Where did we sleep?

We spent out nights in Los Angeles at Ryan’s grandma’s house. She lives in Woodland Hills and had space for us to crash each night. This saved us lots of money and also gave us a little family time each morning before we headed out on our adventures.

LA Beaches

One of my FAV memories from the whole trip was getting scooters in Santa Monica and taking them down to Venice Beach along the strand (or beachwalk).

Touring on electric scooters
LA beach sand sculptures

We happened to be in LA for 4th of July, so we decided to go to a Dodgers Game. We LOVE baseball and fireworks— so this was perfect!

Taking in an LA Dodgers game
Dodgers Stadium
Ryan Hansard catches pre-game ball at LA Dodgers game

No joke— Ryan caught a ball during their pre-game practice! 

Yosemite National Park

After a few days in traffic and the city, we decided to head out to Yosemite for some mountain time. We went to Mariposa Grove and saw some gorgeous Redwood trees, and then down into the Valley to hike as much as we could. Words don’t do justice, so enjoy these photos.

Yosemite National Park
Waterfall in Yosemite National Park
Views from Yosemite
Jen and Ryan Hansard in Yosemite
Hiking in Yosemite National Park
Touring Yosemite
Classic California road trip
Hiking in Yosemite
Contemplating the views in Yosemite National Park
Best selling author Jen Hansard in Yosemite National Park

Have you done a California Road Trip?

I’d love to know your fav places to visit in Southern California and why you love them. We could get a pretty good collection of ideas right here if we all share!

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  1. Ha you were in my backyard being in Yosemite!! Hope you enjoyed our national treasure!!
    I used to climb there when I was in my 20s.

    1. Hey Jana,

      That is so crazy!! They had an absolute amazing time and enjoyed every minute of it.

      I cannot imagine living there and seeing that daily 🙂

  2. Can’t believe your little kids are not little anymore! Totally threw me when I first saw the post. Looks like a great trip! My kids are back to school on Monday. Summer is over!

    1. Hey Paige,

      We can’t believe it either! They are growing way too fast… I cannot believe how quickly summer has come and gone. We still have a couple weeks left here before school officially starts so we are right behind you!

  3. I’m doing a road trip with my friend in October! We’re heading over from Scotland to drive from San Francisco to LA and back. Fingers crossed all of Highway 1 is open by then but either way I’m still very excited! Your Yosemite pictures have inspired me to look at a stop in that area on the way back north. (Also, In n Out is already scheduled as our first stop when we leave the airport!)

    1. Hi Kristy,

      Ekk…I’m so excited for your trip!! Please make sure and reach back out, I’d love to hear your favorite spots in California.

      Safe travels!

  4. Your post makes me miss my old home! Our family moved from the Valley four years ago and I haven’t been back yet. I need to go back soon! I once lived within walking distance to Aroma too. I know that we have one mutual friend because that is how I found out about your site :). Glad that you are enjoying your time there!

    1. How crazy! We must have lived so close! Small world! Who’s our mutual friend?! I would love to know how we’re connected.

  5. It looks like a great trip! It’s great that you could show the sites to your friends!

    1. Thanks Denette! It was a really fun trip with all of us. We def will have to take another trip in the future— we traveled well together. 🙂

  6. Hi Jen! Loved seeing all your photos. I remember lots of those spots. Going to Disneyland in October. Does it count as a road trip since we will be in many “lands”?? Thanks for the memories!

    1. Disneyland is awesome! I think visiting all the lands counts as something. Hope you get to go to CarsLand in California Adventure. That’s on my dream list of places to go. Cars is my fav Disney movie.