When you live in Southern California, you rarely experience Southern California. I’ve lived here almost my entire life and there are so many great attractions that I’ve yet to visit. Living near a popular tourist destination like Los Angeles, you tend to forget that it’s there. Museums, parks, theaters, and restaurants become invisible to the territory’s natives. We comment on these places, saying “I’ve always wanted to go there” or “I’ve always wanted to see that” and, somehow, we keep forgetting to go and see.
And it’s a darn shame.
Over the last week, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy three exciting outings for the very first time.
Moonshadows – Malibu, CA
I had never heard of Moonshadows before until I was invited there for dinner (though it’s the same place that Mel Gibson partied before his infamous DUI arrest). Situated on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), the restaurant is right on the water and offers spectacular views of the setting sun and local pelicans. The food is delicious and fairly reasonably priced for Malibu’s standards.
There is a beautiful lounge attached to the restaurant that opens to an outside patio complete with fluorescent blue lighting, comfy seating, and a DJ spinning soft tunes with the sound crashing waves in the background. Going the Saturday before Halloween, the staff was dressed in costumes and cocktails served with a smile from a sock hopper, complete with poodle skirt. Super fun place.
Duke’s – Malibu, CA
To celebrate my mom’s childhood friend escaping Hurricane Sandy on the last flight out of Boston, we treated her to a fine dinner at Duke’s conveniently located between our homes and where she was staying. I’d been to the Duke’s in Hawaii a couple of times, but somehow passed over the one that was just a teensy bit closer to home.
A mile north of Moonshadows sits this Hawaiian-style restaurant. Again, right on the water and complete with phenomenal sunset views. Our server was helpful, friendly, and, dare I say, gorgeous, making sure glasses never emptied and all of our dining needs were met. Duke’s specializes in seafood and the seafood risotto with scallops, shrimp, and lobster was absolutely superb. Don’t forget to order the coconut shrimp appetizer. You won’t be sorry.
Chelsea Lately taping – Los Angeles, CA
Let me preface this section by saying I love Chelsea Handler. I’ve read all her books and think she is utterly hilarious. Knowing that her show taped in Los Angeles, I was guilty of the old “we gotta do that some time,” but never followed through on those plans. So it took my mom’s friend to get us tickets and schedule our visit to Universal Studios—the actual studios, not the theme park—to get our Chelsea on.
Seeing a taping is exciting and it was such a fun experience to share with an out-of-towner. Chelsea Lately recently moved into a new studio and it is gorgeous. We were told to leave all cell phones, cameras, and purses in the car and made our way to the Gate 2 entrance. After waiting for over an hour, we were finally seated inside the freezing studio and I was about ten feet away from Chelsea’s favorite little nugget, Chuy.
It was the Halloween episode and a lot of the writers/frequent roundtable guests made appearances. Heather McDonald, Brad Wollack, Jiffy Wild, and Chris Franjola all popped into skits in addition to roundtable guests Brody Stevens, Loni Love, and Gary Valentine (Kevin James’ brother). Chelsea looked amazing in a blue, white, and black dress that highlighted her tiny… well, everything. Seriously, the camera does add ten pounds because she is very trim in real life. The guest was the loveable teddy bear and Academy Award-nominated actor John C. Reilly, who really is just that sweet in person.
The actual show was over and done very quickly and we were immediately issued comment cards on how to improve the experience. I would have liked to see the comedians interact with the audience a little. Chuy, Chris Franjola, and John C. Reilly were really the only ones who even acknowledged that there was a roomful of people watching them. It all seemed like they were just so used to the routine of taping a show that it was a little tired for them. If I had only remembered to bring my copy of Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (I forgot it in the car like a dork), I would have at least scored a moment with the famous Ms. Handler.
This is just a small sampling of some of the fun things there are to do in Southern California. You don’t need to be a visitor from another state to enjoy the amazing restaurants or Hollywood happenings.
You just have to get out there and experience them.