Los Angeles: Expectation vs. Reality



L.A is one of those places that we all hear about, read about or see on T.V (or all of the above). So if you’ve never been there yourself it’s pretty common to have a bunch of expectations about what it’s actually like.

I’ve been to Los Angeles once before but I was a lot younger and honestly I barely remember much at all, but this time was different. I’d scrolled through so many Instagram photos, read posts on L.A, watched vlogs from people who lived there….I was ecstatic to go there for myself and it ended up surprising me in more ways than one.


Expectation? The food is going to be sub-par…

Reality: L.A knows their food.

I’m not sure why but I expected the food in Los Angeles to be all around bad or low quality, but I couldn’t have been more wrong (granted I didn’t go to any dives or super low budget places though).

I’m a bit of a food snob but the food I had in L.A seriously surpassed my expectations.  With the meals I had the ingredients were top notch, flavours were amazing and L.A seems to offer a little bit of something for everything food-wise.

Depending on where you go, prepare for some seriously ‘healthy’ menu items though. It seemed like all of L.A was carrying around a green juice.

I’d recommend:


– Fresh gourmet sandwiches @Mendocino Farms
Maca/Acai Bowls @Liquid Juice Bar
Fresh baked cookies @Milk Jar cookies
Fish and Chips @Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Gelato @Amorino Gelato

Expectation? Rodeo Drive is a must-see, so it must be good

Reality: Over-hyped. 

I came, I saw, I wasn’t overly thrilled. Granted I’m not Rodeo Drive’s kind of clientele (I can afford a Burberry lipstick but that’s about it) the whole experience of going there just fell a little flat for me.

It’s not that it wasn’t beautiful or picturesque or Instagrammable as hell, it’s just that the street itself is overhyped. The way some people talk about how you have to stop at Rodeo Drive sort of makes it into this big experience and then when you realise that it’s just a shopping street filled with shops you can’t afford and you’re probably not going to casually run into Leo DiCaprio or any other celebrity, the thrill wears off a little. I feel like Rodeo Drive is one of those places that if you visit L.A, everyone is going to ask if you went there so you go to make sure you avoid the whole “How could you not go to Rodeo Drive?!” speech. But unless you’ve got money to burn, it’s nice there, but don’t expect to have your socks blown off.

Expectation? Everyone’s going to have a dog….

Reality: Dogs. Dogs everywhere (and I mean everywhere). 

In L.A it felt like everyone had their dog with them…all the time. Out to lunch? People are sitting next to their dog. Grocery shopping? There’s a dog cornering the tomatoes. Catching an Uber? The lady before you just jumped out of the car with her dog in the backseat. Walking around? Dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs- everywhere. I really don’t think L.A is the place to go if you’re either allergic or scared of dogs because it just seems like it’s the norm there to bring your dog with you everywhere, which is the complete opposite of Melbourne!


Expectation? Venice Beach is going to be quirky

Reality: Words can’t describe Venice Beach. 

I read somewhere that words can’t describe Venice Beach and I have to agree with that, it’s one of those places that you need to experience for yourself. Walking to Venice Beach from Santa Monica, it was like walking into another country. Compared to Santa Monica, Venice has this eclectic vibe that’s a little more unique and a lot less perfect and manicured.

Some of the cafes looked great, others looked a little seedier but overall the mix of people there is unreal and the place always seems to be buzzing with activity. Saying that, I’d recommend visiting during the daylight hours because for me personally once the sun started setting I was ready to leave.
If you’re looking for the most picturesque time to explore choose sunset, we walked around just as the sun was setting and everything was looking particularly beautiful, if I do say so myself.



Expectation? Santa Monica is going to be a postcard come to life
Reality: Santa Monica is like a beautiful little oasis. 

Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Burbank, Malibu, Santa Monica- it seems like there are so many different areas to L.A that it’s hard to keep track. Even though I definitely haven’t been to them all (or anywhere close) one thing that amazed me was how different Santa Monica felt from everywhere else I’d been. The Pier itself is just how you’d imagine- filled with people, bright signs, people’s hopes and dreams and that classic relaxed vibe that comes from living near the beach with a little hint of ‘The O.C’ vibe creeping in.


Santa Monica felt like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of some of the other more central places. Everyone seemed more relaxed (almost a little too relaxed at times) the atmosphere didn’t feel as competitive and honestly it was hard to believe that all of this was only about a 20 minute drive away from Beverly Hills…although let’s face it in L.A everything takes longer because of the traffic!

If you’re visiting L.A and you’re not sure where to visit, make sure you add Santa Monica to your list!




Have you been to L.A before? What did you think of it?


  • LA was very different to what I expected. Granted it was my first time and I didn't do too much in the 3 days that I was there. I mainly stuck around to downtown and Hollywood and also ventured out to Santa Monica. Personally, I found LA to be very meh; crowded, grimy and a little bit sketchy. That being said, it was my first city that I visited on my first solo international trip so there is that as well. Although if I was to go back again, I would rent a car to make life so much easier and be able to see more of LA (trying to catch the bus to Santa Monica was so stressful).

    nat // dignifiable

    • If the traffic wasn't so bad I'd probably rent a car as well. For me I found some areas to just be all around sketchy, but others to be quite lovely and picturesque (these were usually the upper class areas). It was definitely a mix for me.

  • The food in LA is absolutely superb! I've agree with you though, Melrose Place is way too overrated for my liking; no way am I able to afford half the stuff sold there. So when I do go there, I just walk around and people watch. Oh and frolick towards the cute doggies! x


    • That's what I did too, I just did a whole lot of walking around and a huge amount of people watching!

  • I haven't been in LA but I did hear it is well known for delicious food, fitness and good beaches. I went to Miami last year and I was not impressed at all and it did put me off of going back USA. But your post does make me think maybe I should make one more stop in LA! xx


    • I found Miami a bit meh as well but L.A I'd recommend and New York as well! I think the U.S. has a lot to offer, it just depends on where you go I think…

  • Girl I LOVE this post – so, so refreshing to read! I've never been to LA but would love to go, I went to Miami earlier this year and felt exactly the same way, it was such a weird place because as much as I enjoyed it, it just wasn't what I was expecting!

    Hayley xo

    • Thank you so much Hayley! Miami wasn't at all what I was expecting either, so it's interesting that you felt the same way!

  • Such a great post!!! We're italian and we've never been in LA but we would love to go, it's definitely on our list of places to visit!!! 😉

    • I hope you visit one day! You're lucky to live in Italy though, that's one of my favourite places in the world 🙂

  • What about the people? Are they as glam as I imagine they must be there? My hubby has been and I'm really keen to go with him

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • The people were a mix from what I found, it all depended on where you go! Melrose was full of people carrying acai bowls and healthy smoothies/juices, Venice Beach there was literally a mix of everyone and then different tourists just scattered everywhere!

  • This is such a good post, LA was definitely different to what I thought it would be from the movies, such an interesting place but I prefer New York!

    Makeup Monster

    • I prefer New York as well but saying that, I'd still go back to L.A in a heartbeat!

  • I've never been to LA, so this was definitely an interesting read. 🙂 I'm sure I'll visit one day though 🙂

    Thirteen Thoughts

  • what an excellent idea! I've never seen somebody do a travel post like this, it's wonderfully reflective. i went to LA a few years ago and loved it. I did get the vibes that everybody was so on trend, and I don't think I have the capacity to follow trends quite so rapidly if you know what i mean! it's a lovely place though, and you've captured it beautifully xxx


    • Wow thank you! I'm so happy you liked the concept for this post and I have to agree, it felt like in L.A everyone was just following whatever trend happened to be popular on any given day…

  • Awww these pictures are so good. I hope you had an amazing time in LA. I hope I'll go there one day and see everything you mentioned. Great post.


  • I would absolutely love to go to LA one day but I can't help but feel (like you said) that it is very over-hyped. I just feel like there are more beautiful places to go to in the world and for the same amount of money or less!


    • There are definitely more beautiful places in the world but saying that, I wouldn't tell anyone to take L.A off their bucket list either.

  • You've got some gorgeous pictures in this post! I don't know really know what I thought of LA- I loved it because I got to spend time with an old friend who lives there and he took me to more local places, but when I wasn't with him and was doing the tourist stuff I was a little underwhelmed. I didn't like Venice beach (unpopular opinion I know aha) but the sunsets there are lovely. I LOVED Santa Monica though!

    Emily || http://puttheworldtowrites.co.uk

    • I agree, Venice Beach was interesting but it's not somewhere I would jump at the chance to go back to, but as you said Santa Monica is lovely!

  • When I was in LA last time I went to Santa Monica the day I flew home (the benefits of a late night flight) & I loved it! The weather was great, I had fun doing some last minute shopping & I liked the vibe there. Walking along the pier was great too.

  • Los Angeles seems to be a really beautiful place with something constantly happening to keep it exciting. Definitely somewhere on my wish list of places to travel. I love this sort of post actually, it's so hard to know what a location is like when you can only live it through photos. x

    Sally – DiagonSally

    • Thanks Sally! Really happy this type of post appealed to you 🙂

  • I totally agree with the Rodeo Drive. I could not have waited to finally see it, but I wasn't something that it would blow me off. This place is totally overhyped.

    Michelle Morchella

  • My sister moved to LA about 5-6 years ago and I still haven't been! This post makes the need for me to go even stronger, haha… especially the dog part! I would LOVE that.

    xo Beca Jade | http://www.becajade.com

    • Oh you should definitely go over there and visit your sister then!

  • Oh wow it looks like such an amazing place! I've never been but I so want to visit xx

    Gemma ♡ Miss Makeup Magpie

  • Lovely blog post 😊 I wanna go to LA now!

  • This was so lovely to read! I´ve never been to LA but I´ll definitely keep this post in my head for when I actually go! I think reading what it´s really like is so helpful for planning your trip!
    xx Lisa | Following Lisa

  • It sounds as though LA surpassed your exceptions! It's great to see the food scene is impressive there, I have to admit i'd also thought otherwise – up until now! 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • Food is always a big drawcard for me so yep, I was pleasantly surprised with the food they offer there!

  • This post is so helpful! Also really like your blog by the way:) x


  • Wow these images are stunning and all the info is highly appreciated! I however am not to keen to visit LA soon, I'm more eager to go to Miami right now. But will mark everything you mentioned for future reference! x


    • Hopefully you'll get to visit Miami sometime soon then Athena 🙂

  • I've never been to L.A before, but your pictures do make it look lovely! I love that you mentioned the stereotypes and whether it was true or not. Hopefully one day I'll be able to visit and I'll make sure to check out Santa Monica first!

    Lindsey Elyse | lindseyginge

    • Definitely Elyse, I think Santa Monica is a place everyone would like but there are still a lot of other beautiful places in L.A too, I just couldn't fit them into this post!

  • These are beautiful pictures! It is funny when you have expectations for a place – I think something as hyped up as Rodeo Drive is maybe always going to be a little disappointing because its so talked about! I would love to go to LA!
    Amy xx

  • I love this honest take about LA, I have not been there before but I plan to in the future. I've always suspected that Rodeo Drive is just another over hyped shopping street and you just confirmed my suspicion.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    • Maybe I would've liked Rodeo Drive more if I actually had the money to shop there!

  • This was an interesting read, love your photos. I agree about the food, there are some great restaurants. I went on a road trip along the Californian coast, starting with a few nights in LA and it was probably my least favourite part of the trip. The traffic was so frustrating! I did think Venice beach was cool though. I loved Santa Barbara, just over an hour from LA. It was much more chilled, a great beach and you can walk everywhere. If you head back that way, I definitely recommend it. We stayed at the Canary hotel and it has a rooftop pool with some seriously awesome views.

    • Thanks Carloline, I'll add Santa Barbara to my list for the next time I go back! I'd love to visit Malibu as well…

  • I like the comment about dogs. Lots of people in LA and southern California seem to have dogs. I grew up in Orange County and I swear everyone in my town had a dog=o)


    • I find that so interesting! I feel like if I lived in L.A I'd just have to buy a dog by default, haha

  • I love LA! Nice photos 🙂


  • I mean, if the food is great… then I'm there!! Haha. No seriously I loved this post, I've always wanted to go to LA so its so good to see what it's actually like. Not as glitzy and glam as I thought!


    • Some areas are but others were definitely not what I was expecting!

  • I completely agree, I have so many expectations of L.A – that are all from social media, of course! I've never been, but from what I've seen I feel like I want to live there permanently haha. I'm a little bit of a food snob too lol, so it's great to know the food there's amazing. Your little rant about Rodeo Drive made me laugh so much!! It sounds a lot like Knightsbridge/Harrods here in London. Somewhere that everyone obsesses over going to. Then realise it's only nice for window shopping and can get a little boring, but beautiful none the less. I really, really enjoyed your post hun, it was so great to hear your honest opinions. As I've definitely just been going of Instagram picutres when it comes to L.A haha. Also your pictures are so stunning, palm tree and pink skies are my favourite!xx

    http://www.youtube.com/veebzboo – Easy Christmas Party Glam Tutorial + GIVEAWAY

    • Thank you so much! I think I remember going to Harrods in London and sort of thinking the same thing, it's like I don't know what exactly I was expecting from these places really but just…I don't know something more?

  • Very nice post! I've never been to L.A. and don't know if I'll have the chance to go but it definitely sounds like it's a great location 🙂


    • I really hope you do get the chance to see it for yourself Margaux 🙂

  • Great post never been to LA, but would love to go one day.


  • I think my first visit to LA is a little way away, but I'm going to keep this post in mind if I ever do visit! Especially for the foodie recommendations! x

    Martha Jane | http://www.marthajaneedwards.com

    • Foodie recommendations are always my favourite as well, thanks Martha 🙂

  • I've never been to LA before but it's definitely on the list – in fact, there's a lot of places I want to visit but this just looks lovely. Id love to visit in the summer months and I love the whole beach vibe in Santa Monica and love the O.C reference too (loved that show).
    It's actually really refreshing to see your honest feature, not everything is perfect and not everything will be the way it's shown in movies however – I will visit there at some point!

    Love your posts – it's inspiring and I can't wait for your next trip to see what you're going to share hahaha! 🙂

    Layla xx


    • Yeah I really enjoyed the warm weather and the whole beach relaxed vibe of Santa Monica especially, so glad you liked that O.C reference too 😉

  • Love your photos and honest account of your time in LA. I visited San Francisco earlier this year and it wasn't what I expected but that's the beauty of The States as it's so different depending on where you go. Having been to New York and Florida, have to admit NY has been my favourite so far. LA and Miami are both on my list, therefore I have found your comments and those from others very insightful. I've heard Santa Monica is beautiful and I love the O.C. Reference as I loved the show and that's exactly how I'd imagined it to be!
    Thanks for sharing and look forward to reading some of your other adventures.
    Jaz xoxo

    • Out of all the places I've been in the U.S New York has probably been my favourite as well! Hopefully I have some more adventures and can share them on here sometime soon 🙂

  • I went to California this Summer for a month-LA, San Diego, Laguna Beach, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Pismo, Monterey & Carmel, San Fransisco, The Sierra Mountains and then back to Venice Beach. My most perfect day was the last day when we rode our bikes from Santa Monica back to Venice Beach just before sitting to watch the sunset. I am dying to go back! Loved your post!

    Sophie xx

    • That sounds like the perfect day! We walked from Santa Monica to Venice Beach when it was sunset as well and it's so gorgeous!

  • I visited LA once years ago but I'm bummed that we didn't drop by santa monica or venice beach, sounds like incredible places. I had similar thoughts on Rodeo Drive, I didn't catch what all the fuss was about. I did enjoy it the trip though, LA has such a happy easy going lifestyle that I loved. Hopefully I'll be able to return soon. Great post by the way, loved hearing about your trip xx

    • I loved the vibe around Santa Monica because it felt that way to me as well, like everyone was living a really easy going, relaxed lifestyle!

  • Oh I would love to visit LA! I've never been or to America either. One day… Your photos have made me lust a little about a visit though.


  • Aww been loving your travel posts lately, I have yet to go to LA. But the place I can't wait to see is Rodeo Drive, loove it! Kinda disappointed that it wasn't as cool as expected.



    • SO happy you've been liking these travel posts, hopefully there will be more travel posts this year! Rodeo Drive for me was overhyped but hey, other people may really love it! 🙂

  • I've never been to Los Angeles but it seems to be a really beautiful place. I've had family members whose been there and they love it there. It is a place I would like to visit maybe one day. Also, if the food is great, then I'm so there…haha
    Have a lovely day! x

    Face to Curls | http://facetocurls.com

  • I enjoyed reading this post so so so much and your photos are amazing! LA is definitely one of the top places of my travel wishlist and I hope I can see all these places for myself someday x

    Always, Alice – Huge New Year Giveaway!

    • Wow thank you so much! That comment made my day and I hope you get to see these places for yourself someday soon as well 🙂