Santa Monica & Malibu Diary

I am FINALLY bringing you my Santa Monica diary!! This excites me SO much because we had the best spur of the moment little trip – and I know a ton of you travel to this area so I wanted to make sure to share with you everything we did!

Little back story for those who didn’t follow along on my Instagram Story, but Al’s 27th birthday with the first week of July. We had an insanely busy week that week with the Fourth of July and two of our best friends / cousins wedding weekend. It was the best week, but I knew we were going to want a little getaway after all of it. Al also typically wants ‘experiences’ for gifts rather than an item, and kept mentioning how he wanted to do just a little mini trip to somewhere we hadn’t been yet. To be totally honest, my pull to this area was definitely the fact that we were close enough to do the Malibu Wine Safari, something that’s been on my bucket list forever! We are those people who like to be in the ‘tourist’ area for most of our trip because we will mostly walk to do everything and like to be in the middle of the action. I know a lot of people are the opposite and avoid those areas, but we just love to be able to not have an itinerary and do whatever we feel like doing that day.

All that said, Santa Monica & Malibu were fun cities for us to cross off our list! Here is what we did:

Santa Monica Pier

This is an obvious must for anyone visiting the area. You feel like you are on the set of a movie or reality show haha. We walked here from our hotel, which I will touch on next, and this was something we only felt like we had to do once to go check it out. You can access the beach from this area too! There are rides, street performers, food, and gorgeous views in every direction.

Hat x Nordstrom | Set x Vestique

Fairmont Miramar

We stayed at the Fairmont Miramar – one of two 5 star hotels in Santa Monica. The location was perfect. You were close enough to the boardwalk and pier, yet far enough away that you weren’t right in the middle of everything. We walked every single place we went from here! We only took an Uber once, and that was when we went to Malibu. Other than that, we walked! That is one of our favorite things when we got to a city is having good walkability. Some other things I loved about this hotel was the pool area, pool bar, and restaurant / food options right at the hotel. When I was researching hotels, I chose this one based off the pool area. We love to relax on vacation and sitting by the pool with a drink was definitely high on our list. I feel like Santa Monica isn’t like Hawaii or Mexico, where that’s all you do, most people like to be out exploring, so a lot of the hotels had a pool, but not a ‘resort-type’ feel. I love that resort feel so we were super happy with that aspect of this hotel. You could eat from their lobby, which had indoor / outdoor seating. We got appetizers and drinks here several times. They also had a restaurant called Fig – which had the cutest atmosphere / vibe and outdoor seating that overlooked the pool. The last thing that was super cool was that one of the top bars in Santa Monica, The Bungalow, was actually located at our hotel! We didn’t know this coming into our trip, but I got sooo many messages saying to go to the Bungalow! We ended almost every single night there and that was super fun being right at your own hotel in a cool outdoor bar setting. I’ll touch on The Bungalow too.

My only negatives regarding our hotel, were our room didn’t have a good view. But I also booked our hotel the day before we arrived, (this was a very last minute trip haha), and I saw a ton of rooms that had pretty views! I just wish I would have booked sooner and gotten a better view! You also didn’t have wifi in your room unless you paid for it. You could get 1-day of free wifi in the lobby and main areas. I ended up buying 2 days of wifi at the end so I could use it on my computer because the Nordstrom sale started when we were down there haha! So those were the only downfalls.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this hotel because all the positives definitely outweighed the negatives!

Little Ruby

This was the first brunch spot we went to! Several of you, as well as the hotel staff, told me that I would love this spot and everyone was right. The aesthetic was right up my alley! We got mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ and I got avocado toast of course! They had a great menu full of lots of healthier options!

3rd Street Promenade

This is the street of shopping! We walked along this street every single day as it was often on our way to a lot of the restaurants we went to! If you are looking to shop, go here! It also leads you right to a large mall with Nordstrom and designer shops so you get some of everything here. Getting here was maybe a 2 minute walk from our hotel.

Jumpsuit x Vici (code KARLIE20) | Shoes x Steve Madden

The MisFit

This was our first dinner spot. We had tons of recommendations from you guys to go here and we loved it! The vibe was awesome and their cocktails were SO good! I got the Goodnight Emilie and Al got the Festival De Las Flores. We had crispy brussel sprouts and scallops on the half shell for our app and the prime rib french dip nik niks as our entree. Everything was amazing! The nik niks are little sliders on Hawaiian buns aka my favorite buns ever!!

The Bungalow

This is the bar that was located right at our hotel and was also the #1 most recommended bar I got! They have an indoor area where each room has a different ‘theme’ and then a completely open outdoor area where they have live music on select nights! It’s definitely a hot spot and can have a line out the door. We got lucky one night and got a sofa to ourselves but after that we often had to stand or go to the front of the bar and sit up on a stool. Regardless, the more quiet night was fun to actually get to sit and chat and be in the atmosphere, and the busy nights were fun and definitely more of a ‘going out’ scene.


Sonoma Wine Garden

This is actually on the very top floor of a mall, and we came here in the middle of our shopping day to get some mimosas and truffle fries! It was a really pretty spot and a perfect stop if you are shopping in the area.

Tar & Roses

Food wise – this was Al and I’s favorite restaurant. We absolutely loved it! Al actually was sitting by the pool just looking up restaurants to go to and found this on his own! We couldn’t stop talking about how much we loved it the entire dinner! We got the dumplings, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, gnocchi, and ribs. My favorite was the gnocchi and Al’s favorite was the ribs but EVERY SINGLE THING was drool-worthy. It’s definitely a place you go to and share a bunch of plates! I would 100% recommend this to you guys!

Flower Child

Eating at Flower Child has been a dream of mine forever! I always see people that I follow in other cities go here and now I need Seattle to get one asap. I got the Mother Earth bowl and Al got the Flying Avocado wrap. I could eat that bowl I got every single day. Seriously figuring out how I can open one here haha.

Boa Steakhouse

This is a steakhouse and where we ate our last night! We decided to go somewhere a little fancier for our last dinner. We started with a scallop pasta dish which was UNREAL good, and Al got steak and I got sea bass! This was a short walk from our hotel and right on the boardwalk. We sat outside but the indoor vibe was really cool too! If you are looking for a steakhouse, I would for sure say go here! Our waiter was so awesome, we had a really good experience and such good food!


Now onto our day in Malibu!

We decided to spend a full day in Malibu, solely because I really wanted to do the Malibu Wine Safari and I knew Al would absolutely love it too. Getting to Malibu from Santa Monica is only 30 minutes or so away so it was a perfect day trip without too much driving! I remember on our drive back to Santa Monica after the day was over, Al looked over at me in our Uber and just said “this was one of the best days of my life I think” and that put the biggest smile on my face!! I feel the same way.

Malibu Wine Safari

Like I’ve mentioned several times, this was the biggest pull factor of going to Santa Monica / Malibu and it did not disappoint!! We had so much fun I cannot even tell you. It’s a 21+ activity that takes you all through the grounds of Malibu Wines. You get to drive all around in this safari vehicle, see animals like Stanley the giraffe, zebras, alpacas, water buffalo, etc., all while wine tasting! We did the ‘lunch tour’ which ended with sandwiches and wine. We booked this prior to deciding we wanted to spend the day in Malibu…so to be honest we didn’t really eat our lunch because we also really wanted to go to Malibu Farm and Nobu while there so we just took a few bites to hold us over. If that’s you’re only destination that day, definitely do lunch! If not, I’d skip it and go to the other places I’m talking about below. All in all, this was probably the highlight of our trip! Just such a fun thing to do and absolutely gorgeous views all around.


Jumpsuit x Nordstrom | Sandals x Tory Burch | Sunglasses x Forever 21 | Necklace x Target

Malibu Farm

This is right on the Malibu pier and such a pretty spot! They have the restaurant that we went to, and also a cafe that is located at the end of the pier on the water! We walked along the pier and went into the shop at the end to explore a little before sitting down for an app. I loved the aesthetic of Malibu Farm! Super instagram worthy! I got the frozè which is a popular drink there and crab cakes! Both were tasty and we really enjoyed spending time at this spot! We sat inside, but they also have outdoor seating with amazing views!


I have been to the Nobu in New York City, but I will say it does not compare to this!! Ah this place did not let us down, and we had HIGH expectations. We actually ended up spending a couple hours here because we got seated out on a sofa and had insane views. We ordered a bottle of champagne and just hung out – it was the best. For food, Al got a steak dish which WOW I don’t even eat steak and I loved it. I got a few sushi rolls which were amazing and exactly what I wanted to get there! They had tons of stuff on their menu that is special to their location and everything sounded amazing. If you haven’t heard of Nobu, it’s definitely more expensive, fair warning! But if you are looking to splurge on a good dinner, this is the spot! We loved it and still talk about it all the time. We will for sure be back.

And that was our trip! I saved everything we did to my Instagram highlights under ‘Cali’ where you can see fun videos and other photos! This was such a fun experience for us, something I am so glad we did – a memory we will definitely talk about still when we are old!

I am hoping to get one more Santa Monica related post up sharing all the recommendations I got for this trip. I got so many and we were just there Monday – Friday so we definitely didn’t get to go everywhere! So be on the lookout for that post 🙂 Hopefully in the next week or two!

Hope you are all having an amazing summer! All my love!

Xx, Karlie


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  1. 7.31.18

    Oh my gosh!
    This looks like such a cute little trip & super eventful!
    I have been following you on Instagram for a while now and just decided to check out your blog (i’ve been so busy).
    It is adorable, keep up the good work!
    You need to do a post on Portland, that is where I just moved a couple months ago for a little bit & it seems this area is pretty underrated. Moving up here I couldn’t find any blog posts about cute coffee shops, nice places to eat or anything!
    Love you work 🙂

    • 8.17.18
      Karlie Rae said:

      Hi Kayla!! I am just seeing this! Thank you so much for all the sweet words girl and for reading!! I did a Portland post actually a long time ago but then switched hosting sites for my blog and I think it got deleted – so sad!! If my husband and I make it back down there I will definitely do an updated post!

      Thanks again girl!! xoxo!

  2. 8.2.18

    Aahhh this looks amazing. Lived in California my whole life and explored Santa Monica here and there but I’m so excited to try Tar & Roses! Thanks for posting!

    • 8.17.18
      Karlie Rae said:

      Ah Brandi you must try it!! It seriously was our favorite restaurant! Thanks so much for reading and commenting love! xx

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