Natalie Hensby

California Ave in Los Angeles


Los Angeles is an interesting place; life moves to a different rhythm and put simply, anything goes. I was recently in Los Angeles for a few days with two friends and in order to get the most out of our stay and explore different scenes of the ‘Hollywood’ state, we decided to hire a car.

We hired a Dodge Avenger in West Hollywood and set off to San Clemente on the Interstate 5 to visit some friends. I will admit, I had a mild heart attack as we first entered the freeway. Driving on the opposite side of the road to home, I was convinced we were going to sideswipe the freeway barrier. Thankfully my friend is a very capable and calm driver and she navigated the 8-lane freeway much better than I could have!

Heading down Interstate 5 in California


We spent a few days exploring the Californian coastline.

Lunch and vintage shopping at Huntington Beach, sundowners at San Clemente Pier, and celebrity spotting at Laguna Beach.

We had a burger at In-N-Out and learnt about the LA craze that is ‘secret menus’. The friendly cashier mentioned we might like to try the (not-so) ‘secret’ animal fries next time. As we later discovered, there is a whole range of ‘secret’ toppings you can add to your burger and wash down with a ‘secret’ beverage.

San Clemente Pier, California


Venice Beach proved a great place for people watching.

From the body builders at Muscle Beach Gym to the buskers along the famous Venice Boardwalk, this social scene offers a glimpse into often-wacky LA life. We hired bikes and cycled along Ocean Front Walk, from Venice Beach to Pacific Park at Santa Monica Pier. We spotted a few likely celebrities along the way, the friendliest of whom was musician and fellow Aussie Chet Faker who stopped to waved hello (after we yelled “Yo Chet!”).

Natalie on a bike at Venice beach, California


I had the best pizza of my life at Gjelina in Venice. The Pomodoro pizza is well worth a trip to Venice, however Abbot Kinney Boulevard has no shortage of hip boutiques and cool cafes.

We had a very unique coffee experience at Intelligentsia Coffee. The business operates on the philosophy of a barista creating an individualised experience for every customer, serving just one customer at a time.

Pizza from Gjelina in Venice, California


A standard Tuesday evening turned memorable when we met some friends for ‘Tacolicious Tuesday’ at Fred’s, a Mexican bar/restaurant just off the freeway. After too many tacos and a few rounds of pool we decided to call it a night.

We jump in our car and pull out of the restaurant car park. As we’re chatting away my friend inadvertently turns onto the wrong side of the freeway and proceeds down the wrong lane of the Interstate 5! It’s close to midnight and there is not a car in sight. I quickly realise what’s happened and a few expletives later, we’re reversing back up the road to the freeway intersection! There is now one car stopped at the intersection traffic lights. Phew, that was a close call. It is very easy to get comfortable driving in the States and default to driving as we do in Australia!

Other than a thankfully nice conversation with a highway patrol officer on a motorbike later, I’m pleased to say we all made it home safely that night with a great story to tell!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Los Angeles is incredibly vast so if you’re there more than a few days, hire a car to get the most out of your stay.
  • Spend a day people watching at Venice Beach.
  • Make like a local and order off a “secret menu” (hint: Animal Fries at In-N-Out).

Natalie Hensby loves to travel, she is the ambassador of the Australian Government’s “Smartraveller” campaign and ambassador for Cover-More Travel Insurance.

Follow her adventures on Instagram: @nat_hensby

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.