Last Monday, I started my personal challenge of going somewhere or trying something new every day.  I am amazed by all the support I am getting from family, friends, students and even strangers.  Every day some one asks me, “What’s Next?”

Well, today and just for today, my brother is in town from Detroit.  He arrived this afternoon and has his meeting in the morning before he flies back to Detroit.  So I actually got to drag him around and make him try something new as well.

I decided that since he was staying down by LAX then I would find a place down there that we could explore.  I chose Manhattan Beach.  It is a quiet, little beach area just a few miles south of LAX.  You get that small town feel when you notice all of the little shops and restaurants along the streets leading up to the pier.  It’s not all flashy and touristy like Venice Beach or Santa Monica.  It is just a cool place to hang out.

We walked down to the pier and watching the surfers attempting to ride the waves on this extremely warm, officially Fall, day.  I couldn’t get over how clear the water was, compared to Santa Monica.  Out of all the beaches in Southern California, Santa Monica is the one I frequent the most but I have a feeling that is about to change now that I have discovered the serenity of Manhattan Beach.  There were no crazy crowds or street performers lurking in every corner of the pier.  And down at the end, there was an admission by donation aquarium filled with sea creatures found in Santa Monica Bay.  Many of the fish were caught by fisherman off the pier.  The people of the aquarium have nursed them back to health and will release them back into the wild.  I have to say, it was pretty cool to see the large eels, starfish, bass, sting rays, and even sharks that could be found in our coastal waters.

As we reached the end of the pier and started to turn back, we both stood in awe of the amazing houses on the coastline.  We debated as to whether or not they were massive single family homes or condos.  We both agreed that no matter what they were, they were awesome.  We decided that on our way back to the car, we would stroll down the boardwalk and get a closer look at some of these beautiful beachfront homes.

Aside from the pier, I had found a few restaurants that I thought we could try in Manhattan Beach but my brother had other plans.  He hadn’t been out to play tourist in Los Angeles since my college graduation back in 2000.  He wanted to see the street performers and cheesy souvenir shops in Venice Beach and then work our way up to the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade.

So we arrived in Venice, parked in the first lot we found (bad choice since it wasn’t worth the $10 paid in parking fees).  And when we made out way down to the Venice Beach boardwalk, we were both stunned.  I hadn’t been down here in years and boy has it changed . . . for the worse.  It looks like this is where the Occupy LA movement went to die.  There is still the famed Muscle Beach area where we say some scary looking gentleman walking around in Speedos–one carrying his boombox and the other drinking something out of a giant horn.  Then we noticed the first medical marijuana stand.  I thought it was funny so I took a picture.  We saw one of the cheesy souvenir shops  and then we were approached by people in doctor’s scrubs with a large marijuana plant symbol.  They offered to exam us and get us our medical marijuana card for the low price of $40.  As I looked further down the boardwalk, I noticed the “doctors” and medical marijuana places appeared every 10-15 feet, with bong and hookah stores in between.  This area used to be a lot like Hollywood Blvd and now it is just a scary waste of parking fees.  We both agreed it was time to move on.  I managed to get one picture of the sunset before we were back in the car and heading north toward Santa Monica.

Again, my brother hadn’t been here in years but he was impressed by the newly renovated Santa Monica Place mall area.  They had the kind of stores that he likes ranging from Sketchers to Louis Vutton.  Then we walked down the Promenade (with a stop at the Lucky Brand store) before heading down to the Pier.  This would be our final destination for the evening.

We decided we would go for the campy themed restaurant known as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  The best part was that they had a bar where we could watch Monday night football–Packers Vs. Seahawks.  (Turned out to be a game that everyone in the bar would be talking about, especially the final play where it was debatable as to whether or not the Seahawks really scored that final touchdown to win the game of if it was interference).  We have both been to a Bubba Gump restaurant before but we agreed to try something new.  We ordered the Cajun Shrimp (which my brother ate and really liked) and the Stuffed Crab Mushrooms (AMAZING) for appetizers.  Then we both ordered the house favorite, Captain’s Fish and Chips.  So it was good food during an interesting football game after some adventurous beach exploration (and people watching).

Overall, we had a good time and we both got the chance to visit a new place and try new things.  I wish our visit could have been longer but I enjoyed the time I did get to spend with my big brother.  And next time he comes out to visit, we decided we would continue with the theme of trying something new and explore new places, possibly the Malibu Coast.

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