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Posts Tagged ‘Beach’

City of Angels

LA City View

I LOVE LA

There, I said it. I, a native New Yorker, loves the city of freeways and urban sprawl.  My first visit to Los Angeles was with my family when I was in college and similar to the experience of many people I knew, I was not too impressed.  I pictured palm trees, beautiful sandy beaches, and Hollywood glitz.  What I was met with was homeless people on Hollywood boulevard, traffic, mansions hidden behind massive gates, traffic, fast food signs and pawn shops along Sunset Boulevard, and more traffic.  I left thinking I’ll never come back.  But I did.  For grad school.  And I loved it.  I think now that the traffic and the sprawl and the pollution is the city’s way of protecting all the wonderful spots for its own residents.  And now I’m here to reveal my favorite spots (don’t hate me Angelenos).

So here is how I would plan a trip back to Los Angeles, because believe you me, with negative temperatures in the Northeast, I sure am wishing I can go back to LA soon! First thing, remember all the traffic I talked about? Yeah…that’s real.  You want to plan your trip based on sections or neighborhoods of LA so you’re not zigzagging across the city getting stuck in traffic while trying to make it from one attraction to another.

Day 1 – Beach Day

Ease into your trip by enjoying a laid back day at the beach, Cali style.  Pick up some delicious pastries at Huckleberry for a morning picnic at the beach.  Head to Malibu to Leo Carillo State Park.  There’s rock formations for pictures, climbing, and resting, tide pools, and also a dog friendly area so you might even catch some happy dogs frolicking about.  I found the beach clean, the sand soft, the waves calmer, and less crowded than other beaches.

Malibu

My dog frolicking at Leo Carillo State Park Beach

After a few hours of sunbathing, you’ll want some lunch.  Drive back down the Pacific Coastal Hwy to Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market Market for what else, fresh seafood and views of the Pacific Ocean.

Malibu 2

View of Malibu from Santa Monica

After lunch, head to Santa Monica for some activities.  If you have kids or you are a kid at heart, hang out at the Santa Monica Pier.  There’s rides, games, and an aquarium.  If you want retail therapy, head to Santa Monica Place for a cool open air mall.  Go to the top floor for an awesome dining area with loungers and fire pits, and great views of the beach.  Also, walk down 3rd Street Promenade for more shopping and performance artists.  If you like to chill like me, walk along Ocean Boulevard, which is a tree lined boulevard with views of Santa Monica Beach.  Make sure to also stop by the new Tongva Park located across from the Santa Monica Pier.  It’s a small park but very well designed and also offers nice views of the beach.

Santa Monica Pier

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For dinner, what’s more Cali then having a gourmet burger at Father’s Office? There’s other items on the menu but the standout is the burger which is made with gruyere cheese and blue cheese.  It’s a gastropub with a great selection of beer, making it a 21 and older only crowd.  If you have kids, try the more family friendly, but equally famous and delicious Umami Burger.

Umami

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Other things to do in this area:

The Getty Villa – Beautiful art museum housed in a Villa.  Located between Santa Monica and Malibu.  Requires advanced reservations though.

Getty Villa

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Malibu Creek State Park – Scenic hike overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Easy to Moderate intensity.

Malibu Hike

Random fireplace found at Malibu Creek

Malibu Lumber Mart – Don’t let the name fool you.  It’s a high-end shopping plaza with cool architecture, nice resting areas and even a playground.  Go if you feel like splurging or people watching!

Other places to eat:

Dukes – Kitschy Polynesian themed seafood restaurant known for it’s views.  It’s a fun place to get cocktails and chill.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco – Fast casual fish taco spot.  You can’t leave Cali without eating fish tacos and this place does it well if you’re looking for a quick meal.

Bay Cities Italian Deli – Great deli for picking up cold cut sandwiches and antipasto for a picnic.  Get the Godmother, so good!

BOA Steakhouse – Excellent steakhouse for a night on the town.  You may even spot a celebrity or two!

Stay tuned for more!

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Hello again!

I’m sorry I haven’t updated in a long while, but I had good reason! I had a new addition to the family and she’s now at the wonderful fun age of 20 months! I also moved back east to New Jersey to be closer to family and friends so the last 2 years have been quite a whirlwind.  Having moved back a few months ago in the dead of winter has me feeling very nostalgic for California.  So I want to devote the next few posts to where I’ve called home for the last 5 years, Los Angeles, a brief stay in Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

One reason why I’m blogging again is that I view this as a living journal of my travels and I don’t want to forget my wonderful time on the west coast.  The other reason is that I hope share some of my favorite places with you all and hopefully inspire some of you to take a trip out west!

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite spots in LA, the promenade on Ocean Blvd. overlooking Santa Monica Beach, magical!

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I had such a good time last weekend visiting friends and exploring San Diego/La Jolla from a local’s perspective.  Although I really love Nor-Cal, the wonderful weather and beaches were enough to make me miss living in Southern California.  I didn’t have much time to spend down there (less than 48 hours) but we still managed to fit in so much, especially in the food area!

Friday night was spent at Harney Sushi in Old Town.  Not only was it close to the airport and bus station, making it a convenient stop after everyone arrived, but it was a great spot for late night dining.  We arrived there at 10:30pm and the place was happening! The ambience was great, the scene was lively, and as a bonus, they also had a half price late night dining menu!  Definitely check this place if you’re looking for a place for drinks or late night cheap sushi.

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There’s nothing I look forward to more than brunch on the weekends and Hash House a Go Go definitely delivered.  It’s one of the more popular brunch spots so make sure you make a reservation or be prepared to wait.  It is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood though so you can definitely explore the neighborhood while you wait for a table.  Hillcrest is a hip area filled with unique restaurants and shops and also borders the northwest corner of Balboa Park, close to where the San Diego Zoo is located, so it’s a fun area to visit.  But back to Hash House.  They serve what they call “twisted farm food”, but I basically call it yummy comfort food on steroids.  One meal there and you’re good for the whole day!  They have all kinds of hashes, scrambles, benedicts and pancakes.  Everything we ordered was delicious so you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

After our hearty breakfast we headed to Coronado Island for the Annual Artisan’s Craft Fair and to check out the famous Hotel Del Coronado.  The craft fair was a good way to walk off all the food we ate and a good place to pick up some holiday decor and gifts if I didn’t have to carry it back on the plane with me.  Even though Coronado Island is separated from San Diego by just a short bridge, you feel as though you’ve been transported to a small island village.  The homes on the island are incredibly charming, the people are so friendly, and the beaches are vast.  The Hotel Del is a beautiful beachfront hotel that’s conveniently located by the main drag.  The town center was already decked out in holiday lights making for a very festive atmosphere.  We toured the hotel grounds, taking in the various Dr. Seuss sculptures, the ice-skating rink set amidst the palm trees, and the ocean views.

Since it was only about an hour to sunset, we decided to take a stroll on the beautiful beach (one of the nicest in So-Cal!), grab a cup of hot tea and wait.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea since all the ocean facing tables with fire pits were taken! The sunset definitely did not disappoint, it was so beautiful.

Afterwards we drove back into the city for dinner at Oceanaire Seafood Restaurant in the Gaslamp District.  The service was impeccable and the seafood was delicious.  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for fresh seafood or just a nice night out.  We had the Whole Flash Fried “Angry” Mexican Lane Snapper, the Boston Pan Fried Scallops, and the “Drunken” South Pacific Swordfish.  All were extremely tasty.  After dinner, we strolled through the Gaslamp District, which is chock full of bars and nightclubs if you’re into that sort of nightlife, and headed straight to what else, desserts, or more specifically Extraordinary Desserts!  This place was a-mazing.  There’s all sorts of desserts that you can pick from including a handful of daily specials.  The place is also open until midnight, making for a great spot to hang out post-dinner.  I wish there was a place like this in SF, or maybe there is but I’m not aware of it (if you guys know of any, I’m all ears!).  All the desserts were giganto so I’d suggest sharing and were beautifully decorated with fresh flowers.  Needless to say it was all delicious and we were plenty satisfied.  They also have an extensive drinks list, all kinds of specialty teas and food if you want to have dinner there too.

Our final day was spent in La Jolla.  We started the day off going to the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers’ Market where we sampled in-season fruits.  The market is not too big but there’s still plenty of produce vendors, cooked food stands, and a live band, lending to a fun Sunday activity.  We had brunch at The Cottage, another great brunch spot.  That Sunday happened to be the annual Christmas Parade in La Jolla so we caught part of it walking down Girard Avenue.  There’s definitely a great community down there with families and pets all dressed up in holiday garb getting into the holiday spirit.  We then headed towards the ocean and saw the birds and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, Scripps Park, and the seals at Children’s Pool Beach.  I don’t think I can ever get sick of seeing those seals and sea lions, they are so amusing sometimes and the seals have such cute faces!

Sadly it was time for me to head back home to reality.  There’s still so much that we didn’t get to, like Balboa Park, Old Town, and spending more time in Hillcrest, that I definitely see another trip in the future.  Thanks so much for a wonderful time ladies, and special thanks to G for driving us around, planning activities, and hosting.  It was so great to catch up with you gals.  I hope to see you guys soon in San Francisco!

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TGIF! I’m so excited because I’ll be spending this weekend in La Jolla visiting friends.  I’ve been to this lovely village twice before but this time I’ll be looking forward to just catching up with friends and relaxing.  Most people tend to visit La Jolla as a day trip from San Diego but there’s plenty to do there to make it a nice weekend getaway destination.

Featured Travel Idea: La Jolla


 top: harbor seals, grande colonial*, 7 caves kayaking

middle: panda*, la jolla cove*, la jolla shores surfing

bottom: sea world*, geisel library, mt soledad

La Jolla exudes the typical beach culture you’d expect to find in Southern California.  Sun, surf, and seals! Head to La Jolla Shores and spend your morning trying to catch waves.  If you’re new to the sport, sign up for a class at the Surf Diva, known as the #1 surf school for women.  Or you can try your hand at paddle boarding.  Make sure to stop by their shop and pick up some fun beach attire.  If you’re like me and prefer to stay relatively dry, then go on the original La Jolla Kayak tour and explore La Jolla’s Seven Caves and Underwater Park.  After an active morning, go for a stroll and head to La Jolla Coves for a picturesque view of the coastline.  Then continue on to Children’s Beach for a look at the harbor seals, just don’t get too close!  Head to Prospect Street for lunch and window shopping, stopping along to admire the beautiful architecture of the Grande Colonial Hotel nearby.  For something “off the beaten path”, drive to the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla and visit the Geisel Library, named in honor of Theodore Geisel or more famously known as Dr. Seuss.  The campus is beautiful and you’ll be amazed by the unique architecture of the library.  Finally, take a scenic drive up Mount Soledad, past the million dollar homes, and enjoy a panoramic sunset view.

Do you guys have any recommendations for me? I’ll fill you guys in on any fun things I do when I get back!

*pictures taken by me

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Oh my gosh…My first official post! Can you tell I’m excited?!?

So I’ve been living in San Francisco for just a little over a month now, and even though I’ve been warned by many people that the summer here can be chilly, I was still surprised to find most days overcast and cold.  So when the fog manages to dissipate early morning and the sun is out and the weather is warm, I feel like I have to make the most of it and spend as much time outdoors as possible.  One of my favorite trails to go on when the day is beautiful is the Lands End Trail.  It’s a great scenic trail that’s conveniently located right in San Francisco.  I love it because it’s not too strenuous, there’s parking (a rarity in the city!), and on a clear day, offers amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Also, it’s one of the few places the hubs and I let Hansel off leash for the entire walk, which makes him immensely happy!

The trail starts off at the Sutro Baths ruins, which at one time was a privately owned swimming complex comprised of 7 pools built into the side of the cliff that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.  Unfortunately a fire destroyed the baths and all that’s left are some concrete walls.  It’s still a cool site though and I like to imagine what it must have been like back in the day in all it’s glory.

Image via Wikipedia 

The trail follows the curve of the cliffs and offers beautiful views of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as beautiful wildflowers all along the trail.  Aside from a small stretch of steps that always gets my heart racing, the trail is mostly flat and enjoyable.

After about 1.5 miles, you’ll end up in the Sea Cliff neighborhood with signs pointing to various beaches and the Legion of Honor museum.  If you’re not too tired and especially if it’s a warm day, I highly recommend going to Baker Beach, which is only about another half a mile and passes through some of the most beautiful houses in San Francisco.

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Sigh, I could easily spend a few hours there either reading or doggy watching.  Including the beach time, you could easily spend half a day here! Although I’ve never been there myself, I’d love to try the Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Cliff House one day.  It’s located at the beginning of the trail and would be the perfect prelude to the hike, or treat if you’re an early riser 😉  Champagne, poached salmon, desserts, hiking, beach…Doesn’t it just sound like the perfect weekend?

What: Lands End Trail

Where: Point Lobos Avenue at 48th Avenue, San Francisco

Activity: Hiking (~3 – 4 miles round-trip; Easy to Moderate)

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