Whale Watching off the Newport Beach Coast

Summer is just around the corner and my favorite part of summer is being able to be out on the water. Now I’m not a big beach girl. All that sand, getting everywhere, I’m not a fan. But a boat. A boat I can do. My best friend has a boat that we usually bring out onto the lake and go tubing. Or sometimes we will take the ferry over to Catalina and spend the day in the sun. Either way, on a boat, or on an island, I am a happy girl.

Back in March we took advantage of the annual migration of the California Grey Whales and took a whale watching tour out of Newport Beach, CA. Best. Day. Ever. We saw sea lions, and a pod of dolphins and best of all, we followed a group of five grey whales up the coast. It was absolutely amazing.

We were so lucky to pull out of Newport Harbor and right away catch a glimpse of a spout from a whale in the distance. The boat started following along and slowly four more whales popped up in different areas around the boat. It was incredible.

The two and a half hours out on the water were so wonderful that I would recommend it to anyone visiting Orange County. I love that we did our whale watching out of Newport Beach because the Balboa Peninsula is so cute, has such a great pier, and the cutest “fun zone.” Mid-December through mid-April are supposed to be the best time of year to see the whales migrating along the coast but there are opportunities all year to see the am

azing creatures.

 

Weekend in Pismo Beach

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Way back, what feels like 3 centuries ago, in early November, we spent the weekend up in Pismo Beach, California. It’s a small beach town along the central coast. The central coast is super near and dear to both of our hearts, and I don’t really know if I can put into words why. For Chris, the central coast is somewhere his family went every summer as he was growing up. For me, there is this nostalgic feeling I get every time I travel north of Santa Barbara. The little towns are just so quaint and they make me want to just sit at a coffee shop, not think about any worries and read a good book.

This trip was a little like that. When we head up north we definitely make sure to stop at a few of our favorite spots. I figured I’d take the time to tell you guys all about some of my top places to visit when I am in the Pismo Beach area.

Where to Stay

Pismo Beach Lighthouse Suites

When we head up to Pismo we usually go with Chris’s family. So with his parents, us, and his two sisters, that is 6 adults who need a hotel rooms. These suites are perfect for us. They come with two bedrooms, one king sized bed and two queens, and best of all: two bathrooms. Yes ladies and gents, two bathrooms is a highlight for any hotel in my book. Especially with four women getting ready. There is also a pretty good complimentary breakfast with great waffles. What I love about staying here is that it is set up high on a cliff, with amazing views of the Pacific, and you can take your coffee and walk down to the beach and head over to the Pismo Beach Pier. And honestly what better way of waking up in the morning besides a walk with coffee on the beach.

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Where to Eat and Drink

Cracked Crab

Definitely you have to put in your name early if you have somewhere to be, but totally worth the wait if you have the night to spend here! We had a show to catch so we couldn’t relax with a drink and appetizer and had to kind of rush through dinner but it was delicious. Chris had their amazing snow crab dinner and I filled up on the Blacked Scallop Carbanara. Both were amazing!

Solvang Copenhagen Sausage Garden

For the past few years when we go to Solvang we have noticed the Solvang Copenhagen Sausage Garden right along Copenhagen Drive but have never stopped. It looks like a cute little bier garden in Europe. We split a bratwurst and it was the perfect size to tie us over before our dinner. And of coarse, we had to have some beer while we were there.

Dos Carlitos

For dinner we ended up in the cute little town of San Yanez at Dos Carlitos, a little Mexican restaurant. Their margaritas were amazing and I loved their wine selection. Their portions were huge, so everyone had plenty of food to bring home for lunch the next day.

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What to Do

Pismo Beach Pier

This year was the first time I took the walk from our hotel, along the beach to the Pismo Pier. It was a perfect morning. I loved getting a cup of coffee at the end of our buffet breakfast and walking down the beach to the pier where we were able to walk in and out of all of the little stores and check out all of the “PISMO BEACH CA” sweatshirts that tourists pick up.

Avila Beach Barn

This is probably my favorite part of the entire trip. I love any type of farmers market, and when you throw one inside of a barn, yes please! Not to mention this place has some of the best Mexican corn I’ve had. It was so spicy I thought my lips were going to fall off. The Avila Beach Barn has farm animals, amazing baked goods, and a corn maze that took us 20 minutes to get out of. Every time we leave the barn we leave with bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables and we even allow ourselves to get one or two snacks.

Avila Beach Pier

This last trip we didn’t head over to Avila Beach Pier, but it is definitely one of my favorite places to go while visiting the central coast. Remember that pier in the TV show the OC? That is what it totally reminds me of. Such a cute place to stop and take a little swing on their huge swing set.

dsc01290 dsc01265  dsc01189dsc01223 dsc01200 Going to the central coast is one of the things I look forward to the most during the fall, but really there is no time of year that the central coast is bad. I’ve gone in the winter and you just need a few extra layers to bundle up. The summer, is obviously beautiful with the beach towns and perfect weather. And the fall.. well need I say more?

My Fall Bucket List

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. I cannot even explain how much I miss fall in New England. It is such a magical time of year where life starts to slow down after the craziness of the summer, & before the busyness of the holiday season sneaks up on you. In the past years, working in retail, October meant the craziness was upon us. Even though malls aren’t crazy yet, preparation for the biggest money making season was here.

For me in retail, my social life kind of took a back seat from October to January, so now that it is my first year out of retail management… I am celebrating. There are so many things on my list of Favorite Fall Activities that I had to narrow it down to just 7. (Well 5 just wasn’t enough.)

Decorate with real pumpkins

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Even if it is just at the grocery store, picking up real pumpkins add the perfect amount of festivity into any home or office. I even have a little gourd on my desk at work.

Take a drive to see the foliage

Depending where you live, this may be a little harder but nothing screams fall more to me than seeing trees full of gold, orange, & red leaves. When I lived in New England all I needed to do was step outside of my door & I had a plethora of colored leaves at my fingertips. Now I try to take a trip to the Central Coast every fall to experience as much foliage as I can in California.

Wear seasonally appropriate clothes, even if it doesn’t match the weather

Everyone has their own style & mine, all year round, is neutrals, denim, light weight outwear pieces with a little pop of burgundy or army green. I live in fall 4 seasons of the year. Do it! Wear boots, wear sweaters, wear capes… wear it all!

Take a train ride

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A few years ago my friends & I took a steam train ride to a pumpkin patch & it was such a good time. Just north of LA is a small town called Fillmore where for $22 for adults you can take a train ride to a little harvest festival at the end of the train line. There are pumpkins for sale, a little haunted house, a place for pictures & a little corn maze. It is still one of my favorite fall memories.

Go apple picking

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Apple picking is a fall staple when you grow up in Connecticut. There are apple orchards all over the state, but I haven’t been apple picking in probably 7 years. This year we went. Lucky for me, Chris enjoyed it just as much as I did… if not more. He was trying to get only the most perfect apples. More on the apple orchard later but Oak Glen is the cutest little town in the San Bernardino Mountains; you should stop by if you’re in Southern California. I had no idea it was so cute and quaint.

Make a pie… any flavor pie

And what do you do after you go apple picking… make a pie obviously. What else are you going to do with the ungodly amount of apples you just picked? This week I am planning on making my first pie from scratch. I am going to try to make the crust from scratch but let’s be honest, I have a store bought crust in the freezer right now.

Go to a haunted house

This is not one of my favorites, but this year Chris talked me into going to Universal’s Halloween Horror Night & it was so much fun. The anxiety beforehand nearly killed me, but once I figured out what keeps the actors away I was all in… PS. Don’t act scared. If you look at them unamused they’ll go away. It’s great.
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Day Trip to Carpinteria

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I think I am still recovering a little from our weekend. Monday was Chris’s 31 birthday, so we celebrated all weekend. The highlight of the weekend (for the non-birthday girl) was Saturday we spent the day in Carpinteria, CA. About 10 miles south of Santa Barbara is the little beachside town of Carpinteria. It’s a cute little artisan town just off of the 101 freeway full of mom & pop shops & restaurants that are just steps from the beach. Continue reading

Temecula Wedding Venue Recap

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Finding a venue can be one of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. The venue is the answer to so many questions in the wedding planning process. What type of food will you have? Buffet or plated? What is the theme? Will kids be there? What type of food will be served? Next to dress shopping, I would say venue shopping is right up there!

In Southern California I am lucky to have millions of options at my fingertips. We could have a beach wedding, a vineyard wedding, a wedding at an estate or even a wedding in the mountains & not have to go too far. We tossed around a few options. Chris and I both love the central coast so we thought a wedding in Solvang might be perfect. But after a little bit of deliberation (and a few stress tears on my end) we decided that central coast probably wouldn’t be the best bet for a wedding where half of the guests are coming from out of state.

Continue reading