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 amazing 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?

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.

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A Day at Santa Barbara Zoo

DSC00102I haven’t been to an actual zoo in years. Last year while we were in West Palm Beach, FL we spent two days at Lion Country Safari & it was absolutely amazing. We had beautiful, massive giraffes, ostriches, & a bunch of other species of African born animals walked right past our car. So when Chris’s mom suggested we stop at the Santa Barbara Zoo on our way to El Capitan Canyon last month I was game.

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