Tag Archives: california

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla

As time goes by, one thing my husband and I have learned about our vacation-style is that we love to hike. On every major trip we’ve been on, the time we spent hiking has always been one of our major takeaway highlights.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

In Jamaica it was Dunn’s River Falls, in Scotland, Arthur’s Seat, and in Italy we hiked the Cinque Terre trails. When I started asking around for hiking recommendations in Southern California the resounding recommendation was Torrey Pines State Reserve.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Torrey Pines is famous for its golf course, but the state reserve is a beautiful location full of trails. We spent about 4 hours in the reserve, and hiked most of the trails – our favorites being Yucca Point and Razor Point.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Of course about two minutes into our afternoon of hiking I notice the sign that says “Warning: These trails are rattlesnake heaven and they are hiding under every crevice!”. Okay, so maybe that’s not what the sign said, but that’s certainly what I read. I am happy to report that not a snake was seen.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

The reserve is beautiful – and a very different visual feast for the eyes than what we are seeing in New England. Craggy rocks, cacti, and dry dusty landscape – what a departure from our snow!

Hiking in Torrey Pines is free, as is the parking.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

After an active morning of hiking we headed into the town of La Jolla. We headed straight for Children’s Cove, home of the famous seals.

 

Spend half an hour admiring the flocks of pelicans and these rolly-polly chubbers flop around on the beach. Just be sure you don’t stand down-wind. You’ll smell it when you do.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

It cracks me up that they all look so smiley!

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Perhaps if I was blissfully unaware of my sheer amount of blubber, and got to lie on a beach all day like a rotund Queen I’d be smiling like that too!

The rest of our day was cut short – as we had plans that evening back in L.A. So we hit the road and enjoyed another famed California adventure – the traffic. : )

That brings an end to my California travel recaps – if you are lucky enough to be going to California soon I hope my recommendations help!

Read about the rest of my California adventures here.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado

Once our tickets to California were booked, San Diego was calling my name. I solicited advice from friends, and we ended with two very enjoyable  days in the greater San Diego area.

Most of our first day was spent on the delightful island of Coronado just across from the city. The island, most famous for its fanciful Hotel del Coronado resort, as well as being the birthplace of naval aviation. (You will see/hear planes constantly.)

coronado6

The hotel, and corresponding beach frontage, were lovely. The whimsical red-roofed structure boasts a rich history of guests, and Frank L. Baum wrote several of the Wizard of Oz books during his time in Coronado. Some say it was the hotel itself that inspired the Emerald City.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

The town of Coronado offers many shops and restaurants typical of seaside vacation spots and the overall vibe was quite friendly. We lunched at Miguel’s – a local Mexican food restaurant. It was very affordable, offers on-the-house queso, and sold me on a unique and refreshing Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita. Three wins in my book.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Another item off the bucket list – next we rented a tandem bicycle from Cruiser King. One hour is $15, but they let us take it out for 90 minutes for no extra cost (just ask!). This was my first time on a tandem bike, and, after the first 10 minutes, I really enjoyed it! We biked around the entire island, and admired the bay, the San Diego skyline, and the marina.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

The beachfront is Coronado is gorgeous! If only it were warm enough to swim.

Coronado is relaxing and quiet – vacation perfection in my book. 24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Fun fact: These random green bumps spell out “Coronado” that can be seen by all the aviators flying by. By mid-afternoon we had to cut our Coronado fun short. The one thing I wanted to see in San Diego was Balboa Park – and we made it there just as the sun was setting.

Balboa Park

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Balboa Park (mostly famous for being home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo) is beautiful! It is also home to several art museums (which, sadly, I did not get to enjoy). Only having about 25 minutes until sunset, we explored as much of the park as we could. There’s always next time!

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Gas Lamp District

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively
image source: San Diego Premier

Soon the sun was down and off to the Gas Lamp District we went. I was surprised how small San Diego was – which made parking easy and manageable! The Gas Lamp District is lively and full of restaurants. Having walked the full length to take in the endless options – we ended up at the fantastic Barleymash – a “progressive brewery”.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively
image source (because I was apparently too busy eating to take a picture): Erin Jackson at SeriousEats

Barleymash was crowded and loud, in a good way. The inventive brewery-based menu provided so many mouth-watering options it was difficult to choose, but we managed to whittle it down to the All In Iron Fries (short rib loaded fries), The Bleu Shroom Barley Mac (fancy macaroni and cheese), and a flatbread that I can’t remember. All were phenomenal, but monstrous! Truly, splitting two apps would have been plenty.

The scenic drive from Los Angeles to San Diego took about 2.5 hours with a stop in Carlsbad to see a friend. We stayed at the Sheraton La Jolla – while not the fanciest hotel I’ve been in, was perfectly fine and provided an Olympic-sized hot tub. Definitely don’t get the hotel breakfast though. Not worth it. The hotel is easily situation between downtown San Diego and La Jolla – which was our next destination!

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

More Adventures in Los Angeles (and Santa Barbara too!)

I posted earlier this week about our other Los Angeles adventures here!

Most of our time in California was spent relaxing with friends and enjoying delicious food. We did, however, manage to throw in a few site-seeing trips that definitely qualify as “touristy”.

The following may be crowded and overrated, but I enjoyed them! (And they were all free!)

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Beverly Hills Hotel

Does anyone else remember the (classic 80s movie) Troop Beverly Hills? This movie is the stuff sleepover dreams are made of.

Beverly Hills girl scouts (*ahem* Wilderness Girls), Shelley Long (I miss her! Where did she go?), camping under the Hollywood sign, and a pre-teen brunette Tori Spelling!

The camping trip was, of course, aborted for a slumber party at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel, which we stopped at for a quick photo-op. We went to a few other Beverly Hills iconic locations, including Rodeo Drive and The Grove.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame

When we were landing at LAX my husband asked me if there was anything I wanted to do in Los Angeles. The only thing I really wanted to do see Grauman’s Chinese Theater – where all the celebrities put their handprints in cement! I think it stems back to watching My Girl 2 as a kid.

The area is definitely touristy. And a little sketchy. It’s full of tour groups and people dressed up as movie characters who want your money. But, it was a unique opportunity and I’m glad I’ve checked it off my bucket list.

It was fun seeing how all the different celebrities made their mark. Many steered away from the traditional hand and footprints – the Harry Potter cast did their wands, John Wayne left a wist, and Roy Rogers (seen below) was one of my favorites with his pistol and Trigger’s horseshoes!

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

We also walked around the Hollywood Walk of Game for a few blocks and I spied a few stars:

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

The Hollywood Sign

Is there anything more quintessentially L.A. than the Hollywood sign? We drove around Hollywood Hills and looked at all the houses packed together and hanging off of hills. We drove to Canyon Lake Drive, and saw a great view of the Hollywood sign! There’s a place to park, and you can also see a great overview of the city.

I can’t tell you where (I was obviously riding along with excellent tour guides!), but close to the Hollywood sign area we found another great scenic overlook.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

We didn’t have any celebrity sightings on our trip, but we did get to see a crew filming a scene of (what we are guessing was) a reality show. We waited at this overlook for a while because there was a camera crew. Eventually two people came out and filmed a conversation in front of the overlook.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Santa Barbara

Obviously not part of greater L.A., but I thought I’d tag Santa Barbara on to the end of this post. Unfortunately, our afternoon in Santa Barbara was a gray, spittle-y day, so we didn’t get to see it in its full glory.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLivelyWe roamed around Stearns Wharf. The one thing I love about being oceanside is that it’s practically always looks the same. Doesn’t this look like a picture straight out of Boston? It felt just like home.Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLivelyAnd then you see the palm trees and you realize you are far-far-away!

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

You can see from the photo above it was a gray and foggy day.

We spent the rest of our time in Santa Barbara walking around town, popping into shops, grabbing food (Pickle and Swiss – try the dill pickle popcorn!) and warming up with coffee at The French Press with our dear friends who shared their beautiful home with us!

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

We also walked by this amazing restaurant called The Lucky Penny. You guessed it, the entire building is covered in pennies! How cool is that?

I posted earlier this week about our other Los Angeles adventures here!

I’m enjoying writing about our time in warm California. It snowed a bit more today – these memories of flip-flops will carry me through until the snow thaws! One more month!

Adventures in Los Angeles

Adventures in Los Angeles

If I was in L.A.. California dreamin’ On such a winter’s day.
– The Mamas and the Papas

I have been to California several times, but only once for pleasure – and that was over ten years ago! With a number of good friends and family living in the greater L.A. area, it was only a matter of time before I made it out there again. This time, I happily left behind my snowy state of Massachusetts for a brief reminder of what the sun on my skin feels like.

We planned this trip fairly last-minute, so unlike my usual self – I didn’t plan a thing! Instead I soaked up quiet and relaxing moments, many cups of coffee, good times with good friends, and far too much good food. I already shared about the LACMA, and today I’ll share some of our meandering and restaurants, and I’ll come back later with the touristy ones.

Although I didn’t have a thing planned – we ended up seeing a LOT! I was in the hands of some very good tour guides. I thought I’d share my favorites:

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Malibu

The beaches of Malibu are great for beach-walking. Though much narrower beaches than what I am used to here in New England, they are long and quiet. The houses practically come down to the high-tide line (!) so if you’re a house-gazer, like myself, you’ll have to spend the first half admiring the ocean, and the second half looking the other direction and admiring the homes.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Santa Monica

We spent three nights in Santa Monica. I spent one morning walking to famous Santa Monica promenade and (formerly known as Muscle Beach) shorelines. The pier was crowded even early in the morning, but still a fun place to see. It’s like a scaled down version of Navy Pier in Chicago.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

I spent two happy afternoons scouring the Montana Ave area of Santa Monica. The street is full of great shops (both boutiques and chains) and, although I came home empty-handed, a fun way to spend an afternoon. With freshly pedicured feet (a rare treat for this gal), we lazy-ed around enjoying cookies and cappuccinos at well-known bakery Sweet Lady Jane.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Venice

It’s no secret how much I love our own CSA and farmer’s market back home, so hitting up the Venice Saturday Farmer’s Market was a blast – and so different from my own back home! Oranges, fruits, flowers, pressed juices. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore! (All my farm has at the moment are root vegetables and the like.)

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Also in Venice, and totally worth checking out, are the Venice Canals, which you may recognize from the highly disappointing movie “Valentine’s Day”. It’s a quaint, historic neighborhood built on man-made canals, complete with arched bridges and all!

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLivelyimage source: Scopa Italian Roots

Delicious food was certainly not in shortage on this trip, and one of my favorite restaurants we went to was Scopa in Venice. Rocking a hipster vibe, meals are best shared family style. You may as well try one of everything – but my favorites were the roasted cauliflower and the deep-fried peanut butter banana fluffernutter sandwich.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

Yes, it’s a real thing, and it was devilishly good. I’ve officially filled my fried-fluff quota for the next ten years. Forgive the rotten picture – it was dark and a quick Instagram captured this gloriously gluttonous moment.

South Pasadena

We spent a morning power-walking with my Aunt in South Pasadena (I’ve got to work-off that deep-fried sandwich – don’t I?) and, if you are a house-lover like myself, this is a great way to hit the pavement! Sadly, I can’t even begin to recall the route we went on, but the area was a very fun and full of beautiful homes to admire and comment on. (Is this a strange or normal way to pass the time?)

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

We saw several of the Greene and Greene houses, such as the Gamble House. Greene and Greene was an architectural firm (two brothers) that worked mostly in California. They are well-known for helping start the Craftsman and American Arts and Crafts Movement.

Adventures in Los Angeles - DesignLively

We also went by the Father of the Bride house – which may be the very best house of ALL TIME.

The night before we dined at Gus’s Barbeque – a South Pasadena landmark. If you’re in the area this is definitely worth a stop. The Smoked Tri-Tip Caprese sandwich was so delicious my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

We also did a few very touristy L.A. things that I’ll talk about later this week! : )

The Father of the Bride house has always been one of my favorite movie houses! I always cry at the basketball scene in the driveway. What’s your favorite “movie house”?