This past week I had the opportunity to travel a small portion of the West Coast with my husband and it truly was magical! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to buy a one-way ticket somewhere and just “go-with-it?” Well, that’s exactly what we did, we bought a one way ticket to Los Angeles, California with the idea that we would just travel wherever the wind (or TripAdvisor) took us and my of my the places we saw and the miles we walked (primarily in my Tory Burch Miller sandals, which are always a MUST 😉 ). So here we go, I am going to try to paint a picture with words for any of you traveling to the Sunny State sometime soon!
When we landed in Los Angeles we grabbed our luggage and headed to Universal Studios: Hollywood! I know, I know, we are not children and don’t quite have any, but both of us love a great theme park and after a 5 hour flight from the east coast we needed to stretch our legs! Cali is 3 hours ahead of EST so when traveling you almost gain back all your flying time! Universal Studios Hollywood was wonderful! I won’t go into so much detail about that, but there is a brand new Harry Potter world there and although I was not a huge reader of the books, the experience in the park is wonderful! It made me want to read the entire series! There were so many rides and THE FOODD!!!! The food was unbelievable and there were treats on every corner! We did the movie tour about all the fun movies that had been produced on site and I was so shocked that some of my ALL-time favorites like Gladiator, Jurassic Park and more were filmed by them! I highly recommend that tour if you go! We spent the whole day walking and enjoying the fun and sunshine! That evening we stayed by the park and woke up early the next morning and hit the trail towards Newport Beach…
Before we hit Newport Beach, I used my trusty TripAdvisor to see where was a great view to see the ocean and it took us to Inspiration Point in Corona del Mar. All I can say if you are near this area is GOOO!!! Corona del Mar was by far one of the most BEAUTIFUL spots on our entire trip! The streets were lined with homes you can only DREAM about, landscaping and flowers galore and OCEANFRONT VIEWS that will take your breathe away, seriously!! I could not stop taking photos of everything! My husband and I walked the bike trails in awe of all the beautifully colored homes and the attention to detail everywhere… this may sound funny, but it was one of the CLEANEST places I have ever been! It was quite the change from the bustling streets of Los Angeles… It was a surfer’s dream and there were so many of them! After our quick photo session in DREAMLAND we then headed to Newport Beach where we did not have a hotel, but wanted to stay. As we approached we found the most quant hotel that was ocean front called The Newport Beach Hotel. The lobby was open air and you could sit in a chair and stare directly at the boardwalk overlooking the ocean, it was so stunning! We stayed in the suite of the hotel that was like a small home with a kitchen, living area and large bathroom… It was totally worth the extra money for all the space and amenities! The next day we woke up and rode bikes (provided by the hotel) down the bike path to Balboa Pier!
Balboa is a wonderful little town right near Newport Beach! My husband and I had stumbled upon Balboa a few years back on a Cali trip and fell in love and needed to go back to the pier which first started our love for the West Coast! The piers were full of kids and families fishing and at the end of the pier is Ruby’s Diner a cute place to grab a burger and watch the waves and the surfers! After reminiscing and enjoying the breeze, we jumped on our bikes and headed back to our hotel where we spent the afternoon on the soft beach! I know the word “soft” is funny to use for California beaches, but the sand is soooo different that East Coast beaches! The sand was so fine and just slipped right through your hands and did not stick to you when you got in it! That night we watched the sunset over the water by the Newport Pier and then headed to a nice steak dinner at one of our favorite steakhouses, Mastro’s Steakhouse! Mastro’s was just a short Uber ride away and the steaks and calamari are MELT IN YOUR MOUTH!!! The only thing I can compare this restaurant to on the east coast is a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse… If you go, you HAVE TO save room for dessert because their signature dessert is a WARM BUTTER CAKE which is a warm almost buttery pound cake (but not quite that thick) with a cream cheese layer served WARM with vanilla ice-cream! I am getting so hungry just typing this on the plane headed home, but this is soo worth it! I wish there was some way to UPS one home 😉 (I may call and ask!)
The next day we decided to continue our trip to San Diego! Leaving Newport Beach we decided to take the scenic route on the Pacific Coast Highway. There are a few ways to travel and if you get a chance to take the Pacific Coast Highway for any portion of your trip to Cali, it is totally worth it! The water views are incredible and the extra time it takes on your trip will not matter because the scenery is BREATHTAKING! Leaving Newport, I wanted to stop at Laguna Beach at one of my favorite brunch spots, Driftwood Kitchen to grab a bite to eat before we hit the San Diego Zoo!
I got the eggs benedict and my husband went for the blueberry pancakes, both were TREMENDOUS! Driftwood Kitchen is right on the beach and you can either walk up to it from the beach or the road. We took the beach route and sat outside on the open patio and enjoyed the view and our food! After brunch we hit the road to the Zoo.
The San Diego Zoo is one you don’t want to miss! There are zoo many amazing animals there from polar bears, elephants, monkeys, lions and even a PANDA!!!! The panda exhibit was worth the trip because it is so rare to be able to see them! I remember someone once saying that panda’s looked like people in halloween costumes and they really do! The Zoo also has a great food selection for lunch and we decided to eat in “Asia” and got the teriyaki chicken and fried rice and I was so impressed at how amazing the food was!
My husband is a pilot so he wanted to go in the Air and Space Museum, which was right beside of the Zoo, so we headed there and this museum was also neat! Although aviation is not my passion, it sure was impressive to read and see some of the amazing planes and learn about how the planes we now fly on were created and to see some of the amazing people who made it happen! I am actually writing this post on a plane and I am still in awe of how we all just travel around up in the air every day, it’s pretty awesome!
After the museum we drove down to the Glass Lamp district which is were everyone we met on our travels told us to go while in San Diego. The Glass Lamp area was the area with the fashion, food and best hotels. I wish I could say more and give more suggestions, but we did not stay there very long before we decided to go on a crazy whim and head to Las Vegas (only a 4 1/2 hour drive) from San Diego! We travel to Las Vegas a lot, from family trips, work trips and just for fun so it is a little like our “West Coast home,” but we had never driven to it from San Diego and through the desert, so we figured, “why not!” We gassed up our little Jeep and started the trek East! One of our absolute favorite hotels to stay at is The Venetian, so hallway there I booked our trip through Expedia.com saved a ton of money and got a $150 voucher to use on hotel amenities so if you are booking a Vegas trip check them out for rates 🙂
Vegas, what can I say, it’s the city that never sleeps and there is ALWAYS SOMETHING GOING ON!! Although we did not go for gambling or shows on this trip, we did hit the shopping scene which ALWAYS gets me!! Walking through Cesar’s Palace, I came upon a store and brand, All Saints, that I had never heard of… I fell in love with everything!! I got the softest knot dress and really wanted a cold shoulder dress, but decided to just get the one! I highly recommend checking them out, they are awesome and the clothing is made so well. Cesar’s Palace Forum Shops are so fun and there is everything from a Banana Republic to Louis Vuitton and Chanel (so something for everyone!) We also went to the Shops at the Palazzo and watched the people ride the gondola’s through the hotel! Vegas really was our last stop just to hang and shop, but we did go to one nice dinner for my husband’s birthday, his favorite, Delmonico Steakhouse. Delmonico with an Emeril Lagasse restaurant with a wine list 100 pages long (no kidding, exactly 100 pages) and a felt in your moth filet that will have you begging for more! The dinner begins with their signature bread a “popover” which is so buttery and a course for any palette! My husband and I always get the caesar salad which is prepared for 2 table side! The ingredients come out on the cart by the server and they make your dressing and salad right in front of you! We both got filet’s and then broccoli with cheese that was so warm and buttery! The main course was so filling we did not have room for desert, but I did get a cappuccino and it was a great ending to the meal.
The following morning we hit the road to the Premium Outlets North in Vegas, which has stores like Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, All Saints, John Varvatos and the list continues. These outlets are not like our east coast outlets in that they offer more high end brand options! We always like to go to these stores to see what’s new and the prices are unbeatable! We then hit up our favorite fast food chain on the west coast, In-N-Out Burger with two burgers “animal style” with fries and our trip was complete! I am now writing this post on the 4 hour plane ride home to NC, kind of sad to be leaving a little slice of paradise, but happy to be coming back home… there is no place like home!
I did decide on postponing the release of this post because I wanted to add the outfits and link everything so that is why you are all just now getting it! I hope it was a post that you enjoyed and I would love to know your favorite spots in Cali! I am certain we will be headed back and so many of you messaged me while we were out there and I was overwhelmed by all your kind words of love and suggestions, “Thank you!” I hope you all have an amazing day! Lots of love and safe travels wherever you are headed today! XOXO