Archive | August, 2011

Balboa Ferry – Balboa Island, Calif.

30 Aug


You have got to go here…Balboa Island Ferry – Balboa Island, Calif.

If you live in Orange County, Calif. and you have never been here…you are missing out.  If you live outside of this county, you have got to go here!  The Balboa Island Ferry has been in operation since 1919.  It’s main purpose is to shuttle cars and people between Balboa Island and Balboa Pennisula – but  I think its real purpose is FUN!!!

The Balboa Island Ferry is one of the most inexpensive (see fares pictured below) fun things to do in Orange County.  It is great for kids, couples, friends and cars who want to do something out of the ordinary.  There are two ways to hop on the ferry: from Balboa Island off Agate Ave. or from Palm St. on Balboa Peninsula (I will give you my suggestion later.)


The wait for a ferry is never long, in summer there are always three running.  Be patient and enjoy the beauty around you.

I always get a little giddy when waiting for the ferry, maybe it’s because I love the ocean or maybe it is because I always see something cool.  I have never been on the ferry and not viewed amazing wildlife or spectacular landscape.

Once on the ferry feel free to walk around to see all of the bay.  If you are in your car, you are more than welcome to get out and enjoy the sceneary as well.  The ride is about five minutes, while not long…it is totally worth it for the expierence.  The staff will come around and collect your money.  Cash ONLY –  so be prepared!

If you are like me, once the ride comes to an end I feel sad…lol!  Don’t you fret, they will let you ride as many times as you want!

OK, here is my suggestion for the perfect ride!  Park on Marine Ave. on Balboa Island – there are tons of cute shops and restaurants to visit and don’t forget to pick up an authentic Balboa Bar!  Follow the signs to the ferry (about a half-mile walk).  You can either choose to walk along the water or through the neighborhood.  Either route doe snot disappoint as cute houses to admire line the streets.  Once you get to the ferry dock grab a bag of locally made Rusty’s Chips at the corner market for a tasty snack to enjoy while on the water.  Hop on the ferry when you are ready and have fun!  At the peninsula – get off and explore the shopping, eating and shoreline.  Don’t rush to get back as the ferry runs until 2 a.m.!

Happy Ferrying,

Crystal

Mission San Juan Bautista – San Juan Bautista, Calif.

22 Aug

You have got to go here…Mission San Juan Bautista!

Growing up in California the Mission system was a big part of my life.  I learned about them as a part of our rich California history and visited the local Missions a lot.  This summer while on a trip to Northern California I vowed to visit any Mission I past so that I could work towards my goal of visiting them all!

Out of the six I visited in a week, I stumbled on to one I really fell in love with – Mission San Juan Bautista!

Mission San Juan Bautista is located 47 miles south of San Jose, Calif. It is conveniently located right off the 101 freeway.  There are navigational signs too, so it was easy to find!

As we drove to the Mission I was absolutely ready to find an amazing sight, but we actually discovered a super cute and historic town too – more on that later!

The Mission is open everyday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and there is a donation of $4.00 for entrance to the grounds and church…this small price is well worth it.  The first thing I noticed when I entered the grounds is that they are smaller than some of the other missions that I visited, but I was surprised by how much more beautiful their relics were.


There are lots of things to see inside the small museum and outside in the gardens. Hidden gems everywhere so take your time to look and explore…then head over to the amazing church!

One thing I always like to do when I visit the church of a Mission is to sit in the pew and relish in all the beauty and history around me.  They are always awe-inspiring to me and love seeing how each one of they are unique and magnificent in their own way.

Again, this is not one of the biggest Missions in the system inside, but the grounds outside are huge and there are lots to see – also a great place to bring a picnic lunch for your family.  Some of my favorites where the statue of Father Serra, the view of part of the original El Camino Real, and the neighboring San Juan Bautista State Historic Park – which is also worth a visit ( I mean only if you like really cool historic buildings!)

OK so after you have explored all that head a few blocks down to the historic town of San Juan Bautista.  Unfortunately I did not have that much time to explore the town (cute shops and packed restaurants/bars), so I will leave that up to you…but I will get you excited by leaving you with a few teaser pictures of what I did see!

Mission San Juan Bautista is exactly why I love to travel and explore.  I went expecting just to see one thing and in the end discovered so much more!

On a side note, there is ample parking so no need to worry!  Also, you could spend all day here so if you plan on doing so pack a lunch as there are ample parks and open spaces to enjoy the day…you many even meet some new friends!

Happy Missioning,

Crystal

CIBO – Sausalito, Calif.

17 Aug

You have got to go here…CIBO – Sausalito, Calif.

After many trips to the bay area I finally made my way over to Sausalito…what a beautiful little town.  It was quaint and the view of San Francisco was amazing!  Unfortunately I only had time to grab lunch, but boy did I find a great little spot – CIBO.  Not only is crossing the Golden Gate Bridge worth it to see Sausalito, it is worth it to eat at CIBO.

I did no research before heading into Sausalito for food, but when I drove by CIBO (located at 1201 Bridgeway) it was packed inside and outside…so I stopped.  The first things I noticed when I entered were the relaxing outdoor seating area and the fresh baked goods that welcomed you at the front door!

The menu had so many options…it was hard to choose!  After mulling it over I finally decided on a winter salad (yeah for beets and goat cheese), a ham and cheese panini, a homemade sugar cookie, and fresh brewed ice tea!  The taste of the the winter salad was magnificent…the flavors blended so well together.  What I liked most is that there was no heavy feeling when I was done and I didn’t feel bad indulging in the mouth watering cookie!

There is nothing better than enjoying fresh food while relaxing in the California sunshine!  Don’t rush through lunch, take your time…there is ample seating inside and out so maybe try both.  The decor inside is modern and clean and if you sit outside you can see the water!  We chose to sit outside and get some Vitamin D while we ate and of course looking at all the dogs that were hanging out was a fun treat too!

CIBO is in walking distance of the town center where there are shops and historical sites to see so be sure and investigate.

My suggestions: bring change as the most convienent parking is metered…make sure you watch your time.  Also, if you like coffee they serve Blue Bottle Coffee…it is probably the best Cafe Au Lait I have had short of being in New Orleans…try it!

Happy Eating,

Crystal

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company – San Francisco, Calif.

12 Aug

You have got to go here…Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company, San Francisco, Calif.

Have you ever wondered where fortune cookies are made?  Well fret no more…the secret location has been discovered – the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company in San Francisco.  Now I know that this is probably not the only place they make them, but I am sure it is one of the coolest!

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company is located in Ross Alley, which is bordered by Jackson St. to the north, Washington St. to the south, Stockton St. to the west and Grant St. to the east.  Pick up a touristy map in San Francisco and you will be able to find it!  You can get to it by foot, cable car or bus depending on where you are staying.

Once  you locate this treasure, be prepared to step back in time.  The fortune cookies are made by hand, there is no cash register – just a bucket to put money in, there is no website, no facebook page…just fresh fortune cookies!

When you enter, you will see the ladies making cookies…get close, see how it is done!

So from what I can gather, the machine above pours the dough in the flattner (highly technical terms here 🙂 ), then when it is almost cooked, but still pliable, it is taken out, formed and the fortune is put in.  I could have watched this process all the day.  The lady was so quick…she didn’t even have to look at what she was doing – it was almost like performance art!

Oh and by the way…they give you free samples!!!  The taste is amazing, I can not explain how good a fresh fortune cookie tastes.  You will always roll your eyes at a packaged one after that!

Spend as much time as you want taking in the sights and amazing smells.  I was so fascinated by the production that goes on in such a tiny little shop!

OK, so one last thing before you go…MUST BUY COOKIES!  They are so cheap and most importantly delicious.  We bought a bag of 10 for $2.00!  I ate them a week later and they were still just as tasty.  They make great souvenirs to bring home, providing you don’t eat them all.

My suggestions, go early in the day as it can get crowded inside – it is very small! Take cash (small bills) as they do not take cards and ask for a 50 cent donation to take a picture (you can take as many as you want for the one donation).

On a personal note, I love that this place is removed from all the modern conveniences we are so used to.  It is almost relaxing to me to visit a somewhere that still upholds traditions and does things the way they have always been done.  If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it is for sure the motto of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company!

Happy Fortune Reading,

Crystal

The Yoda Statue – San Francisco, Calif.

1 Aug

You have got to go here…The Yoda Statue, San Francisco, Calif.!

This entry is for all the Star Wars lovers and any one who wants to see something really really cool!  I have to admit that I am not a fan of Star Wars (I know kill me now right?), I don’t hate them – they just aren’t for me. When my husband (HUGE Star Wars fan) proposed the idea of visiting the Yoda Statue I decided to humor him, but I ended up discovering something very neat!

First you have to know that Lucas Film Ltd. (where the statue is) is located in the Presidio, a former army post that is now a National Park.  This place is amazing in its own right.  There are museums, trails, restaurants, camping, and historic sites in the park…just to name a few, so when you are done looking at the statue make sure you spend the day exploring this wonderous open space.

Ok back to the reason we are here:)  The Yoda Statue is located at 1 Letterman Drive in the Presidio.  Google it, it is on the map.  There is parking right in front of the building, but it is private – keeping driving a few blocks down  and there will be a public pay lot on the right and left.  Once you park there is a very accessible walkway to the statue.  You can’t miss it…just look for the other tourists – believe me there will be some!

I have to admit that the statue was pretty darn cool.  No matter what you think, Star Wars is a huge part of American and pop culture and it was neat to be a part of it.  Take tons of pictures, they will make great memories!  In addition to the statue there is also something you will want to do especially if you are a Star Wars fan.  My suggestion is that you visit the statue during the week as if you do you can visit the lobby (and trust me, you WILL want to do this) of Lucas Film Ltd., which is located directly behind the statue.  It was awe-inspiring to see all of the memorabilia – my favorite was the MTV Movie award. Make sure to look at everything as you just might discover a treasure!  We were allowed to take pictures but were asked not to touch anything.  I ask you to respect this rule as not to mess it up for future fans who will come to pay homage.  Don’t be embarrassed to take lots of pictures as there are plenty of other people doing it too! 🙂 Check out my slide show below of the lobby!

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After you are done getting your geek on, walk around the other buildings as there are some great statues that depict pioneers in the history of film.

Happy May the Force be With You,

Crystal