Tag Archives: hiking

Point Lobos State Reserve – Carmel, Calif.

31 Jul

You have got to go here…Point Lobos State Reserve – Carmel, Calif.

It’s no secret how beautiful the drive on Highway 1 is between San Luis Obispo and Carmel, or the fact that everyone knows they HAVE to stop in Big Sur.  While Big Sur rightfully deserves the praise it gets, I am here to tell you that there is another magnificent place that must be visited along the way – Point Lobos State Reserve.

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Located in Carmel, Point Lobos is a playground for nature lovers.  With miles of hiking trails (for all skill levels – most of their trails are ADA accessible), tide pools, beaches and even scuba diving there is something for everyone.

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As if these pictures don’t you make you start planning your vacation now, there is more.

There seems to be magic around every turn, from the fairytale scenery to the majestic hidden coves…your eyes will be on overload.

This is just a small portion of what this state park has to offer.

Here are a few tips:

-Get there EARLY, parking ($10 per car) is limited.

-Buy the trail map, it well worth it.

-If you have all day, spend all day.

-Pack a picnic lunch and bring plenty of water.

-Join a docent on a walk.

…and the best tip of all…keep your eyes open!

We spotted 3 sea otters in the span of two hours.  There are no pictures of these furry creatures as they are something you need to see for yourself.

Happy Lobosing,

Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, UK.

Who would fly 5,000 miles to take a picture?  This girl!  Boy am I glad that I followed my heart, because what I got was so much more than a photo.

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Mr. & Mrs. Darcy

Ever since I saw the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice I knew that I had to make it to Pemberley (all you Mr. Darcy fans out there know what I am talking about!) and in 2013 I finally got my chance.

So, I’m not going to lie…my trip to the United Kingdom was planned (mad props to Anne Marie at Across the Pond Vacations for all your help) around Chatsworth House.  Yes, I was excited to see London and Edinburgh, but really it was this place that I had been dreaming about that gave me butterflies.  All I knew about it was from a movie and through planning I was blown away by how amazing it really was.

First, lodging…where to stay?  On the grounds of course, above a pub – yes please!  The Devonshire Arms at Beeley is a car ride, walk or bike ride away from Chatsworth House. You choose your own adventure.

Hands down, this was one of the best places I have ever stayed.  It was in a picturesque village, the food, rooms and staff were all phenomenal. When I get stressed, I often picture myself having a pint on their patio while watching sheep graze nearby.

Are there other things to do around Chatsworth House you ask?  Absolutely!  It is located in the Peak District, which is a nature lovers dream.  Cycling, camping, hiking…the list goes on.  We couldn’t help but strap on our walking shoes and go exploring.  I recommend you stop by the Farm Shop first stock up on some fresh local provisions first!

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With goodies in hand, we set out on the first trail we found, to enjoy the local wildlife and take a breath to enjoy life.  I know it may seem cheesy, but for as long as I live, the moment I spent sitting by the river having a picnic with my husband and my best friend will forever be one of the best.

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As if life couldn’t get any better…it was finally time to go and explore Chatsworth House.  I have two big tips for you.  Plan to stay all day (one day may not be enough for you) and buy the Discovery ticket, which includes the house, garden and farmyard as you must see it all.

OK, in a nutshell, there is art, magnificent gardens, trails to explore, cute animals, a human sundial, fountains, shopping, yummy restaurants, and happiness!  OH and a hedge maze…a legit one.  It took us 45 minutes (rookies!) and it was a blast.  The research I did before hand did not do this place justice and I had 1000% more than anticipated.

Another thing I loved was the fact that there was so much open space to just lounge and take a moment to soak all the beauty in.

The moral of this story is…everyone has their Chatsworth House, so whether it is near or far.  GO!!! You never know what other awesome things you will discover and I promise once you set eyes on your dream place for the first time your life will change forever – I know mine did.

Happy Chatsworthing,

Crystal

P.S. Any P&P fans out there recognize this?

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Descanso Gardens – La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

18 May

 

You have got to go here…Descanso Gardens – La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Don’t you love when you discover something new in your own backyard?  I do!  That is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when I spent a lovely day at Descanso Gardens.

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Located in the beautiful neighborhood of La Canada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens is 160 acres of glorious flowers, trails, and vistas that can be explored by the whole family!  If you just want to stop and smell the roses or strap on your hiking boots – this place is for you.

Love flowers?  Feel free to stroll through the Rose, California Native, Lilac and Japanese gardens (just to name a few)!

 

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While the flowers were gorgeous, they weren’t may favorite part of the day.  The best part were two things I discovered that were totally unexpected – TRAILS & TRAINS!

First, let me start with the trails – I had no idea that there were going to be so many little hiking opportunities around the property.  My advice, take the unbeaten path because you never know what wonders you will come across.  Please remember one thing, there is poison oak so be careful!

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I was also super excited to learn that you can ride around a portion of the grounds (for an additional $3 – which is totally worth it!) on a 1/8th replica of a diesel train called The Enchanted RailroadYES, big kids can ride on it too!

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If I haven’t mentioned enough to keep you occupied, trust me there is much more to see!  A historical home, expansive lawns to relax on, hidden benches to spend a moment with your loved ones, a bird observation deck  and the list just keeps on going…

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If you need to take a break for some food there is a cafe on-site or feel free to bring a picnic and eat at the tables just outside the entrance.

OH did I mention you get a day full of adventure of only $9??? You can’t beat that!  Trust me, Descanso Gardens is a place you have got to go to!

Happy Gardening,

Crystal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – San Diego, Calif.

9 May

You have got to go here…Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – San Diego, Calif.

Do I have any hikers in the house?  WELL, I have just the place for you.  If you have not hiked Torrey Pines then you have been missing out!

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With a multitude of trails, there is something for every skill level (for a challenge – park at the lower lot and hike up the hill, down the beach trail and north on the beach until you are back at your car).  

We chose Razor Point to Yucca Point to Beach Trail and back up Broken Hill.  Not only was it a great workout, we saw wildlife, flowers and breath-taking views along the way!
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What I also love is that there are tons of cool places to stop and take pictures along the way!

The basics: There is a $15 per carload fee to enter (totally worth it), great for families (visit the visitor’s center for a history lesson), bring plenty of water – and a picnic if you want!

Happy Hiking,

Crystal

P.S. If you want to make a weekend of it, may I suggest the Estancia Hotel in La Jolla?  Great boutique resort with fabulous food(BEST margarita ever), relaxing pool/spa (rent a sun bed -you won’t be disappointed) and top-notch service!

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Muir Woods – Mill Valley, Calif.

12 Jan

You have got to go here…Muir Woods – Mill Valley, Calif.

Do you think this view is worth $7.00?

Beautiful!

I do, and I promise you  will too!

Now you may be asking yourself…where can I find such a beautiful sight? The Muir Woods of course!  Located less than an hour north from San Francisco is this majestic National Park full of redwood trees.

Welcome!

Before we go any further I have two big tips for you!!!  1. Go early – I mean it.  The parking is FREE and close parking is limited so unless you want to take a shuttle or park off-site I recommend you go right when the park opens. 2. Bring a sweater. Even on the sunniest of days the park is primarily shaded so you will want something to keep you warm.

OK, now that we got that covered let’s have some fun.  The entrance fee for the park is $7.00 for ages 16 and older and 15 and under are FREE!

When you enter pick up a map as there are several trails that you can take.  If you want to challenge yourself there are options for you, but a nice family stroll can also be achieved.  We decided on the loop around the park and started in the canyon and then took the hillside on the way back to change up the scenery – I highly recommend this!

One of my favorite parts of the walk is entering the Cathedral Grove.  The park asks that you remain quiet when entering so that you can become one with nature and just enjoy being amongst its beauty.

Really take the time to enjoy what you are seeing around you as you never know what cool things you will discover!

You can even be silly in nature!

Another thing I love about this park is that it is good for the whole family, so don’t be afraid to invite the whole crew for an awesome day out!

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OH and don’t forget the best souvenir ever – a smashed penny! DSCN8685

So what will you see other than trees might you ask?  Well first off they are some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring trees that you will ever see, but there is also a lot of history about the park to be learned (No, I am not going to tell you about it – you must discover it on your own!).

Happy Woodsing,

Crystal

P.S. Are you hungry?  Well, I have some options for you!  You can eat at the cafe in the park or take a lovely drive north on Highway 1 and stop in Stinson Beach, a quaint little town with a lot of character. I recommend eating at The Lunch Box.  They have fresh sandwiches/salads/treats and you can take it over (or they will actually deliver it to you) to the park right across the street for a picnic!

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Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

OK, so here is a sneak peek…

There is so much more where that came from…read on!

My dad had heard about Tahquitz Canyon ( ancient Native American land) from a friend, so on a recent trip to Palm Springs we decided to check it out and I am so glad we did!  The Canyon is located just minutes from the heart of downtown so there are no excuses not to go.

Upon arrival you will enter the visitors center where you can read up on the canyon and borrow a hiking stick if you want!

Let me preface by saying that this is a two-mile loop to a 18ft waterfall with a 350 foot elevation gain, but if you hike or walk at all it will be a breeze.  With that being said please remember this is Palm Springs and it can be hot any time of year so bring plenty of water and snacks!

Now to the fun part…take your map and go.  The trail is very well-marked and is easy to follow.  As you go, look for markers that give you fascinating facts about the land you are on – such as where ancient ruins were found.

While walking really keep your eyes open as there is tons of amazing sceneary…everything from rock formations, fantastic views, wildlife to lush pools of water.

I can not express to you how beautiful this hike is.  I was in awe of all that was around and was totally giddy when we made it to the waterfall!  The only big bummer about this hike is that you can’t swim in the water – I was so tempted!

If I would have known how serene it was at the top I would have packed a lunch and had a picnic!

You may never want to leave – but if you must, don’t fret there is tons to see on the way down. Since it is a loop, a whole new set of wonders to discover awaits. (I made my family stop and take funny pictures!)

At the end I was very sad because it was over, but happy to have made the discovery!  I hope you feel the same after exploring Tahquitz Canyon!

***Side note – Admission is $12.50 (well worth it) and the hours vary, so check before you go!

Happy Hiking,

Crystal

Cabrillo National Monument

13 Jun

You have got to go here…Cabrillo National Monument!

I have lived in California my whole life and had never been to the Cabrillo National Monument on the Point Loma Peninsula (near San Diego) until this year.  My husband and I are frequent travelers to San Diego, but wanted to do something we had never done – thankfully we discovered Cabrillo!

First, the drive there is very cool…looking at the houses in the quaint neighborhoods surrounding Cabrillo was an adventure on its own.  I suggest stopping at Charlie’s Best Bread Bakery  in Point Loma to grab a picnic lunch for the day.  After you get some yummy treats for the day proceed through Naval Base Point Loma (It is always very cool to be on an Armed Forces Base, there is so many neat things to see – keep your eyes open) to the national monument.

The entrance fee to the park is a mere $5.00 per car load.  Once inside your adventure can begin.  We started at the visitor’s center to get the lay of the land, learn about the history of the monument and get a smashed penny of course.  From there you can take a short walk and see the Cabrillo Statue – which also gives you an amazing view of Coronado Island, Old Point Loma Lighthouse (you can actually go in and get a feel for what it was like to live in an lighthouse – the spiral stair case to the third floor is AWESOME!), and the Military Exhibit.  If you want to be a little more adventurous, take a hike via the 2-mile Bayside Trail.

WAIT! You are not done yet, drive down to the Tidepools and discover amazing ocean creatures!

Cabrillo National Monument is a great place to spend an inexpensive day with the family or with a date.  The views are breath-taking and the discoveries are endless – grab some water and go exploring!

Happy Trailblazing,

Crystal