Tag Archives: ocean

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Fife Coastal Path – Scotland

19 Oct

You have got to go here…Fife Coastal Path – Scotland

Enjoying the North Sea!

I love love love when I set out on one adventure and discover a totally different one along the way. On a picturesque misty Scottish morning I set out to St. Andrews on the Fife Coastal Path to see some sites that were significant to my family’s history (my relative was burned at the stake you know!)

Family History

OK, lets start with my first (and planned) adventure.  I know you have all probably heard of the Old Course, but St. Andrews is so much more. What a beautiful city it is  – full of historic ruins at both St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Andrews Castle, home to St. Andrews University (where I hear a famous royal couple met), has a plethora of fantastic shopping and streets lined with welcoming B&B’s as far as the eye can see.

In addition to all of the awesome things I just mentioned, I discovered the best gelato ever!!! OK I actually stalked it.  While planning my trip I came across a post (always keep lists about places you want to visit as you never know when you may get to experience them in person) about Jannettas and I knew that when I made it to St. Andrews it would be my first stop – and it was!  I was in heaven…so creamy and tasty.  I could have stayed there all day tasting every flavor.

YUMMO!

After spending several hours exploring this quaint town, I switched gears and went in search of a little fishing village named Anstruther.  We had taken a tour of the highlands in Scotland a day earlier with rabbies and our guide gave us a tip to where the best fish and chips in all of Scotland were.  How can you pass up trying them?

The drive to get there was an unexpected surprise.  I passed fields of lush green grass, set eyes on amazing views of the North Sea and came upon towns that looked like they were straight out of the fairytale.  I wish that I could have visited more places along this coastal path, but I only had time for fish and chips!

Alas, the Anstruther turnoff was upon me and I was excited.  Things to know: there was plenty of parking and it is seriously a block long – but this town has way more quality than quantity!  OK, side tracked, back to Scotland’s best fish and chips…you can’t miss Anstruther Fish Bar.

Here fishy fishy!Award Winning!

What a cute fun place!  First you have two options – take out or dine in…you chose.  We ate inside, but would have also enjoyed eating on a bench facing the sea.

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Now another decision…what to eat!  While there is much to choose from – you have to at least try the world famous fish and chips. AND let me just tell you how great they were…my husband who hates fish loved them.  They were super crispy, but moist inside and so tasty!  OH and another tip – try the mushy peas!

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Marky likes it!MenuMushy Peas Please!

Don’t just eat and run either! Anstruther is also full of shops and lots of places to explore.  I forgot to mention one more important thing…the people are so so friendly!

The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to stray from your plans as you never know what treats are to be had.  I had my mind set on on St. Andrews – tunnel vision almost, but I am glad I took the advice to go get fish and chips or I would have never discovered Anstruther (which turned out to be one of my favorite places in Scotland.)

If you are looking to scape the crowds and tourists in Edinburgh, do yourself a favor and escape to the coast for some peace and serenity.

So peaceful!

I can’t wait to return to the Fife Coastal Path and find more hidden gems.

Happy Fish and Chipping,

Crystal

Little Italy Mercato – San Diego, Calif.

11 Nov

You have got to go here…Little Italy Mercato, San Diego, Calif.

Who doesn’t love a good farmers market?  I am here to tell you that in my opinion the Little Italy Mercato is the best farmers market I have been to in Southern California…

…and here’s why (in no particular order)…

Best view! Located just a few blocks from the ocean, it is blessed with an amazing spot to call home.

Samples!  Come hungry because there are tons (more than I have ever seen) of amazing fresh samples to delight in.

Local Products!  I know this may be obvious – but the variety is top-notch and so unique.

Music!  What a pleasant way to shop while listening to the sweet sounds of local artists.

Fresh fruits and veggies!  I would not be doing the market justice if I left out that fact that of course they also have hundreds of different fresh fruits, flowers and veggies to offer shoppers.

Fun (my favorite part)!  This market provides a perfect way to spend a day doing something fun with your friends and family.

With over four city blocks of fresh product, the Little Italy Mercato is somewhere you have got to go.  So, next Saturday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., grab your besties and head to San Diego.  May I suggest making a day of it?

Happy Mercatoing,

Crystal

Victoria Beach – Laguna Beach, Calif.

26 Sep

You have got to go here…Victoria Beach – Laguna Beach, Calif.

I am sure many of you have heard or been to Laguna Beach, Calif., but have you stepped off the beaten path and been to Victoria Beach ,or better yet seen the Victorian Tower?

Located off Victoria Drive and Pacific Coast Highway, Victoria Beach is dubbed “The most private public beach in Laguna”.  Parking is hard to come by (pay extra attention to signs to make sure you don’t get a ticket or get towed), but trust me when I say this beach is worth the extra time to find a space or the extra walk you may need to take.

Here is a sneak peek to keep you interested…

OK, so the first adventure – the staircase!  Just kidding, it really isn’t as bad as it looks.  It is quite pretty and there is a bench along the route to stop and take a breather.

Once you get to the bottom, make a right.   You will see amazing tide pools (remember this is a natural habitat so please don’t touch).  Luckily the tide was low and I saw the most amazing starfish ever!  Be on the look out as you never know what you may see…

Take your time to explore – you have all day.  Once you are ready, head towards the castle (you can’t miss it)…you heard me!  OK, so it isn’t really a castle, but it sure looks like one.  Built in 1926, this Rapunzelesque Tower is something straight out of a fairytale.  Originally it was used as a staircase to the beach by the owner above, but now it sits as a beautiful piece of scenery to enjoy.

It’s really an awesome structure and to think it is still standing almost 90 years later.  You can walk around it and take in all the sights it has to offer.  I loved sitting next to it, just gazing out at the ocean – dreaming of what it was like in 1926…

Want to see more?  Well, then you will have to go here!  Grab a towel, some lunch  and head on down! Another secret, this beach is hard to find so there are rarely crowds.  It is a nice place to spend a relaxing day with your friends and family.  It can be your little secret hide-a-way (wink, wink)!

Happy Castling,

Crystal

Wayfarers Chapel – Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

16 Jul

You have got to go here…Wayfarers Chapel – Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

People often ask me where I find all the fun and unusual places I visit – and honestly my inspiration comes from everywhere.  I may get a wild hair to visit a new city, or discover a hidden gem in a blog…you just never know where you may find your next adventure.  I am not ashamed to admit that my trip to the Wayfarers Chapel was brought on by watching Beverly Hills 90210 (the new one).  On the finale of this season, a big dramatic wedding was taking place, but all I could think about was the amazing chapel they were in.  It was indoors, but it looked like it was outdoors – it was magnificent.  Within minutes (thank you internet) I had discovered what was to be my next adventure!

As a warning I must admit that this blog may be more plog (picture blog 🙂 ).  I will tease you with one picture and I know you will want to see more!

Located off Palos Verdes Drive South, Wayfarers has ample parking and is FREE to visit.  Whether you want to attend church, hold a wedding, marvel at amazing architecture, meditate in the gardens, or just spend the day discovering something new…this is the place for you!

Start at the visitors center……and for a $.50 donation you can purchase a guided walking tour map – I highly recommend this.

There is no rhyme or reason to your tour.  I wanted to save the chapel for last, so I started in the gardens. 

My first stop was the soothing waterfall above.  Listening to the stream was glorious!

Next, the Meditation Garden and Terraced Amphitheatre – both are great places to sit, reflect and enjoy the moment.

The view is STUNNING!  I could have stayed here all day just looking out into the crystal-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

I know I always say this, but really…take your time and enjoy where you are.  This is honestly one of the most beautiful spots in Southern California that I have visited.

When you are ready, proceed to the Front Lawn (it looks like a fairytale) and take time to stop at the Reflection Pool.

This is also a great place to take a breath and look towards the sea!

Drum roll please -my final stop…The Chapel!  Guarded by nature…it literally feels like you are outside – one with the greenery around you.  In actuality, you are indoors, but could never tell.  Wayfarers was designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) who took inspiration from redwood trees when planning the architecture of the chapel.

Oh, how I didn’t want to leave….

There are so many beautiful features, and nooks to be discovered in the chapel that pictures just don’t do them justice – that is why I am recommending you run to this piece of heaven on earth to see for your very own eyes!

The grounds are open Monday – Sunday from 10 a.m until 5 p.m., but the chapel may be in use so make sure to call ahead to see if there is an event on the day you are visiting.

One more thing – there are signs everywhere so make sure you keep your eyes open!

Happy Chapeling,

Crystal

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

27 Apr

You have got to go here…Pacific Marine Mammal Center – Laguna Beach, Calif.

Have you ever wanted to something fun while on vacation and help out a good cause as well?  Look no further than the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC).

Located just minutes from the beautiful Pacific Ocean, PMMC has been working to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals since 1971.  Not only are they doing good work here, but they allow visitors to come and observe – I guarantee you will have a smile on your face when you leave!

Once you enter the parking lot (free parking), just follow the seal to a fun educational experience!

As soon as you round the corner you will hear the sounds of the many animals that PMMC is helping.  Once you enter the grounds be prepared for lots of cuteness…

I couldn’t help but be drawn to the pools that housed the gorgeous native animals.  On the day that I visited there were a mixture of Elephant Seal Pups and California Sea Lions.  Watching them swim and play was addicting.

Not only can you sit and observe them playing for as long as you like, you may also get an opportunity to see the selfless volunteers help nurse these animals back to health.  While I was watching the animals, a friendly volunteer gave me a history of the facility and was more than happy to answer any questions I had.  In addition to being a fun place to visit, PMMC is just as much an educational center and offers programs for both adults and children.  They also have many volunteer opportunities for people who may have a passion for these animals that goes above just learning about them.

PMCC is place that will warm your heart and your day.  If you are visiting the Laguna Beach area, this is a must visit.  It is the perfect place to either come by yourself or your family.  Spend as little or as long as you want on the grounds taking in the glorious creatures.

While there is no fee to visit, please consider a small donation to help continue the life-saving efforts of PMCC.

My pictures do not do the animals justice, so I encourage you to take some time to see them with your own eyes. OH and by the way, feel free to visit as often as you want as you never know what new arrivals will be on hand!

Happy Sealing,

Crystal