To celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (a month early), Dill and I took a trip in late September to Southern California. I spent four years of my childhood living in California, LA is like a third home to me (right behind Dallas), and Dill’s family has strong ties to the state. We took a similar trip in 2016 with Chelsea and Carter, where we stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at MarBrisa in Carlsbad, CA. We stayed at the same resort, but this time, in one of their studio rooms.
We were so busy leading up to the trip that we didn’t have time to sit down and plan where we wanted to explore. So the first day there, we found a cute little coffee shop named Baba Coffee in Carlsbad and jotted down ideas. I took to Instagram and asked our friends for recommendations and searched each one on Google Maps for their location and to get a feel for it based on the photos. Tip: Take advantage of Google Maps’ “Want to go” feature to keep tabs on your wishlist spots and their location in relation to you. I also checked out the Carlsbad, San Diego, and LA location tags on Instagram and added a few spots to our wishlist.
One of our first stops was ÚNICO Juice Shop in San Diego. I asked the woman working which menu item was their most popular and on the bitter side (think pineapples, blackberries, or apples) and she recommended their Post-Workout Greens drink loaded with seasonal greens, cucumber, pineapple, banana, lemon, maca, and mesquite.
It’s a tiny juice shop with the perfect little outdoor patio seating if you want to sip on your drink there.
Up next was Balboa Park in San Diego.
I should point out that the weather during our trip in 2016 was significantly cooler. I had only packed two sweaters (mostly anticipating the cooler California nights) and it was so chilly that I ended up wearing them every. single. day.
This year was the total opposite. We were sweating just walking around Balboa Park and ended up chasing the shade wherever it was. So, visiting the Botanical Building was perfect since it was shaded.
What I loved most was the building had a patch of herbs that they encouraged you to rub between your fingers and smell. Peppermint, Sweet Mint, Basil, Rosemary, and so many others.
We spent the rest of the day exploring San Diego, which has some of the best street art and oversized murals.
Then we ended the day by watching the sunset at Sunset Cliffs, CA. I never get tired of watching a sunset. We (along with everyone else) parked up the street and walked to cross the road for this one. It was a great spot with plenty of areas for everyone to sit.
On Wednesday, we went to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure! Apparently, it’s not physically possible for us to be in Southern California without stopping at Disney — we’ve gone three times together in two years.
Rather than spam this post with tons of Disney photos and a recap of our visit, I’ll save that for a post of its own.
We spent the next day relaxing (recovering from Disney) and exploring Carlsbad.
We got our caffeine fix at Revolution Roasters with a Honey-Lavender latte, an affogato, and the tastiest avocado toast — the only time I’ve ever felt it was worth it to pay for avocado toast, rather than making it myself.
Then we walked next door to little shop called Rais Case. It sits within a shop that hosts several different vendors inside (they’re currently working on rebranding with a new name). Inside, Rais Case had leather goods and bags to shop from and then a DIY leather-making craft table to create whatever you wanted. This was definitely the highlight of the shop. They provided the leather, metal, tools and dreamy environment for you to get creative.
I ended up discovering my LOVE for leather working. I definitely thought I’d get frustrated by working with leather for the first time or that my hands would cramp (like that time I went to an event hosting a floral crown tutorial) but I could’ve been there for hours.
Check out their Instagram here to see what the table and set up looks like.
That night, we celebrated our anniversary with a fancy dinner at The Marine Room in La Jolla – a restaurant literally sitting on the beach facing the sunset. It was surreal. We got there at the perfect time to see the complete sunset.
Our final day in California was spent in the Venice area around Abbot Kinney Blvd. Something you don’t get much of in Texas is variety in shop fronts and restaurants. Texas is definitely working its way up there, especially in highly populated or creative areas like Houston, Dallas, and Austin. But I’ve noticed especially in California, where real estate is in such high demand, the competition brings out the best in retail environments and restaurant menu offerings. Each shop was different — one would give off a high ceiling gallery feel selling jewelry and socks and the next would literally be a front porch entry into a home seemingly converted into a home good shop. I loved it.
My favorite shop? A garden furniture store called Grow Venice. Like I said, most of the shops on this street were like walking through an Instagram post and Grow was the pinnacle.
I mean, look at that Blue Whale succulent pot.
Finally, we headed home to Houston rested, energized, and happy to know our favorite area a little more.
My favorite bag to use when traveling – buy it below!
What are your favorite vacation spots? Are there any other California spots we need to visit next time we go? Leave a comment below!
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