Last summer my girls and I decided to take a road trip to Southern California. This is a road trip that we have taken often, but this trip was a little different. We LOVE pretty much everything about Southern California. (The traffic? Not so much.) For this particular trip, we decided that we would NOT visit any theme parks. No Disneyland, Sea World, Legoland, Knotts… This time, it was ALL about the California beach, and it turned out to be one of our our favorite family vacations of all time!
So come on my flashback with me, and I’ll take you through a little photo journey of all of the fun things that we did!
DAY 1 –
The first day of our road trip took us from Central Utah to Henderson, NV (a suburb of Las Vegas.) We have awesome friends that live there, so it’s a great stopping place for us. We can get a little rest and spend the evening catching up! I didn’t take enough pictures in Henderson, but here is a picture of the desert sunset that night. I took it while our kids were all playing at a splash pad/park.
DAY 2 –
We left Henderson and headed to our go-to Southern California destination… Newport Beach. After checking into our hotel and unloading our luggage, we promptly put on our swimsuits and cover ups and headed to the Balboa Peninsula with our boogie boards! We ended up spending the rest of that day, with our cooler full of snacks, at the beach next to the Balboa Pier.
DAY 3 –
We had planned on spending day 3 at Newport Beach, but the weather wasn’t really cooperating. Instead, we found a FANTASTIC mall called the Irvine Spectrum. We decided to go see a movie, get some lunch, and spend a little time shopping! Kir, my little baker, found a little Macaron shop called Honey & Butter, and we had the best time trying all the different flavors. Delicious.
DAY 4 –
As a regular road tripping family, we LOVE state parks! We wanted to check out Crystal Cove State Park, just south of Newport Beach. Crystal Cove State Park runs along 3.2 miles of shoreline near Laguna Beach. We paid $15 for a day use parking pass. This gave us access to numerous sandy trails that took us down the hills to stretches of amazing tide pools along the coast.
Nestled at the south end of the park is a little historic district that has 46 vintage coastal cottages that were built in the 1930s and 1940s. I felt like I had stepped into an old movie and that Frankie & Annette could pop out at any moment for a beach party! It was SO cute. Of course, we had checked TripAdvisor for the top restaurants near Newport Beach. One of the very best rated restaurants was the Beachcomber Cafe, right in the middle of the historic district! We hadn’t made a reservation, so the wait was going to be about an hour. When your wait is on a beach, surrounded by darling cottages and people frolicking in blissful happiness, an hour doesn’t seem like a long time at all!
The restaurant was packed full of other beach-goers and the vintage vibe was super fun. We loved every minute of being there! Here’s what my girls ate: (Sorry about the lighting. I was facing the sun, and it was really difficult to get a good picture!)
DAY 5 –
On day 5, we decided to spend the entire beautiful, sunny day at Newport Beach. We went early enough that we were able to find parking (paid) right by the pier. We walked a short distance and got a great spot of beach and laid out our giant beach towels, blanket, cooler (which doubles as a great foot rest) and camp chairs. We love Newport Beach because it is a little more shallow than Balboa, which is great for kids. You can walk out quite far before the water becomes really deep. That makes for a lot of fun shell hunting and wave jumping. My view ALL DAY LONG was an incredible beach, and Kate’s silly face. Haha. I mean, if this doesn’t look like a great vacation to you, I don’t know what does…
DAY 6 –
Of all the things we’ve ever done on our road trips, our WHALE WATCHING adventure on day 6 will go down in history as one of our favorites. Again, we used TripAdvisor to find some activities for our trip. We came across this great little company called Newport Coastal Adventure that docks at Balboa Island. In contrast to most other whale watching companies, NCA takes out small Zephyr boats with only a handful of passengers to see the wildlife along the coastline. You are literally at the level of the water! Besides me and my two girls, there was a man and his son from Germany, and Taylor, the captain of our little vessel.
Rather then continue to tell you how awesome the experience was, I figured I would post a little video that I put together after our adventure. Though this clip is only a minute long, we were on the boat for about two hours. We saw a baby humpback whale, minke whales, seals, and about a zillion dolphins!
We headed home to Utah on Day 7, and have been daydreaming of this vacation pretty much every day since we got home! We will definitely be planning many more beach-only vacations in the near future!
Happy Road Tripping!!
I’d love to know what you think! Have you been to Southern California? What are some of your favorite activities to do on beach vacations? Scroll down to comment!