Why I’m abstaining from Instagram for Dry July…


Dry July, is typically known as the month you abstain from something that is toxic, traditionally, alcohol.

I don’t feel alcohol is having too much of a toxic effect on my life right now, so I’m not drying out on that.

I am however, drying out on Instagram.

It is the greatest toxic presence in my life right now, far greater than the odd glass of wine or cider I have after a long day, or to celebrate with friends.

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

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It just so happened that my desire to quit Instagram for awhile coincided with Dry July, but it makes me think, what a great time of the year to evaluate what is and isn’t working in your life and make a decision to improve it.

It might be alcohol, it might be something stronger, it might be Instagram, it might be a toxic relationship, or a toxic mind.

Whatever it is for you, make a commitment to yourself – this is your life, and you don’t have to tolerate anything in it that brings you down and gets in the way of you becoming the best version of yourself.

Sometimes we allow these toxic influences to fester because we think we have to, or we need it, or we don’t deserve anything better.

But these are just excuses we give ourselves through a fear of missing out, or insecurity over our worth.

How do you know if something is toxic?

If it keeps you awake at night.

If you feel trapped by it.

If you feel like you can’t get by without it.

If you turn up to it dragging your feet.

If you complain endlessly about it.

If it brings you pains in the chest, or any pain in your body.

If it tightens your breathing.

If it causes you to feel jealous, insecure or judgmental.

If it causes you to do things that are out of alignment with your integrity.

I think you get the picture. It just doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t feel like flow.

Things to do in San Diego with kids

Believe it or not – and we’re rarely taught this – life is meant to be loved and enjoyed. I know you may be scoffing and spluttering right now as you sit amongst a pile of problems and struggles.

But how much of those problems and struggles are brought about because of the toxins in your life?

Toxins you could quite easily let go of, but you don’t because you feel like you need, have to, or should be doing them.

If it doesn’t make you feel good it’s a sure sign you shouldn’t.

So that’s what has lead me to quit Instagram for Dry July.

Actually, I quit it a few days ago in June. So now I’m sitting on my porch with the early morning breeze and the sound of the birds and I feel good.

I feel freer and more like my old self.

I just don’t feel good about Instagram

To be honest, I never have.

Is it the platform or is it just me? I don’t know.

But, when I constantly hear statements like this,

I’m doing it for the gram.If a place is not grammable, it’s not worth visiting,

and when I see the lengths people go to get the perfect Instagram photo, including invading people’s privacy, stomping over Mother Nature, and going to dangerous edges just to capture a photo that will paint a picture of how amazing they are for a bunch of likes, I can’t help but think there is something wrong with this platform.

Many people complain about how overwhelmed, consumed and frustrated by it and how they feel if they don’t get x amount of likes and “engagement” they won’t be important enough .

Some people resort to buying followers and likes just to get that engagement to prove to a brand, who only looks at this metric, that they are influential and worth working with.

I get pissed off and frustrated by it.

But, really why should what other people are doing affect my experience with something? This is my Instagram issue to figure out.

This is not a judgmental post at all. I totally understand.

This platform is something that is consuming a lot of people, causing anxiety, leading them down wrong paths, and most importantly, and in the most detrimental way, causing them to forget their own worth.

It’s like when my dental hygienist said the other day when she asked me if I was flossing enough, said “It’s okay. I’m not here to judge or shame you.”

I instantly felt better.

I don’t want to judge or shame anyone either. We’re all good people waking up each day trying to do the best we can.

We have dreams and goals to pursue, and people in our lives to care for.

It can be very scary to have that responsibility. Life with all its pressures and our own deep seated fears and insecurities can lead us astray and far from what’s in our heart center.

I want to share how this journey is for me, and hopefully help someone reading this who may be struggling. To know, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Toxins, like Instagram, do not have to control your life.

The toxin consuming your life could be YouTube, Facebook, a blog, a co-worker, the corporate ladder,  alcohol, or painkillers.

No matter, I just want you to know you have the power to untangle yourself from that toxin and not let it control you.

The All Consuming Aspect of Instagram

Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego, California

It was the day that they released IGTV that I just fell apart.

What? You mean there is something else on this platform for me to do?

Now as I film video for YouTube I have to turn my camera around and do it horizontal to fit in to this mobile format. And if I don’t then I’m going to lose the Instagram battle to be seen even more?

“God Caroline. Mark Zuckerberg is trying to consume your life and take all of your energy and attention.

Your children need your time and energy more. Your purpose needs your time and energy more. The things that fill your life with joy need your time and energy more.

You don’t have to do anything. You have nothing to prove. Get out and take a break. Return to your center. Do the work that fulfils you and helps others.”

And so after a fitful sleep I decided to ditch the fear of missing out and the overwhelm and take a break from it.

Make the statement that I don’t need Instagram, or anything, to be successful or happy.

It’s time to take my power back, release this need to be seen from it, untangle my ego from the trap of it and figure out how I can make it be a joyful part of what we do, or no part at all.

I can ditch Instagram entirely and it would not affect our income nor our growth (which is huge at the moment) so then why don’t I?

Why do I worry so much about this platform?

It’s purely an ego thing. A need for validation. A fear of not being seen of not being good enough. Of now being too old.

It’s how all consuming it is.

To get a good amount of likes, you have to spend two hours perfecting a shot, then time writing the perfect caption, then researching the perfect hashtags, then two hours engaging with others in the community, and hope you’ve cracked the algorithm.

For what? So I can say I get X amount of likes therefore I am worthy?

I’m so lucky that I don’t even take the photos. Craig runs around in the background popping off shots as we’re having our travel experiences. That’s what he likes to do, mostly to get photos for our blog and Pinterest or video for YouTube.

But I do the Stories and I try not to let it consume every activity we do, but it can be hard to switch it off.

It feels like a platform that requires me to be so “look at me and my perfectly crafted life,” where I’d rather be, “Hey, this is the real journey, and here’s how you can love it regardless of its twists and turns.”

I’d much rather schedule separate time to devote six hours writing a blog post that is super helpful and useful to inspire and inform people to follow their dreams with action plans to follow.

I can get that post to bring in thousands more readers to spend 6 minutes or more reading it, than I would likes on a single photo that lasts a couple of hours.

I can get that post to continue to bring in thousands more readers each and every month.

I can re-purpose that content in multiple different ways.

I can write to my email community that is on a platform owned by me and have thousands read it and engage with the content in a matter of  minutes.

And I feel so much joy in doing all of that.

Instagram really doesn’t make a lot of sense to the use of my time and passion. And it doesn’t make me feel good about myself.

The Instagram Comparititus Issue

I haven’t even started on how much it can kill a person’s self esteem as they use that platform as a way to compare and turn their eyes away from what is good and worthy about themselves and put it into how much they are not like another.

I was going down that path of comparititus and feeling worthless.

It’s a platform that has never worked very well for us, and I hate knowing that although, we may have a lot of followers, our engagement is really poor.

I stress over that. I stress over not being good enough, but stress over the fact, that it looks like we’ve been dodgy.

How can we have so many followers but too few likes and engagement?

Are we that unlikeable? Has Instagram blocked us? Or do we just not play the game well?

The head starts going,  “you’re so boring. No one likes you. You’re so old and ugly. “

Can you believe I talk to myself this way? Over a stupid platform?

Do you treat yourself in the same way? Let’s be real, we all have that voice in our head!

Please if you find this platform, or any other entity, or person, renting space in your head like this take a break.

Take a break so you can find your truth again.

But, there is two of us…

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Of course, there are two people running the ytravel world, so Craig will still be posting photos as he still wants to.

He’s had fun playing with the drone lately so wants to share more of his amazing photos.

Many people do tell us they love the authenticity of our photos and how it tells our travel story. As always, we love and appreciate the support.

I don’t want my head space over Instagram to get in the way of me connecting with you. Once I detangle from this platform I think I’ll be able to do that better.

I may even figure this all out before the end of July and return to it then.

Delete the apps off your phone

I have deleted Instagram from my phone, as well as Facebook.

I can manage how I use Facebook better because you can use it on a laptop. You can’t with Instagram, which really worries me.

This app is designed to be with you at all times and consume you in all your everyday tasks. If you want to use it, it has to be on that device you carry everywhere with you.

It’s so tempting to pick it up just to check and then get sucked in to everyone else’s lives.

I’m still using Facebook as I like it and have no head issues over it. Facebook is how I connect to family and friends, which is so important to me living so far away from them.

But I only check in when I am on my computer only once or twice a day now.

The changes already

It’s only been a week but the difference in my mood and peace has been huge, my head is clear, and my productivity is great.

I’m not turning up to a new cafe and thinking about how I can take a picture and share how cool it is. I can just eat my food as soon as it comes out.

All that matters is the moment I have with the moment. It’s mine to enjoy and that’s what makes it worthy.

I’ve realized how much of a habit it is to reach for that phone just to check in. Now I pick it up and realize there’s nothing to check, I put it back down to appreciate the present moment.

I’m noticing what’s happening around me. I’m definitely smiling more and chatting to strangers.

I’m reading empowering books and uplifting documentaries instead and learning so much.

It’s empowering to know that I don’t need Instagram, I am in control, and that life will still flow for me, and I’m worthy regardless of whether I am seen or liked. #trueliberation

I’m not concerned with what others are doing.

Hashtags, algorithms and likes aren’t consuming me. Perfecting a photo is not a concern.

I can ditch the make up, the tidy hair and the pristine clothes – let’s face it that is probably why we can’t make that channel work, because what parent has time to look so damn polished and set up the perfect Instagram pose.

As Kalyra is always reminding me, “Mum you’ve got lipstick on your teeth, or your sunglasses are crooked.”

I recently had to tell Allianz Insurance (who we’re ambassadors for),

“I apologize for the delay on our videos. I had to reshoot it as once I got all the footage on my computer to edit it I noticed I had lipstick all over my teeth!!”

I’m just not cut out for this visual marketing stuff.

Give me words. Give me words.

I share more of this style of content to my VIP Email Travel Tribe. Weekly personal stories to uplift and inspire. Come join us. It’s free. And I can send you information to help with the area you want most help in related to travel. Let me know on the form.

Find where it flows

supping the lodge on lake lure

My break is teaching me that all the other aspects of my business – our blog, our email list, Pinterest, and, once upon time, Facebook have grown and flowed really well, almost miraculous in some parts, because creating for them and participating in them has been a joyful experience for me.

Instagram never has so of course it’s going to be a block for me.

I want to stop thinking that the amount of likes I get is important. It’s about connection and community. How you I help others? If I can only help one person then it’s a major win.

I’ve always had this approach in every other aspect of my business and it has flowed so well. I have no attachment to stats on other platforms because I am attached to serving only.

How can we get joy from this platform, use it as a way to connect and share, without letting it control our lives?

This is the big question I am pondering over for the next month.

I’ve been doing soul searching again lately and looking deep into my heart. And it told me,

“maybe I’m saving you from wasting a lot of time. Maybe your heart energy serves a better purpose elsewhere.”

I watched a wonderful documentary called the Power of the Heart.

One teacher shared that it’s so easy for animals to know what makes them special and what they are here for. Birds just won’t all out of the sky and fish won’t drown. They know their special place.

But humans struggle so much because we are so bombarded with what other people think is best and what we should do and who we should be.

We have to look deep within our hearts to find out what we are here to do. For each of us it is different.

It’s why it’s essential to listen to your heart to find the answer then use that something special to make a difference.

You may think that you can’t make a difference, but like the butterfly effect, only a small ripple of authenticity, integrity and love coming out of your heart, can cause instrumental changes in people and energy across the globe.

So for this Dry July –ask yourself,

What is toxic in my life? What is stripping the joy from it?

And abstain. You don’t have to quit. Just take a break. See how you feel without it.

Give your soul time to figure out how you can perhaps make it joyful or permanently eliminate it.

Because you don’t have to do anything but feel free and joyful.

That is the core of your existence and the truth of it.



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Help us decide how to RV across America…


We originally came over to the U.S. with the intention to travel across the country for three years in an RV.

I love not being tied into plans, as, once you arrive in the present moment, you may just realize that the plan doesn’t fit.

It’s good to be able to quickly adapt so you can move with the flow.

Moving abroad takes a lot of time, money and energy, in the months before you leave your country, and the months after you arrive in the new country.

Especially a move as big as ours, for as long as ours, with so many balls to juggle.

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So when we arrived in the U.S. last year, we didn’t have the resources to deal with getting straight into an RV.

Note to you:

Never delay your dreams waiting for everything to be perfect. It’s never been my modus operandi and I’ve been living my dream travel life for 20 years)

We decided to give ourselves time to adjust, save, and build up our business in the U.S. fish bowl by renting an apartment in Raleigh and use that as a base to easily explore the East Coast on shorter trips.

It has served us very well.

Perhaps a little too well because for the first time in our lives we are finding the process of extracting ourselves out of a place to go traveling really difficult!!

Visit Raleigh North Carolina

I am so attached to my life in Raleigh, like I’ve never been any place before.

I can understand why people just don’t want to travel, or find it difficult to detach themselves from their homes, their routines, their loved ones to go and travel.

But, we do feel the time is now to finish exploring the rest of the US in an RV, as it is getting closer to the time we stop being nomadic, so we can be a part of a community, and the focus can be on the girls’ friendships and roots.

If we don’t travel in the RV across the U.S. now, will we ever, and I am feeling that call to return to nature and simple living.

The West Coast and Mountain states are a better region to travel in an RV. The East Coast is so compact, where heading west we’ll find  open spaces and spectacular National Parks.

That will become more of our focus then the in-depth cultural, historical and city type traveling we have been doing for the past year.

Our apartment lease expires in November, so we are beginning our preparations to use that as an opportunity to depart. Thankfully, we have no travel booked for July and most of August so we can use that time to research, plan, and prepare.

We learned a lot from our 18 month camper trailer trip around Australia, so we know what to do and how to do it right this time.

Choosing the right RV across America

Our biggest decision has been what kind of RV to travel across the USA in:

  • A motorhome (Class C), an RV (Class A – like the big bus)
  • or a travel trailer (what Australians would call a caravan).

We know we are definitely NOT doing a camper trailer like we did in Australia (I don’t know what Americans call that. So confusing)

How to save money on accommodation in Australia
Our Australian camper trailer

We’ve gone back and forth between the three of them and have spent the past week looking at different RV sales yards to find what we think will be the perfect vehicle.

It’s given us a great idea of the type of layout we want, what our must have inclusions are, price and size, and good brands to choose from.

We think we’ve narrowed it down, but still have a few concerns.

Why not a Class A RV?

Originally, we wanted to do the full RV (big bus) travel and tow a small car behind.

We want a separate vehicle to the home so we can easily jump in the car and explore without having to pack everything up inside the home, and worry about parking something so large in more built up areas.

However after my research, I came to the conclusion it wasn’t the best money spend.

RV’s are expensive, and it would give us two motors to worry about. There’s a lot that can go wrong with an engine, especially RV ones, so I really don’t want to be traveling with that concern.

Why not a Class C RV?

Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula South Australia is a great first stop on your road trip with kids

We considered a motor home, but again there is the same issue with having a separate vehicle.

The motorhome would be smaller and cheaper than the RV, but I was annoyed after a week in South Australia in a motorhome having to pack everything up before we went exploring.

Even if Craig just wanted to duck out to capture the sunset up the mountain, all of us had to pack everything up and go, which wasn’t practical or desired.

So, a Class C RV would drive us insane.

It’s so important you consider things like this if you are traveling long-term. Trust us from experience, long term RV travel can wear you down and sometimes it’s things like this that will send you home!

What about a travel trailer?

So we’ve pretty much decided a travel trailer will be the best way to RV across the US – although we do have a few concerns still to iron out.

Travel trailers are cheaper than Class A and Class C RVs. A travel trailer solves the separate car to home issue, while only giving us one motor engine to worry about.

We will have to trade in our Kia Sedona though for another more powerful and practical vehicle that has the towing capacity for the travel trailer.

But, it will still end up cheaper than the other two options.

Plus with a travel trailer, we can keep it after the epic road trip across to the west is complete.

We definitely wouldn’t keep a motorhome or RV, but a travel trailer we can easily pack up for other road trips we want to do on the East Coast, even a quick weekend camping trip with friends.

Having a travel trailer will require a bit more work setting up and packing up each time, but won’t be anything like what we experienced going around Australia with our camper trailer.

We’ll be quick at getting a system together to make it easier and will be very organized with our equipment.

And we’ll still be able to access the travel trailer if we want to pull over on the side of the road and get something to eat.

Our biggest concern with a travel trailer

One of our  biggest concern is towing a travel trailer that’s too big and having to deal with sway, especially in the mountainous areas (Australia sure doesn’t have them) and in high wind conditions.

It’s actually quite unnerving to me as I know accidents happen towing camper trailers.

And having a vehicle powerful enough to tow through the mountains, and being able to stop quickly with a travel trailer behind it.

These are a few of the things stopping me from a complete yes and having me teeter on the edge of going with a motorhome or RV across America.

If we go with the travel trailer, it will mean making sacrifices in terms of size and length of the travel trailer, which will be hard to do.

We walked into some of those smaller ones and I instantly hyperventilated, memories flooding back of us living on top of each other in our small camper trailer around Australia.

That was intense and I’m not sure I want to do that again!!

Must haves for keeping our sanity in the travel trailer

Knowing how we travel and how we work our blogging business, and homeschool, is essential to knowing what our deal breakers are for a travel trailer.

We want bunk beds for the girls. We absolutely do not want them sleeping in the dining table area that converts to a bed.

We’re up late and up early so we can work while they are sleeping. Trying to do that while they sleep it the main living area, plus the logistics of packing up and down each day, will be a nightmare.

No thanks. Choose your battles.

The girls want their own space, even if it’s just a tiny bunkhouse in the corner with a curtain across it.

The problem with bunk beds is they add extra length to the travel trailer, which means more sway concerns.

The other almost must have for me is a slide out, just to give us that extra living space inside the travel trailer, so we’re not living on top of each other.

The slide out also adds extra weight to the travel trailer.

I want to go minimalism and not carry too much stuff with us to add to the weight, but I’d love to take our bikes and a stand up paddle board, so we have to consider what kind of car can carry that extra weight and if it’s worth it.

The only other musts for me is a decent size refrigerator/freezer (having a small fridge in our camper trailer in Australia was a headache).

And I also want an oven, even just a tiny one. I love roasted anything.

Healthy living is really important to us so we don’t want to make any sacrifices in that regards. Our juicer and blender will be coming with us for sure!

We’ve found a couple of floor plans and brands we like, but we can’t quite get our total desired package under 28 feet which is our desired maximum for towing and for accessing some of the RV parks and campgrounds as some of them do have limits for travel trailer lengths.

The travel trailer the girls are adamant we’re getting at the moment is a Forest River Vibe Extreme Lite. It was my favorite too, although it is 32 feet so I don’t think it will make the cut.

We did find one travel trailer which was a Salem Cruise Lite by Forest River and came in at 24 feet. I think that might be winning the race.

The beauty of that one is it has a murphy queen bed which you can pull up of a day to create extra living space. I thought that was pretty cool, although I am wondering what the potential headaches with that could be??

The other one that was nice was a Jayco Flight (we can’t believe we’re looking at Jayco again – that was our Australian camper trailer. Hope their travel trailers are better!!) and some Winnebago models.

One thing I know for sure, time moves super fast. November will be here before we know it and September and October are busy for us, as they are every year.

We have a lot to plan, organize, prepare and pack up if we are going to leave in November, including our actual route.

I do not want to experience winter again (hahaha and I want to live in Raleigh permanently!!) so we’ll head south and scoot along the bottom to hit the mountain states by May-ish next year.

That’s our initial thoughts, which can change at any time.

Because you know I don’t like locking myself into anything!

So, help us out.

What are your tips, recommendations, suggestions based upon what I’ve told you? What are we missing? What should we look out for? How can we solve our problems? What did you love or not love about your RV traveling experiences if you have done them?

It’s almost decision time so we’d LOVE any input you can give to help us!



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17 Amazing Things to do in Ventura County California With Kids…


Where is Ventura County? And what are the best things to do in Ventura County California?

We knew nothing about Ventura County before our Southern California road trip last month, not even where it was located.

I had only ever heard of Ventura Boulevard in a few song lyrics and that thoroughfare is in LA.

Ventura, California

Ventura County, California is about an hour north of LA and 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara. Be sure to leave your pretense and busyness on the highway out of LA, because it doesn’t belong in Ventura County.

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It’s slower paced and less crowded.

I’m glad we know about Ventura County Ca now and can share with you the many amazing things to do in Ventura with kids. It’s full of unexpected surprises and adventures.

Ventura, California

Ventura was the last stop on our family road trip from San Diego to Ventura, via Orange County.

We stopped here for three days to enjoy the coastal living, and one of the main tourist attractions in Ventura, the Channel Islands National Park.

We visited on a paid partnership with Visit California and Ventura County Coast on the Kidifornia Adventures campaign.

Click here for more ideas for your California family travel adventures.

17 Things to do in Ventura County California

Ventura Harbor Village

Ventura Harbor Village, California

Ventura Harbor Village is located on a small strip of land in the middle of the beach and the harbor.

The beach, Surfers knoll, has a popular surf break at the Santa Clara River Mouth, and the harbor is one of the largest harbors in North America for offloading squid.

It is a working harbor and fishing marina which also has shops, galleries, restaurants and waterfront activities.

Just wandering around this harbor will elevate your happiness with the bougainvillea laden paths, the brilliant blue water filled with sailing ships, and the stunning Topatopa mountains in the background.

Ventura Harbor Village in California

Ventura Harbor Village in California

Ventura Harbor Village in California

Their magnetic power kept pulling my eyes back to gaze in wonder.

In the moments between gazing, there are these fun things to do in Ventura Village Harbor.

2. Soak up Harbor life on a Pedal Boat Ride

Pedal boat ride in Ventura Harbor, California

We were a little wary to take out the pedal boats.

Not because we didn’t think it would be a fun way to explore the harbor, but because the last couple of times we’ve taken out pedal boats they’ve been an excruciating workout.

We swore we’d never take out another pedal boat again.

But, we could not resist the lure of sea lions resting on the wharves and swimming in the waters.

Thankfully, these pedal boats were really easy to peddle! We had a fun half hour adventure peddling between the young children sailing and the sea lions resting on the wharves.

Pedal boat ride in Ventura Harbor, California

Pedal boat ride in Ventura Harbor, California

One sea lion had taken over the back of someone’s parked boat for a little sunning, the other was resting out on a jetty.

Seal in Ventura Harbor, California

You can rent the pedal boats from Ventura Boat Rentals. They also offer harbor tours, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, electric boats and jet skis!

Ventura Harbor Village in California

3. Enjoy a Seafood Lunch with a View at Brophy Bros Restaurant

Brophy Bros Restaurant, Ventura, California

You can’t beat the views from this second story restaurant on Ventura Harbor. Aim for a table on the enclosed patio.

At Brophy Bros you’ll find any kind of seafood dish that you like. We went for some local pan blackened Cajun sea bass and Mahi Mahi with a mango and papaya relish.

A steamed mussels in broth starter was the perfect accompaniment to the stunning views. Those mountains!!

Brophy Bros, Ventura

Friday nights are the popular time for locals to come sit at the full length bar facing the marina to eat oysters and enjoy happy hour drink prices.

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

4. Treat yourself with fish cone at Coastal Cone Ice Cream

Yummy fish cone ice cream at Coastal Cone Ice Cream in Ventura, California

Have you ever had Taiyaki ice cream cone before? Have you ever heard of it?

Taiyaki is a popular street food found in Korea, Japan, San Francisco, LA an New York. Coastal Cone is the only place between LA and San Fran to offer Taiyaki Fish Cones.

It’s a fish shaped cake turned waffle, which is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside like a dessert pancake, making ice creams extra delicious.

Now to choose from the 46 ice cream flavors for a great pairing.

Yummy fish cone ice cream at Coastal Cone Ice Cream in Ventura, California

We ate a lot of ice cream on our Southern California Road trip. No wonder the girls loved the Kidifornia adventure so much.

5. Sea Cave Kayak Adventure at Channel Islands National Park

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

A definite highlight of our family road trip to Ventura California was our day trip to the Channel Islands National Park, which is about an 80 minute ferry ride from Ventura Harbor.

It is America’s least visited National Park and is full of natural beauty, wildlife and plenty of adventure.

The Channel Islands National Park is made up of five separate islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara.

You can visit any of the islands by boat with Island Packers, by plane with Channel Islands Aviation, or your own private boat.

The boat trip over is just as spectacular as the Channel Islands. The odds are high that you’ll see sea lions, dolphins and even whales.Seals we spotted on the Channel Islands National Park ferry in California

Dolphins on the way over to Channel Islands National Park, California

We enjoyed a sea cave kayak adventure tour with Santa Barbara Adventure Company on Santa Cruz Island.

We spent close to three hours paddling through the various sea caves such as Elephant Belly, In and Out, and the Painted Cave.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Dolphins on the way over to Channel Islands National Park, California

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

We learned a lot about the islands, saw plenty of nesting birds and even had a sea lion pop up next to us out of the kelp forest.

Speaking of which, we snorkeled through the kelp forest once we finished our kayaking tour. It was a special experience which warranted an entire post on our site on its own.

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

You can click here to read more about our amazing visit to the Channel Islands National Park with kids.

It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Ventura California with kids.

6. Go Vintage at Village Carousel and Arcade

Village Carousel and Arcade

One of my earliest travel memories was back when I was about eight on a family vacation by the beach. In the hotel there was a small games room that had Pac Man.

My brother and sister and I spent hours each day playing and competing against our new Indian friends.

It was incredible how much we bonded over that game. We were so sad when we had to leave each other at the end of our vacation.

Now that I travel with my kids, I do my best to steer them to adventures in the Great Outdoors, frowning over staying inside to play games.

However, each time they pressure me to play arcade games, I remember that vacation and how much joy it gave me to do the same.

So I relent, with some time restrictions. We always end up having a fun time.

We popped into the Carousel and Arcade Games in Ventura Harbor Village for a few games of basketball toss and car races, collecting a few tickets to trade in for prizes as we went.

Village Carousel and Arcade

It’s vintage fun in Ventura!

Do you have sweet childhood memories of arcade game fun as well?

7. Explore Downtown Ventura

Downtown Ventura is perfect for a relaxed afternoon of shopping (window or not) and soaking up the Ventura vibe.

Main street is several blocks long and filled with boutique stores, antique shops, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, entertainment spaces, and a large collection of second-hand stores.

Downtown Ventura is gorgeous and funky! We instantly liked it when we drove into town.

Downtown Ventura, California

Downtown Ventura, California

Mural in Downtown Ventura, California

Downtown Ventura, California

Amongst the shopping and eating, be sure to stop and marvel at the beautiful Ventura City Hall and the mission (see point 7).

Ventura City Hall

For all you travel addicts, do not walk past Passport Habits.

It’s a store created for travelers by a traveler. The owner has lived and traveled all over the world and continues to hand pack items from her adventures for her store.

I loved it and could have bought one of everything.

I settled for a bunch of crystals for myself, Craig and the girls. I could feel the energy off them and knew they were the real deal.

You’ll also find jewelry from Bali, colorful Moroccan and Turkey carpets, luggage and all sorts of travel related knick knacks. Get lost in there for a while.

Downtown Ventura, California

For the men, Iron & Resin was a store with swagger. They have a small, hand built collection of goods that draws heavily upon the founder’s own lifestyles and experiences.

They’re focused on local sustainability: crafting clothes in the US, reducing their footprint on the planet, and making clothes that last! I like them.

Downtown Ventura, California

We also passed by a couple of cool looking breweries and wine tasting rooms.

You have plenty of choices for places to eat and play in Downtown Ventura.

The good news is they are all situated on the main street and in easy walking distance from each other (and the Ventura Pier and Crowne Plaza Hotel).

8. San Buenaventura Mission

San Buenaventura Mission, Ventura, California

San Buenaventura Mission was created in 1749 with the intention of converting the native Chumash people into the Spanish way of living and Catholic religion.

It’s had a turbulent past of earthquakes, fires and pirates, yet is still a working church today for Catholics and non-Catholics.

The Mission is opened to the public to explore. It’s only small so you won’t need a lot of time.

We arrived right near closing so had a few minutes to walk round the serene mission gardens. It’s a wonderful spot to get away and contemplate what ever you want to reflect on.

San Buenaventura Mission, Ventura, California

San Buenaventura Mission, Ventura, California

San Buenaventura Mission, Ventura, California

Visiting San Buenaventura Mission costs $4 for adults, $1 for kids, and $10 for a family of four.

9. Play at Ventura Pier and Promenade

Ventura Pier, California

We didn’t get to spend much time exploring Ventura Beach and Ventura Pier. The pier is at the bottom of Downton Ventura and is the 8th longest in California and a favorite for fisherman.

On both sides of the pier is the popular San Buenaventura State Beach.

There is a sand playground at its base with kids’ swings and the boardwalk along the beach is great for walkers, skaters, bikers, you name it.

We heard the tacos on the pier are yummy and cheap!

There is a great surfing break just to the north of the pier as well at Surfers Point Beach. It’s located next to the Seaside Park at the mouth of Ventura River.

Ventura, California

Ventura Pier, California

Ventura Beach, California

Ventura Pier, California

I enjoyed watching the surfers of a morning from our balcony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The waves were consistently good every day.

View of Ventura Beach from the Crowne Plaza Hotel

I also loved the views sitting around the fire pit out the front of the Crowne Plaza and looking out towards the Channel Islands.

It was very serene and felt a lot like I was in Hawaii.

Spencer Makenzie’s Fish also came highly recommended to us by the locals as one of the best places in California for fish tacos. Let me know!

10. Enjoy a Seafood Dinner at Lure Fish House

Lure Fish House, Ventura

Locals’ favorite, the Lure Fish House, is an elegant (and reasonably priced) seafood restaurant in Downtown Ventura.

It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and feels like the kind of place where everyone will know your name.

You can sit at the booths inside, the patio deck outside, or if you don’t want to wait for a table, grab an empty seat at the bar or high tops.

Lure Fish House, Ventura

Lure is one of the most popular places to eat in Ventura and can get very busy so you might want to reserve a table.

Don’t worry about dressing up though, you’re in Ventura, come as you are!

The menu at Lure Fish House features fresh and sustainable seafood locally caught, organically grown local produce, and wines from local vineyards whenever possible.

Lure Fish House, Ventura

We both ordered the local wild Pacific Rockfish with local brussel sprouts and almond pesto cauliflower #delish

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

11. Be Waffle Wowed at Harvest Café

Harvest Café, Ventura, California

Wow!

We discovered Harvest Cafe as we were leaving Ventura and were looking for a quick breakfast spot. It was the perfect end to our time in Ventura.

Harvest Café promises to be a true farm-to-table restaurant, serving only the freshest produce, arriving daily from farms in the Ventura area.

All of their ingredients are organic, and grown as close to our location as possible. How can you not support such a socially responsible local company who cares about your health and delicious food?

Waffles are rarely on my agenda so I could not resist ordering a serve of the gluten free vegan buckwheat waffles topped with berries and cashew nut cream and maple syrup.

Harvest Café, Ventura, California

The combination of flavors were superb.

I don’t have a sweet tooth so don’t order pancakes much, but this had just enough sweetness to be delicious without making me feel ill, and combined with the berries, and the cashew nut cream, it was total heaven.

I could eat them every day.

The coffee was pretty good too and I was delighted with the healthy breakfast options for kids.

Harvest Café, Ventura, California

Harvest Café, Ventura, California

Seriously. Do not miss Harvest Café when you are in California! They even have games the kids can play even while you eat your breakfast.

12. Sunset Dinner – La Cosecha Modern Cochina

La Cosecha Modern Cochina - Crowne Plaza Hotel

After our Channel Islands adventure, we decided to go back to our hotel in Ventura and eat dinner at the restaurant so we could relax around the fire pit with views of the islands we had just sailed back from.

I’m always a little cautious eating at hotel restaurants as they can be so hit and miss.

But we were just ready to relax. I forget that we were in California so of course the food was going to be good.

We didn’t have one bad food experience in Southern California.

In fact, one of our favorite food experiences on our Southern California road trip was the Pacific Hideaway restaurant inside the Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel.

La Cosecha proved to be a winning choice for our final meal in California and probably our last great Mexican meal we’ll have for awhile.

You just can’t find great Mexican in Raleigh like you do in SoCal.

La Coscha has award winning innovate Mexican dishes created from ingredients that honor the local agriculture as well as sustainably sources seafood.

We ordered Chile Relleno for me and more shrimp tacos for Craig.

La Cosecha Modern Cochina - Crowne Plaza Hotel

It was a wonderful space to watch the sunset and relax around the fire chatting with other people staying in the hotel.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Ventura, California

And the girls were happy as they could run around safely on the beach promenade in front of us.

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor

Oxnard California

Oxnard Ca is about 10 minutes south of Ventura Ca.

It’s very similar in that it offers the same active beach lifestyle and its own harbor, the Channel Islands Harbor, where you’ll find restaurants, water experiences, and the Sunday Farmers Market.

13. Enjoy breakfast at Fresh & Fabulous Café

Fresh & Fabulous Café, Oxnard

Looking for a delicious local breakfast to give you the energy for your day exploring Oxnard?

Fresh & Fabulous is a family owned café since 2006. They make their food from scratch using fine ingredients and traditional methods – just like grandma used to make them!

The service was just as fresh and fabulous as the food.

The market veggie omelet with a side of hash browns was huge and very tasty!

Fresh & Fabulous Café, Oxnard

Fresh & Fabulous Café

Read more views on TripAdvisor

14. Slow Down on a Gondola Ride

Gondola Paradiso in Ventura, California

Time for a little Venetian flavor on your Ventura County vacation. And why not?

The Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard is the perfect place for a gondola ride. Unlike Venice, Italy, you will mostly have the canals to yourself, which makes this gondola ride experience even more special.

As our guide, and owner of Gondola Paradiso, Mark Schooling explained to us,

“we live fast paced lives, something our bodies (and spirit) are not actually wired to do. It’s vital for our health that we take the time to slow down and do not much else but sit in a gondola and move at the pace of a human paddle stroke. “

I felt that return to myself only just a few strokes in.

Enjoy a gondola ride in Ventura, California

Apart from our conversations, all I could hear was the gentle lapping of the paddle, and the only other movement we were witness to was the group of kids paddling by on their stand up paddle boards.

Their music broke the serenity a little, but their laughter only added to the joy of experiencing local living.

The gondola ride is a loop around the canals of Coral Island where you get to see the beautiful mansions on the water. In Oxnard, California they run cheap at an average of about 2 million.

Gondola Paradiso in Ventura, California

Gondola Paradiso in Ventura, California

Mark has everything set up for a comfortable gondola ride; warm blankets to offset any cool breeze. And that’s all you need for your gondola ride.

There was also plenty of space for us to sit and relax. You are more than welcome to bring your own food and drinks as well.

We have penciled in a sunset gondola ride with wine and cheese for our next visit to Ventura County. Don’t forget yours!

And remember the gondola rule for passing under bridges – you have to kiss your partner. Pucker up, you’ve two of them ahead.

Gondola Paradiso in Ventura, California

This was one of our favorite things to do in Oxnard California.

15. Bond Over a Family Game of Foot Golf

Foot Golf

I had never heard of Foot Golf until it landed on our Ventura itinerary.

Off we went on our first afternoon to the local River Ridge Golf Club to perfect our soccer golf skills.

What a fun family adventure it was!

I highly recommend foot golf as one of the best things to do in Ventura with kids. Actually, go out this weekend in your hometown and play it.

It’s a great way to get the kids outside in nature practicing skills, moving their bodies and making memories.

Foot golf at River Ridge Golf Club in Ventura

We played nine holes which was enough. I think 18 holes with young kids is too much.

Savannah was pretty exhausted after it because she ran almost the entire time. Some holes took her 22 kicks to get it in!! We loved her style and perseverance to just run and dribble.

Foot golf at River Ridge Golf Club in Ventura

So what is foot golf?

It’s where you kick a soccer ball into a gigantic golf hole on the golf course. The fairways are much smaller than your typical golf ones.

Other than that the game concept is pretty much the same.

Foot golf at River Ridge Golf Club in Ventura

You do share the course with golfers so be sure to watch for their flying balls and don’t get in the way of their shot.

16. The Annex at The Collection at Riverpark, Oxnard

The Annex at The Collection at Riverpark, Oxnard

The Annex is a culinary focused, community minded marketplace.

It’s the first Food Hall in Ventura County and has a collection of eateries and shops around a central common eating area.

The Annex is a collection of global cuisine ranging from burgers, Mexican, Italian, crepes, Vietnamese, Hawaiian Poke and Latin American Ceviche bowls, and even healthy smoothies.

The Annex at The Collection at Riverpark, Oxnard

And perhaps a little of the unhealthy: ice cream that had a line wrapped around the annex, and a small bar (Bottle & Pint) showcasing craft beer from around the world.

My pineapple cider with my bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho (from Love Pho) was a winner!

The Annex at The Collection at Riverpark, Oxnard

The Annex at The Collection at Riverpark, Oxnard

When you have finished you can wander around The Collection, which is an outdoor mall with plenty of major retailers and smaller boutique stores.

Where to Stay in Ventura California

17. Crowne Plaza Hotel

 Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, Ventura, California

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel. As one of the Ventura Beach hotels, it has prime beachfront location and some of the rooms have ocean views.

As mentioned I loved sitting on my balcony of a morning watching the surfers.

The rooms, although a little small, were modern, clean and comfortable. The fitness center was well stocked with everything you need to maintain your workout.

 Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, Ventura, California

 Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, Ventura, California

 Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach Hotel, Ventura, California

For those who want to relax around the hotel, the Crowne Plaza has a pool facing the beach. And we loved the firepit to sit around at night.

It was relaxing, warm and quite social. And you could easily walk into downtown from the Crowne Plaza.

Read more reviews and book your stay at the Crowne Plaza here.

Looking for more hotels in Ventura Ca? Our affiliate partner Booking.com has over 50 properties to choose from. 

If you need car rental, check out our other affiliate partner, RentalCars.com – they are our go to resource for car hire since 2007!



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U.S. Culture at its Best: Watching a Boston Red Sox baseball game…


Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list?

I’ve always been a bit ho hum about baseball.

I think I may have fallen asleep at a game once, and I definitely spent time reading the newspaper at a LA Dodgers game.

The only thing that saved baseball for me is the Seventh Inning stretch, and hot dogs and beer. Both of which I can no longer have because of gluten.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

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However, I did enjoy baseball more last year when we went to an iconic Durham Bulls baseball game near our home in Raleigh.

I’m not sure if that was more to do with the gluten free beer we had before the game and the jovial atmosphere of hanging out with friends.

But, after spending a day watching a Boston Red Sox baseball game at historic Fenway Park, I was hooked and ready to make baseball a family summer tradition.

At Fenway Park watching the Boston Red Sox
Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

For any international visitors to the USA, I recommend you take in a baseball game and experience this side of American culture.

Just like cricket for us Australians, baseball is more than just watching the skills on the field; the experience surrounding it is half the fun too.

Fenway Park in Boston buzzes with spirit and atmosphere. It’s the oldest baseball park in the country, so it’s had time to grow a hard core Red Sox fan base.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Since 1912, it has been the home for the Boston Red Sox, and the intimacy of this field makes the baseball experience at Fenway Park even more special.

Boston Red Sox basball game vs Atlanta Braves

The Red Sox were playing the Atlanta Braves.

Living in Raleigh, you could say Atlanta is really our Southern team for the Major Leagues as there are no teams in North Carolina. And seeing the Atlanta Braves play was also our very first baseball experience back in 2005 in Atlanta.

However, for this game, we were supporting the Red Sox all the way.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Mookie Betts - Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Sorry Atlanta, but it’s Fenway Park and us Aussies don’t necessarily bear allegiance to any team.

We couldn’t have gotten a more perfect day for our baseball game at Fenway Park. It was bright, sunny and warm, and our tickets magically placed us in the shade behind the left field.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

As the stadium is small for Major League standards, capacity of 37,731, you really can’t get a bad seat at Fenway Park.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

I was worried the girls might get bored and whiny, but they loved the experience of it too, particularly Savannah. She watched intently and asked lots of questions, quickly figuring out the general gist of the game.

And there’s a small kids zone area near K Gate at Fenway Park, which has virtual reality games and simulated pitching and batting.

It was busy so the girls just had a quick dug out VR game while they walked around the stadium with Craig and my Dad during the game to stretch their legs.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Mum and I stayed watching, I only got up once to get the girls a bucket of popcorn and after our one month road trip from Dallas to Boston, and visiting countless attractions, I was glad to sit down for half a day and watch a game of baseball.

The Green Monster

The big thing to experience at a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park is the batter hitting the ball over the famous Green Monster.

The Green Monster is an iconic 37 foot wall, originally built to prevent free game peeking from those in the street behind the park.

The Green Monster, Fenway Park, Boston

It wasn’t until it was painted green in 1947 that its reputation as the Green Monster and the place to hit a home run began.

The Red Sox recognized that it would be a sought after place for fans to seat so with lucrative business eyes on they installed 269 seats atop of the Green Monster in 2003.

The fans love scrambling over each other to catch one of the balls flying up into the Green Monster from the home plate 310 feet away.

It’s the highest wall in the country for Major League baseball fields.

The Green Monster at Fenway Park - Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

When 37,000 people sing your song

Press play to watch and listen to this legendary Fenway moment:

 

I was warned by friends just before we arrived at Fenway Park that there would be a special treat for me – a Fenway Park Red Sox tradition.

At the bottom of the 8th innings, the crowd breaks out into a rendition of Sweet Caroline! There’s something pretty special about a stadium filled with 37,000 people singing your song.

I think it made my Mum and Dad’s day too!

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Dad’s never been a great baseball fan either being from Sydney, but he is a huge sports fan especially cricket, which has some similarities.

As he said, there’s nothing like watching a game live, so you can see the skill involved and feel the atmosphere.

Mum really loved the Fenway Park baseball experience as well, and she got into the Seventh inning stretch and Sweet Caroline singing and dancing in our seats.

Watching the baseball at Fenway Park was a memorable family experience for us on our Dallas to Boston Road trip.

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

Is a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park on your bucket list? Click inside to learn all about it with tips on getting there, getting tickets, where to eat, where to stay and much more!

I think my parents will even follow the Red Sox path to victory (we hope) this year from back home.

We were lucky to experience a few Green Monster hits and a Red Sox win! The crowds were enthusiastic and jovial and because the game was fairly close it made it pretty interesting.

Going to a Red Sox game at Fenway would have to be one of the best things to do in Boston with kids (or without kids, lol).

Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park

Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park

After the Red Sox game – hit the Fenway Park bars

Before you leave the Red Sox game, don’t forget to buy a hat, or a t-shirt.

We love buying baseball caps of memorable travel experiences. It brings back happy memories whenever we wear it and often leads to great conversations with strangers.

Dad and I bought B hats as Fenway Park was an experience both of us wanted to forever remember.

Boston Red Sox hat

Boston Red Sox t-shirt

Mum and Dad took the girls back to our apartment after the game so Craig and I could  have the complete Fenway Park experience and check out the bars surrounding the stadium.

They have legendary status like the stadium itself.

The most popular Fenway Park bars before the game are Cask ‘N Flagon, Game On, The Lansdowne Pub, Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill, Boston Beer Works, and the Bleacher Bar.

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

It is better to go to the bars before the game, but they will be packed and it didn’t work out for us.

Most people clear out of the bars and go home after the game so you do have a little more space in the bars.

The Bleacher Bar

Bleacher Bar, Fenway Park

Don’t miss the Bleacher Bar, which has a dugout bar on the edge of the field.

If you want to watch a baseball game at Fenway Park for free then this is the bar to go to.

You can see the game through the wire mesh. I don’t think it would be as good, but it’s an option as tickets to the game may be hard to get or expensive.

Bleacher Bar at Fenway Park - Boston Red Sox game

Fellas, don’t miss the view from the restroom. Over the trough is a window which allows you to continue to watch the game as you do the business.

Spotted by me as I turned around and saw this head with a look on the guy’s face that told me exactly what was going on.

I’ve seen my babies pee enough times to know that look. Ew!! I don’t want to watch someone peeing.

Maybe get someone to take a photo of you though as it is certainly unique! Anyway, Craig just had to snap a pic for you!!

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

Friendly locals

Seriously though, America is the friendliest place in the world.

We visited three bars on our night out in Boston with out the girls, and barely spoke to each other as we met several locals who were happy to sit at the bar and swap stories with is all night.

My parents also could not get over how friendly everyone is and how many random conversations we had with people.

People who didn’t even know we were Australians but would stop to talk to us because we’re wearing North Carolina Tar Heel caps, or Durham Bulls T-Shirts or had NC license plates on our car.

It makes traveling and going out so much fun.

How to Get to Fenway Park

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

We recommend walking along Newbury Street from the city before the game.

It’s only a 30 minute walk from the beginning of Newbury street at Boston Public Gardens to get to the stadium.

Newbury Street is the prettiest high end shopping street I’ve seen in the US – better I think than 5th avenue in New York and the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.

Newbury Street Boston

Otherwise there are T-line stations nearby, or catch a Lyft or Uber. As there were six of us, it was cheaper to get Lyfts around Boston.

We stopped for coffee at Barrington Coffee Roasters during our walk to Fenway before the game.

And for a quick and cheaper meal before the game, grab a burger at Wahlburgers which is right near Fenwway who have healthy burger options for us, and hot dogs for the kids.

Wahlburgers, Fenway Park

Otherwise it might be more fun to eat at Cask N Flagon to soak up the Fenway Park atmosphere magic.

Tickets for the Baseball at Fenway Park

Watching the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park

The Go Card Boston Premium Pass covers a baseball game at Fenway Park and will also give you access to other Boston attractions such as the Freedom Trail, Paul Revere’s House and SkyWalk Observatory.

It might be a great option to save money if you plan to visit a few Boston attractions. Get your pass here. 

You can also get tickets direct through MLB.

Fenway Park Walking Tour

Why not do a game day tour of Fenway Park to make this unique baseball experience at America’s most beloved baseball stadium even better?

We didn’t do this, but it would be a great tour for families, and all Red Sox fans!

Two hours before the game you’ll get to do a walking tour of Fenway with access to the field during the team warm-ups, head to the top of the stadium’s famous “Green Monster” outfield wall, visit the famous “Pesky’s Pole,” and learn about Red Sox legends like Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski (“Yaz”).

Learn more and book through Viator. 

Where to Stay in Boston

We rented an apartment located in the South End area through Booking.com. The South Boston Family Getaway at West Square Apartments was modern, beautifully furnished, comfortable and spacious.

Image via West Square Boston

Our two bed apartment slept the six of us, with two large bedrooms and a sofa bed for the kids.

It was easy for us to get around different parts of Boston and was a 40 minute walk into the city.

I’d stay there again.

Read reviews and book your stay through our partner, Booking.com

For more places to stay in Boston, click here.

Have you been to a Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park? Or any other basbeall game? Share your experience in the comments.



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Understanding Peace and Honor on a Gettysburg Battlefield Tour…


There’s a strange air of peace in famous battlefields I have visited around the world. It’s almost as if, from the blood, agony, and sacrifice, the spirit has risen and said

“Enough. Only peace can live here anymore in testament to what occurred here and a reminder that love is the only way forward. “

Gettysburg Battlefield tour National Military Park

The blood that seeped into the earth from both sides of the battle fertilizes the ground and makes way for new flowers to bloom. Mother Earth earth says,

“no more, only beauty can live here instead.”

As soon as we drove into Gettysburg and saw the first of hundreds of monuments rising up over the fields with magnetic power and grandeur, I felt an overwhelming presence of peace and wonder.

Its eerie beauty goosed up my skin.

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I remembered all I had learned from other battlefields, places like Gallipoli, where horror intertwined with monumental bravery in defense of ideals and beliefs.

All that remains after the most dire of circumstances is love and peace and the strength to forgive, and move forward.

I wasn’t expecting to be so moved by the Gettysburg Battlefield experience, and only decided to add it to our Dallas to Boston road trip because we were passing through there, and my history buff Dad spoke about Gettysburg plenty of times when I was growing up.

North Carolina monument Gettysburg BAttlefields tour National Military Park

How must it feel walking towards cannonballs, musket fires and bayonet charges knowing that today you have an almost certain chance of dying?

How passionate must you believe in something to keep moving forward despite this?

Did they even know what they were fighting for? Was it freedom or power? Can one exist without the other? Why is that humanity thinks this destruction is the only way to solve problems?

These soldiers were not fearless. They feared death and mutilation, but still charged forth for duty and honor.

Would I be willing to fight for something with such loyalty and sacrifice?

The only reason I can think of would be for my daughters, which is actually a fight for love and protection. Perhaps in the mind of all these men that’s what they thought they were doing.

gettysburg battlefields tour guided auto tour

The story of Gettysburg and the Civil War

The complicated story of the Civil War and Gettysburg instrumental role in the ultimate victory by the North is told so well through Gettysburg Battlefield Tours, Gettysburg National Military Park Museum, The Shriver House, and the National Cemetery.

The complex story of both sides is shared.

Contrary to what we thought, the Civil War began more over the North’s desire to stop the expansion of slavery rather than end it.

They feared the an expansion of slavery into the West would shift power to the South. Tension over this issue brewed for decades between the North and South, until the South threatened to leave if Lincoln was voted in.

They succeeded from the Union as the Confederate States of America when he was.

Even though the ending of slavery wasn’t the original intention of the Civil War, I’m glad it was the end result.

Gettysburg was an accident

Gettysburg was the meeting point of 10 major roads. It was never intended to be a battle site. It just happened that Confederate and Union soldiers met at this meeting point, which became the most infamous battle of the Civil War.

For three days, fierce fighting happened, immortalizing places like Cemetery Hill, Peach Orchard, Little Round Top, and Culp’s Hill.

Gettysburg did not end the Civil War, which continued for a couple more years, but it was a turning point for the war and the Union armies.

At the battlefield of Gettysburg 7,000 soldiers died and 51,000 were wounded or captured. A loss of life that is so difficult to comprehend. The ripple effect of damage this does to communities for generations to come is incredible.

How much of that is still felt now, centuries later?

Downtown Gettysburg Pennsylvania

The Town Heroes

Gettysburg was a massive blow to both sides, even the victorious North. But it was also disastrous to the town.

This small town of 2,400 residents were left to tend to the 21,000 wounded left behind, clean up the town, bury the dead (including thousands of dead animals), and help those coming into town for years later searching for loved ones.

When you are moving around the site and seeing how the town was in the middle of the fighting you can’t imagine the horror the local people must have went through. Miraculously only one civilian was killed by a stray bullet through her window.

Their homes were riddled with bullet holes, or had been smashed up by the confederates who overtook their homes. Their water was contaminated and the fields stank of death and human and animal feces. It was a stench that wafted 25 miles north to Harrisburg.

These are the heroes of Gettysburg we must also remember.

The greater good will always win

The Union victory only happened as a result of little mistakes, small victories and random luck, which leaves me to ponder.

What side was fate on?

Is it Evolution begging for humanity to be better that ultimately decides the eventual victor?

The more I reflected the more I saw that from all these wars of our past, the greater good eventually won and evolution happened. At a time when the world, particularly in America, seems chaotic and teetering on the edge of something bad, this gave me great hope to realize, good and evolutionary progress will always win.

The madness will soon pass and we’ll settle back into peace again as better people.

If you don’t use these historical experiences to be curious and reflective there is no point to them. Even though they happened centuries ago, we can use them to shape our future and become better humans.

Gettysburg national cemetery

As we wandered the battlefield with our guide hearing the stories as we stood in the spot where they all happened, Kalyra asked me,

“Who were the bad guys?”

“Well that depends on what side you’re on. Each thought they were fighting for greater good of their particular cause and so saw the other side as bad.

What’s important for you is to decide which side do you stand on? What do you believe in? How can you contribute to the greater good of all and operate from a place of compassion and tolerance? Can you take away your selfish interests enough to do this? Can you bring love, peace and compassion into your everyday life so battles like these are never necessary.”

If you stand in the Gettysburg Battlefields and listen to the ghost’s echoes and feel the tranquil beauty of Mother Nature we can follow her calling –  the only side we must all stand on is that of love, compassion and peace.

Leave the past behind and the labels of good and bad and just invite in peace, love, quality and freedom.

Understand there is abundance for all so we don’t need to fight over the power for it. Recognize everyone as equal and work together to overcome challenges rather than gun it out.

Then we can truly say those willingly walked into death on the battlefields, did not die in vain.

How to experience a Gettysburg Battlefield tour

Gettysburg Battlefields tour guided audio tour

The Gettysburg Battlefield is 5 miles long and 5 miles wide and holds 1700 monuments. The monuments tell the stories from the different regiments that were represented in the battle from both sides.

We’ll dive more into the Gettysburg Battlefield tour and more things to do in Gettysburg in an upcoming post.

This is more a post sharing my curiosities and reflections.

You can do a self guided tour of the battlefields, although we highly recommend a guided audio tour, which was hosted for us via Destination Gettysburg.

A Licensed Battlefield Guide will drive your car to points of interest around the battlefield sharing facts and interesting stories. We never would have had such an immersive and reflective experience doing it on our own.

Gettysburg Battlefields tour guided audio tour

Our guide had over 30 years of experiences and was a wealthy of knowledge. He really brought it to life for us and helped us to understand what Union and Confederate soldiers, and the local people went through.

Be sure to spend time at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and see the Cyclorama and Film. It’s riveting and insightful.

Learn more here. 

Where to stay in Gettysburg

The lodges at gettysburg

We stayed in a lovely cottage about 15 minutes from Downtown Gettysburg, as guests at the Lodges of Gettysburg. The cottages overlook the countryside with views of the Gettysburg Battlefield in the distance. They’re comfortable and quiet and the property has walking trail and a lovely pond on site.

The Lodges are a great option if you have a big traveling party and also want access to your own kitchen.

My parents loved it and my Dad was particular entranced by the giant battlefield oil paintings hanging up in the cottage, specially the one with General Custer which is his all time favorite soldier and leader. He’s the first war hero I ever heard of!

Read more reviews and book your stay here.

If you want to be closer to the restaurants and attractions in Downtown Gettysburg, then we recommend Gettysburg Hotel. It’s located on Lincoln Square and is walking distance to most of downtown and a three minute drive to the Gettysburg Battlefields.

It was established in 1979, so is a very historic hotel. President Eisenhower and his wife once stayed there. And some residents from a different time and place are said to frequently visit!! Put some thrills and chills into your Gettysburg trip.

Read more reviews and book your stay here. 

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Day Trip to Visit Channel Islands National Park, California (it’s…


These are the adventures I live for.

Adventures that test my comfort zone in the middle of extraordinary natural beauty (without the crowds).

Kayaking around the cliff faces of Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park, California, made me realize we haven’t had such a unique and special natural adventure like this since leaving Australia to live in the U.S.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

I’m ready for more of it. And when you visit Channel Islands National Park it will be a highlight of your Kidifornia adventures in California.

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It was our big bang final experience after an amazing 10 day road trip from San Diego, through Orange County, then up to Ventura County on a paid partnership with Visit California.

Where is Channel Islands National Park?

Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park is located off the coastline of Ventura California. And Ventura County is located 70 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara.

Its remoteness helps to give it the title of the least visited of the National Parks in the USA, but undoubtedly it’s one of the best things to do in Ventura Ca.

It’s not that remote – an 80 minute ferry ride from Ventura Harbor on the California mainland. But, enough to only capture the most adventurous of hearts.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

There’s nothing over on the Channel Islands for you except beautiful beaches, cliff faces, valleys and canyons for hiking, and sea caves to explore on kayaks.

Oh wait.

There’s also snorkeling through the kelp forest, tiny island foxes waiting to grab your lunch, and this divine gum tree.

Gum tree on Channel Islands National Park, California

Yes, a taste and smell of Australia awaits you.

I stood under that tree breathing it in for some time. Oh how I miss that fresh earthy smell that usually tells me I’m home.

Thank you Channel Islands California for that unexpected moment of joy.

As they say, home is where the heart is, and my heart felt in the right place on Santa Cruz Island.

The Channel Islands National Park is made up of five islands:

  • San Miguel
  • Santa Rosa
  • Santa Cruz
  • Anacapa
  • and Santa Barbara

We only visited Santa Cruz Island as it’s the perfect place for a one-day trip, and is the easiest island to get to. But our visit provided a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of southern California we typically experience.

So far it’s one of the most beautiful places in California we have seen. 

How to visit Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park ferry

Not sure how to get to Channels Islands National Park?

You can visit any of the islands by the Channel Islands National Park ferry with Island Packers, by plane with Channel Islands Aviation, or your own private boat.

There are no roads on the island. You can get yourself around by foot or kayak.

And keep in mind that not all islands are accessible year round.

Island Packers Boat Trip to Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park ferry

The Channel Islands ferry ride over from Ventura Harbor is an adventure in itself.

We spotted a group of seals resting on a buoy, large fish swimming to the surface, and dolphins in the distance.

Seals we spotted on the Channel Islands National Park ferry in California

Seals we spotted on the Channel Islands National Park ferry in California

As these waters of the Santa Barbara Channel run pretty deep, Island Packers boat tours to the Channel Islands often see whales: humpback, fig and blue whales!

Yes, the largest animal in the world!!

We didn’t see any whales, but wait to you get to the end of this post so you can read more about how many dolphins we saw on the way back.

Channel Islands National Park ferry in California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Things to do in Channel Islands National Park

Sea Cave Kayak Adventure at Scorpion Anchorage

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

We were spending the day at Scorpion Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the islands.

Our mission was clear – spend a half-day exploring the sea caves by kayak with Channel Islands Adventure Company who offer several Channel Islands National Park tours.

Since Savannah clutched to me like a baby koala up a gum tree with every bump on the ferry over (which really wasn’t that bad), I thought our kayaking adventure was going to be a disaster.

She has been on so many boats, cruises, and once even kayaked 16 kms through the Noosa Everglades, but lately she’s developed a strange fear of boats.

However that all slipped away once she zipped up in her wetsuit, buckled up her life jacket, grabbed the paddle and jumped in the kayak.

Big sister Kalyra was right with her.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Kayaking at Channel Islands National Park

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Since Savannah has no problem rock climbing up a 55 foot wall, I’m guessing the thrill of adventure overtakes her and she can’t help but breathe deep and fall in love with the experience.

I can’t tell you how much I love having these experiences with my daughters.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

To have a seal pop its head up just meters from your kayak, to craftily paddle through Marg Simpson shaped crevices in the rock face, and navigate past rocks with the white wash give you a push is exhilarating.

“Paddle Kalyra. I’m going to steer and get us through without crashing the rocks, but I need you to keep paddling so we can get on the wave at the right timing.”

We timed our paddle through the narrow gap perfectly.

You just can’t beat having these thrilling team working experiences with your kids.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Dolphins on the way over to Channel Islands National Park, California

After paddling through the belly of elephant cave, we learned about the dwarf wooly mammoths that thrived on the island until the last Ice Age ended.

We also learned about the Indigenous history and culture on the island, its past ranching history before becoming a National Park, the restoration projects that happen to protect the flora and fauna, and the different animals that live on the island, including foxes, ravens and nesting birds.

Go into the dark cave to find your power

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Then there was the moment where we sat in the darkness of the Painted Cave grappling with our fears and deciding whether to take advantage of the low tide and paddle into the back room with only the light of a flashlight to guide us.

Painted Cave is one of the largest sea caves in the world and stretches 300 meters back into the island.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Savannah wasn’t having any of it, but I managed to help Kalyra find the courage to take the flashlight and help us find our way.

Savannah and Craig waited in the cave entrance, while Kalyra and I paddled beside our guide who expertly guided us into the dark and noisy cave.

Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park, California

The sound of the water rushing in and hitting the walls to deepen the cave spooked us.

I felt small and vulnerable.

These moments with Mother Nature remind you of your aliveness and that your smallness is part of something so significant.

It’s almost as if in that moment She passes over to you some of her power.

Snorkeling amongst the Kelp Forest

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Since the water temps are pretty chilly in California, we decided on the ferry ride over that we probably wouldn’t snorkel.

But, once we peered over the kayak to watch the bright orange Garibaldi, the protected state fish of California, swimming amongst the kelp forest, I knew I could not turn my back on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Channel Islands National Park, California

Don’t worry, if you fear cold water, it really wasn’t that bad. It was much colder when we swam with the sea lions in South Australia.

The Channel Islands Adventure Company has thick wetsuits you can wear, including a full head feature.

I know, I’m setting sexy snorkeling fashion trends here.

I really didn’t need it but how could you say no to this look?

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Kalyra jumped in beside me and we explored the kelp forest around the pier together.

The underwater rainforest danced around us as we peered between the giant kelp to discover what lies amongst and under them.

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Elise, our awesome guide, helped us by bringing out sea stars, sea cucumbers and bright purple sea urchins for us to have a look at.

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

I decided to swim back to shore to see if I could spot any sand rays. Except I took a wrong turn and ended up on top of the kelp forest trying to swim my way across in my heavy wetsuit!

That was such hard work, but I made it and did not see any rays, over the short strip of sandy bottom I managed to crawl my way over to.

It’s all part of the Channel Islands Ca adventure!

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Elise was very patient and friendly, making sure we were comfortable and having a good time.

We enjoyed our time with her kayaking around the cliffs and seeing Santa Cruz Island from the water (and under it!)

Picnic time on Santa Cruz Island

Snorkeling at Channel Islands National Park, California

Once our Channel Islands kayaking tour was over, we found a picnic table to sit with the sun, and the creeping foxes to enjoy a picnic lunch from Channel Islands Provisioners.

Fox on Channel Islands National Park, California

Owner, Chef Neal met us at the Ventura Harbor terminal to pass us each an insulated lunch pack. Chef Neal gave us lots of great tips about the island before we got onto the boat.

Chef Neal makes everything in your prepacked lunch from scratch and has a selection of island gourmet fare from sandwiches to salads.

Our salads were definitely gourmet, the food so fresh and flavorful, the girls’ sandwiches were equally gourmet and delicious.

Channel Islands National Park, California

Craig and I are gluten free and Chief Neal can cater to food allergies.

In the lunch pack you also get a trail mix – perfect for taking on the kayak – fruit and a water bottle filled with icy chilled water.

Neal also provided breakfast for us to eat on the boat ride over to Santa Cruz Island.

Channel Islands National Park, California

There are no shops or food vendors on the island, so be sure to bring your own lunch, or if you want a hassle free Channel Islands experience, grab a prepacked meal from Channel Islands Provisioners.

Be sure to order at least 3 days in advance!

Hiking trails on Santa Cruz Island

Hiking on Channel Islands National Park, California

We had little time after we finished our lunch before the ferry left to go back to Ventura.

But, we had just enough time for some Channel Islands National Park hiking.

We followed one of the trails from the visitor center up to a viewpoint to look out over Scorpion Anchorage.

Hiking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Hiking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Hiking in Channel Islands National Park, California

Hiking in Channel Islands National Park, California

It’s a loop walk that takes you further around to look over the cliff faces you just kayaked around.

We’ll save that adventure for next time we visit the Channel Islands National Park with kids.

But wait, check out this incredible encounter

And if the day couldn’t be more perfect, on the way home, our boat stopped and turned around.

Right there coming to remind us of how precious and special nature is, was a pod of about 100 dolphins. I have never seen so many dolphins in my life.

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Dolphins on the way over to Channel Islands National Park, California

We stayed with them for some time watching them chase fish and dive in and out of the water.

Dolphins on the way over to Channel Islands National Park, California

Visiting the Channel Islands National Park with kids is just pure magic.

What to take on your trip to the Channel Islands National Park

  • GoPro camera – perfect for your kayaking adventure
  • Waterproof phone case – I took my phone on the kayak with one of these to take video. Don’t take your phone with you without one.
  • Dry bag – if you want to take things on the kayak with you
  • Sunscreen – the sun in California is quite a burning sun. Protect yourself
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Swimming costume and rash shirt
  • Keens, or similar hiking sandals that are waterproof
  • Ample food for your day
  • Warm jacket for the boat ride back, it can get breezy

Be sure to take off your own trash, there are no receptacles on the island.

You can also go camping on the island.

So, if you love adventure, natural beauty, and remoteness without being too isolated, these islands would have to be one of the best places to visit in California.

Planning a Trip to Ventura County

Hotels near Channel Islands National Park

Flights to LA and Santa Barbara

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

Car Rental

  • RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.

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Are you planning to visit Channel Islands National Park? Let us know if you have any questions? Or if you’ve already been, share your tips!



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15 Memorable Things to do in Orange County with Kids…


1. Huntington Beach and Pier

Huntington Beach Pier, California

There’s nothing like sitting at a pub with a Californian local talking about life in the old California days over a pint of local brew.

Huntington Beach Pier is where the local surfers used to jump off to catch a wave. I’m not sure if today’s society would let them be so daring, but the waves sure haven’t gone away in protest.

Huntington Beach, California is noted for its consistent waves that brings surfers from across the globe.

Many come here to artfully weave between the pier pylons. Only for those who know what they are doing!

Every August, the US Surfing Open is held here.

Huntington Beach Pier, California

Huntington Beach Pier, California

Huntingtob Beach Pier

This massive professional surfing event has contributed to the beach town’s rapid growth and the storefront windows being plastered with images of Mick Fanning.

Hey, no complaints here. Keep that Aussie gold coming.

It’s not just the water that entices sport lovers.

Along the beach front, you’ll find rows of beach volleyball nets, which are used by pros and Olympic gold medalists, and of course you!

Nets are free, and you can rent volleyballs from concessionaires down by the beach.

Huntington Beach, California. A popular places for surfers and beach volleyball.

You can also rent stand up paddle boards and surf boards, bikes and surreys.

Want to learn how to surf? HB is one of the best beaches in Orange County for surfing and that would be one of the coolest things to do in Orange County with kids!

Huntington takes beach memory making a step further.

You can purchase firewood and smores to use in over 500 concrete fire rings available for free on the beach. It’s the Huntington Beach way and something I have never heard of any other beach in the world doing.

Have you?

And the Huntington beach sunsets are pretty awesome – one of the best free things to do in Orange County California!

Sunset in Huntington Beach, California. One of the best free things to do in Orange County

Huntington Beach sunset, California

Sunset in Huntington Beach, California. One of the best things to see in Orange County

There’s 10-mile paved boardwalk runs the full length of the shoreline parallel to the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH as the cool kids call it.

Jump on your bike and go explore.

Huntington Beach, Ca

Huntington has plenty of Eco tourism and nature experiences with the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Shipley Nature Center and Huntington Beach Wetlands.

Huntington State Beach is one of the cleanest in California.

On Fridays, 11am- 7pm there is a local arts and craft fair at the bottom of the pier.

2. Downtown Huntington Beach

Downtown Huntington Beach, California

Main Street Huntington Beach is where you’ll find your cafes, restaurants, bars and surf wear.

Plus, there is a surfing walk of fame, and the International Surfing museum, where we popped in for a short visit.

It’s small enough to not take up too much of your time, but there’s enough to keep you interested with its collection of old and new skate and surf boards.

Surfing museum in Huntington Beach, California

I particularly liked seeing the Guinness Book of World Records this surfing town holds, including most amount of people riding a surfboard for 12 seconds – let’s make that count at 66!

You can even see this gigantic sized surfboard – the world’s largest – hanging from the building in the parking lot.

International Surfing Museum - Huntington Beach, California

If you love all things surfing, this is one of the interesting things to do in Orange County with kids!

Both my girls love to shop (danger ahead) so they loved strolling up and down Main Street checking out the sales in the surf shops and making their own Havaianas in the Havaiana store.

Huntington Beach, California

Shopping in Huntington Beach, California

Shopping in Huntington Beach, California

Havaianas store

Huntington Beach Events

On Tuesday evenings, Surf City Nights turns Main Street into a pedestrian farmer’s markets with live music, food samples and activities for kids.

3. Pacific City

Pacific City, Huntington Beach, California

Pacific City is a modern retail, entertainment and dining space overlooking Huntington beach.

And Pacific City was the original name of the early oceanfront village that we now know as Huntington Beach.

It was named in honor of that village to once again bring to life a vibrantly rich place that celebrated the unique and natural beauty surrounding it.

It’s a beautiful space and definitely has a vibrant and celebratory style while keeping in tune with the natural beauty of Huntington.

You get outdoor lounges, fire pits and Huntington Beach views from every plaza, patio and deck.

Pacific City, Huntington Beach, California

Pacific City, Huntington Beach, California

It’s a real gathering place of visitors and locals and I can see why.

Pacific City, Huntington Beach, California

Pacific City, Huntington Beach, California

Lot 579 is a modern food hall featuring burgers, and beer, coffee and our favorite the Pie Not, An Aussie bakery filled with meat pies, sausage rolls and lamingtons.

Tell Mick to pop in!

4. Stay at Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

The Kimpton Shorebreak Resort in Huntington Beach on the corner of 5th and PCH was so great, we’re dedicating a future blog post review of it.

There is too much to say about it and this post is already gigantic for you.

It was fantastic.

Not just for its beach front location, the views from our room, and its modern funky design.

View of Huntington Beach from the Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

And nor was it for the free wine social hour, free smore’s by the fire pits, ping pong tables, corn hole, an absolutely amazing restaurant, but for the social atmosphere.

Kimpton Resort Hotel, Huntington Beach, California

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

Kimpton Resort Hotel, Huntington Beach, California

It was like staying in a hostel, but with the lovely luxury comforts of a four-star hotel.

The vibe was relaxed and family-friendly.

We spent our evenings sitting around the fire pits chatting with strangers swapping travel stories and tips.

You’d greet each other the next day in the lobby or courtyard and catch up on the day’s activities.

Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, Huntington Beach

If you travel with your pets; it’s also pet friendly.

The Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel is an absolute winner and definitely is in our top 5 favorite hotels so far in our America Unplugged road trip journey.

Book your stay at Kimpton with our affiliate partner Booking.com

Read more reviews on Trip Advisor

5. Eat at Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

Even if you don’t stay at Kimpton Shorebreak Resort, if you’re interest in foodie things to do in Huntington Beach eat at their restaurant Pacific Hideaway.

Breakfast or dinner take your pick, the food was exceptional.

Choose whether you want to sit on the deck with views of PCH and the palm trees leaning over to worship HB, (don’t worry they have Mexican blankets in case of evening chills).

Or inside on one of the swing bench chairs. They don’t actually swing, but they are darn cute.

You have Southeast Asian or Latin American influences in the Pacific Hideaway.

Do not look past the… The flavors of this dish were delicious – in our top 10 of the US so far.

Dinner at the Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

And the breakfast bowl was scrumptious. You’d never know it’s so healthy for you.

Breakfast at the Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

And the girl’s pancakes and French Toast were dished up with color and beauty to match the pretty bouquet of flowers on Frida’s Kahlo’s head.

Breakfast at the Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

How beautiful is this mural on the wall of the restaurant?

Pacific Hideaway, Kimpton Shorebreak

Read more reviews for Pacific Hideaway here.

Want more suggestions for restaurants in Huntington Beach Ca?

We grabbed a takeaway lunch from famous Wahoo’s Fish Taco and ate down on the grass area next to the pier.

Another place that came recommended by many and seemed popular each morning was the Sugar Shack Cafe.

And for absolute beach front position check out legendary Duke’s. 

Things to do in Orange County with kids, outside of Huntington Beach

Aw, do we have to leave Huntington?

Yes! Because Orange County is an exciting destination with plenty of fun things to do with the kids.

There is of course Anaheim. You may have heard of Disneyland. There are a lot of cool things to do in Anaheim beside Disneyland as well.

We’ll tell you more about that after September.

On this trip, we wanted to stay away from the theme parks and have more local Kidifornia adventures.

Those that showed us the natural beauty, a little history, and immersed us into the Orange County culture.

6. Ocean Institute Dana Point

Ocean Institute Dana Point

Richard Henry Dana, the seaman who Dana Point is named after, described this place as solemn and romantic.

It’s a very pretty location with the harbor sitting under the cliff tops that you see so much of in Southern Orange County.

Dana Point is a departure point for sailing adventures and whale and dolphin watching excursions, but, it’s also the home of the Ocean Institute.

The Dana Point Ocean Institute uses the ocean as their classroom to inspire children to learn.

As we wandered through the various parts of the facilities that included touch tanks, and life-sized displays of whales, and the growing life cycle of the jellyfish, groups of children moved experimenting, playing games and interacting with the ocean on various summer camps.

Ocean Institute Dana Point

What a cool way to learn about, and fall in love, with the ocean.

Dana Point Ocean Institute

The girls really loved the behind the scenes tour. It was way better than me teaching them this stuff from a text book.

The Institute also teaches about maritime life and history. Outside in the harbor sits the tall ship, The Pilgrim, a full-sized replica of the brig on which Dana once sailed.

Pilgrim tall ship at Ocean Institute Dana Point

The girls were able to walk aboard the ship picturing what life was like as a sailor spending six months on board sailing around the Americas from Boston to California to trade for cow hides.

Ocean Institute Dana Point

We put them to work raising the mast too! I don’t think they’ll complain about cleaning their room again.

Ocean Institute Dana Point

The Ocean Institute is now open to the public seven days a week where you can tour the facility, participate in lab activities, go on a Whale Watching Cruise or head to sea aboard a historic tall ship.

Visiting the Institute is one of the best educational things to do in Orange County with kids!

Admission:

On weekdays, a 1 tour ticket is $5. A day pass (2+ tours are $70)
On weekends it’s $10 for adults and $7.50 for kids (2-12) and seniors (55+)

7. Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Orange County attractions are not just about theme parks and beautiful beaches.

There is also historical charm only a few miles away from the Dana Point coastline.

A worthy stop on your Southern California road trip, is Mission San Juan Capistrano, the birthplace of Orange County.

It was founded by the Spanish in 1776, at the same time the Founding Fathers were signing those important documents over in the East.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is stunning, especially when we visited in June with the flowers setting the stoned walls of the mission alight.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

The 10-acre site is filled with bougainvillea covered walkways, lush gardens, fountains and exhibits.

It is so colorful and pretty inside with plenty of space to wander and relax.

A feature of the mission are the ruins of the Great Stone Church. It took six years to build and one minute to destroy in the 1812 earthquake that killed 40 people inside attending Mass.

It’s now a fitting memorial to the strength and resilience of the local community.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

The Serra Chapel inside the mission is the oldest church in California. Mass is still held here.

Its notable feature is the gold plated Baroque altarpiece that is decorated with 52 angel faces – one for every Sunday of the year.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Don’t miss the Sacred Garden and the Bell Wall beside the Great Stone Church. As you can see it’s really beautiful.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

The Mission is also a space for the community.

Events are held here year-round, including the historic bell ringing for special occasions, an annual battle of the mariachis festival and a celebration for the Return of the Swallows.

The mission is well known for the swallows that return here each March to nest.

I’d love to return and experience a summer concert series under the stars in the beautiful grounds of this mission, or the Native American storytelling that happens on the first Sundays and 2nd Saturdays of the month.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

There is a sad Native American history attached to the mission. As you know the Missions were built by the Spanish in order to convert the indigenous in the area to their way of living.

So, amongst this beauty there is a heavy history.

I love how the Mission now celebrates the Native American traditions via different interactive exhibits inside and honoring their spirit through experiences like this.

This Mission is another one of the most interesting and educational things to do in Orange County with kids!

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Admission & Tours:

Multi language audio tours are free with the $10 admission ticket or you can take staff guided tours.

To keep the kids engaged with the history of Mission San Juan Capistrano, they receive a Mission Passport, which is an activity book filled with historical facts and games.

Read more reviews of the Mission here.

8. Los Rios Historic District

Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Across the train tracks from Mission San Juan Capistrano is the Los Rios historic district, a pleasant place to stroll, eat, enjoy tea, and boutique shop.

There are 31 homes along Los Rios Street, the earliest dating to 1794, and they look as they did two centuries ago.

Many of the homes are still owned by the original families.

Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Browse the items that match the rooms they are displayed in. Tea Towels and oven dishes sit in the kitchen, clothes hang up in the wardrobe and outside are all your garden goods.

It was cute!

Pop into Ellie’s Table which is located in the 1883 Judge Egan House. It’s a delicious bakery and café perfect for a lunch break. And they even have gluten free goodies.

Ellie's Table, Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

I was too full from my pumpkin soup and quiche to fit one of them in. The food here is homemade and exceptional. It’s reasonably priced and has a lovely local story.

Ellie's Table, Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

The streets around the Mission display a variety of architectural styles.

Adobe, Victorian, Spanish and Revival, all of which house galleries, bookstores, boutique stores (Wildfire Mercantile is fun), restaurants and taverns.

Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

Los Rios Historic District, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California

9. Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine

Looking for fun places to eat in Orange County?

Did you know that California produces 80% of America’s strawberries?

We loved learning this and more on a strawberry farm tour at Tanaka Farms, Irvine, which is about 30 minutes from Huntington Beach.

Tanaka have been running tours of their farm here for 20 years.

The one-hour wagon ride tour goes around the 30-acre farm where you’ll learn about the farm’s history and farming methods and you’ll see what is growing.

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine

Everything is organic so feel free to taste away.

Have you ever tasted corn straight from the ground?

I didn’t even know you could eat it raw and it was the most delicious thing I tasted on the farm. It was sweet and creamy and so fresh.

We also tasted carrots, onions (pass), bok choy, and coriander.

Tanaka Farms Orange County

We then jumped off at the end to run through the strawberry fields and pick a container full of them. Of course, we ate a few as we went.

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine. One of the best things to do in Orange County with kids

Tanaka Farms Strawberry Tour in Irvine. One of the best things to do in Orange County with kids

Strawberry picking was one of the girl’s favorite things to do in Orange County California.

Besides farm tours, Tanaka Farms also sell their produce in a small market out front.

10. OC Night Market in Costa Mesa

OC Night Market in Costa Mesa, Orange County

Looking for things to do in Orange County at night?

The Orange County Night Market is the largest event of its kind in the US! They are held every Friday night in the fairgrounds and attended by thousands of people.

The fairgrounds are lined with food trucks, merchandise, arts and entertainment, including men trying to hang off the monkey bars for 2 minutes in order to win $100.

Must be hard because the strongest looking man in the crowd only lasted 46 seconds.

OC Night Market in Costa Mesa, Orange County

You’ll see long queues for dishes like hot Cheetos-encrusted corn dog or nachos, or fried peanut-butter meatballs from Chick n Charlie’s.

OC Night Market in Costa Mesa, Orange County

The multicultural atmosphere at the OC Night Markets is fun and vibrant.

If you love quirky drinks and tapioca balls, then be sure to grab a giant baby bottle of boba milk tea. If that is not your style, they have drinks in giant light bulbs as well.

Admission:

There is a $5 entry fee for the OC Markets. And parking is $8.

The entry fee left us a little bewildered as to why people would pay an entrance fee to eat from food trucks. But hundreds turn up each week, and as one local said,

“Oh, the OC night markets are so fun. I used to go every week when I was at college”

Newport Beach California

Newport, Orange County, California

Newport is said to be California’s Riviera.

On one side of the Balboa Peninsula, you have waterfront mansions, yacht filled harbor and six resident islands of various sizes, one of which, Collin’s Island, James Cagney is said to have one in a poker game.

Another, Bay Island, is completely car free.

On the other side of the Balboa peninsula you have 8 miles of surfing beaches.

We only had one morning in, and I’m sure only scratched the surface on things to do in Newport Beach CA.

11. Duffy Boat Tour

Duffy Boat Tour, Newport Beach, California

What a wonderful way to start a day relaxing on a Duffy boat tour of Newport Bay.

Once you arrive in Orange County, you will quickly learn the term Duffy boat. It’s an electric boat, similar to a golf cart, which is perfect for the waters of Newport Bay.

To keep a calm waterway for the locals, you cannot go faster than 5 knots which meant Kalyra could play skipper for a bit.

Our guide, Carolyn, from Newport at your Feet, was full of energy and passion for Newport and Orange County and shared with us many stories about life in Newport.

Carolyn pointed out sites like Shirley Temple’s childhood home, and the beach where some of Gilligan’s Island was filmed.

Duffy Boat Tour, Newport Beach, California
Shirley Temple’s childhood home
Duffy Boat Tour, Newport Beach, California
Gilligan’s Island was filmed here.

Duffy Boat Tour, Newport Beach, California

She also pointed out the lot where John Wayne used to have his home.

There’s a new home on it now – which was one of my favorites on there – but they have kept the big sign out the front that said, Dukes Point.

I took a photo of it to send to my dad. As you may know from our post about the Alamo, he is the world’s biggest John Wayne fan.

Lot where John Wayne used to have his home.
Lot where John Wayne used to have his home.

Balboa is the most well-known of the islands and there is cute car and passenger ferry which transports people back and forth from the peninsula.

Apparently, the ice cream on the cute main shopping street there makes it a worthy visit.

We finished our Duffy boat tour of Newport Bay with a favorite local’s activity: Dock and Dine.

We docked in front of the Lighthouse Café for a spot of lunch. Fish Tacos, beignets and extraordinary views topped off an extraordinary morning.

Lighthouse Café, Newport

Lighthouse Café

Lighthouse Café

You can rent a Duffy boat for your own self-guided tour or join a guided one like Carolyn offers.

12. Balboa Village Fun Zone

Balboa Village Fun Zone

The Fun Zone on the harbor grabbed us for a trampoline jump and a Ferris wheel ride before leaving Newport.

This Ferris wheel may be smaller than most, but it is the longest Ferris wheel ride I’ve ever had. You’ll know from this post I wrote on being ride dizzy, I was ready to get off it.

Why do you get so dizzy on rides once you get older?

The girls absolutely loved it and we had gorgeous views out over Newport from the top.

Balboa Village Fun Zone

Balboa Village Fun Zone

Balboa Village Fun Zone

Where else do you go after rotating through the air, but for ice cream?

Waiting for you are the refreshing flavors of a California summer at Cowafornia ice cream. All ice creams are made with real California milk.

Cowafornia Baby.

Pineapple Coconut was my perfect fit for an afternoon ice cream in Newport Beach.

Cowafornia even have sugar free chocolate, which Craig said was delicious. No ice cream guilt needed!

Savannah went with cotton candy!

Yummy ice cream from Cowafornia in Newport, Orange County

So, put the Fun Zone on your list of fun things to do in Orange County with kids!

We ran out of time to explore more of Newport, but if you have time be sure to check out Corona Del Mar Beach, Back Bay for hiking and biking trails, and The Wedge, which is known for big wave surfing.

The week before we arrived they had 12-foot waves.

But, they have been known to reach 20 feet!  Wowzer!

Check out tours on offer in Newport with our tour partner, Viator.

13. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, Orange County

Laguna Beach California is a popular vacation destination and is a little more upmarket than Huntington Beach.

There’s plenty of things to do in Laguna Beach and it’s popular for couples’ breaks, families and art lovers.

Around Laguna you’ll find seven miles of coves and canyons, offering you plenty of outdoor activities and Laguna Beach beaches to enjoy.

Laguna Beach has different beaches to the rest of Southern California, they are smaller and more sheltered rather than the wide sweeping beaches you find along most of the coastline.

Laguna Beach, Orange County, California

Laguna Beach, Orange County

Laguna Beach, Orange County

Laguna Beach, Orange County

Some of the best beaches in Laguna beach are also found at the bottom of steep cliffs, like the aptly named 1,000 Steps Beach recommended to us by locals, Megan and Scot from Bobo and Chichi.

I don’t think it has 1,000 steps but it certainly feels like it. It’s worth heading on down.

1,000 steps beach, Orange County

They also recommended Table Rock Beach for sunset and Treasure Island Beach.

Victoria Beach, and its natural pirate tower also comes recommended and then there is the main Laguna Beach, which will probably be more crowded than the other beaches.

Victoria Beach, Orange County

Just across the road from main beach are winding streets filled with restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

14. Fete de LA Musique

Fete de LA Musique, Laguna Beach

One of my favorite travel memories is a night in Paris with friends at the Fete de LA Musique.

We were staying with a local Parisian and she suggested we walk around to check out the festival music playing in the streets.

Even though we didn’t understand a single word we had a ball moving from street corner to street corner listening to different music and dancing with the crowds.

What does this have to do with Laguna beach and one of the best things to do in Orange County with kids?

Well, if you are in Laguna Beach in June, the Fete de LA Musique is one of the top Laguna Beach events and brings the same experience to this Orange county beach town.

Fete de LA Musique, Laguna Beach

This music festival was actually conceived by American musician Joel Cohen in 1976 while he was working at a radio station in France.

He proposed an all-night music celebration during the summer solstice. It began as a recognized cultural event in 1982.

Laguna Beach is an artistic community, so it makes sense that it is held here each year to celebrate the coming of summer.

Walk around the streets of Laguna Beach downtown and the main beachfront to listen to a wide variety of music from local musicians.

My favorite was the band on the beach singing Purple Rain. Prince we love you.

Fete de LA Musique, Laguna Beach

As Laguna is an arts community, you may also want to check out the Laguna Art Museum, which collects, and exhibits works of art created by California artists or that represent California history and culture.

15. Eat at Las Brisas

Las Brisas, Orange County, California

When it came to Laguna Beach restaurants, Las Brisas was mentioned to us by almost everyone we spoke to about when visiting Laguna Beach.

It’s a restaurant on the cliff top at Laguna Beach and has incredible coastline views.

It also has incredible Mexican food as well. Craig’s rapture over his beef brisket tacos had me lamenting not ordering them.

Although my salmon choice, was just as delicious!

Las Brisas, Orange County, California

Read more reviews on TripAdvisor here.

The cloudy skies cancelled our date with a Laguna beach sunset.

We went back to the Kimpton for smores and red wine around the firepits instead.

Check out tours on offer in Laguna Beach with our tour partner, Viator.

Do you have any tips on things to do with kids in Orange County or suggest any more Orange County attractions? Please share in the comments. 



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Why You Should Follow Your heart (and its wild journey)…


I never realized I felt like a visitor in my own country until recently relocating to Raleigh.

Now that I’m here and experiencing the feelings that I am, I know that was what that unsettled feeling always was. That desire to roam and seek, feeling like I never belonged, or perhaps not even wanted.

follow your heart

I thought I just wanted to travel. I though I just enjoyed being free and turning up in places not knowing anyone and not being able to be found.

That definitely comes into play, and it’s because of that, I ended up here in Raleigh. The most random and uncanny choice for a girl addicted to sunshine, gum trees, and beaches.

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You only know what you know

How could I have known that the experiencing the depth and beauty of  of the four seasons, and the energy of the mountains, oak trees and pine forests would enrich my soul more?

For the first time in my life, I feel I have roots. I literally feel as if my legs have become tree trunks and they refuse to budge from this place.

I’ve never felt like this before and I wonder if other people feel the same way.

Is that why some people never have a desire to travel? Is it because their tree trunk legs won’t let them?

My life in Raleigh gives me a deep satisfying love that enables me to feel very present in my everyday moments.

Simple things like shopping at Trader Joes or Costco’s puts me in a joyful state. I walk around humming with this feeling of love surrounding me and I whisper, I love this so much. Like I looooove living here so much.

Who would be filled up by grocery shopping like that?

While not everything is perfect, as that is life, I couldn’t tell you one complaint I have about living here. (except that my family and friends aren’t here)

Without a doubt Raleigh is where I belong. (btw, Craig feels the same way, which makes us both lucky, as it might prove a challenge otherwise!)

When I was traveling through Tirol, Austria last year with some other blogging friends, I described to them how I instantly felt Raleigh was my home the minute I first arrived in 2004. I couldn’t explain it. I just looked at the pine trees through the window of my airport transfer and was overwhelmed with this rushing feeling of I am home.

They listened in awe and I could see that restless spirit within them as they asked,

“Do you think that can happen to everyone? Do you think that one day you can find that special place just for you? I feel like I’m going to be endlessly looking.”

“Yes I do. I think everyone has a soul home. Some are born there, and others, for whatever reason have to go on a journey to find it.  If you are open to it, and willing to make the sacrifices for it,  you’ll find it and you’ll just KNOW when you do.”

The restless spirit of a travel

I just thought I was, and always would be a gypsy. I struggled to accept that for so long as no one who’s not a gypsy wants you to be a gypsy.

When I finally owned it, I felt so liberated. I’m a gypsy whether I like it or not and will always travel.  So let’s go.

But now I know I just hadn’t found my place yet.

I still have that gypsy spirit – one that desires freedom, adventure and change but I am not longer desperate to jump on a plane to get it.

I replied to an email subscriber the other day who spoke to me in terms of a restless spirit, and I told her,

“this unquenchable thirst you have for freedom, doesn’t always mean you have to go traipse across the globe to satisfy it.

On my journey to have it, I created my own travel business, which now gives me that sense of freedom I thirst for. Now I’m quite content to NOT travel, because my desire for freedom is quenched.

So you can have what you seek a little closer to home. Don’t delay experiencing that value until you have enough money to travel. Ask yourself, how can you bring that sense of freedom into your life now?”

Trust in your life’s journey

trust in lifes journey

Take the journey. Enjoy the twists and turns and its varying levels of speed.

It is bringing to you everything you need to become the person you need to be to get the dream you desire.

It may be a wild ride that takes you on unsuspecting paths, but eventually it will bring you to your home, your heart’s desire, the thing that makes you feel alive in every second of the day.

It’s how we are designed to live.

I have been exploring the heart recently. Randomly. Through books and documentaries that just happened along my path. That’s what happens when you follow your heart and trust in the journey.

I’ve always told people follow your heart and trust in your gut. My life’s journey has taken me through some painful lessons to learn that the gut can never be ignored. It is non-negotiable for me now to turn from its advice.

I’ve been learning how the heart is our connection to life (I mean more than pumping blood around and helping our bodily system work).

It’s the life force – the spirit that connects us to each other and to the OTHER.

Recent heart studies have proven that it’s the heart that communicates to the brain which quickly sends the message to our gut. So while it feels like that intuition is coming from our gut, it actually originates from the heart.

A study from Heart Math, had participants hooked up to wires that could read their heart waves. They were randomly shown a series of photos – some invoking fearful and distressed emotions – and some invoking loving and peaceful emotions.

They monitored the heart to see how it reacted. What they found was fascinating.

The heart knew what the image was going to be before it was shown. The heart patterns showed that at least 20 seconds before the (random) image was shown it either steeply dropped if the next image was a negative one, or gently rise if it was a positive one.

Your heart knows. Your heart has your back.

Follow your heart

follow your heart

I followed my heart here to Raleigh. It didn’t make much sense to me. I didn’t make any sense to anyone else. It’s the question I get most,

Why did you leave Australia for Raleigh?

They think I’ve made a stupid decision and I’m sure some people think it will end up a disaster.

I’m sure you have encountered similar resistance before when you’ve chosen to follow your heart.

Other people don’t know what is in your heart. They only know what is in theirs.

Follow your heart only.

Your heart knows even before you know, and definitely before anyone else.

It will always guide you to that place where you feel deep and fulfilling love, even when you’re pushing a shopping cart around.

I don’t know what else the heart has in store for me. I don’t know why I’m here in Raleigh. I just know I’m home and I’ll stay as long as my heart keeps telling me so.

Back in March, I was closing keynote at the Women’s Travel Fest conference in New York. I spoke about how to create your dream life. My final words were to trust in the journey and experience it fully without trying to take short cuts.

Our journey to here started in 2004 with a random teaching placement in Raleigh North Carolina, an opportunity I happened to discover picking up a teacher’s union magazine (who even reads that?) and finding an ad for teachers in the US.

AS you know, we loved it and wanted to stay permanently. It caused us to chase stupid online business and invest in the wrong things. Hello GFC, housing and stock market crash! (you can read more about that here)

We lost nearly half a million dollars in assets and ended up with $30,000 in credit card debt. All of this lead me to soul search pretty deeply until I learned to return to that which I truly love and to actually create the idea I had at my kitchen table in 2007.

The one where my heart told me to start a travel blog, except my doubt and insecurity got in the way and told me, “no way you are not good enough. No one cares nor will read your stories (now half a million people do every month).”

But this time in 2010 I listened to my heart because I had no other choice but to listen. I was at rock bottom and the heart said,

Are you ready now to trust me?

So I did. I returned to that which I loved – travel and sharing it with others.

So the blog grew until it got to the point where the US government said you are extraordinary enough to return to this country on a non-immigrant visa.

And now we have very high chances of getting a green card to make it more permanent than just a three year permission.

The heart has brought me home by way of quite the extraordinary, dizzy journey that has helped me become a much better version of myself.

See how the heart brings forth miraculous surprises to lead you back to the path of your true purpose and your true home?

Be open to it. Trust in your heart. Follow your heart. Keep it open for miracles and love.

And you will find your home, whether that’s through a travel life or not.

Do you struggle to follow your heart? What miracles have happened for you when you do?

Did you find this post helpful? Did you like it? If you did, there are several things you can now do.

  1. I’m intending to write these style of posts more often. It’s usually what I reserve for our VIP email tribe. It’s free. You can join that here so you don’t miss one of my notes from the road. I write them so I may help you believe in your dream and continue your heart focused journey.
  2. Please share this post with someone you think it can inspire. Imagine how wonderful the world would be if we all lived from our hearts more?

This book, The Untethered Soul, The Journey Beyond Yourself and this documentary, The Power of the Heart have taught me so much this week about the heart and have inspired me greatly.



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16 Exciting Things to do in San Diego With Kids (This is Me livin…


San Diego.

A California beach town where fish tacos reign supreme and sunsets set the tone of the evening with a vibrant display of eclectic personalities.

Things to do in San Diego with kids

Surfers race with boards under arm to catch the breaks their friends are already cutting loose on.

Muscle men cruise by holding onto handlebars 5 feet high with stereo speakers and a beer shoved into their stubby holders.

A man in his mid-sixties skates by on roller blades lost in the tune of his own drum.

Young dread-locked girlfriends argue over the placement of the volleyball and fall over each other giggling, then walk towards the San Diego sunset with arms draped over each other.

And as you’ll read below, there are a ton of cool things to do in San Diego with kids!

San Diego is the definition of cool

Bike riding in Pacific Beach. One of the besy things to do in San Diego with kids

As Prince said,

“Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?’ If not, then you’re cool.”

In San Diego, you have the freedom to rock on up and be your good self.

It’s not a “look at me” scene but more ‘This is Me”.

It’s eclectic retro soul does not stop with the people.

The boardwalk stretching from Pacific Beach to Mission Beach is a mixture of brightly painted two story homes, smaller beach shacks, and white Adobe structures with cactus gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Mixed in between are bars and taco corners.

Cool beach cafe in Pacific Beach, San Diego

Colorful homes along the beach boardwalk in San Diego, California

The spirit of its beach community origin is alive and reflected in the laughter and play of everyone on its shores. There’s not much else required of you in San Diego.

San Diego’s close proximity to Mexico gives you a colorful and unique flavor. You can guarantee the fish tacos will be full of cilantro and the local beer light and citrusy

San Diego – a Kidifornia adventure for your family memories

We visited San Diego, California on a paid campaign with Visit California to share the amazing Kidifornia adventures on offer in this Golden State.

We flew into San Diego from Raleigh, NC, jumped in a rental car and started our 10-day Southern California road trip in San Diego, the state’s second largest city.

You know a family vacation in San Diego is worth sharing when you see your children quickly slip into a relaxed and joyful state.

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, San Diego
Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve
Sunset Cliffs Nature Park, San Diego
Sunset Cliffs Nature Park

Both our girls kept saying how much they loved San Diego (and the other places we visited in Southern California: Orange County and Ventura County (stay tuned for future posts).

Visiting San Diego reminded Kalyra so much of our former Australian beach home, Burleigh Heads. She could not stop sharing her memories and started to feel homesick.

She really loved the San Diego attractions we experienced and immersing herself in that beach lifestyle and energy.

They will be talking about our San Diego vacation for a long time!

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California
Ocean Beach

Besides just soaking up the beach lifestyle, below are all our suggested fun things to do in San Diego with kids.

Things to do in San Diego with Kids

1. Bike the Beach and Bay

Bike riding in Pacific Beach, San Diego

We arrived in San Diego after a long flight day after our initial flight leaving Raleigh was delayed (it happens).

After checking into the Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Bay, first on our list of family activities in San Diego was jumping on a couple of bike rentals from the Active Rental store at Bahia, and hitting the bike path.

The tension released a little more with each new peddle and breath of fresh salty air.

This is ME!

Bike riding in Pacific Beach, San Diego

It’s amazing how much nature and getting active with it can change your psyche.

And it’s why we do so much outdoor activities with our kids and will choose it first over any museum or attraction.

We want them to learn that nature is their friend, their place to root and ground and rely on when life feels overwhelming and exhausting.

We followed the bike path around Mission Bay, which is the quieter area for water activities, boating, kayaking and supping.

The bike path wasn’t as busy and filled with joggers and walkers like the beach path.

Bike riding in Mission Bay, San Diego

At the top of the bay we cut west to hit the bike path and into the San Diego energetic vibe for our first taste of the San Diego beaches, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

Pacific Beach, San Diego. Great place to go for a bike ride along the beach boardwalk with kids.

Beach volleyball in San Diego

Pacific Beach, San Diego. Great place to ride a bike along the beach with kids.

Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

Pacific Beach, San Diego, California

This ride ended up being one of our most fun things to do in San Diego with kids. We enjoyed bike dodging between all the characters sharing the path with us.

It also became my morning running path – great way to start the San Diego day!

We cycled past Lahaina Beach House in Pacific Beach, which bought back memories of our first time in San Diego in 2006 before kids having beers on the deck watching the incredible San Diego sunsets.

Lahaina Beach House, San Diego. Great place to watch a San Diego sunset

It’s not a place I’d recommend you stop in San Diego with your kids, but if you keep cycling a little further, you’ll come to South Draft Mission on the beach front at Mission Beach.

2. Fuel Up with Nachos and Craft Brew at South Draft Mission

South Draft Mission, San Diego

San Diego is known to have one of the top craft brew scenes in the country.

Being gluten free we can’t explore it too much, but we did find a gluten free beer on the menu at Draft!

Grab a seat on the front porch at South Draft Mission, and a nice cold beer (they do plenty of local brews) and a plate of ginormous shredded beef nachos to share.

The nachos here are one to remember – full of flavor without being too heavy.

Yummy nachos and beer at South Draft Mission in San Diego, California

As for beer, we had the Coconut Contender from the local Duck Foot Brewery – the founder has celiac disease, so all beers are gluten free.

We love you!!

Yummy food and beer at South Draft Mission, Sand Diego, California

When John Morrison started belting out Love Street as I took my first sip I couldn’t have been happier. It was my perfect California moment.

For the kids, order them a Mexican soda which is the rage in San Diego. Its soda made from pure cane sugar and nicer tasting than that other stuff.

South Draft Mission, San Diego, California

We tried Squirt, the grapefruit flavor, which became Kalyra’s favorite California moment.

3. Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kayaking on Mission Bay

Stand up paddle boarding on Mission Bay - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

You know by now that one of our favorite things to do as a family is stand up paddle boarding.

I love the stillness and serenity of just me being out there on the water with the salty breeze on my back. I slip into true Tao spirit on a SUP.

I’m balanced, strong and focused, yet humble, relaxed and in flow.

Stand up paddle boarding in Mission Bay - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Stand up paddle boarding in Mission Bay - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

I love to paddle with Kalyra and watch her perform handstands, jumps and cartwheels.

I was immensely proud of her as we were paddling around Mission Bay. She stopped and fell behind me and when I turned to see what she was doing, I saw her maneuvering her board and paddle, so she could pick up a plastic water bottle she passed floating in the water.

My heart swelled.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding at Mission Bay - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

These are the moments that make all the challenges and sacrifices of this full-time family travel life worthwhile.

Savannah is water cautious, so she doesn’t often embrace supping. However, she loves kayaking, so we jumped in the tandem kayak together to explore the bay.

Kayaking in Mission Bay, San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Kayaking in Mission Bay - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

You can hire paddle boards and kayak rentals from Active Sport Rentals near The Bahia Resort . They also have other locations in the Mission Bay area.

Stand up paddle boarding in Mission Bay - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Stand up paddle boarding, San Diego, California

Stand up paddle boarding and kayaking is definitely one of the cool things to do in San Diego with kids! 

4. Get Retro and Funky at the Corvette Diner

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

The Corvette Diner is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

It’s a diner that pays homage to every era time has gone by since diners were a thing.

From a brightly colored 50s retro diner with a milk bar and vintage care behind the hostess, to the train room with a black and white film showing above each booth, to a modern red room dedicated to corvette car lovers.

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

A radio DJ booth pumps out Frank Sinatra, New York, New York and other classic tunes like Wild Thing, which matches the 70s groove room we dined in.

The black walls are painted with Fluro signs reminding us to Make Love Not War; appreciate Peace, Love and Music; and embrace Woodstock as our therapy.

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Look up and you’ll continue the messaging with psychedelic posters on the celling. How did they know this was my vibe?

Waitstaff wear rainbow colored scrunchies and black dresses with Fluro trim.

Loretta, our energetic waitress stops to decorate the girls’ hair with multi colored popsicle sticks and gives the girls flashlights to draw on the table with.

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

They soon break into a Mashed Potato pom pom dance and gather around those having a birthday to sing to them.

The Corvette Diner is like the nightclub for families. I promise you before the night is through, you’ll be singing at the top of your lungs with the DJ – “Let’s hear it for the boys!”

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

When the kids are done with their hair, a bit of table art and their dinner, they can head out to the arcade out back for some good old-fashioned games.

Eat at the Corvette Diner in San Diego - - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Be sure to high five a few of the greats along the wall when you do.

Hello Elvis, you fine thing you!

One of the best family things to do in San Diego.

Read more reviews of Corvette Diner here.

5. Watch Sunset at Pacific Beach Pier

Sunset in San Diego - one of the best free things to do in San Diego with kids

Sunset in San Diego can’t be missed! And it’s one of the best things to do in California that doesn’t have to cost a cent!

You can enjoy the sunset from any of the beaches in San Diego, and it’s one of the best free things to do in San Diego with kids!

No matter where you stand you’ll see a giant orange orb dip below the ocean’s horizon. And because summer rarely sees rain in California, you’ve got great odds for a terrific nightly show.

Sunset in San Diego - one of the best free things to do in San Diego with kids

Sunset at Pacific Beach in San Diego, California - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Our girls were happy cartwheeling and playing on the sand on Pacific Beach next to the pier while we watched the sun go down.

Pacific Beach Pier, San Diego, California

Pacific Beach Pier, San Diego, California

The sunsets are one of the most beautiful things to see in San Diego, and there’s only one thing to do after such a pretty close out to the day…

Celebrate with ice cream!

6. Grab an Ice cream from Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream

Hammond's Ice Cream in Sand Diego - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Craving ice cream in San Diego? Head to Garnet Road, the main street leading to the pier at Pacific Beach.

Tucked in between a lot of great restaurants and casual cafes is local ice cream favorite, Hammond’s Gourmet ice cream.

Not sure which flavor to buy? You can taste test. Or try one of their waffle cone flights.

Hammond's Ice Cream in Sand Diego - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Ice cream is always a highlight for our girls! 

They had a mint choc chip and Craig had his usual favorite, butter pecan.

Hammond's Ice Cream in Sand Diego - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Hammond's Ice Cream in Sand Diego - one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids!

Whilst we didn’t get it anywhere else, it would be hard to beat as the best ice cream in San Diego.

7. Experience Culture at Balboa Park

Balboa Park, San Diego, California - one of the best things to do in California with kids!

Looking for more things to do in San Diego for families? Welcome to the cultural playground for children and adults.

Balboa Park, San Diego is known as one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids and has everything to suit all ages and your family’s preferences:

  • art galleries
  • museums
  • science centers
  • performing arts centers
  • gardens
  • and even one of America’s best zoos, the San Diego Zoo!

Even just wandering around and appreciating the stunning Spanish Renaissance and Southwest architecture and beautiful gardens is enjoyable.

Balboa Park, San Diego, California - one of the best things to do in California with kids!

Balboa Park, San Diego, California - one of the best things to do in California with kids!

Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Balboa Park is America’s largest urban cultural park, is ranked as one of the best parks in the world, and is one of the best things to do in Southern California.

We only managed to spend a few hours at Balboa Park, and out of the 17 Balboa Park museums and endless lush and landscaped gardens, here is what we experienced.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Balboa Park, San Diego

The Science Center is an interactive educational playground for the kids. These are the kind of places we look for to check off a few of our homeschooling boxes!

The girls learned more about the water cycle, energy and motion, and different knots.

We had a blast in the special exhibit (extra fee), Mythbusters. We didn’t even know it was a TV show until going inside the Science Center.

We had fun trying out the different myth busting experiments like getting changed into a superhero costume in a phone booth as fast as you can and testing how wet we’d get walking and then running under a rain shower!

There are over 100 hands on exhibits in the Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park.

Science Museum at Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Admission also includes an IMAX film. Unfortunately, we just missed the Panda film and didn’t have time to stay for the next showing.

Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park, San Diego

There is an extra fee to enter the Japanese Friendship Garden, which is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama.

There’s an upper and lower strolling path where you can see koi pond, landscaped gardens and a Zen garden viewing deck.

Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park, San Diego

It’s a very tranquil space. There’s also a tea pavilion overlooking the gardens.

Spanish Village Art Center

Spanish Village Art Center, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Pop into the Spanish Village Art Center so your kids can get a look at a working artist’s studio in a charming Spanish town square.

Small adobe studios painted with blue walls and yellow trims host a variety of artists and even offer art classes, glass blowing lessons and even more to explore your creative side.

From the studios to the flowers, this place bursts with color and reflective energy. Kids will love hopscotching and cart wheeling over the rainbow chalky colored stone tiles.

Spanish Village Art Center, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Spanish Village Art Center, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Spanish Village Art Center, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

The Botanical Building

The Botanical Building, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

The Botanical Building houses more than 2,000 tropical plants. Capturing the wood structure with the lily pond in front is one of the most photographed sections of Balboa Park.

The Botanical Building, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Balboa Park, San Diego, California

The Botanical Building, Balboa Park, San Diego, California

Some other museums and Balboa Park attractions that came highly recommended were:

  • the Natural History Museum Center
  • San Diego Air and Space museum
  • San Diego Zoo
  • and The San Diego Museum of Art

This park is one of the best all-round places to visit in San Diego, with something for everyone! 

8. Explore Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Looking for historic places to visit in Southern California?

San Diego County is not just about the amazing beaches and delicious food. There is deep history here to experience.

One of the best places to do that is exploring Old Town, San Diego which was the cities first downtown and represents San Diego’s Hispanic heritage from 1821 to 1872.

There are plenty of beautiful old buildings to look at such as the one-room Mason Street School, the San Diego Courthouse, and the Colorado Hotel which features the original stagecoach.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

There are plenty of museums you can look at to help tell the story.

Many other buildings surround the La Plaza de Las Armas which was the place of religious procession, political activities, horse races and bull fights.

You can also interact with interpretive merchants who dress in period-attire and chat about the activities in the pueblo.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

The park is free, although some of the museums may have a small entry fee.

Of course, we had to stop into visit the most haunted home in America, or so they say.

Whaley House Museum, whose haunted reputation dates back to the 1850s, is one of the top things to do in San Diego Old Town and was built on the land where Yankee Jim, a boat thief was hanged!

Whaley House Museum, Old Town, San Diego

Savannah clung to my left leg the entire time, which made it hard for me to run from any ghostly figures.

Unfortunately, they did not want to come out to greet us.

I did enjoy looking at the theater upstairs and imagining how 150 people once fit in the small room for village entertainment.

Old Town San Diego

We enjoyed walking around the market area of Festa de Reyes. There are restaurants here as well as wine and chocolate tasting rooms.

Old town San Diego

It inflamed our kids curiosity for Mexico and now wish to visit. I love how places like this can broaden their horizons. I hope they take me with them.

If you’re looking for a place to eat in Old Town, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town has award winning Mexican food.

9. Don’t Miss Ocean Beach, San Diego

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Come as you are and do your thing in Ocean Beach, or OB.

All are welcome in this beach town just over the San Diego river estuary from Mission Beach.

Ocean Beach reminds me so much of Byron Bay in Australia before it became yuppified.

There are a few tidy waves out front to the right of the Ocean Beach Pier and then further around are beach volleyball courts.

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

When we stayed in Ocean Beach in 2004, we loved spending our days playing beach volleyball and enjoying relaxed beach living.

There’s a grassy strip out the front which is full of adults who haven’t lost the joy of unencumbered play with friends and strangers.

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Groups of men and women support each other’s AcroYoga poses, another group encourages balance mastery on the slack lines, hula hoop wanabees wiggle those hips (my girls included) and others let their spirits free in drumming circles with bongo drums, acoustic guitars and voices.

It’s an experience.

Let your kids join in. Be sure to throw a couple of dollars in the tip bucket for the use of the hoops.

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

OB style is pure grit. You know what they say, we should all eat a little more dirt!

Definitely one of the cool places to visit in California!

10. Eat Lunch with Amazing Views at Wonderland Ocean Pub

Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

Poke, surfer bowls, fresh spring rolls and tacos, take your pick. Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach is kid-friendly and the best spot to eat for ocean views and tasty food.

Grab a high table or window bench seat and enjoy watching the surfers and the carnival atmosphere of the grassy strip below.

I grabbed a guacamole for lunch, and it was delicious.

Delicious guacamole at Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

It’s not your normal guacamole, this has the California twist to it. It’s topped with sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeno relish, crushed macadamia nuts, cilantro and cotija cheese.

And of course we enjoyed fish tacos!

Yummy fish tacos at Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Read more reviews of Wonderland Ocean Pub here.

11. Visit Ocean Beach Farmers Market

Ocean Beach Farmers Market, San Diego, California

We love visiting a good local farmers market with our kids and the Ocean Beach Farmers Market did not disappoint.

How could you not be happy with live music, fresh produce, delicious local food, alternative stores and clothes and jewelry.

They close off the main street on Wednesdays between 4 and 8pm for it.

We wandered up one side, then stopped into Belching Beaver Brewery for a quick local craft IPA brew, and the kids enjoyed a game of jenga, before wandering down the other side.

Ocean Beach Farmers Market, San Diego, California

Nice craft beer at the Belching Beaver Brewery at Ocean Beach, Sand Diego, California

Belcher Brewing Company, San Diego

Ocean Beach Farmers Market, San Diego, California

That was the side where we discovered an entire stall devoted to gluten free, dairy free desserts. Of course, we grabbed several things to try – we rarely get spoiled like that.

Ocean Beach Farmers Market, San Diego

We also found Mystech where we spent some time learning about the natural healing energy of 7.83HZ and mother nature (duh) and bought a bracelet for all of us to counteract all the computer time we have and exposure to harmful EMFs.

Ocean Beach Markets, San Diego

We then listened to some of the live music, which had the street jammed and pumping and then grabbed a healthy quinoa bowl from Fresh of the Bowls Street Food for dinner.

Ocean Beach Farmers Market, San Diego, California

We took dinner with us to Sunset Cliffs for another one of those incredible Southern California sunsets.

12. Sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Many people recommended we take in one of the famous San Diego sunsets from Sunset Cliffs, which is just a couple of miles south of the Ocean Beach pier.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a 68-acre City of San Diego regional park which extends 1½ miles along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline.

You get expansive ocean views, dramatic cliff formations and caves, an intertidal area, and in some spaces plenty of space and rocks for the kids to run over way back from the edge.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Look out for the mermaid atop Ross Rock that juts out from the cliff face.

We parked on Sunset Cliffs Blvd, then walked a bit to the large open nature cliffs area.

Watch your children walking along Sunset Cliffs Blvd to get to the nature cliffs area. There are steep drop offs from the cliff.

There are pathways to get down to the beaches below for the adventurous and popular for surfers and those in their twenties.

Although we had a cloudy sunset, we still enjoyed the experience.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

Head north to La Jolla, San Diego

Just up from the main Pacific Beach area of San Diego, is the small beachside community of La Jolla.

You’ll need at least half a day to explore here.

When we visited in 2006 we spent the day bumming on the beach while our new mate went surfing. La Jolla quickly became one of our favorite places to visit in San Diego County.

We didn’t have as much time in La Jolla with the kids this time around (and you know beach bumming is a thing of the past once you become a parent).

Here’s what we managed to experience.

13. Take a Coastal Hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

One of my favorite things to do in San Diego with kids was to go hiking in the Torrey Pines State National Reserve.

It is a couple of miles north of La Jolla and is 2,000 acres of coastal state park.

It has a collection of coastal hiking trails with ocean vistas and native vegetation, including the rare Torrey Pine, which is only found in Torrey Pines State Reserve and Santa Rosa Island.

The Torrey Pines hiking trails are of various levels for all ages and run along the cliff faces or switch back down to the shores below.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

We hiked the Guy Fleming trail, which is an easy 2/3-mile loop walk and one of the most popular Torrey Pines hikes.

It offers a little diversity through shady pines, rugged orange cliffs, purple and white wildflowers and cactus with broad spiky leaves.

Observing the Torrey Pines near the cliff face and further back gave the girls a great lesson on erosion.

Thank you, life learning!

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Park, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, San Diego, California

I wrote in this post how the walk quickly turned my girls from whining to giggling and feeling relaxed and grounded. Nature knows best.

I wish we had more time to do the Razor Point Trail as you pass by beautiful red sandstone cliffs and get to climb the Red Butte which we gazed at from afar.

Hiking in Torrey Pines State Park is one of the best San Diego activities for getting out in nature. We will be back

Admission Fee:

There is a $15 access fee to drive up to the parking lots on the bluff.

Although many people can be seen walking up the road to the cliffs from the free parking down below outside the reserve!

14. Play with Seals at La Jolla Cove

Seals at La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

The Cove is a tiny beach tucked between sandstone cliffs and one of La Jolla’s best-known spots.

La Jolla Cove is apparently a good spot for diving and snorkeling when surf conditions are calm.

Follow the smell to reach the resident seals playing and sleeping on the rocks.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

Seals at La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

Seals at La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

There were plenty of pups around when we visited. We had a great giggle at the baby seal that sounded like a lamb as he waddled over to get some milk from Mum.

He could be a contender for the America’s Got Talent crown.

Seals at La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

Seals at La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

There are more seals near the Children’s Pool at Casa Beach, and seeing the seals is one of the best things to do in La Jolla with kids.

Around from the Cove are the La Jolla Caves.

You can pay to go down into one of the caves or just stand on the point to admire the views, including the many kayakers in front of you looking back to the cave ridden coastline.

La Jolla Caves, San Diego, California

La Jolla Cove, San Diego, California

La Jolla’s Shores is a mile-long beach and great for families.

The region is also well known for its seal life in the tide pools during low tide and the town is great for eating and shopping.

15. Grab a Coffee from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, San Diego

Bird Rock is a cute small town in the LA Jolla area as you head back to Pacific Beach.

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters source sustainable beans, pay fair wages, and roast the coffee that they brew for you! It’s a popular local community minded cafe that has won awards for their coffee.

To keep our kids happy, we grabbed them one of the yummy cinnamon rolls!

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, San Diego

Looking for Good coffee in San Diego? Go here! And next time I want to visit their location in Del Mar, the views look extraordinary.

Read reviews here from other coffee lovers.

16. Eat Fish Tacos at a Local Fave!

 Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego, California

We asked our waiter at South Draft in Mission Beach, where is the best Mexican food in San Diego?

He immediately recommended Oscars Mexican Seafood as a great local, hole in the wall place to grab fish tacos in San Diego.

He warned us there may be lines, and we avoided them by visiting the shack near La Jolla at lunch time.

Yummy fish tacos at Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego, California

I can’t decide whether I liked the smoked fish taco or spicy grilled shrimp tacos better. Get one of both and let me know!

Grab a squirt and a space at the stool in front of the graffiti wall and dig in. Not only tasty, but one of the cheap places to eat in San Diego.

 Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego, California

 Oscars Mexican Seafood, San Diego, California

Other Things to do in San Diego with Kids

We had the following places and attractions recommended as things to do in San Diego with kids.

We ran out of time for them:

Where to Stay in San Diego  – The Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Bahia Resort Hotel is a family-friendly hotel set back from the beach on Mission Bay.

It sure is hard to beat beach views from a hotel, but I liked how Bahia was a couple of blocks back.

The boardwalk running along Mission Beach to Pacific Beach can get very lively. It might not be the ideal place to stay in San Diego, especially with younger kids.

In fact, you won’t find a lot of hotels in San Diego along the boardwalk; it’s mostly beach rentals, and the odd backpacker or hotel thrown in between.

With the Bahia Hotel, you are a 3-minute walk to the beach but have complete serenity.

And you get views anyway –  Mission Bay views from your own private beach!

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

I loved walking out my cabin door directly onto the sand to sit on the beach chair and meditate of a morning … and enjoying it with a glass of chardonnay of an evening.

Yep. This is Me.

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

The girls loved the trees outside our cabin, which were spectacular and great for climbing.

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

When you first arrive at the Bahia, you’ll think it doesn’t look much like a resort, yet once you explore San Diego, you realize it’s completely in keeping with the San Diego style.

We loved it’s laid back look and having a cabin right on the beachfront was awesome.

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay, San Diego, California

The resort has different events like movie nights for families, and offers bike rental, as well as kayaks and paddle boards.

There is a pool and tennis courts and a fitness center.

The food was also terrific.

We don’t usually like hotel buffet breakfasts, but this one was one to rave about. Espresso coffees were included (with almond milk) and the food choices were fresh, diverse and tasty.

If you’re looking for Mission Bay San Diego hotels, consider staying at Bahia.

Café Bahia

Café Bahia Restaurant, San Diego

We also had dinner one night at Café Bahia, the Bahia hotels signature restaurant, which was one of our favorite meals of the trip.

You do not have to be staying at the resort to eat here.

I highly recommend you add it into your San Diego itinerary.

The tequila lime shrimp had a delicious sauce which was an exciting blend of kiwi salsa and mango puree.

Café Bahia Restaurant, San Diego

We were lucky enough to try the sea scallop’s specialty that was only coming out on the menu the week after we left.

It was sea scallops with grilled corn diced chorizo and chili oil abed of herb ricotta.

Café Bahia Restaurant, San Diego

How do people even know how to put these flavors together? It was truly innovative and delicious.

And the kids were kept full and happy with items like burgers and chicken tenders!

Café Bahia Restaurant, San Diego

The service here is also friendly and exceptional.

Read more reviews of Cafe Bahia here.

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Are you planning to visit California? Let us know if you have any questions? And if you have any tips on things to do in San Diego, California, we’d love to hear about them in the comments too!



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10 Tips For Surviving an International Flight With Kids…


Think you can’t possibly survive an international flight with kids? Especially one that lasts longer than three hours.

I’m so surprised by the number of parents who panic over flying with kids. Even to the extent that they won’t travel with them.

I don’t want that for you because travel with kids is amazing and flying with them can be a fun experience…if you know how to do it right.

Flying to Hawaii with Hawaiian Airlines

I’ve been flying with my girls since they were six weeks old. Starting them young has helped them to be comfortable and happy flyers.

They really are a joy to fly with and I’ve only had one stressful moment with them.

Kalyra was 2 years old, and tired on our 6am flight and refused to put her seat belt on for takeoff. We calmed her down pretty fast. Luckily it was mostly business travelers preparing for their morning meetings and not trying to sleep.

Sometimes flying with kids can be horrible if:

  • there is nothing to entertain them
  • if they are hungry and tired
  • if there are no fun and unique surprises (and that can simply be a small screen in front of their seat)
  • or they are uncomfortable.

How to Survive an International Flight with kids

We’re sharing these tips in sponsorship with Qatar Airways, a very family friendly airline.

Qatar Airways recently won ‘Airline of the Year’ by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, which was held at the Paris Air Show.

With our flying with kid’s tips, we’ll share how Qatar Airways helps to keep children engaged, comfortable and entertained on an international flight.

1. Start with preparing your child for the international flights

how to survive an international flight with kids
Kalyra ready to fly

Since their first flight, we have painted a picture for them of flying being a grand adventure.

Yes, we even talked to them (and let them feel our excitement) about it when they were babies.

“Oh, we’re going flying. It’s so much fun, you will love it.”

And then we talk about the various aspects of flying and what is fun about it. We ask them what they are most looking forward to and look at the airline (and destination) online.

Now that my girls are older, they do this themselves.

Involve your children in the flying experience. Sit them on your lap when you book the ticket. Let them pack their bags.

Let them read the boards to find their flight and departure information. They can hand their tickets and passports to the attendants and roll their suitcases as they look for their seat numbers.

The more in control they feel of the flight experience the more they’ll warm to it.

You can watch how Savannah boarded the plane when she was 17 months old:

 

2. Have ample food for your child on the international flight

Flying to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines

Be sure to pre-order your child’s meal before your flight.

We’ve been caught out before on an international flight where the kids were given adult meals as we did not specify kid’s meals were required.

We thought given that our tickets pretty clearly showed they were kids this would be a given, but apparently not.

Fussy children, like my Savannah, do not enjoy adult’s meals. That was a long 8 hour flight as we had no back up food!

My next tip then is to always have back up food. Hungry children on a flight is not good for anyone.

Pack plenty of water and their favorite snacks, perhaps a sandwich or two. Be sure your child has a healthy meal before they board the plane as well.

Limit sugar as this will only dehydrate them more on the plane.

Be sure they drink a lot of water on the plane to stay hydrated.

Meal time with children onboard Qatar Airways

On Qatar Airways, children receive a meal box packed with fresh, tasty and nutritious meals, a fruit juice and fun treats.

The meal packs keep the kids engaged by featuring some of the most loved games and characters from Hasbro.

Your kids can keep the meal box and bring home a fun memento from their journey.

3. Keep your child moving on international flights

Let your child roam the aisles (when it is safe to do so), especially younger children.

It keeps them occupied, and helps their bodies let the energy out and feel a little calmer.

Plus, younger children often bring a lot of joy to passengers as they walk up and down giggling and doing cute baby things.

Taking frequent toilet breaks will help your child keep moving. If you need to go to the bathroom, take your child with you and make them go, as much as you can.

It saves coming in and out and disturbing the people in your row.

If your child becomes unsettled, get up and walk with them. Or, if need be take them in the toilet for some time out!

4. Pre-book a bassinet

For babies, get in early and book a bassinet.

These can be a lifesaver when flying internationally with children. There are limited number of bassinets on the plane.

Plus, it gives the parents lots of extra legroom as they are in the position where there are no seats in front of you.

Traveling with an infant made easy on Qatar Airways

In addition to priority boarding and the option to reserve a bassinet seat, parents travelling with infants will have access to Qatar Airways’ special kit, which includes diapers, baby food jars, a bottle and soft toys.

5. Pack an Entertainment Bag for the Long-Haul Flight

Flying with kids
Trying to keep her entertained on the plane

Have a bag for the kids filled with plenty of things to entertain them.

We always include coloring, activity books, reading books, journals, and toys or comforters.

Download any games or movies on their electronic devices before boarding the plane and make sure they are fully charged.

For long flights you may want to have a bag of surprises.

Go to the $1 store and grab a bunch of cheap toys, wrap them up and then every hour let them unwrap one to play with. It will keep them engaged and entertained and excited.

Your child will be entertained the entire Qatar Airways flight

Qatar Airways help to entertain your children with an activity pack given upon boarding.

These creative and educational kits come with crayons, stickers and an activity book filled puzzles, fun facts, and coloring pages.

If you are travelling with an infant, they offer a sleepy-time Ella Fun soft-plush toy with an eye mask to encourage relaxing sleep and a soft-plush book.

6. Make use of the Inflight entertainment for kids

how to survive an international flight with kids (800 x 600)

We are still old school and prefer the in-flight entertainment on planes and will always use that in preferences over personal devices.

It makes plane rides more exciting for children (and adults).

I hope international flights never take them away, even though more people use their personal devices.

It makes the experience different to what they are always used to at home with their devices. And it brings in the element of surprise for them to see what is showing on movies and games.

You want them to see flying as an adventure full of surprises and this helps to do that.

The first thing my girls do when they board the plane is scroll through the entertainment system and squeal when they discover what is waiting for them.

On long international flights they even try to see who can stay up the longest watching the movies on the plane’s entertainment device as it’s once in a lifetime for them!

Play games with them on the in-flight entertainment system and look over the flying map with them. Show them where they are now, how far they have come, how long to go.

On our last flight, Savannah loved looking at the map and seeing how far we had flown.

We could even point out destinations we’d been to before like Nashville and Savannah and talk about our memories together

Qatar Airways in-flight entertainment for children

Qatar airways inflight entertainment for kids

Qatar Airways has an Oryx One in-flight entertainment system, which features thousands of options for young travelers to explore.

Your younger children will love channels such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Disney.

Infants are given interactive experiences on BabyTV channel, the world’s leading baby and toddler network.

7. Keeping your child comfortable on the plane seat

Flying to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines

As soon as you board the plane, get settled into your seats with everything you need for the flight.

Put your child’s entertainment bag under the seat in front of them. Take out anything they may use a lot of and put it in the seat pocket in front of them.

This saves having to go in and out of the bag which can be annoying in tight seat spaces.

It can be frustrating to have something in the overhead bins that will help your child feel comfortable and happy, but the seat belt sign is on and you can’t get to it.

If you can afford it, consider an upgrade to premium economy.

The extra seat space makes a difference to comfort levels when traveling with kids (or without).

Book a flight with premium airlines that have larger seat space than the budget carriers who cram you and your legs in.

You might want to bring a neck pillow like these for comfort on the plane. My girls love to carry theirs.

Be sure to bring a jacket and long pants for your child as it can get cold on planes.

For younger children, I recommend putting them in their pajamas to signal sleep time. Even if they don’t sleep it may help them lay down and rest.

As they are small enough, they can lay down with their head in your lap and the body on their seat.

Put younger kids in the middle or window seat. This keeps them protected from any knocks and spills form the aisle and is better for sleeping.

It will help you feel a little more secure in dozing and knowing they won’t escape.

You might want to put them in the middle between two adults as well, just to give the adults a little more side space.

Planes can dehydrate you so be sure to have hand lotion and lip balm for yourself and the kids. Shea butter is a good all round natural cream to use.

The Qatar Airways cabin provides extra comfort for kids

qatar airways comfort international flight with kids

Qatar Airways has one of the most spacious Economy Class seating arrangements in the sky.

Your child will have plenty of room to eat, sleep, stretch and play so that you can also relax and enjoy your journey.

8. Help your child earn frequent flyer points

As soon as your child starts flying, sign them up to a frequent flyers reward program.

Our girls are in multiple programs and have saved enough points for free flights before.

Go to the website of the airline you are flying with and create an account. You then give their membership number when you book their flight tickets.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club Kids Programme

qatar airways international flight with kids

Qatar Airways Privilege Club is launching a Kids Loyalty Program where children can earn Qmiles and Qpoints, enjoy an array of value-added benefits and upgrade in tiers using the Qpoints they have earned.

The Kids Programme can act like your child’s online travel diary to help them explore new destinations, document all the adventures and play a prominent role in planning your next trip.

As mentioned in Tip 1, involving your children in the planning of a trip is essential to them having a wonderful time.

9. What about at the airport?

how to survive and international flight with kids (800 x 533)

Waiting for a plane at the airport can be a boring harrowing experience, especially if you plane is delayed or you have stopovers.

It can make your flight experience so long and exhausting.

Some airports are designed with kids in mind, whereas others are incredibly dull and boring.

Our girls have always found ways to entertain themselves with dancing competitions and chasing games.

Spend time with them watching the planes taking off, again this helps prepare them and get excited for their plane adventure.

Allow them to have a treat from one of the food stores while waiting for your flight. This can help them pass the time.

You can window shop with them or sit quietly and read books and people watch. Kalyra and I often like to make up stories of the people we watch.

Qatar Airways’ child-friendly hub, Hamad International Airport

kids pool qatar airways Hamad international airport

Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar caters to parents and children by offering a wide range of child-friendly facilities, such as Mac stations that provide interactive entertainment, to family rooms for privacy and comfort.

Hamad International Airport features a series of bespoke bronze playground sculptures spread throughout the concourse where children can play and have fun before the flight.

If you are in transit and have a few hours to spare, you can even enjoy family time together at the 25-metre, temperature-controlled indoor swimming pool, located in the Oryx Airport Hotel.

10. What if your child is afraid of flying?

tips for flying with kids (800 x 533)

It’s normal for a child, or adult, to feel nervous or afraid of flying.

Here are a few tips to help them:

  1. Talk to them about their fears and possibly your own. Don’t turn from it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Direct their focus to a time when they felt afraid before – perhaps it was another flight.
  2. Did what they fear come true? Remind them that most of the things we fear never happen.
  3. Then focus on the reward at the end of the flight. Why is it worth flying to that destination and focus on the fun you’ll have there?
  4. When turbulence hits just tell them it’s like driving on a bumpy road. It’s very normal of a car to experience that and it doesn’t put you in danger. The plane is going over a bumpy path sometimes with the air pockets (explain that one if you can!) It happens all the time and is nothing to be afraid of. Just put your hands up in the air and enjoy the bumps.
  5. Hold their hand on takeoff and ask if they will help you be brave. This is what I did with my girls when they were very young. Strangely enough, I was terrified of flying and me showing up to be brave for them, actually helped ease my flying fears. Allow them to be the one to help you and it will take their mind off their own fears.
  6. Breathe deeply. I recently helped Savannah get through her intense fear on a boat cruise over to the Channel Islands. The waves and rocking of the boat scared her, and I just held her hand and repeated the mantra to her in a quiet and calm voice, “Deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, that’s all you have to worry about.”

5 Kid-Friendly International Destinations

Waterfall Beach near Albany, Western Australia
Waterfall Beach near Albany, Western Australia

Qatar Airways flies to the following kid-friendly international destinations from the USA.

We recommend them as exciting destinations for families, and we have a few posts to help you with your planning.

1. Singapore

Singapore is a fantastic destination for families, particularly for those visiting Asia for the first time. It’s clean, organized, and filled with family-friendly attractions.

Read More: 8 Fun Things to do in Singapore with kids + Where to Eat & Sleep

2. Western Australia

We spent six months traveling through Western Australia, and we can tell you, it’s spectacular.

Qatar flies there from New York (I’m stoked to learn this!) Western Australia is full of adventure and incredible natural beauty and has the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Read More: 50 Things to Do in Western Australia

3. Oman

Qatar flies to Muscat, Oman’s capital and largest city. It will feel like you and the kids are stepping into the setting of an Arabian Nights tale.

Trade the shiny skyscrapers for palm trees and natural adventures.

Read More: 8 best things to do in Oman

4. Thailand

Thailand is very family friendly.

Thais love kids and will give them loads of attention. It’s an exotic, exciting, and adventurous destination and is easy travel for South East Asia.

Qatar flies to Bangkok, which is a gateway to many incredible Thailand destinations like Chiang Mai and the Thai islands.

We highly recommend it for families.

Read More: 19 Helpful Tips for Traveling to Thailand with Kids

5. South Africa

Of course, your children want to see African animals in the wild. It also has spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches, and has great food and wine.

Cape Town is my favorite city in the world.

It’s spectacular, has a laid-back lifestyle and plenty of fun for adults and kids. Qatar flies to Cape Town.

Read More: 7 best things to do in Cape Town, South Africa

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