UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR REPAIRS AND UPDATES – STAY TUNED

UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR REPAIRS AND UPDATES – STAY TUNED

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Next Trip Coming Up

For years I have concentrated on traveling West but thus far, as far as I ever got was  Colorado, New Mexico and Southern Utah. I have dragged my kids and grand kids all over Colorado and New Mexico over the years yet there are still a few places we haven’t visited yet. But we will get there eventually.

This next year, July 2020 to be exact, I decided we are going someplace different and do something totally unexpected as far as I am concerned. My children always wanted to go to California when they were little but we could never afford it (or could we?). So we never went. They all grew up and had kids of their own!

Back in the middle of the 2000’s – around 2007 there were several grand kids then ranging from 4 to 14. They always wanted to go to California as well but we could never seemed to get there for one reason or another. The older ones eventually grew up and are now in college. The oldest grand son Christopher joined the navy right out of college two years ago and since then, spent a week in Los Angeles, California. He texted me every day about how awesome the beaches there are and how I must come there one summer real soon. He is now in Spain and will be going on to London and other wonderful places within the next few years while he is in the navy. His dream come true, that’s for sure. His desire to get out and see the world is being fulfilled – how wonderful is that?

I could never seem to get them to California but that is about  to change. There is another small group of grand kids that have come along – including the 4 year mentioned above – of course he is 14 now, and you know what – I have cancelled all our travel plans for Colorado for 2020 and booked a three and half week vacation that only this ma-maw could have dreamed up.

We’re leaving Louisiana on July 6, heading for Carlsbad New Mexico – we’ll do the Carlsbad caverns after we get there and head over to Roswell where we’ll spend the night and get real early the next morning and head over to the Alien museum and see what all we can see and do while we’re there.

After a day of that we’ll drive over to Albuquerque and stay the next 4 days and nights there and do our usual fun stuff! We love Albuquerque!!! We love going to Hinkle Family Fun Center, the Albuquerque zoo, Cliff’s Amusement Park and the Rattlesnake Museum, to name a few of our faves!

Our next destination will be Las Vegas, Nevada. We have never been to Nevada and know that the next 4 days and nights are going to be fun and refreshing and we’ll see stuff we never saw before and do new things! Any suggestions? Email me at marcies1960@aol.com – I am always open to new ideas for our family vacation.

We’re leaving Las Vegas on the 5th day and heading for California where we’re spending  the next 10 days in Oceanside. I chose Oceanside because it is in the middle of Las Angeles and San Diego – the two places we have always wanted to go. After awhile, if all goes well we might spend a night or two in each place – we shall see. Again, I am open for suggestions!  Email me at marcies1960@aol.com.

After leaving California we’re heading back to Tucson, Arizona we’ll stay a couple of nights before heading back toward Texas, and then back home!

We’ll be tired when we get home but it’s the kind of tired this ma-maw don’t mind! I love to travel and seeing the world is how I want to spend the last thirty or forty years of my life!  And what better way than being with my family!

I now have three great grand children and in a few years I want to take them places as well! Not yet sure how that will come about but my grand kids have never got over traveling with me – the memories are wonderful and we share every time we can and enjoy the old family vacation pictures and the fun we had! Yes, those great grand kids have a journey of their own someday!

 

So Oceanside, here we come – we want to know all about your city and all the adventure and fun that is awaiting our family — California is the place to be I’ve been told so watch out, here we come!

 

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Fun Things to Do in Dillon Beach, a Beautiful California Beach Vacation Town Great for Families

By Anne Wellen

There are so many fun and interesting things to do in this small, beautiful town of Dillon Beach, located on the beautiful Marin County, California Coast. Plan a wonderful visit for a family reunion, a Girl’s Weekend, or a corporate retreat. Vacation rental homes abound here, everything from a small beach cottage to grand, beautiful homes which comfortably sleep up to 12 people for weekends or weekly rentals. There are so many fun activities, so will want to return again and again, year after year. Here are just a few things to enchant you with your Dillon Beach Vacation:

Hiking

At the top of the bluff of Oceana Drive at the end of the street, you go through a cattle gate. To the left, there is a gorgeous view from Eagle Rock, overlooking Bodega Head and the gorgeous Tomales Bay. You’d think you were in Scotland, but it’s just over an hour’s drive from San Francisco! There are some deer trails you’ll see, follow those to the right and you’ll come upon a fire road. Go left, and you’ll come to the Estero in about a mile. Lots of good sticks and rocks along the way! Fun for kids of all ages. Dogs love this hike!

Another great hiking area is Pt. Reyes National Seashore Visitors Center. It’s a beautiful 45 minutes drive from Dillon Beach. There are fun trails – make sure to go on the Earthquake one, and then go to see the Miwok village as well. You can drive on along Tomales Bay to an adventure to climb the 300 steps down to the Lighthouse. Look along the drive for a glimpse of the Tule Elk which run free, and listen for the barking of the Sea Lions along the shore.

Towns

If you’re heading down to the National Seashore Center, plan some time in Pt. Reyes, it’s a cute little town with some fun shops. Be sure to visit Toby’s Feed Store. There is a park behind Toby’s for kids. Bovine Bakery is well known, and good! Locals keep their own coffee mugs on hte shelves, so bring your own to feel a part of things. Next door is a great bookstore to explore.

Tomales has the world’s best bakery, however. Open only Thursday-Sunday you need to get there early, before they sell out! The William Tell has just been redone and is quite good. you can now sit outside for a BBQ oyster treat. The deli is great for sandwiches, which you can take across the street to the park and let the kids play. Don’t miss the hot lamb sandwich! In the opposite direction is Native Plants Nursery which is fun to explore.

Petaluma has a great old downtown area. Cute shops, antiques and great restaurants. It was not damaged much by the 1906 earthquake, as so many areas of the North Bay and San Francisco were, so the buildings are among some of the oldest in our area. Known for it’s past chicken industry, it still hosts ” Chicken and Egg Days”, with a fun parade and family activities honoring the popular poltry of yore.

Other fun towns to explore – the small town of Bodega (not Bodega Bay) is where Alfred Hitchcock filmed “The Birds”. Sebastopol has a great downtown, plus loads of antique shops along the Gravenstein Highway. Healdsburg is a great place to visit, the town square is lovely with shops and restaurants to explore.

San Francisco is a fun day’s outing away. You can explore Golden Gate Park, with the museums or The Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts. Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square are all fun to explore.

Winetasting

So many to choose from! While Napa is most famous, and only about 45 minutes away, locals really prefer the area closer to Dillon Beach. Sonoma county rivals Napa is world class wines. Go to the Alexander Valley, Russian River Wine Road, or try some of the smaller boutique wineries in Sebastopol.

Dillon Beach

If you want to stay close to home, just try our beach! You can have a fire in a firepit, and your dog can enjoy the beach too. The north end of the beach often has great tidepools for exploring. The dunes are so fun to run & up down, but make sure to not allow children to dig too deeply, sand moves and can easily collapse a hole.

You can walk south along the beach to Lawson’s Landing, the campground. There is a pier where you can fish or crab. Clamming is also popular here. There is a fee to drive to the landing.

Come play in the beautiful area of Dillon Beach, on the Marin County Coast. Every season is beautiful at the coast, fog can surround you one minute, then sun the next. You never know what to expect, even in the next 10 minutes! Beautiful views and a family friendly house – You can’t believe how quiet and beautiful it can be on the California Coast. Rent “Almost Paradise”, a family friendly California vacation beach house rental which sleeps 12, and has amazing ocean views. See it here:
http://www.mydillonbeach.com

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Top Beaches in California – Six Must-See Shorelines

By Jamie Jefferson |
When it comes to fun in the sun, southern California has it all. With its year-round tropical climate, year-round average water temperature of 78 degrees, perfect waves, excellent dining, and numerous oceanfront resorts, this earthly paradise also boasts picturesque harbors and a shimmering coastline filled with sand, surf and sun.

Not only is it home to millions of people but it beckons millions more each year from all over the globe. Whether you are a California resident headed to the beach to soak up the sun for a day, or you are planning a family vacation that your kids will remember for a long time to come, you’ll find some beaches to add to your itinerary here.

Here are six of the top beaches in California, including nice, quiet beaches as well as a few beaches that are particularly nice for visiting families.

1. Santa Monica Beach. The West Coast’s answer to Coney Island, this magnificent stretch of wide, sandy beach located in the seat of Los Angeles County features the famous Santa Monica Pier which houses its own amusement park atop one of the oldest wooden piers on the west coast. The site has also appeared in dozens of movies and television shows. Take a ride at sunset on the Ferris wheel for a spectacular ocean view. Enjoy lunch or dinner at the many different eateries in the area and be sure to check out the nearby attractions, which include Venice Beach and Palisades Park. This is one place that’s sure to make a splash with the entire family.

2. Newport Beach. A fascinating and trendy bit of real estate located in Orange County, Newport Beach offers locals and tourists a variety of activities. Stroll on a scenic walkway, embark on a refreshing harbor cruise, or go boating, scuba diving, or bodysurfing Dining at most restaurants includes panoramic views of the harbors. Make sure to check out the Fun Zone and Balboa Pavilion.

3. Cardiff State Beach. Located in San Diego County, this recreational facility features lifeguards, restrooms and a smoothly sloping beach for sunbathing, fishing, swimming, surfing and kayaking. People love Cardiff State Beach for its quiet beach, casual atmosphere, fewer crowds and excellent restaurants. Nearby points of interest include Restaurant Row, which features savory seafood and Mexican fare; San Elijo Lagoon, which boasts great bird watching; and the Seaside Market where you can purchase a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks.

4. La Jolla. If your preference is sheltered coves and unique landscapes, then visiting these beaches in San Diego County should definitely be listed on your itinerary. The versatility of La Jolla’s beaches makes for intriguing and enchanting getaways or they can be loads of fun for the entire family. Investigate the underwater marine life while snorkeling or simply walk the shoreline barefoot. Nearby attractions include The Scripps Institute of Oceanography and The Stephen Birch Aquarium Museum.

5. Oceanside City Beach. Tropical palm trees stretch along the shores of this tranquil and eloquent beach located in northern San Diego County. Take a leisurely walk, ride your bicycle or roller-blade down what is called “The Strand” (the main street alongside the beach) or spend some time fishing off the pier at Oceanside. Nearby Cape Cod Village offers lots of great restaurants and the beach has lifeguards and restrooms.

6. Coronado Beach. If you’re in San Diego, you’ll love the wide expanse of Coronado Beach with plenty of room for the family to spread out. While the kids are playing volleyball, soccer or tag, or tossing Frisbees, flying kites or building sand castles, you and your spouse can kick back and enjoy the surf, the sand and the seagulls.

This enchanting locale is home to the famous Hotel Del Coronado and is just a short ferry ride away from San Diego Bay. Or you can opt to pack everything you’ll need for a day at the beach and drive across the Bay Bridge. No food is sold at the beach so be sure to bring along sandwiches, soft drinks and other snacks. There is free parking on Ocean Avenue but it gets crowded quickly so try to get there early.

It’s interesting to note that the entire California coastline is constantly changing due to tides, currents and weather conditions. Beaches erode and new ones form when sediment washes in from the Pacific Ocean.

With all its coves, cliffs and inlets, islands and harbors, jetties and piers, it would take eons to fully explore this magnificent geographical location. That’s why many people return year after year to experience its magic and appreciate its treasures.

Jamie Jefferson is a frequent contributor to several popular websites, including BestSelfHelp.com, Susies-Coupons.comand Momscape.com, where you can register to win gift cards from top online merchants.

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Southern California Hotels Offer Comfort And Variety

By J. Michael Key

You’ve probably endured a vacation where your hotel stay was less than comfortable and the travel time to arrive at desirable destinations was less than ideal. Those vacations never feel much like vacation, which is why you need to select your next Southern California hotels with great care.

The right hotels will make you feel luxurious, pampered and special while the wrong hotels will take the rest and relaxation out of your vacation.

If you are operating on a tight budget, consider the many Southern California hotels located in lesser known regions. While there are benefits to staying in the biggest hotels in the heart of the most exciting cities, it isn’t always the best option if you are budget-conscious.

Look for cheaper yet still comfortable hotels in less-prime locations, cities that are within reasonable driving distance to the various destinations on your schedule. There are dozens of such towns, including:

* Santa Ana
* Covina
* Vista
* Ontario

You should also consider booking Southern California hotels away from the peak travel season. This will mean you have fewer tourists to fight with at main attractions, but you can also get some great prices. After Labor Day things quiet down considerably, until Memorial Day. Exceptions are the holidays and spring break. A shorter trip during the off season might be more satisfying than a longer period of time during the congestion of summer.

Give some consideration to the different free amenities being offered by select hotels when comparing prices. If you can get a free meal each day or shuttling to the beach and back you could have a more convenient trip that is more relaxing than stressing.

You will also have to determine whether you want to walk out your door and step right into the sand or if you prefer to be immersed in big city life. You can book hotels that are right on the beach or in bustling cities like Hollywood, Los Angeles, and San Diego. You will pay more to stay right on the beach and right in the big city than in remote locations, but the luxury provided may be worth the extra expense. Staying right on the beach offers its own luxuries, but some hotels will also offer entertainment and other features that pamper you to the max.

If you don’t mind a bit of travel before your feet hit the sand, stay a block or two away from the beach or just outside the big city to save expenses. Big city hotels often provide access to parking garages which will make it more convenient to get around the city as needed. The public transit systems in Southern California have improved greatly in recent years and it is possible to get around rather nicely without a car in many cases.

Planning to visit more than one area of California on an extended trip? You can save yourself time and cash by picking a hotel located between primary locations. If you want to visit Orange County but know San Diego will be a key destination as well, you could stay in any of the following central locations:

* Temecula
* Oceanside
* San Clemente

Consider one quick final tip: Sea World and Magic Mountain are not just around the corner from one another! Things may look much closer on the map than they actually are from one another on actual ground. Do your research to find hotels in central locations if you want to visit main attractions that aren’t so close together.

Michael Key has written about a diverse range of topics for three decades, with a recent emphasis on travel issues. For more information on finding hotels in southern California visit the SoCal Vacation Guru at http://www.socal-vacation-guru.com.

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The Best Southern California Hotels for Your Vacation

By J. Michael Key
Traveling to California can be adventurous, exciting, and rewarding on many levels. Or, it can be frustrating, confusing and downright disappointing. What makes the difference between the two outcomes? One major factor is your choice of Southern California hotels!

Choose the right hotel and you will be within a reasonable driving distance of all the attractions you want to enjoy and will spend your time enjoying yourself. Choose the wrong hotel and you will be too far from all the main attractions and find yourself doing more driving than having fun. You’ll get frustrated that you paid so much money for so little convenience and enjoyment.

Don’t make the wrong choice! Here are some tips on selecting the best Southern California hotels for your big trip.

#1: Consider trimming the price by staying at hotels slightly off the main tourist areas.

If you want to jam pack every day of your vacation with heart-pumping action and exploration, then this tip won’t be for you. If you are open minded and price conscious, then listen up. You get some really great deals on hotel rooms if you stay away from the main attractions and are willing to travel around more via the expansive California freeway system.

Consider a room along State Route 91 in Fullerton or head out to Escondido or Norwalk for safe areas that aren’t so central (read: aren’t so high priced).

#2: Try to visit outside of peak travel periods.

There are certain periods of time during the year that most people take their vacations. These are obviously times when the theme parks and other big destinations in California will have higher attendance, which means all Southern California hotels will be at their highest prices. Visit outside these peak visiting times and you can get great deals. Come in the fall or spring, or even in winter after the holiday season.

#3: Consider the complimentary services offered.

Something as simple as free breakfast in the hotel can make all the difference when staying under budget and on schedule. Look for complimentary services like shuttles that can save you money and time when selecting your final hotel destination.

#4: How far from the beach do you want to be?

For some people their distance from the beach of choice can determine how happy they are with their vacation overall. If you go to California just for the beaches do your research to determine which beach you want to visit then find a hotel right on the beach. If the beach isn’t as important to you then save some money and stay a block or two away (or a mile away on a bus route).

#5: How far from the city do you want to be?

While most people think of the beaches when they go to California, you may be someone who enjoys the big city life with occasional beach relaxation. If this describes you, then finding a hotel in a larger city like Los Angeles or San Diego may be a better option. You may even want to rub elbows with the stars in Hollywood!

As a final tip in parting, consider hotels that fall in between different areas of California if you want to split your time. For example, if you want to visit San Diego but would also like to spend some time in the Los Angeles area you can stay in Carlsbad or Oceanside. The southern Orange County area such as San Clemente may be another option.

Don’t make common tourist mistakes and end up too far away from the main attractions to enjoy yourself! Sea World and Magic Mountain aren’t just a hop, skip and jump away, from one another. Do your research and choose the best Southern California hotels for your ideal trip.

Michael Key has written about a diverse range of topics for three decades, with a recent emphasis on travel issues. For more information on finding hotels in southern California visit the SoCal Vacation Guru at http://www.socal-vacation-guru.com

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Surfing San Diego – Learn to Surf in Southern California

By Chris Warner

Surfing is and extremely fun and healthy activity that just about anybody can enjoy. However, if you’re a beginner, the learning to surf can present a challenge. This is especially true if you don’t learn at the right spots. Fortunately, San Diego County has plenty of beaches suited for beginners, as well as rental shops, surf lessons-camps, and even warm water in late summer-early fall. San Diego also has a lot of other recreational activities.

When learning to surf it’s extremely important to choose the right location. The learning curve can be steep enough, so gentle waves are mandatory for the learning process. They are also just plain safer, you want to leave the harder breaking waves to the more advanced surfers. This is important because even after your lessons since you want to spend a lot of time in the water practicing. Some beginner surf spots that come to mind are La Jolla Shores, Tourmaline, and San Onofre. It is highly recommended that you take a lesson from a professional instructor. Not only will the instructor show you proper technique, but will also show you proper etiquette and will have the right surfboard (and wetsuit if needed) for you to learn on. Professional instructors also know what beach to go to, as well as the right time to go.

Better than just lessons are the all surf camps on the coast of San Diego County. These usually range from one full day to a full week of instruction. Surf camps are best for a learning Blitz before your start to head out on your own. They will definitely shorten the learning curve for you.

Some Popular Surf Camps

Pacific Surf School – Mission Beach
Surf Diva Surf School – La Jolla
SoCal Surf School – Oceanside
SoCal Surf Lessons – Carlsbad
San Diego Surfing Academy – South Carlsbad
Leucadia Surf School – Leucadia
Eli Howard Surf School – San Elijo State Beach
Summer Soul Surf Camp – San Onofre
The water is not warm year round but it is fairly warm in late summer and early fall, and almost always warmer than the rest of California. If a wetsuit is needed it can be rented at one of the many surf shops or a surfing instructor will provide one as part of a lesson.

Aside from surfing, San Diego County offers many other activities. That’s what makes it ideal for families on vacation. For the kids there’s Legoland, SeaWorld, and the enormous San Diego Zoo. For the adults the endless night life and restaurants. For everybody there is the fishing,swimming, this list could go on. Needless to say you can find plenty to do when your not learning to surf.

Southern California is probably the most ideal location in the US to learn surfing. Easily accessible, beginner beaches, and a huge selection of surf lessons and camps. Add to this the natural beauty and variety of activities, why not pick San Diego as you the place you finally learn surfing. As many have already discovered, surfing is much more than just a sport – it’s a way of life. One you can begin somewhere on a beach in San Diego County.

Chris lives and surfs in California. Read more about learning to surf [http://www.surfingcal.com/learn-to-surf.html] and San Diego surfing [http://www.surfingcal.com/surfing-san-diego.html]

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