Travel - California Dreaming Part Two

February 04, 2015

The first part of the trip was really lovely but this, Part Two, is my ultimate favourite and the part that's really getting me excited for going back in a couple of weeks. We'll be in San Diego and La Jolla this time, an area I haven't been to before but keen to explore. Ok, so Huntington Beach and LA...

From Santa Barbara we got on the coast road and drove all the way down, past LA, to Huntington Beach. Route 101 is the famous, road tripping route through California going along the coast.

We'd stayed at Huntington Beach once before, in the Hyatt hotel on the beach and it was everything we imagined California to be. A beautiful wide beach, Baywatch style beach huts, a long pier, surfing, fire pits for S'mores on the beach and sunsets. So we couldn't resist going back for the biggest chunk of our road trip, renting a house this time.

It's called Surf City and I love it, so relaxed with beautiful weather, shops, a range of restaurants and strangely not very touristy. The real OC, orange county.

The whole beach is patrolled by life guards, you can see them training in their school holidays. A pretty cool summer job if you lived there! We had dinner on our first night at Ruby's, the ocatagonal building you can see at the end of the pier. It's a retro style American diner, with some crazily healthy options and of course some pretty gross deep fried cheese kind of things. California is the county of extremes. The waiters and waitresses are all dressed in retro 50s gear. 

Ruby's are spread along the coast and we loved visiting them for salads for the girls, burgers for the boys and shakes for us all.


The sunsets at Huntington Beach are out of this world, probably the best I've ever seen and the skies always seemed so clear there. In the evenings these twinkly lights came on as the sunset.

We found the house on Vacation Rentals, it was boutiquey in style and had three big bedrooms, big bathrooms, a fab kitchen and lounge with a courtyard and BBQ. It was only two blocks walk from both the beach and main street. Renting a house, rather than staying in a hotel made it feel so much more exciting too. We felt like we were proper Californians for the week, walking to the beach, going for a fro yo or walking to the Farmers Market for supplies.

We walked past this cuter than cute old VW beetle everyday, I wanted to steal it and just drive along the coast living the Californian Dream forever and a day. 

In the day we would either stay around the beach..

.. watching the surfers and sunbathing. Or we'd go out for the day driving down the coast for a day of shopping or a dolphin watching boat trip. Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove were two of my favourite places. Laguna was lovely to wander around looking in the quaint shops or art galleries and getting lunch before we went to Crystal Cove.

It's near Laguna Beach and for California beaches it was quiet, I think a lot of people are put off by the short but steep walk. So so beautiful though and there were cute little colourful shacks and cottages in Crystal Cove 'village' just before the beach. If we go back I'd love to rent one of the cottages and wake up on this beach. We saw dolphins swimming just off the shore and found lots of starfish in rockpools. Perhaps the best thing though is half way through sunbathing and swimming, walking up for a Ruby's milkshake overlooking the whole cove. We had a cookie dough one and I still can't decide if the view or the shake was better. Both amazing and something to wanderlust over on a freezing snowy day in England right now. Give me those blue skies and warm sunshine pleaseee!


Unfortunately though my Dad lost his wedding ring in the sea at Crystal Cove! He was playing a ball game with Ben and my brother in the sea and the water was cold so made the ring slip off of his fingers. We went back the next morning to search for it and asked the lifeguards to call us if they found it but it's probably long gone with the fishes now. 

Huntington Beach hold a weekly farmers market on Main Street that we went to a couple of times, California is big on farming and their berries are especially good. Must be all the sunshine! 

We hired bikes one day and cycled along the beach walk to Newport beach, it worked out to be a 20 mile round trip in the end! But it didn't feel that long when it's all flat and you're in the sunshine the whole way. I cycled in my bikini for most of it, tanning as I went!

We also did a lot of shopping! The South Coast Plaza mall, at Costa Mesa is only about a fifteen minute drive from Huntington with all the American shops you could ever wish for. We also visited the Outlets at Orange, a Californian Bicester Village! I always love shopping in the pharmacies for make up and nail varnishes, Essie is particularly cheap over there and Burt's Bees lip balms. 

Duke's on the beach was a favourite of ours for food with fresh seafood overlooking the pier. There are so many restaurants to choose from in Huntington Beach, all walking distance from our house. So much of America requires you to drive everywhere with big highways so having the town and beach on our doorstep was perfect and meant if just a couple of us wanted to walk out for an ice cream or go and rent a film for the night we could without worrying. 

I think we'd all had a lot of sun this day, we're all glowing! 

We ate out a fair amount but also loved cooking in with the BBQ at the house or just making a big chilli. On the evenings that we did stay in for dinner, we'd walk to the beach for the sunset and then pick up a Scoop on Cookie on the way home. Holiday heaven. 

I love these photos that my Mum took as we were walking along the shore with the sun setting in front of us and the surfers going in for one last dip of the day.

I don't think I've ever seen more impressive skies. Bright orange and then pink.

The Scoop on Cookie was conveniently on our way back from the beach. $3 for two cookies and a scoop of ice cream. We ate a lot of these in the course of a week, * heart eye emoji* 

On our last night at Huntington Beach, before going up to LA and flying home, we reserved a fire pit on the beach to toast s'mores. If it's not a weekend you can get one quite easily but people sit around them from early in the morning at a weekend or public holiday. All the grocery stores and even pharmacies sell firelighting kits with a bundle of wood.

We ate takeaway pizzas on the beach whilst waiting for the sun to set a bit more to start toasting our s'mores.


Graham crackers, toasted giant marshmallows and chocolate all sandwiched together.

Yum!! And then yet another sunset. 

Then it was time to head into Los Angeles for our last night before flying back home. We'd done LA before, all the touristy bits like the walk of fame, a star spotting house tour around Beverly Hills, the Grauffman's theatre etc. Hollywood isn't my favourite place, it has to be seen and done once but I wouldn't plan on spending too much time there.

But Ben hadn't been before so we drove around going around the perfectly manicured streets of Beverly Hills and down Rodeo Drive. 

And stared up at the Hollywood sign high up on the hills.

And stayed at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home to Marilyn Monroe amongst others back in the day. It's a gorgeous hotel, uber trendy and a perfect location right off of the Hollywood Boulevard. The pool is heavenly too and they have an amazing burger restaurant. 

We spent our final day at The Grove, having lunch at the Farmer's Market and a last minute shop before heading to the airport and saying goodbye to the sunsets, burgers, beaches, fro-yos, national parks, highway 101, farmers markets, sunshine, s'mores and scoop on cookies. God bless America is what we say! 

The Californian Dream.

If you're thinking of doing a road trip out there or fly-drive then do so, you'll seriously love it. And feel free to ask me any questions.

R <3 xx 

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  1. I have a big American road trip planned for later this year, with the last two weeks in California. I'm really excited after reading your blog! Are there any places you recommend visiting / eating? We have already booked our accommodation in Barstow, Long Beach, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Yosemite and San Francisco.

    1. Ah exciting! You'll love it. I'm actually off to San Diego next week so will let you know any special places we come across. As for the others, just wandering around Yosemite is amazing, definitely do the valley floor tour. Santa Barbara the fish works restaurant is good, as is restaurant on the pier, pancake cafe by the beach. Great shopping there and self serve frozen yogurt shop! Haven't really been to Barstow, Long Beach or Monterey but they're meant to be lovely xx


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