A Family Trip to San Diego

We just got back from a fantastic trip to San Diego. I hadn’t been there since I was 8 years old (nearly 30 years ago!), and since our daughters are now 8, we thought it would be fun to give them the same memorable experience that I had had when I was their age. My husband, Rick, had business to do during the 5 days that we were in the area, so Katie, Alison, and I kept ourselves busy visiting zoos, parks, malls, and beaches. I am homeschooling the girls just for this year (to try it out), so we take every opportunity we can to tag along with Rick on his business trips—this way they get to see the country that they live in and get a much more hands-on learning experience.

The San Diego Zoo was Katie’s favorite day. Though I thought it was a bit pricey to get in, it was well worth the expression on her face when she came face to face with the giant pandas—her favorite animals. Both girls rode camels, laughing all the while knowing full well that I had fallen off one of those very camels the last time I was at the San Diego Zoo.

The highlight for Alison, and I think for me too, was Mission Beach. We’re all serious beach bums, but Alison carries after her mom in that severe desire to be sun-drenched all the time (always with sunscreen, of course!). The Strand, part of San Diego’s gorgeous coastline, provided hours and hours and hours of lounging in the sun, people watching at the Mission Beach’s busy boardwalk, and riding the Big Dipper Roller Coaster over and over again. We even joined a game of volleyball just opposite the sparkly Pacific Ocean, which was warm and refreshing in the hot July sun. We had dinner plans with Rick at 6, and when we saw that it was only 3 and we needed a break from the heat, we headed to the Fashion Valley Mall for some refuge from the sun. We headed straight to Wetzel’s Pretzels for a snack, and then did some “serious damage” (as the girls say) at some of their favorite stores, including Limited Too, Bath & Body Works, and Borders Express. We also went to the Build-A-Bear Workshop. We’re on vacation—we’re allowed to go overboard a bit with special treats!

The next day we did some more shopping at Westfield UTC —do you see a theme? There’s an ice-skating rink there, which is what really convinced us to hit two malls in a row. I’m not exactly the skating type, but the girls held my hands and took me around and around the rink until my two little girls had doubled into four. We needed a rest afterwards so took at break at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers before heading off to San Diego Sea World. Rick was meeting us there, and I’m glad he did because I was exhausted! I ended up sitting through a couple of Shamu shows while they hiked through the rest of the park. I think the girls said the liked the Shark Encounter best…or maybe it was the Manatee Rescue?

We did more—went to certain restaurants that I had gone to as a kid and just hung out in our hotel room and relaxed. Now we’re back to the grind of daily life, yet somehow, I feel a bit more relaxed. There’s just something about seeing the ocean….


Top 10 East Coast Beaches (not including Florida)

I just got back from a WHIRLWIND of a vacation! As a graduation present to ourselves, 2 of my best friends and I packed a car with plenty of bathing suits and went on an East Coast tour of all the beaches we can find. We brought a tent and sometimes camped out by the water and sometimes were lucky enough to know friends in the area who let us crash on their couches. Occasionally we splurged on cheap motels. Needless to say, we had an amazing time. Here are some of our highlights:

Hampton Beach in New Hampshire was one of our top picks. The Hampton Beach pier has great food and games. The beach is wide. The waters are clear. And we caught a great concert at the Seashell Amphitheater. Before heading out of New England, we stopped at one of Rhode Island’s greatest beaches, Misquamicut State Beach We went for a quick swim, boogie boarded, and then continued on our way. It was a short visit, but somehow won us over with its clean waters and pretty sands.

Further down the coast is Manhattan Beach on Coney Island in Brooklyn New York. Coney Island as a whole is packed and kinda kitschy, but Manhattan Beach is a bit more remote, affordable, and quiet. It’s also just a quick subway ride away from Manhattan, so we counted that as a huge perk. Before we left New York, we swung by South Beach on Staten Island and did some fishing—and caught a few fish!

A few hours drive down the coast brought us to Ocean City Beach, an extremely lively place where we tried our luck (successfully!) at windsurfing. And then an even longer drive down to Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. This one was actually my favorite, which came as a shock since I had never even heard of it before. It was just so serene and so beautiful. As was Hatteras Island Beach, a magical little place that just screamed relaxation! Another North Carolina island beach we loved was Ocracoke Island Beach, a quaint place that requires a lovely ferry ride to reach it’s pretty banks.

Next was everyone else’s favorite, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, which for me ranks at a close second. It was just FUN. First of all, we ran into people we knew and ended up staying at this HUGE beach house. The nightlife at Myrtle Beach is fantastic and the weather was perfect. We spent 4 days here which was longer than our stays at any of our other stops.

Before heading back up the coast, we decided to dip into Georgia to catch a Gulf Coast beach, our favorite being Tybee Island Beach, an oasis in that Georgia heat.

We stretched our 3 week trip into 4 and came back home feeling relaxed, looking great, and ready to face the real world! We all agree that these beaches sort of changed our lives—helped us make that transition from one stage of life to another. Anyone who says that a beach is a just beach, needs to check out these 10—who knows, maybe your life will change too!

Take a look at this lovely video I found on YouTube
It shows the beuty of Coney Island Beach:

The Vacationer presents : Video by Rpenni

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