Friday, March 2, 2018

The Walters Go West Part 4: Laguna Beach and San Diego

After an amazing and fun two days at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure, we drove about a half hour to stay the night in Laguna Beach, California.  When we awoke the next morning, we headed out to the beach to enjoy all the amazing beauty there.  I can now say that Laguna Beach is my favorite beach!  We enjoyed it for so many reasons.

The sand was soft and light (almost white).  There were hills all around and the beach runs right beside Crystal Cove State Park, which also looked amazing (but we didn't have time to visit this trip).  There was so much to explore there.  When we first arrived, the kids enjoyed just running along the beach and letting the waves follow them.




It wasn't long after we arrived that we spotted the fun cliffs and rocks to climb.  We love the varied terrain that the beach offers.





We enjoyed looking for shells.  Abbey found a beautiful purple one.




We grabbed lunch at a nearby taco shop and brought it to another area of the beach to have a picnic.  We sat near the Montage resort on Treasure Island beach to enjoy our lunch:

Isn't it gorgeous?

Look at this lovely picnic lunch spot!

Treasure Island beach is perfect!  After eating lunch and exploring a bit, the kids were ready to build sand castles.




I love that there is so much to explore at Laguna Beach besides just the normal water and sand.  There were so many rocks to climb, rock tunnels to go through, tide pools to explore and more.




We thoroughly enjoyed Laguna Beach, but it was time to drive about an hour to San Diego.  We were excited to explore that great city!  When we arrived late in the afternoon we explored Old Town San Diego.  We had fun walking through the fun old shops and the area.  We grabbed some dinner at Liberty Public Market (such a great place for foodies and families and so many options) and headed to Belmont Park and mission beach to explore and enjoy the sunset.




We were a bit overwhelmed at the amount of things to do in San Diego for families and had such a difficult time figuring out what to do with our limited time there.  We were only there for about a day (the afternoon of one day and the morning of the next.)  The next morning we ate breakfast and then visited Seaport Village, walking along Harbor Dr.  We checked out the USS Midway, which was enormous and really neat to see in person.



After our beautiful early morning walk, we drove through Balboa Park and then headed to Little Italy to grab lunch.  Unfortunately the pizza place we wanted to eat at which was highly rated had trouble with its credit card system and they couldn't sell anything.  So we walked up the street to Burger Lounge and enjoyed some delicious grass-fed burgers.  I wish this place would open a restaurant in Austin--it was so good! 

After lunch we had to drive to the airport in San Diego to fly back home.

When we initially planned this trip we were concerned it might have been a bit too much traveling from city to city.  But, this trip was truly amazing.  We got to see so many different places on our bucket list.   We are really looking forward to going back to the San Diego area someday and explore more since there is so much to do, but we had such little time.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Walters Go West Part 3: DIsneyland California Adventure and Disneyland

When we were planning our trip, the part that was up in the air until the last minute was the itinerary in the Los Angeles area.  We were initially going to explore LA one day and then pick one of the Disney parks to visit.   But, after talking to a lot of friends and getting their opinions on which one to select, we decided to just go ahead an do both Disneyland California Adventure and Disneyland.  So, we just skipped LA and went straight from Joshua Tree National Park to our hotel in Anaheim.  We stayed off of park grounds at a hotel that had a complementary shuttle to the parks and ended up saving a TON of money.  It was definitely the way to go for us.    (Y'all, we spent a total of $610.86 on all the hotels for the entire week long trip--and that includes taxes and fees and they were all nice hotels.  We needed to do that though, because the visits to the two Disney parks cost more than all of our hotel stays!)

On day one, we grabbed the first shuttle out from the hotel and headed to Disneyland California Adventure.  We visited this park first, because it happened to be early entry day at Disneyland for those staying at the Disney hotels.  Thus, we figured that California Adventure would be less busy than Disneyland this day.  We arrived at the park about 30 minutes before they opened.  We got in and waited for them to remove the ropes and decided to begin at Toy Story Mania.  We knew it would be less busy than other rides, like in Cars Land.  For $10/ticket we purchased the Max Pass--which I highly recommend.  It includes fast passes and a photo pass.  This means, from our phone app we could get in the fast pass line for whichever ride we wanted.  It also meant that anytime we saw the Disney photographers around the park, they could take our photo and we could easily download them from our phone.  This was great because we didn't want to lug our big camera into the park, and we were having so much fun that we didn't even take that many photos with our phones.  As we were running to Toy Story Mania, Drew got fast pass tickets on his phone app to the Radiator Springs Racers ride in Cars Land.  We were the first people on the Toy Story ride!  We rode some other things in the area and then headed to Radiator Springs.



Before riding the Radiator Springs Racers, we walked around Radiator Springs.  We loved the Radiator Springs Racers!

Ha---I was taking a video of the ride so the kids could re-live the experience later. 
Here is a video from our ride:

The kids really enjoyed spotting the Disney characters and getting photos with them.



Mater's Junkyard Jamboree:




We convinced Abbey to go on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride---we told her it was a lot like riding on a elevator.  It goes up and down.  Wow--it was much scarier than the Tower of Terror ride I remember.  But it was fun--for us adults anyway.  That was the only time we rode that one--for the kids' sake.  You can see Drew is looking down at Abbey in the photo they snapped on the ride.  :-)



the Ladybug ride:

We managed to ride every single ride at Disneyland California Adventure.  Abbey's favorite ride was "soaring around the world" and Luke's favorite was "Goofy's Sky School."  It was such a fun day!  We left the park around 4pm to head to Downtown Disney and take advantage of Happy Hour prices on food.  We definitely saved money that way vs. buying the food in the park.  After dinner we went back into the park and enjoyed more rides (while everyone else was eating dinner).

Radiator Springs looked really cool all lit up at night!

The next day, we headed to Disnleyland.  The kids were so excited to see the castle.



The Walters stormed the castle!
We all figured out that we were not going to be crowned King as we could not remove the sword from the stone.



We were all in line for Space Mountain.  As we were boarding Abbey decided to opt out.  So, Drew took one for the team and stayed back with her.  Space mountain was a lot faster than I remember!

We really enjoyed all of the Star Wars rides and attractions at Disneyland.  We met several of the characters, including Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.  Chewbacca was really funny.  Right before the picture, he took his big furry hands and rubbed them on my head, making my hair stick up from the static. 


Abbey thought Kylo Ren was a little scary.  In this photo Kylo Ren was asking Abbey if she wanted him to teach her how to use the force. Her response was this blank stare. He responded in his cool and creepy Kylo Ren voice, "Yeah that's what I thought."
Abbey and Luke enjoyed meeting a lot of the characters again.  Tinkerbell was one of Abbey's favorites:

For lunch at Disneyland I highly recommend eating at either the New Orleans Cafe (there was no wait) and get the Monte Cristo.  Very indulgent--but the four of us split two of them and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!  You can also get it at the Blue Bayou Cafe inside the pirates of the Caribbean ride, but you pretty much need reservations to eat there, plus it is more expensive.  For dinner, we left the park again early (around 4) and enjoyed happy hour prices at an Italian/Pizza restaurant in Downtown Disney.  We came back into the park to enjoy more rides while everyone else was eating dinner.  Again, we managed to ride every ride in the park--many more than once.  It was an amazing day!!




We did it!   We conquered Disney in California in two days--the perfect amount of time for us!  It wasn't stressful at all (the thought of Disneyworld right now scares me).  The weather was absolutely perfect too.