Loving Life in Laguna

Like my trip to San Francisco sometimes you need a little bit of time away from home. So this blog post you will get a chance to learn about some awesome things to do in Laguna/Newport Beach!!! Only about two and a half hours away Laguna is the best place to have a weekend away! With so much to see and do I promise you, you will be moving a million miles an hour and will never run out of things to do!

      I have been around Newport Beach and Laguna my whole life, its where I was born and is where I spend a lot of my time during vacations, so needless to say I’m an expert. This weekend I was especially fun because I got to host my girlfriend while I was there and show her around!The first thing we did and what I would recommend would be to go to Fashion Island. If you want a fun place to shop and walk around or get a bite to eat this is one of the best places to do all of the above! Fashion Island is an outdoor mall so getting to walk around and enjoy the fresh air and sun while you shop is a bonus! With plenty of fountains, live music performers, and even a fish pond this extravagant mall is kid/dog friendly and is an awesome spot!Next up we have Balboa Island!!! This is probably my favorite place to go while I’m down south! The Island itself is right in between two channels where there are hundreds of boats parked and ready to get taken out to the open sea. As well there are tons of cute homes and little boutiques and shops! This is probably the cutest part of Newport and Laguna. Across the main big channel there’s a fun zone! accessible by ferry you can drive your car, bike or other vehicle across the channel or even just yourself. At the Fun Zone there is a lot to do! With a Ferris Wheel, about 5 arcades, and many other rides and gift shops the Fun Zone is well, FUN!!!!In Newport and Laguna there are also lots of amazing beaches! Some are private beaches to the residences of the specific gated community such as Emerald Bay or Irvine Cove, but there are many amazing beaches that are open to the public! One of my favorites is Crystal Cove beach, although it is a state park and you have to pay a small fee to get access it is THE place to be! White soft sand beaches, no dogs, and great waves and tide pools, this beach has it all! Another fun one that is free but more touristy is Main Beach in Laguna, with a few volleyball courts, basketball courts, a park and some of the better tide pools and centered in downtown Laguna this is where all the tourists come and the locals stay away from. If you want to go local though check out Divers Cove. There are even some famous beaches here, The Wedge and Victoria Beach are two extremely famous beaches for huge sets and great skim boarding!! Overall you cant really go wrong with any beach though!To wrap up some of the best places to go lets talk about food! There are so many awesome places and everything is great! My personal favorite taco place is Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, the original one is in Newport but now they are all over the coast. Anything on the menu is delicious but you have to try the taquitos!!! As for Asian food, Mandarin King is the best Chinese around and the owners are so nice, my grandparents have been eating there the whole time they’ve lived there! Then there’s the Teppanyaki place called Ichiburi this is the most fun place to eat! The chefs prepare the meal in front of you and are super funny and great people! If you go ask to have the guy pictured below though (he’s the best). You cant really go wrong with any restaurant in Newport or Laguna everything is really good and you can always cross reference online!

IMG_3147Overall awesome trip and place to visit!

Fun: 10/10

Interactive: 10/10

Unique: 10/10

Overall: 10/10 Great place to visit and check out!!!!

High on Life-Inspiration Point

         This past weekend I checked out another awesome hike with one of my buddies Cole. After going on 7 falls a few weeks before I was in to trying something new! So we decided to go and do Inspiration Point!!!! This is definitely one of the favorite hikes Santa Barbara offers!

We met up at noon for the hike at the bottom of the trail. The thing that’s nice is that all of the hikes in Santa Barbara or the vast majority start in the same place so once you know where the trail head is your set! So we began the 45 minute to an hour trek up the mountain.When we went it was a hot sunny day on spring break so there were lots of people out and about exploring the trails and the cool wildlife Santa Barbara has to offer! With the trail going from sun to shade and back again like that it was plenty hot so bring water for sure!!!

After about an hour we had reached the summit of the trail, Inspiration Point. With a view of the the entire valley below this hike was a different kind of amazing then 7 Falls, it was beautiful!! We spent a little while at the top taking pictures and just hanging out, If you wanted to this would be the perfect place for a sunset/sunrise picnic with your SO.

With boom box in hand blasting some of our favorite tunes Cole and I started the march down the hill. The music makes the hike more fun in my opinion so if you have a small portable speaker you might wanna bring it just for fun.

The trail itself isn’t too difficult, with a injured ankle Cole was still able to do it so if your not in the best shape of your life or have physical problems this hike isn’t too rough compared to the other trails Santa Barbara has to offer.

While making the final decent down the hill and back to the main trail Cole and I heard a faint rattle, stopped in our tracks and super scared we looked around being careful not to move too fast. We finally spotted the rattlesnake, at around 6 feet black and ready to strike this monster nearly scared the crap out of both of us!!!!! As soon as we saw it Cole bolted and I followed suit, nearly eating it on some rocks and screaming we ran down the hill!!! So needless to say watch where you step and keep your eyes and ears open while exploring! Its a beautiful but dangerous place to be.

Fun: 10/10

Interactive: 10/10

Unique: 8/10

Overall: 9/10 Another awesome spot to check out!!!!

Fresh Food at the Farmers Market

The Santa Barbara farmers market, let me say one of the most beautiful places to be and check out some fresh and delicious food! Almost every week my mom and I will take a trip to the farmers market on Tuesday afternoons after school to buy and look at the unique vendors and amazing fruits and vegetables!

The farmers market is located on State Street in centrally located downtown Santa Barbara. Every Tuesday afternoon they close off the streets and 2-3 long blocks are open with tents of fresh food to purchase! As well as the State Street farmers market there are also one in Goleta on the weekends and off of Santa Barbara Street on Saturdays!

One of my favorite things to do is go around and taste test some of the things people have to offer! Fruits, vegetables, nuts, drinks, dips, there’s just so much to try and experience! The different people that work the booths with there farm/companies products are all so nice and helpful making this Santa Barbara Spot one of the most interactive and fun places to go!

At the farmers market on State Street the foundation that puts it on uses special tickets to purchase items. It makes it more fun to go and have the coupons to exchange them for the fresh produce offered! It is just such a fun place to be!!!

They have so much to offer here and its a great place to check out and purchase some fresh delicious produce! Anywhere from tomatoes to dragon fruit you name it and the odds are they’ll have it! Another bonus is that its all organic food so if your picky about how your foods grown shopping here is another great option opposed to a supermarket.

As well as local well known products there are also some rather peculiar looking fruits and veggies! Sometimes it may even be something you use all the time but just have not seen in its natural form!

The thing thats interesting about farmers markets is that they are all around the world! No matter where you go you can find someplace like a farmers market which just makes it super cool to think about how people all around the world are buying things the same way you are! Anywhere from Italy, China, Argentina, or even Ghana some form of farmers market exists, which is why I love the local market we have here in Santa Barbara!

Wining and Dining at the Santa Barbara Public Market

This weekend I did something new! I went to the Santa Barbara Public Market, this is a smaller indoor market full of about 10 different restaurants and food vendors! On Friday night with my Dad and two little sisters out of town for volleyball my mom and I had a “date night”. After coming home after lacrosse practice that afternoon my mom and I were trying to decide where we wanted to go out to dinner and what our plans for the evening were. After surveying our options and looking at Yelp reviews we decided on a noodle bar called Empty Bowl in the public market.

  

It was supposed to be pretty good weighing in at 4.2 stars on Yelp and holding the title of best noodle bar in Santa Barbara, so my mom and I were looking forward to trying it and checking it out!

We should up to the Public Market with the hope of a amazing dinner, when we walked in the market was packed with tons of people at all the different restaurants and stores. Empty Bowl was right in the center of the action, it was a smaller restaurant with only about 18 seats at the bar itself. Finding two seats was hard but with my killer instincts I was able to snag some quick!

We sat down and got to looking at the food! I was really excited because I love Asian food and if you do this is definitely a spot to check out! It had a smaller menu with about 4 starters, 4 soup noodles, and 4 stir fry noodle options. My mom and I decided to order the Thai curry soup noodle, pad Thai stir fry noodle and a round of pot stickers!

The food came out relatively fast within 20 minutes or so, if your in a hurry though they have a to go option. Once our hot steamy plates of yumminess showed up we chowed down and dug in to the delicious food we had ordered!


The menu surrounds all kinds of dietary restrictions. You can order egg noodles, rice noodles, or whole wheat noodles. As well as protein options you can order tofu, chicken, shrimp, beef, or fish with your food. So the possibilities are endless!!!

At the Public Market there are a wide variety of different restaurants besides Empty Bowls, including places like Corazon Cocina serving delicious Mexican food daily! Or even Rori’s Ice Cream, I’a Fish Market and Cafe, and there’s a winery so you can taste some of the hundreds of different bottles they have to offer!

This is an awesome spot! Both the Empty Bowls and the Public Market in general are awesome places to take a look at any day of the week! It was a new experience for me but I know this is going to turn into one of my favorite spots already!!!

Fun: 7/10

Interactive: 8/10

Unique: 9/10

Overall: 8/10 Another awesome spot to check out!!!!

Crashing and Burning on 7 Falls

This weekend I had the pleasure of going on one of Santa Barbara’s funnest hiking trails 7 Falls with my girlfriend, Ellie. We started off the day at the trail at around 1 and were ready to go! That morning it rained so the ground was a bit muddy but that added to the fun and adventure of the hike!

Round trip this is about a 2-3 mile hike maybe a little longer depending on how courageous you are and willing to do a little more climbing. All the trails start off on a paved fire road and fork into a bunch of other trials when it turns to dirt such as Inspiration Point, or Tunnel Trail. Today though we both planned on doing  new hike and that was 7 Falls!

About 20 minutes in we had navigation problems when the trails split but after asking a family where to go we were quickly on our way again. After reaching the creek in about 30 ish minutes we were wondering if this was the end of the hike. There were a lot of college kids swimming in one of the pools and drinking and we were kinda confused on where to go next. So we plopped down on a rock for a picnic lunch! If you ever go on this hike make sure to bring snacks especially if you haven’t eaten lunch because like us your gonna want to spend the whole afternoon there!

After lunch we continued up the creek following these two girls in front of us farther up the trail. For about 10 minutes we both had our shoes on but as we went farther we reached a point where getting wet was necessary to continue… so we took off our shoes and slipped into the chilly water!

All along the way there are lots of waterfalls and pools to swim in or just get your feet wet! So my advice definitely bring a swimsuit your gonna want it!

At what we thought was the end (it was not) there was a large pool that was really deep that you could jump into from the rocks 15 feet up. However being protective for my well being I couldn’t jump because Ellie wouldn’t let me! I was kinda mad at the time but looking back on it now I think that was the smart thing to do. However if your interested in jumping by all means go for it!

Local tips: Apparently there are two large rocks on the sides of the pool on opposite sides of where the waterfall hits the pool, so If you do jump you want to aim right for the middle of the two. Also a more personal tip would be to swim in the pool and check the depth before jumping just to be safe.

After checking out the falls we saw a rope that helped you scale a super steep part of the trail and we decided we would go check it out! Let me just say one of the best views of the trails is right at the top!!! So if you go definitely check this out!!! We ended up just sitting up there for a good ten minutes admiring the view and each other and it was one of the more memorable parts of the hike!

We went a little deeper tromping through poison oak to get just a little bit farther (this ended up being a lot farther) down the trail. Let me just say that there is in fact a fair amount of poison oak on the trail so always look alive! Towards the end we found the largest waterfall of all and although we only spent a few minutes there its worth going back to again for sure despite all the effort to get there!

Now was the time to head back, We scaled up the mountain side heading back over to the rope we took to get up there in the first place. We had finally reached the rope and were ready to descend back down to the jumping pool. I went first and having some experience with climbing I knew to walk down holding the rope backwards. I told Ellie that she should do the same but confidently Ellie said “No Im alright Im just gonna go forward I got it!” I was a little hesitant and had a bad feeling that her over confidence was going to result in one of the two of us getting hurt, but I let it slide. Let me tell you that was a big mistake! Ellie ended up slipping and crashing her head into a rock as she hit the ground hard! Being a tough lighthearted and very cute person though she immediately starts cracking up! So the moral of the story: Always walk backwards when going down the hill on the 7 falls hike!!!

Overall this is a really fun hike it requires some agility but nothing you probably cant handle if you just want to make it to the jumping pit. Its pretty much required that you get a little wet so be prepared for that but its all part of the experience!!!! It was a great hike and a super cool spot that I will for sure check out again!!!!

Fun: 10/10

Interactive: 9/10

Unique: 9/10

Overall: 9/10 Another awesome spot to check out!!!!

 

 

Wandering Around the Wharf

This weekend I checked out East Beach and the Santa Barbara pier. This is a super popular spot in Santa Barbara and is interesting part of Santa Barbara’s landscape. At 2740 feet completed for the first time in 1872 it was the longest pier between LA and San Francisco. It is home to many restaurants and fun things to do!

img_2764

On the wharf there is a fun interactive museum called the Sea Center! With plenty of small tide pools aquariums and touch tanks this is a great place to learn about the oceans around SB and the animals that live there! This is a great place for kids and is related to the natural history museum also here in SB. Whats cool is that if your a member at one of the two your also a member for the other one so feel free to visit whenever you want!

img_2791

This is a super popular place to fish as well! Out at the end of the pier lots of people bring there tackle boxes and bait and head down to cast a few into the water! I’m not a big fan of fishing but if you are this would be THE place to go!

img_2780

Out on the wharf there are also a handful of restaurants and places to shop. It is a great place to go and you’ll find a combination of both tourists and locals here. I haven’t had the chance to eat at any of the restaurants but I’ve heard from a number of friends that they are delicious! Plus with the added value of free valet parking it makes getting there even easier. Whats also cool about the wharf is that there is a place to wine taste for the adults and while doing that you can send your kids to the ice cream store right down stairs! They even make there own cones!!!

img_2788

The wharf also puts on a variety of fun events including the annual Christmas parade!!! I have had the pleasure of attending the boat parade for the last two years! The first year with my family and this last year with my girlfriend, it was a blast! the night starts off with a parade of about 20-30 boats all decked out in Christmas lights and decorations, the boats travel around both sides of the pier and when they’re done there is a firework show!!! This is a great spot to check out if your in town over the holidays! I know its one of my favorite things to do to help get into the seasons!

img_2784

The pier is relatively centrally located and is pretty darn hard to miss so getting there definitely isn’t a problem. Its about a 20-25 minute bike ride from my house and during the summer time its somewhere I hang out with friends often. East beach right next door is also a super popular beach in Santa Barbara especially to tourists! So if you want a calm mellow beach to just hangout I wouldn’t suggest here! However with a variety of things to do and the ability to rent paddle boards, sea kayaks, surfboards and tons of other beach gear if you want to do something unique this is the place to go!

img_2795

I love the Sterns Wharf and East Beach both these places are awesome spots to check out! Whats great is that there’s always something to do doesn’t matter what season!

Fun: 9/10

Interactive: 9/10

Unique: 7/10

Overall: 8/10 Another awesome spot to check out!!!!

 

A Weekend Away in the Big City

Sometimes you need to travel a little bit and find cool spots somewhere else! So this past weekend I took a trip to San Francisco! My family and I were super excited to take a trip to the city and were eager to get there so we left bright and early Friday morning.
img_2723

After a long 6-7 hour drive we finally made it to the Claremont Hotel where we were staying. The Claremont is a very famous hotel with lots us stuff to do for all ages! There’s 3 pools, a hot tub, lots of workout rooms, adult bars, restaurants, tennis courts and so much more!  But when we got in we didn’t spend much time enjoying the amenities because we had to go to the best pizza place in the WORLD!

img_2606Zachary’s!!! this local spot is home to the Bay Areas best pizza since 1983! They’re known for there amazing deep dish Chicago style pizza, and fun Zachary pizza inspired art. With so many unique pizzas coming in all different shapes and sizes there are lots of yummy options to pick from! One of which is the spinach mushroom pizza which happens to be my favorite pizza on the menu!

img_2610

With over 175 awards and voted the Bay Areas 4th most popular restaurant this is a great spot! These huge messy slices eating this slice of heaven requires a fork and knife! (Unless your feeling down to get messy) When we got there we lucked out and didn’t have too much of a wait but by the time we left the line was out the door and around the corner! Proving that this is not only one of my favorite places to dine but also hundreds of others.

img_2640

After a delicious meal the next day we were ready to hit up the city. Taking the BART or Bay Area Rapid Transit is the best way to get around and over 400,000 people take it everyday! Make sure when riding though to hold on to something or find a sit flying into a random person next to you is not an ideal situation to be in!!! Take it from me I learned from experience!img_2651

While in the city we checked out a bunch of cool stores and places around the city! The converse store is a must see! You can customize your own shoes and they can print them out right in front of you and you can take them home that day! As well Union Square is a very popular place to hang out and check out some local art or some street performers! img_2655

To cap off this awesome trip my family and I traveled to another great restaurant! Barney’s Burgers! Another amazing spot home of the infamous Barney Burger a pound burger topped with just about anything you could imagine on top! This local burger joint has about 25 different burger options from a Western burger to a Baja burger the possibilities are endless! As well each burger you have the option for ground meat, turkey, chicken, salmon or a veggie patty so these amazing specialty burgers are perfect for anyone! This is a great spot and anything on the menu is DELICOUS!!! (Especially there Oreo or chocolate malt shakes) img_2697

Overall this was a great trip away from Santa Barbara and anyone looking for a weekend away or a nice family vacation for the week theres so many things to do!

Fun: 10/10

Interactive: 10/10

Unique: 10/10

Overall: 10/10 Amazing trip!!!!!