My Love Letter to Solana Beach

I once heard on a podcast that there is a physical, geographical place in the world where our soul belongs. When in such a place, one will feel extreme contentment and joy just by being there. It really struck a cord with me, and I couldn’t help but believe it true. Since moving to Solana Beach, I feel like it is the place my soul loves. It’s a hard feeling to describe–it’s kind of like against all odds and negative feelings you could have from life being thrown at you, you can’t help but be happy when you’re there.

Every time I wander around Solana Beach, my mind is racing with things I love about it. I wanted to write it all down, so no matter where I am in the world, I can always remember the beauty of this place.

Solana Beach,

I love your beach coves.

I love overlooking the ocean from the cliffs and watching the surfers.

I love the detail put into Fletcher Cove Park–mermaid and ocean art made through pebbles and stones, shells mixed in the concrete, sun mural at the entrance.

I love your succulents.

I love your sunsets and how everyone gathers to watch them.

I love your bars and breweries and winery (Pillbox, Chief’s, Pizza Port, Tidewater, Culture, Beer Works, Carruth Cellars, Saddle Bar)

I love your breakfast spots (Lofty Coffee, Beach Grass Cafe, Claire’s).

I love your music, whether it be live shows at Belly Up, 90s jams at Pillbox, or DJs at Saddle Bar.

I love your million dollar homes–although it would be nice if I could afford one ๐Ÿ˜‰

I love how dog friendly you are.

I love your bike lanes along the 101 where I can always watch people cycling by.

I love your proximity to the rest of North County–the gems of Del Mar, Cardiff, and Encinitas.

I love your design district, shops, and thrift store.

I love the ability to hop on the Coaster.

I love the sound of the waves crashing against your shores.

I love the farmer’s market you put on every Sunday.

I love that Rudy’s Taco Shop belongs to you–home of my favorite breakfast burrito.

I love watching new homes being built and wondering what people do for a living who own here.

I love your lizards, which thankfully haven’t wandered into our apartment yet.

I love being able to buy an acai bowl and eat it at the beach.

I love the pina coladas at Fidel’s.

I love your appreciation for the arts and the fact that you’re home to the North Coast Repertory Theatre.

I love seeing the different shades of blue of the sky and ocean when they meet at the horizon.

I love how you’ve only ever made me feel that life is beautiful.

 

 

 

How We Found Ourselves on Catalina Island

There’s an island off the coast of Los Angeles and we haven’t gone yet?! Once I found out about Catalina Island I was instantly intrigued. Ollie and I would be able to enjoy the perks of island life without taking time off work or breaking the bank (I’m looking at you Hawaii). I knew I’d have to make it happen. I saw an open weekend on our schedules and started looking for accommodation. The hard part was finding somewhere to stay for just one night (most guesthouses on the island require a two night stay over weekends). I felt discouraged. We might not actually be able to make things work as I planned. We didn’t have the vacation time to stay two nights, but I didn’t think it was worth just going for the day either. My dreams of strolling around an island without a care in the world were starting to feel out of reach, but luckily I don’t give up too easily.

I was browsing through more accommodation options and stumbled upon the Hermosa Hotel. They didn’t have online reservations, so I decided to call and check their availability. Once again they told me what I feared–two night minimum required for weekends. The defeat start to set in when the lady on the phone told me she could check if anyone happened to be leaving on Saturday which would free up a one night stay Saturday night. It looked like our island escape was meant to be because there was one room free for Saturday night! I made a fast decision to book it right then and there without asking Ollie.

Things I’m good at: daydreaming about travel, researching options, and booking. Things I need to work on: considering Ollie’s opinion before pulling the trigger.ย I walked into the living room with a sweet smile on my face. “So I booked us a room on Catalina Island…we’re going July 15.” In my defense I have to take advantage of weekends during the NFL off-season because come Week 1 we can’t do anything. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He seemed a little shocked but quickly accepted our upcoming plans.

On July 15 we woke early to make the hour and a half drive from Solana Beach to Long Beach where we’d be boarding the Catalina Island Express, a one hour ferry. There’s something special about taking a boat to an island; the excitement started to set in. As we drifted away from mainland California, I could already feel the stress of real life being left behind.

We got off the ferry, dropped our bags at the hotel, and headed to Original Jack’s for a hearty breakfast. It was my first glimpse at what I would keep noticing the length of our stay: being on Catalina Island was a bit like stepping back in time. There are a lot of Old Hollywood influences. Ollie was in bar crawl heaven when he saw the number of options ย that sprawled out before us. We went to the Marlin Club, Luau Larry’s, The Locker Room, Catalina Island Brew House, Catalina Cantina, and even had drinks on the pier. It was true vacation mode. We ended our first day with an amazing seafood dinner at Bluewater Grill. The lights of the sailboats dancing through the darkness and reflecting off the bay added to our love of that restaurant, and we went to sleep full and content.

The next morning we had breakfast at Pancake Cottage, which is right next to the company we were renting a golf cart from. Catalina Island allows a limited number of cars, and seeing the island via golf cart was apparently the way to go. We drove all around Avalon for 2 hours and took in the gorgeous coastal views. We also saw the Wrigley Mansion (yes- the Cubs and chewing gum Wrigley). It was definitely a highlight of the weekend. We finished out our time relaxing at the bars on Descanso Beach which ended up being my favorite bars of the trip.

On the ferry home we chatted about what we thought of Catalina Island. Ollie had mentioned earlier that it was weird being somewhere where everyone was on vacation. In my opinion I agreed with that statement: the island is very touristy, crowded, and honestly a bit cheesy at times. But despite all that, I think it’s beautiful and a lot of fun. In Ollie’s opinion, he f*cking loved it–it’s the perfect place to go on a laid back bar crawl and enjoy impressive views. Good thing I forced him into going, he ended up liking it more than I did ๐Ÿ™‚ Next time we go, we vowed to do something on the water whether that be renting a boat, kayaking, or SUPing. They also have a museum that I was interested in checking out if we ever go back.

Anyways, thanks for reading along and here are the pictures from our time there! I also made a YouTube video you can check out here.

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Boarding the Catalina Island Express in Long Beach, CA
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On board the Catalina Island Express
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Views of Long Beach
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The main street of Avalon, CA
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Admiring the bay
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The Casino
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SoCal succulents
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Beautiful Catalina
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Enjoying a Modelo on the pier
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Happy hour drinks at Catalina Cantina
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Catalina Island Brew House

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Trying new Mexican beers–love.
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Views from the golf cart drive

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Thanks wind for making my hair look stupid.

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Enjoying farewell beers at Descanso Beach