California

A Pampering "Pupcation" in Newport Beach

These days, a calendar packed with travel is bittersweet. Sweet, because we get to see more of this beautiful world we live in. Bitter, because it (usually) means we’re away from our pup. She’s our baby. Our “firstborn”. When we’re home, we take her everywhere, and when we’re gone, we spend hours scrolling through photos and videos of her on our phones. Yes, we know we’re obsessed.

We jump at any chance we get to bring Sally with us on our adventures, and we’ve gone as far as taking her to Canada and back with us. She LOVES traveling, and we love seeing the world through her cute little eyes. We’re hoping 2019 brings more Sally-friendly adventures - and it’s already off to a great start!

Since we’re mentally (and emotionally) preparing ourselves for a month without Sally, we decided the best thing to do is take her on a little “staycation”. Somewhere luxurious and dog friendly, somewhere all three of us can be pampered, and somewhere close to all of Sally’s favorites spots (the dog park, the beach, and Sprinkles cupcakes - pupcakes, hello!)... The Fashion Island Hotel!

Checking in at the Fashion Island Hotel

Nestled in the heart of Newport Beach, across the street from the iconic Fashion Island Shopping Center, is the Fashion Island Hotel. The decor is coastal-modern, it’s chic and elegant without feeling stuffy, and everyone that works there couldn’t be friendlier. From the moment we checked our car in with the valet, we knew we were staying someplace special. Sally was warmly welcomed by everyone - even the guests! And our ROOM. Let’s talk about our room.

We stayed in a Coastal View Corner Suite, which features a spacious living room, seperate bedroom, a furnished private patio, and a roomy marble bathroom. Plenty of space for all three of us, and an ocean view too! The neutral, beachy tones were warm and inviting, and the Fashion Island staff greeted us with one of the best cheese plates we’ve had in awhile. Did we just check into heaven?!

We spent the rest of our day enjoying the amenities of the hotel (a stylish pool area, a well appointed fitness room, the lavish Island Club Lounge), and took Sally for a walk around the Fashion Island shopping center. We ended the night with dinner at the Fashion Island Hotel’s on-site restaurant, Oak Grill. Their menu consists of fresh, local ingredients coupled with one of the most extensive wine lists in the area - they have over 50 wines by the glass! Those of you that are local, this is a great date night spot. Bobby had their signature Prime Rib Eye, and Alli had the Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, and both were spectacular. (Don’t worry - we gave the leftovers to Sally!)

Sally is always the first to claim the bed

Welcome treats!

Sally loves the Koi fish at Fashion Island

Cheers to sunsets from the Island Club Lounge!

Sunset views from the Island Club Lounge

Fashion Island views from the Island Club Lounge

Quinoa Garden Salad at Oak Grill

We woke up to the glorious Newport Beach sunrise… and what a sight it was! We’re pretty sure even Sally was in awe! We took our time getting up, took Sally on a leisurely walk around the property, and then made our way up to the 20th floor for breakfast at the Island Club Lounge*.

Honestly, we’re not sure what we loved more - the breakfast or the views! We stayed up there for several hours, taking advantage of the quiet work space and endless cups of coffee. When we got back to the room, we found Sally sleeping in our bed, and we couldn’t help but laugh. She appreciates a big, plush, hotel bed just as much as we do!

The Island Club Lounge comes with a great breakfast and these views!

This quick little trip away was exactly what all three of us needed. Everything about it was relaxing and easy, and we can’t wait to do it again. Maybe for Valentines Day? ;) The Fashion Island Hotel is running a special “Suite Love Package”, where guests can stay in a suite, enjoy $100 credit to Oak Grill, and a bottle of bubbly. Sounds like the perfect Valentine's Day getaway, don’t you think?

*When booking a room at The Fashion Island Hotel, you have the option to pay an extra fee for access to the Island Club - and we highly recommend it. There are so many perks and ammenities included - like continental breakfast, a nightly wine hour, snacks, soft drinks and coffee all day, nightly turndown service, and more. Learn more here.

A Festive, Pup-Friendly Staycation in Surf City USA

Last week we spent a few days (a “staycation”, if you will) in a wintery, Christmas-y beach side town we love... Huntington Beach! Okay, so maybe it’s not thattt wintery, but it’s definitely a festive spot during the holiday season. Huntington Beach is a short 15 minute drive from our home, and a perfect destination to escape for a weekend and soak in the relaxing surf vibes. Staycations are our hassle-free way to appease that travel itch - and if you forget your toothbrush you can always go home!

Anyway - let’s talk about Huntington Beach. This surfer’s paradise has been termed “Surf City USA” and it’s easy to see why. The pristine, white, sandy beaches, the iconic lifeguard towers, the picture-perfect pier (complete with a bustling Ruby’s Diner).. it’s all like something out of a surf movie. The activities are endless, and with hip restaurants popping up left and right, it's quickly becoming a foodie's destination. It’s about as California as you can get - and we love it for that. We were there in mid-December, so an added bonus was all the holiday decor and sparkling lights around town. It was magical!

We stayed at the Shorebreak Resort, a Kimpton property just steps from the water. We partially chose it because of its proximity to the beach, and partially because of just how dog friendly and accommodating they are (there's no additional pet fee - insert praise hands). In typical Kimpton fashion, every need is met - even extra doggy items such as dog bowls, toys, beds, and more. Sally even made their VIP board!

For us humans (haha), they do an insane job of making your experience as special and memorable as possible. The Shorebreak has a nightly wine hour, complimentary s’mores (yes please!), bicycles to ride around town, even hot coffee and cold pizza (a true surfer’s breakfast) in the morning! You better believe Bobby had pizza for breakfast every. single. day. We also tried their on-site restaurant, Pacific Hideaway for dinner... and their Latin/Asian influenced cuisine blew us away! (Make sure you try the Samurai Old Fashioned and the Tea Pot Pork!) The real highlight of our stay was the picture-perfect view from our balcony. If it wasn't for all the things to do, see, and eat we might not have left! 

Nightly s’mores? Yes please!

Being on a "staycation" gave us the excuse to try some of the hot Huntington Beach restaurants we’d been hearing so much about! Tanner's (located at the Pasea hotel) has a stunning outdoor patio that has an ocean view and welcomes pups. And the FOOD! Alli likes to say that you can judge a restaurant based on how good their salmon is - and Tanner's has one of the best salmon entree's we've ever had. This just might be our new date spot. Located right on the beach is Sandy's Beach Shack, a fun and festive restaurant for lunch and dinner. Prices are affordable, the food is great, and they even have a dog menu! Order a Mai Tai and some fish tacos, and you'll feel as though you're in Hawaii! Milk and Honey is a fun little coffee shop just a short walk from The Shorebreak. They have light and healthy breakfast options, their coffee menu is extensive, and their grassy patio was a hit with Sally. Another great breakfast option is the pup-themed Sit Stay Cafe, with made-to-order coffee and bagels. You can even bring a framed picture of your dog to hang on their (very) full doggie-lined walls! We'll be back shortly with a photo of Sally. ;)

Sally trying to get a bite of Bobby’s burger at Tanner’s :)

Yummy dinner at Sandy’s

Sally begging for a bite of bagel at Sit Stay Cafe

It can sometimes be challenging to find things to do with Sally when we're on the road. Not the case here! We took her to the Huntington Beach Dog Beach daily, aka her favorite place in the world. She could dig, swim, and frolic around leash-free... and the look on her face says it all! The Pasea Hotel has a brand new dog park called PawSea, where she had the chance to run around and play with other pups, and we got a kick out of all the quirky little features. On Tuesday nights they have the Surf City Night's Weekly Street Fair, with live music, vendors, snacks, and more... and a good portion of it is dog-friendly! 

Lifeguard on duty at Paw-Sea :)

Our staycation may have only been for two days, but we packed a lot in, and we truly felt like we'd gone away. Bobby had a chance to surf (while Alli watched from our balcony), Sally got to play on the sand, and Alli got her foodie-fix. It was perfect. Whether you're a So Cal local like us, or in the market for a California getaway, we highly recommend a trip to Huntington Beach. We'll meet you for drinks at the Shorebreak. 

See our Huntington Beach guide HERE.

Life is a Highway - And Highway One is Open!!

One of our favorite drives in the world is the coastal-hugging California Highway 1. (So much so, that we drove it on our honeymoon!) The scenery never ceases to amaze us - no matter the weather or the time of year. From the surf swells in Santa Barbara, to the cliffside hikes in Big Sur, to the majestic bridges entering Monterey County… it’s natural beauty at its finest. 

Due to some massive landslides, Highway 1 was forced to close. For over a year and a half crews have been working day in and day out to get this scenic drive back to what it once was, and FINALLY the day is here! 

Highway 1 is open, and it’s better than ever!!!

We jumped at the opportunity to explore our favorite highway once again, at the start of our road trip nearly three weeks ago - and Alli nearly cried with joy. Highway 1 in the summertime is postcard-worthy, and you better believe we stopped wherever we could to take it all in!

This trip up the highway was especially significant for us, as it’s the first time we’ve brought our fur-baby Sally along! (Dog lovers out there, you get it.) We had SO much fun taking her around our favorite stops on the drive, one highlight being the elephant seals. We’ve never seen our little bernedoodle so wide-eyed!

We’ve met people from all over the world that hear we’re from California, and immediately tell us that they’ve driven Highway 1 - most of them numerous times! It’s captivating and addictive, no matter what kind of traveler you are. You could pack a tent and camp at every stop, or stay in world-famous five star hotels, there’s literally something for everyone. And there’s never a bad time to do it either, the change in weather only adds to the dramatic coastline.

If the Rascal Flats song is true, and “Life is a Highway”, we’d like to think of it as Highway 1. Beauty everywhere we turn, pure joy, and endless discoveries… Sounds like an epic life to us!

Below is a throwback to our first days of marriage... on Highway 1 on our honeymoon!

Dog Friendly Adventures with Sally the Bernedoodle in San Diego!

So, we have a dog named Sally… that we’re mildly obsessed with. A goal of ours since the beginning has been to focus on more dog friendly trips, since leaving her can be SO HARD. (Those of you with dogs can relate!) While international trips are pretty much impossible with a 60-pound Bernedoodle, we’ve found that taking her on road trips and staycations is the way to go. She’s great in the car, loves exploring new places, and it’s relatively easy for us to transport her! We recently did a little weekend trip to San Diego with Sally (her first time in a big city!) and it was a BLAST. Here are a few of our favorite dog friendly spots:

 

 

WHERE TO STAY

The Manchester Grand Hyatt is one of our absolute favorite places to stay in San Diego, and it just so happens to be extremely dog friendly! The location is clutch - right on the water next to Seaport Village, across the street from The Gaslamp, and walking distance to just about everything. 

Upon check-in we were greeted with water and food bowls for Sally, a bright red ball, and doggy treats in our room. Talk about royal puppy treatment!! Sally experienced her first elevator (she was a little confused at first, but learned to love it) and her first time admiring the view from 48 floors up! But let’s be real… she could’ve cared less about the view - all homegirl wanted was that ball!

The rooms are spacious, modern, and oh goodness… that bed. We’ve come to find that all Hyatt’s have the most plush and comfy beds. Even Sally agreed! 

 

WHERE TO EAT

If you’re a foodie like us, you know that the dining options in San Diego are endless. Every time we come back to the city we hear of new “it” places to eat, and so far nothing has disappointed! And while there are a lot of dog friendly spots, it helps to do your research beforehand. Here’s a few of our (and Sally’s) highlights!

 

SALLY’S FISH HOUSE :: Seaport Village

Yep, you read that right. The Manchester Grand Hyatt has a dog friendly restaurant named Sally’s Fish House, located right on the water. The views are amazing, the food is fresh and delicious (definitely consider the fish and chips!), and the doggy treatment is top notch. Not only do they have an extensive dog menu, they have custom bowls for the pups (they let us keep one!). They even had doggy popsicles for desert! We’ve never seen Sally so happy at a restaurant before. If we’re being honest, this meal was the highlight of our trip. HIGHLY recommend for all dog lovers!!

 

QUEENSTOWN PUBLIC HOUSE :: Little Italy

This Kiwi-inspired restaurant is not only incredibly Instagammable, but the food is insane. Their outdoor patio is perfect for dogs, and the servers even come around with gift wrapped dog treats! We recommend getting here early, as it fills up quick - and if you can, try to score a seat by the fire. Oh, and come hungry. The portions are huge!

LOFTY COFFEE :: Little Italy

Located right across from Queenstown Public House, Lofty Coffee is one of our favorite San Diego based coffee shops. We recommend ordering a couple pour-overs from different regions and sharing. It’s the perfect spot to sit outside with your pup, sip your coffee, and people watch. 

 

PUESTO :: The Headquarters

The Headquarters is a new dining and shopping experience just down the street from the Manchester Grand Hyatt. It’s a great place to explore with dogs, and most of the restaurants have outdoor patios. Our favorite spot is a Mexican restaurant called Puesto, that’s known for their innovative tacos and margaritas. It’s a really fun vibe, and great for dogs. Sally actually fell asleep while we were there, allowing us to eat our dinner in peace - which NEVER happens!

 

 

AREAS TO EXPLORE

Like we said, everything is super walkable from the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Most of our weekend was spent walking around different locations and neighborhoods around downtown San Diego. A few of our favorites are:

  • Seaport Village: Tons of shops and restaurants all along the waterfront. You could easily spend an afternoon walking around the village and having a drink at one of their many restaurants. Also, it’s a great place to watch the sunset!

  • Little Italy: Every time we go down to San Diego we find ourselves back in Little Italy. It’s charming, constantly evolving, and a blast to explore. Some of our favorite Italian food (and gelato!) is there, and it seems like everyone that lives in Little Italy has a dog. Our kind of place!

  • Coronado Island: Just across the bay from the Manchester Grand Hyatt is Coronado Island, one of our favorite places to explore! We parked near the Hotel Del and spent a morning walking along the beach, around the historic Hotel Del, and up and down the quaint streets.

This quick weekend getaway was just what we (and Sally) needed. It definitely got us excited for more dog friendly trips, and for the next time we can return to San Diego with our pup in tow. If any of you have any favorite dog-friendly locations or doggy travel tips, leave us a comment! We’d love to hear!

 

5 Things to do during a Weekender on Catalina Island

Those of you that follow us closely know that we’re right in the thick of the hustle. 

Balancing our full-time jobs, moonlighting as content creators, doing our best as puppy paw-rents, and still finding ways to fill our social calendar… it can be exhausting!! Weekend trips are one of the ways we decompress, spend quality time together, and enjoy a new destination. As Southern California natives, we normally think of Catalina Island as a quick day trip and nothing more. But after spending a weekend there recently, we’ve realized the PARADISE we’ve been overlooking. Catalina Island is probably the best weekend getaway for So-Cal residents. It’s easy to get to, beautifully tropical, and boasts some incredible restaurants. Here’s our “Top 5” must-do’s on a weekend trip to Catalina:

 

1. East End Adventure

This was a thrill in every sense of the word - and arguably the BEST way to see the island! Think the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland meets Soaring Over California. You’re off-roading with views so magnificent you feel as though you’re flying! The East End Adventure team takes groups daily on a Hummer tour around Catalina. You scale mountains you didn’t even know you could climb! We saw wildlife, stunning viewpoints, and at one point we could even see both sides of the island at once!

 

2. Lunch at Mt. Ada

This might possibly be the best-kept secret of Catalina Island. The famous Mt. Ada (formerly the Wrigley mansion) is known for their historic B&B and picture-perfect views of the island… but what many people don’t know, is that they offer a 3-course lunch that the public can enjoy! Included in the price is beer, wine, and the most epic view of Catalina. Not to mention the food is delicious! Reservations are required, so keep that in mind as you plan your weekend. 

 

3. Catalina Aerial Adventure

We’ll be honest, Alli did everything she could to try and get out of this. We’re both afraid of heights, and the aerial adventure seemed absolutely daunting. But, being the adventurers that we are, we did it. And we survived. And it might just be our favorite memory of the trip!! The adventure staff encouraged us through every challenge, and towards the end we REALLY felt like we’d bonded with them. We ended up doing 3 courses, two of which were level 2 (out of 3)! 

 

4. Island Spa Catalina

After our Aerial Adventure tour, nothing sounded better than a morning at the spa! The Island Spa Catalina is brand new, located inside the historic El Encanto building and has luxurious lounge spaces, soaking pools, and a vista deck where you can take in the view of the coast. We indulged in a couples massage and then spoiled ourselves with champagne and snacks while enjoying the views. It was one of our highlights of the trip! 

 

5. Twilight at the Casino Tour

Raise your hand if you’ve traveled to Catalina Island several times, but have never gone inside the world-famous Casino! Us too! This charming tour is a MUST in our book, and here’s why. It’s led by a man named "Frankie from Avalon" (look him up, he’s famous on Trip Advisor!), and he might very well be the most precious man we’ve ever met. Frankie grew up on the island and created this tour himself. His knowledge of the casino’s history, the musicians and celebrities that have graced the stage, the events that have taken place, etc., is incredible. After he’s whisked you around the casino, through the dressing rooms, and hidden passageways, he’ll bring you to the dance floor on the top level. There you’re served wine and given the chance to learn to swing dance with him!

So, there’s our top five must-do’s on a weekend trip to Catalina. Other important details to mention:

 

Getting There: Hop aboard the Catalina Express. With ports in Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point, there are plenty of options for all SoCal natives. It takes about 60 minutes, is a smooth ride, and beautiful views at sunset. We opted to spend the extra $15 to upgrade to the Commodore's Lounge, where you have priority boarding, more comfortable seating, and a complimentary beverage with packaged snacks. It was a great experience! 

 

Stay: Book a room at the Pavilion Hotel - you won’t regret it. The hotel has comfortable rooms, a delicious complimentary hot breakfast, and prime location. The rooms face an expertly manicured tropical garden that will instantly set your watch to island time (hehe). Spend the afternoon relaxing in a chaise lounge, watch the sun set over the ocean during their complimentary wine and cheese reception each day, or sit around the fire pit and make new friends. 

 

Our Favorite Eats: Mt. Ada, Avalon Grille, Descanso Beach Club, the Lobster Trap (local favorite!), and Blue Water Grill.

 

All that to say, Catalina is the real deal. The Pavilion is rejuvenating, the food is delicious, and there are all kinds of adventures to be had. We will be sure to hustle back. 

Thank you to Visit Catalina Island for sponsoring this post!