I am actually a little embarrassed about how long it has taken me to get up our California Family Road Trip posts here on this blog. We got back from our trip of a lifetime back in April last year and at first I was all guns blazing getting the posts and videos up. On our very first night there, in our first hotel in San Francisco we got a call saying the offer had been accepted on our new house. Our owners wanted a quick sale and by the time we got back, life just got sort of busy and frantic and as such I didn’t end up editing the last remaining posts and videos.
I really wanted to make sure that I put the final few up, albeit very late, because our trip to California really was the trip of a lifetime for us. It has been something I wanted to do ever since I was a little girl, but I didn’t think we would be able to do it until our children were much bigger. Turns out it is perfect for children and bizarrely was one of the ‘easiest’ trips we have ever done. I think the combination of visiting so many different places, plus the downtime in the car travelling (where they all had long naps), just meant that it all felt quite relaxed. I always find with a week long holiday that no sooner have you unpacked you feel it is time to come home, but with California we were there for nearly 3 weeks and we essentially lived out of suitcases, so it felt like a long, amazing period of quality time together.
If doing a road trip like this is something you have thought about doing but been apprehensive about, please just go for it. I can promise you you won’t regret it.
Anyway back to our incredible trip…
Sunday 9th April 2017
After leaving the crazy city of Los Angeles we travelled a relatively short distance compared to what we had been driving, just 43 miles down the coast to Newport Beach, which has been made famous over here for being one of the destinations that The OC was set. We were only set to be here for a day, so we only had a short space of time to enjoy it.
The first thing we did was check into our hotel, the Newport Beach Marriott Bay View which was a little out of the centre, but perfect for what we needed. We decided that we would head first to Laguna Bay a little further down the coast just to have a look. Laguna Bay is an upmarket little seaside resort with lots of nice boutique shops and restaurants.
The beach at Laguna was beautiful, really sheltered and as it was the weekend there were lots of American families there enjoying the sunshine. We hadn’t originally planned on actually staying on the beach, merely just going for a wander around and explore, but as it was so sunny Wren sat in the shade and had a nap, while the girls played in the sea for ages. Watching them running in and out of the sea and screaming with joy is actually one of the highlights of our trip. Just the simple pleasures and enjoy being together. We ended up staying there for a good couple of hours, before having to drive back to our Newport Beach hotel with them just in their pants as they were soaking!
After spending a bit of time in our hotel freshening up, it by this point was getting pretty late, and we had already decided to try and let them have a ‘on time’ night (they had a lot of late nights while we were away).
So we decided that we would just head and find a park for them to run around at for a while before grabbing some dinner at the hotel. One quick google later and I found quite frankly the coolest park ever. If you are ever in Newport then you need to head to Marina Park (if you have kids obviously!). It’s a large park dominated by a really fun play lighthouse that you can go into, and the park over looks the Bay. It’s really pretty and we ended up staying there for quite a while, although it was pretty chilly and windy by this point (as it was April it got quite cold in the evenings).
When I spotted this lifeguard station on the beach I just had to bribe them to have a little mini photo shoot. This photo is actually one of my favourites of our trip, the sun was setting and it was just so beautiful. I still look back at the photos of our trip and I find it hard to believe that it was actually us there experiencing it. It really was one of the coolest things we have ever done.
After a lovely evening we headed home for an early night.
Monday 10th April 2017
The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed and rearing to go. Today was the day we were heading to one of the destinations on our trip that I had been most looking forward to on our trip- Palm Springs (more about that in my next California post). It was a couple of hour drive away but we wanted to make sure we explored a little bit more of Newport Beach before we left. We headed over to Balboa Island, a small little island that you had to reach in a little car ferry which the girls found fun.
Balboa Island was a lovely little place, with a little fairground area on the dock which the girls found really fun. We had a go on the iconic Balboa Island ferris wheel, a go on the mini trapezes and we walked around having a wander and generally just taking everything in (we did so much of that on our trip).
After an hour or so’s exploring we headed to Newport Beach Boat Rentals where we jumped on a little duffy boat for a tour of the area. Visit Orlando kindly arranged for us to have a tour guide, a really nice lady called Susan, who pointed out some of the local sights. These kind of experiences are the ones I enjoy the most, hearing about these beautiful places by someone who actually lives there. Susan spent time showing us the big expensive waterside homes, telling us which celebrities owned them. She also let the girls drive the boat which they were very excited about.
At one point we saw a seal having a sunbathe on the back of one of the boats (you can see her baby in the water behind her) and Susan said it was actually really rare to be able to get up that close to them as normally they swim off. We kept our distance enough so we didn’t disturb them. We really enjoyed the duffy tour as it meant we really got to learn about the area.
After having a burger in one of the bay front fast food restaurants, where Jon spent an hour doing some urgent work he needed to do, it was back in the car ready to drive the hour and forty five minute drive to Palm Springs.
We absolutely loved our brief stopover in Newport Beach and only wish we had longer to explore. When we were planning our road trip we thought carefully about the places we wanted to spend at least a few days at (San Francisco, San Diego, LA, Palm Springs) and then we planned the stopovers along the route. One day we would love to go back and experience longer in each destination. Newport Beach was a brief stop but a really fun one all the same.
Here is a video I made of our time in Newport Beach (and also LA which I talk about here).
NEXT STOP… PALM SPRINGS.
To check out some more inspiration for travelling to California, check out Visit California. Thanks to them for helping us plan our trip.