Got One Day in Irvine, CA?

My girls and I were in Palm Springs, California for the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a sudden trip and urge to visit California. We were in Palm Springs for 4 nights and 31/2 days. We had a rental car, so planned to drive 2 hours to Irvine to visit some friends and spend some time in Irvine.

Laguna Beach in Irvine, CA

Laguna Beach in Irvine, CA

As far as the landscape and heat, Irvine is very different from Palm Springs. We stayed in Coachella Valley in Palm Springs which is a part of the Sonoran Desert. There aren’t any beaches here, only mountains and oases. Irvine, on the other hand, is more crowded, has lots of beaches to hang out, and milder weather.

 

We spent about 7 or 8 hours in Irvine with my high school friend, her sister, and her husband. Since my friend and her husband are local there, they took us to some not-so-touristy places where we did avoid some crowed and had a very relaxed time.

 

Lunch & Dinner – When you are in California, eating burger at In N Out is a must…or at least for me and my kids. Our lunch was animal style burgers and fries from In N Out. For dinner, my friends took us to California Pizza Kitchen. It’s a local Italian place with really good food. Their flatbread with chicken, shrimp and zucchini pasta, mac ‘n cheese fried balls, and cauliflower crusted pizza (no carb at all) are not only healthy, but also very tasty. Even my girls loved the carb free, cauliflower crust pizza.

 

Crystal Cove State Park: This was our first stop. It’s a small free public beach near Irvine. We took some pictures from the cliff side at first, then walked down to the beach. There were bathrooms and showers for the kids to change and take a shower after the beach time. Opposite of the park, there is a big shopping center with some restaurants and etc.

Crystal Cove State Park in Irvine, CA

Crystal Cove State Park in Irvine, CA

Crescent Bay Park/Laguna Beach: Crescent Bay Park was absolutely a charm. It’s a really small park on the cliff of Laguna Beach. Some really beautiful houses stand in this neighborhood. We spent about 10 minutes in the Crescent Bay Park, took some pictures, then walked 10 minutes down the stairs to go to the Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach itself was a bit crowded. And since we already went in the water in Crystal Cove, we just hung out for only a few minutes and came up to go to the Top of the World before the sunset.

Crescent Bay Park in Irvine, CA

Crescent Bay Park in Irvine, CA

 

Top of the World: This is where the local or tourists come to enjoy beautiful sunset over the city. On one side, you can see the mountains and other the ocean. It does get a bit chilly in the late afternoon. We stayed there until the sun went down and it was a beautiful sunset indeed.

Sunset from Top of the World in Irvine, CA

Sunset from Top of the World in Irvine, CA

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The Natural Wonders Of California

With its star-studded cities and sun-kissed beaches, it’s easy to forget that California is also blessed with many jaw-dropping natural wonders around the state. Oddly shaped rock formations, remnants of old volcanos, stark desert land, and stunning mountain vistas attract many visitors to the state. Following are a few must-see natural wonders you’ll want to see when visiting California.

La Brea Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits is home to one of the world’s most famous most famous fossil collections. Fascinating fossils of plants and animals have been uncovered here and are on exhibit along with mammoths, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, and more. Even the pits themselves are interesting with their bubbling tar. Take an Excavation Tour to learn the history of the tar pits and watch scientists working on fossils they have recently uncovered.

Natural Bridges

See the world famous yearly migration of monarch butterflies at this beach near Santa Cruz with its unique natural bridge. The best time to see these phenomenal monarch butterflies is usually from mid-October to late January. It’s also a great place to see rare shore birds, migrating whales, and otters and seals playing offshore. Tidepools along the beach give a glimpse of ocean life. The park’s coastal scrubs and grasslands offer a colorful display of wildflowers each spring. For a longer visit, there are several great hotels near Natural Bridges State Beach.

Mount Wilson

Get a stunning view of the San Gabriel Mountains above the Angeles National Forest at 5,713 feet when visiting Mount Wilson. They even have an observatory that was once the best-known one in the world during the early 20th century. They have a collection of the most detailed photos ever taken of the surface of Mars. Hike the Mount Wilson Trail that loops around a breathtaking waterfall. The 12.5-mile loop is best for experienced hikers.

Joshua Tree National Park

See the charmingly twisted Joshua trees at the 1,235 square-mile Joshua Tree National Park. The area lies between two separate ecosystems, the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. The rugged rock formations and stark desert are quite dramatic. Camp out and go for long hikes to contemplate the park’s natural beauty.

Mojave National Preserve

The 1.6 million-acre Mojave National Preserve is park nestled in the beautiful Mojave Desert. Marvel at the unusual Hole-in-the-Wall cliffs, cinder cones, and lava flows. Listen closely and you’ll hear the “singing” of the humongous dune mounds of Kelso Dunes. Located in Southern California, it’s truly a place of immense beauty.

Old Faithful

Travel out to the Napa Valley to see the lovely wine country and pay a visit to Old Faithful near the town of Calistoga. It isn’t as powerful as the one at Yellowstone, but it erupts faithfully every 10 to 45 minutes depending on the season and amount of rainfall the area has had. This part of the valley was once a volcano that erupted about 4.3 million years ago. The remains simmer to create today’s hot springs. The geyser is powered by nature but was actually created when a 19th-century settler who was digging for a well.

You’ll find more natural wonders scattered about in all parts of California. Leave the glamour and glitz of the city to experience them.

What to Do in the Poconos in Every Season

The Poconos region spans 2,400 square miles and is known for its mountainous peaks, abundant forests, waterfalls, wildlife, and ample opportunities to get out and explore the countryside. Indeed, one of the best things about this area is that you can visit any time of year and find something fun to do. Here’s a small fraction of what you can look forward to during each season in the Poconos.

Spring

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Image via Flickr by Alexander Day

Between the lows of winter and the highs of summer, spring is one of the best times to get outdoors and go hiking or biking in the Pocono Mountains. Plan a trip to one of these areas:

  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
  • Bushkill Falls
  • Dingmans Falls

You’ll find dozens of locations and trails to explore, but each of these will give you a look at the area’s best waterfalls. The tallest one at Bushkill towers at over 100 feet high.

One of the best things about exploring the state parks and nature areas in the Poconos is that the mountain range is a popular spot for discount hotels, luxury accommodations, and everything in between. Check out a Poconos hotel room from Hotel Planner in the area to enjoy proximity to these natural spots and all the other local attractions.

Summer

Summer in the Poconos is ideal for swimming and water sports. A visit to one of the waterfalls will cool you down, but you can also go swimming or camping at Worthington State Forest or Beltzville State Park. You’ll find beach areas at Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area and Gouldsboro State Park as well.

The area is also home to a couple of water parks that the whole family will love. Visit Camelbeach Waterpark, which features indoor and outdoor pools and slides, or go to Aquatopia, which has water slides, water rides, and a swim-up bar where you can order a cocktail and some bar food.

Fall

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Image via Flickr by Ravi_Shah

Poconos is in a northeastern part of the United States that ignites with color every fall. From September through November, you can visit locations throughout the states to see the changing leaves. If your priority is to see the rich fall foliage deep in the mountains, keep an eye on the color forecast throughout the year in order to plan a successful vacation. The color zones run through the Poconos, so you should have several weeks in the fall when you can visit and see this phenomenon.

Fall is also a popular season for festivals in the Poconos. If you’re visiting this time of year, attend the Apple Harvest & Timber Festivals, Black Bear Film Festival, or Pocono Food Truck & Art on the Mountain event.

Winter

The area’s many ski resorts open their lifts and trails in the winter. These are a few of the areas where you can take the family for lessons, equipment rentals, and skiing and snowboarding fun:

  • Big Boulder Ski Area
  • Blue Mountain Resort
  • Camelback Mountain
  • Jack Frost Mountain
  • Shawnee Mountain Ski Area

Poconos promises tons of outdoor fun regardless of when you visit. Add these activities to your itinerary to make the most of your time in the Pennsylvania mountains.

 

Arizona: Exploring The Copper State

When you’re looking for summer jaunts all-year round, you can’t get any better than Arizona. Even in winter, the hot and dry climate gives you that taste of summer when Santa should be on his way! As part of the United States, Arizona has some of the most incredible terrain, with high mountains, rocky and deep canyons, and man-made wonders like the Hoover Dam, which has to be seen in person to appreciate how immense a structure it is. And while there are plenty of world famous places the state can boast of, such as the Grand Canyon, here are a few of the other star attractions and things to do in the Copper State.

Hiking Around The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

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Wikimedia

This conservation area, home of Lake Powell, as well the Glen Canyon Dam, covers 1,254,429 acres of mainly desert. Lake Powell is one of the man-made structures that have made this state famous, and is the largest artificial lake in the United States and was formed in 1964 as part of the Glen Canyon Dam. A primary hiking spot for tourists, people come from all over the world to visit the Antelope slot canyons, where the combination of the light and the rocks creates some beautiful imagery. No doubt you will come back with some really great photos while also enjoying some brisk exercise.

Balloon Rides Around Phoenix

To see Arizona bathed in a wonderful orangey glow while taking part in a sunrise balloon ride is a mixture of fear and wonderment. The view is fantastic, but if you’ve got a fear of heights, one may cancel the other out! But once you see the saguaro and the buttes you’ll soon forget yourself. There are plenty of companies that offer this package, and Float Balloon Tours offer breakfast or dinner with wine from a local vineyard. If you wanted to see the state from a different angle, you would certainly achieve this!

See The Monument Valley Tribal Park

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Image

The views from Monument Valley look like something from another planet, and with these sights, it’s very easy to transport yourself away from the hubbub of daily life. The sharp rock formations and sand dunes, massive in size, make for a daring but rewarding terrain. There are photography tours for people who would like to capture some images, but many people tend to drive by on the highway nearby and soak in the view that way. Either way, you must see it in person.

Walk Around Bisbee

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Picture

As a former mining town near to the border of Mexico, its proximity to the mountains makes for perfect imagery from the comfort of this sleepy town. You can see over the border into Mexico and enjoy a casual walk around the shops and meet some interesting locals who have tales to tell of the old mining days, or you can head to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum to get a look at the history close up. It also won Best Historic Small Town in Sunset magazine and USA Today online reader poll in 2016!

Travel theme: Hills

Whenever I think of hills, the picturesque Eastern Europe comes to my mind. It reminds me of our last road trip before we left Europe in 2014…driving thru the rugged hills and mountains of Dinaric Alps, some with heavy snow and some with endless lush greenery. Those mountains and hills looked more bold and appealing than the French or Swiss or Bavarian or Italian Alps. They are unspoiled and untouched…a bit of scary and a bit of relaxing. Here is to my memory, with some Eastern European hillside…

The scenic highway from Tirana, Albania to Skopje, Macedonia (thru Kosovo)

The scenic highway from Tirana, Albania to Skopje, Macedonia (thru Kosovo)

Scenic highway to Tirana, Albania (from Podgorica)

Stunning road to Tirana, Albania (from Podgorica)

Scenic drive from Sarajevo to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Driving from Sarajevo to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Checking out others’ posts on Travel Theme: Hills

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