A year ago, in an remote and exotic location, my new husband Jacob and I were on our honeymoon. After weighing the Maldives and French Polynesia, we settled on the latter because of less travel time. While it seems like a world away, the flight to Papeete was only 8 hours from LAX, and we arrived early in the morning ready to get on island time at the Le Meridien. Our first stop: Tahiti–the island that houses a capital city best-known for its les roulottes (French for caravans); I call them food trucks.
I’d recommend travelers to skip Tahiti and head straight to the lush landscapes in Moorea or the stunning waters of Bora Bora…yet that is for a future blog post. The best part of our first day in paradise–snorkeling with my hot husband, who is the guest photographer of this month’s POTM™. Enjoy!
This weekend, my fiancé and I spent three days in Santa Monica, California. In town for a wedding, we happily ate our way through some of the best restaurants there. Headed to this lovely beach community soon? Below are some of the best places we went over the long weekend:
Ivy at the Shore. The Ivy is a Beverly Hills institution, and we hit this more casual location for lunch. Think colorful decoration, the famous Cobb salad (I enjoyed mine with lobster), attentive waiters, and refreshing berry champagne drinks. The outside seating area filled up quickly, and we loved having a leisurely lunch before strolling down to the touristy Santa Monica Pier.
The Penthouse at the Huntley.We joined some friends in a snazzy private booth here for dinner, and what a meal it was! We started with a delish charcuterie plate and marveled over the pâté. For my main course, I selected the truffle lobster macaroni and cheese–to die for!–and shared some of the chocolate panna cotta with my friends for desert. The views were incredible, and the service was excellent.
One Pico at Shutters on the Beach. This hotel is gorgeous and worth a visit itself, but I will happily recommend their Saturday brunch. We enjoyed tasty bubbles and their heavenly array of breads in this open and airy space directly next to the beach. Since I was still in a food coma from the previous day, I had a light mealof fresh corn soup with a zesty Caesar salad.
Sonoma Wine Garden. This fetching wine bistro sits atop of Santa Monica Place, and their Sunday brunch boasted six unlimited day drinking options (think elderflower mimosas) and noshable treats. Make sure you stake claim on your umbrella quickly, as these were in high demand on a sunny afternoon!
Casa Del Mar. This hotel, also directly on the beach, is another Santa Monica staple, yet we were finished stuffing our faces and only enjoyed a glass of wine overlooking the ocean. The atmosphere was quaint, and this was absolutely the most delightful way to cap off a lovely weekend.
The wedding we attended was at the nearby Viceroy–and it was pretty swanky. I would have loved to luxuriate by its cabana-covered pool, and they did a wonderful job with the wedding. We stayed at the Le Meridien Delfina, and while the hotel was not my favorite SPG property, the staff was pleasant, and the spicy truffle popcorn was addicting. It’s a good thing that we danced the night away at the wedding reception and walked all over town, or we would have gained a lot of weight eating our way through gorgeous Santa Monica!
My boyfriend and I were ecstatic to join three other couples this past weekend in Laguna Beach, California. Although I used to live fifteen minutes away from there, each trip I am reminded how gorgeous this part of the world is! And the springy weather made the weekend absolutely perfect to enjoy morning walks on the beach and time on the balcony listening to the waves.
We stayed at the Laguna Brisas Spa Hotel, and it had a perfect location a block away from the water. It was close to several of the activities we enjoyed–a tasty dinner at Mozambique, Thai massages for the boys, and pedicures for the girls. I would certainly book a room at this hotel for our next journey.
One of my absolute favorite hangouts in Orange County the Ramos House Cafe. In old San Juan Capistrano, this rustic spot was an excellent brunch locale. Its owner lives in the house, stores the wine in the cellar, and grows the herbs on-site. I’ve been lucky enough to dine there on multiple occasions, and each one is a treat with their famous Scotch Quail Egg Bloody Marys. This brunch is not for the faint of heart, though: come prepared to spend a set $40 on two courses and leave stuffed (as I did on truffle mac n’ cheese.)
Another highlight of this trip–besides walking hand-in-hand with Jacob and window shopping at many of Laguna’s amazing art galleries–was dinner at Sapphire Laguna. Our party of eight’s table was not yet available during the time we arrived, and the lovely manager treated us to sparkling champagne during our brief wait. We paid a small corkage fee and enjoyed some heavenly wine with our incredible salads and main courses. I treated myself to the Chianti Braised Short Rib, and it was absolutely delightful. The staff was attentive and festive–as they helped us celebrate the birthday of our friend Alisa. What a treat!
Laguna Beach was also the perfect place to try out my brand new camera, the incredible Sony NEX-3NL…our group took wonderful photos with it the entire trip! After only a short weekend in this seaside heaven, we were sad to leave. We had a gorgeous farewell cocktail at the Splashes Bar at the nearby Surf and Sand Resort before an uneventful and short flight home. With already-made plans to return , I look forward to revisiting this quaint beach town in California very soon.
During a recent long weekend in Silicon Valley, some friends, my boyfriend, and I took a day trip to explore Monterey, California. After the triple digit temperatures at home, we greatly enjoyed the cooler ocean-side weather in Monterey. We started our day with a top-down convertible tour of Pebble Beach’s 17 Mile Drive. Here, we enjoyed the views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the gorgeous Lone Cypress tree, world-famous symbol of Pebble Beach.
We happened to visit the weekend of the Monterey Car Week, and so the coastal town was packed–full of people and of gorgeous automobiles! What a bonus site for us to see while we were waiting on our wine trolley tour to begin! Our favorite of the wine spots we hit was Ventana Wineries, and we really enjoyed going from one tasting room to another throughout Carmel Valley Village to visit different wineries.
The specialties of this area were Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and we came home with several bottles from Talbott, Joyce, Dawn’s Dream, and Boekenoogen Wineries. The last place was a highlight, as we were served our tasting from Mr. Boekenoogen himself! I highly recommend this tour, especially if the weather is nice enough to ride in the trolley.
We returned to Monterey in time for dinner on the wharf at Old Fisherman’s Grotto, which is famous for its chowder (and perhaps now famous for its pineapple-filled cocktails.) We then walked to the bustling Cannery Row, which is home to the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium. Our visit here–where we met glorious sea otters, dancing skates, and happy seahorses–was the perfect end to a wonderful day in Monterey.