our big california vacation (part 1)

First, apologies to all the avid blog readers out there who have been missing me in the last two months (all two? one? zero? of you). A few inevitably stressful months are finally over and I’m ready to get back to doing the things I love doing.

Okay, moving on to better things! One of my best friends from college and her Australian fiancé were married on October 1 in beautiful Southern California. I was a bridesmaid in the wedding, and since it’s not often we get a chance to fly to California, Chris and I decided to make a big vacation out of it, toddler in tow. We started in Los Angeles and went down the coast, ending in San Diego.

This was our first big solo vacation with AJ (last summer we went to the beach with my parents) and as I look back, part of me wonders what on earth were we thinking!? Traveling with a toddler is hard. Flying across the country to a different time zone for a 10-day trip packed with activities each day, and throwing in a wedding, might be considered insane. But, we did it, we survived, and we loved it.

As much as I would love to write a short novel detailing every minute of our trip, I’ll spare you the play-by-play and stick to a few highs and a few ‘meh’s. Overall, we had a wonderful time and I’m so glad we took this vacation. But anyone who has vacationed with kids knows that nothing is likely to go perfect and it would be incensere to share only the good parts and not the crazy ones. And after all, the crazy parts make for the best stories 😉

Overall Highs

  • The weather. Sunny, zero rain, and warm. What more could you ask for?
  • Disneyland. We had an absolute blast!
  • The wedding of course!

Overall Mehs

  • Everything was so expensive!
  • Parking was insane. Dealing with parking was much worse than dealing with traffic.
  • The overall exhaustion of all three of us that led to several tantrums (not all from AJ).

When all else fails, wine helps.

    Day 1 – Arrival in Los Angeles. Santa Monica beach. Stayed in Santa Monica.


    • Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu during sunset – gorgeous views.
    • AJ’s behavior on our two flights was close to perfect and she slept for two hours of our four-hour flight. And we had zero delays!
    • In-n-Out Burger. We went there for lunch. I don’t usually eat red meat, but I make an exception every now and then for a hamburger, so I rated it “good” while Chris rated it “delicious.” AJ enjoyed the fries and half a chocolate milkshake.


      • Our hotel. Good reviews online. Yuck in person. It had a couple towels that may have been clean and as far as toiletries only provided one bar of soap. But we were only there for one night so it was manageable.
      • Adjusting to the time change. Saturday evening was rough for everyone.
      • Dinner. We went to a restaurant on the beach that came highly recommended on Trip Adviser (I’m starting to question their reviews) but left much to be desired. The food was bland but super expensive. 

        Day 2 – Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Griffith Observatory

        Yes, it wads 97 degrees and I ordered chicken pot pie


        Ah, the classic jumping photo


        • Lunch at Doughboy’s Cafe. Their comfort cuisine hit the spot for us tired travelers and we wrapped it up with some of their famous red velvet cake.
        • Griffith Observatory. Beautiful views, cool inside, and free. Parking was insane but we lucked out and found a spot right in front.


        • Having to start the day by finding a Target, which was located in the basement of a building, to buy a stroller because we forgot to bring ours.
        • Dinner…although not the actual place or food, just the fact that we had a toddler running circles around our table because she wouldn’t stay in her seat and we were bone tired. On the upside, we were in Anaheim at this point, so there were kids everywhere, and the restaurant served beer.

        We spent Monday and Tuesday at the happiest place on earth – Disneyland! Stay tuned for a recount of our experience there and for the rest of our trip! I know you’re on the edge of your seat 😉


        2 thoughts on “our big california vacation (part 1)

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