Deciding where I wanted to spend my fiftieth birthday was a no-brainer. This significant milestone deserved to be celebrated in a very special place; a place that has become so much a part of us during the first decade of our marriage where we’ve created countless memories to cherish for a lifetime. That place, in all its glory, is Southern California.
When it came time to make plans and figure out all the logistics, I could hardly contain my excitement. Knowing we would be revisiting many of the people and places that have become dear to us brought about a deep euphoria transcending any I have ever felt about a region that cannot be explained. I knew this was going to be a nostalgic, emotional, and memorable trip.
Ok, enough sappiness. Time to get on with the fun and festivities! 😎 I’ve included many links to the restaurants and areas we visited for reference to help anyone planning a trip to the Golden State.
We couldn’t begin our vacation without visiting our old stomping grounds. Ironically, below are the buildings where I held my first and last job. This is where it all started (Irvine) and ended (Carlsbad).
Two jobs I held were located in the office park above, including my first (the reason we relocated). My last and most treasured job was located below. The dear friends I’ve made at each will quickly recognize these buildings (you know who you are ❤️).
Lookout Point is a scenic overlook in the Corona del Mar section of Newport Beach. This is one of the special places we used to take our dog, Brandie. I could sit and stare at this view all day!
Stopping at Ruby’s Crystal Cove Shake Shack on the Newport Coast in Newport Beach was a must for me. They have the best shakes around! The scenery isn’t too shabby either.
We spent much of our time in Laguna Beach, one of the areas of SoCal most special to me. Caught in the act, here we are enjoying the first of many luscious libations to be had that week starting at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Las Brisas. ¡Olé!
From the coastline to the foothills, the infinite beauty of the California landscape mesmerizes, never failing to impress.
Apparently, if you’ve been California Dreaming as much as I have, palm trees will grow out of your head! 🌴🤣
This one’s better.
Nothing says tropical quite like a Bird of Paradise, my favorite plant.
Beach volleyball in Laguna Beach is the quintessential thing to do in SoCal, if not stereotypical. Who cares, it was entertaining.
I was even able to get this awesome spike on video…talk about perfect timing!
Here are some quaint shops in downtown Laguna. The only thing I bought was gelato (of course). Mmmm… 🍨😋
One of our favorite hiking trails is Moro Canyon at Crystal Cove State Park. Can’t get much better than this!
These next few were taken at the famed Montage Resort, formerly Treasure Island Mobile Home Park. Could you ever get tired of this breathtaking view? I know I can’t. Nope. Not ever.
Any Lucy and Desi fans out there? Or history buffs? This was one of the filming locations for a movie they did together in the early 1950s. See the second location listed here. Read below to learn more.
Pretty cool, right? I think so.
(Interesting fact: Lucille Ball and I share the same birthday of August 6, which also happens to be the date this post was published. 😃 Completely unintentional to publish it on my birthday…but very fitting.)
My last day before becoming eligible for AARP was spent in gorgeous La Jolla. Here I am eating a delicious, healthy salad out of a gigantic bowl! They must’ve known I was coming. 🐷
More ugly scenery. Just kidding. This is beautiful La Jolla Cove.
Time for a major shocker! As we approached one of our favorite restaurants in eager anticipation (Trattoria Acqua), we found out they were no longer in business!! Why didn’t anyone notify us? That’s no way to find out. We stood there staring at the empty space trying to make sense of it all, peering into the windows and pointing in the vicinity of the bar and tables where we once sat in happier days. The forlorn look on our faces pretty much sums it up. (This restaurant had extra sentimental meaning especially for me, because we had taken my parents there for dinner during one of their visits, and sadly, they are no longer with us. 😞)
But five minutes later…
…we came to our senses! We were hungry, after all. 😁 In the same complex on Prospect Street was Crab Catcher. Here we are enjoying midday martinis after a satisfying lunch.
And this is what happens when my husband leaves me alone for a few minutes. That’ll teach him. 🤣
Next stop was George’s at the Cove, also on Prospect Street. The views are absolutely stunning!
Time for the big day! Oh boy. I’ve decided to face this major milestone head-on. 👸🏻
The first group was taken at the Irvine Spectrum Center, a mecca of shops and restaurants galore.
Back to Laguna and Las Brisas to help say “adiós” to my 40s. (Looks like a palm tree is growing out of my head again. 😜)
I chose to have my birthday dinner at Tommy Bahama Bar & Grill. Neglected to take photos of any of the food…except for dessert. Believe me when I say that everything we had was incredibly scrumptious! 🤤
One of the things near and dear to my heart that I wanted to do again was to attend the Festival of Arts’ Pageant of the Masters held seasonally in Laguna Beach during the summer. At this one-of-a-kind production, original works of art are recreated by transforming live models with makeup and costume to portray the people in the paintings, bringing the art to life! The artistry is positively mind blowing and believable! No matter what level of interest or appreciation you have for the arts, this must-see spectacle is sure to captivate all audiences. Photography is strictly prohibited, so I was only able to get a picture from our seats.
A favorite restaurant of ours offering sensational views is Pacifica Del Mar on the coast in Del Mar. Dining in a scenic setting such as this is my kind of dining!
Somewhere in Orange County (???)
My all-time favorite Chinese restaurant is Pick Up Stix. They make incredibly flavorful Chinese food that has been adapted to the American palate. Pictured is the House Special Chicken in a caramelized sauce of white wine, garlic, and soy with green onions. So yummy! This has always been my go-to dish when dining at any of their locations.
From beautiful sunsets to behold…
to scenic drives that awaken the senses,
…a California vacation offers something for everyone.
This birthday vacation was without a doubt one of the most memorable and meaningful weeks of my entire existence! It will never be forgotten. 💞