Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I came back from another wonderful trip to California! It was our second trip there in just three months and what a perfect time we had again!
We flew in and out of Vegas again this time, because the tickets were a lot cheaper. Even if you decide to stay the night in Vegas when you arrive, you can find hotels for so cheap there that it’s totally worth it. We took a direct flight with Westjet and got a $20 room at the classy Hooters Casino. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you’re just there for a few hours. It was perfect for what we needed but it was definitely not luxurious at all… Think Circus Circus… 😉
We rented a car at Fox Rentals, they always have super cheap rates and good cars. This time we got a brand new Fiat 500, which was perfect for us since we would be doing a lot of mileage. Great on gas, perfect for two people and SUPER easy to park in a place like downtown LA.
On the drive out of Vegas, we stopped at the legendary diner Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner, which is right off the highway in Calico (there’s also a great ghost town – an old mining village, in Calico that you can visit). They have a big dinosaur park outside and great Hollywood memorabilia all over their walls. I had one of their famous homemade peanut butter pies, it was ginormous!
We started our trip with a week-long stay in the Carlsbad/Encinitas area. It’s an area I’ve been going to for a while, I just love the peace, tranquility and community vibe of these little villages. We spent a whole lot of time in the water surfing! Who would have thought that we could fit two boards on this little Fiat?! It was so great to finally be in the water with Offner, hanging out on the sand, doing a DIY beach BBQ, etc. The water was a lot colder than usual this time of year, people were still surfing in their 3/2 wetsuits. I ended up going to the Ripcurl outlet in San Clemente to get myself one, the only one I was missing in my wetsuit collection. If ever you’re looking for a wetsuit and you’re down in SoCal, it’s the best and cheapest spot!
We rented an amazing studio apartment in Carlsbad a street away from the ocean at a place called Ocean Palms. It’s was the perfect location, everything was walking distance. We were a street from the ocean, they had BBQs, a fitness room, an outdoor pool, fire pits and a really nice overall atmosphere. The studio also had a kitchenette. We spent several nights after a long day of surfing just BBQing and making delicious snacks, sitting by the fire or our little patio.
Encinitas has really been growing a lot these past few years. There are lot’s of great restaurants opening up in the area. My three favorite spots this time were:
–Solace & The Moonlight Lounge
A great place for organic, local American cuisine. I had a delicious watermelon and feta salad, it was so refreshing. We went with some of our friends who also had an amazing meal. Everything was super tasty and fresh. I also had this ridiculous peanut butter cake for dessert… woah! Make sure you call to reserve in advance, the place is usually packed!
–Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria
I had been to this place before but had to return. They serve the best homemade wood fired pizzas. My favorite is the EVOO pizza with ricotta cheese, lemon and onions. We also had the truffle salt and parmesan popcorn as an appetizer, outstanding! If you make it down there, make sure you call in advance, there’s usually a 1h wait in the evening.
–Solterra Winery & Kitchen
This place is brand new, it opened just a few months ago. The wine comes from the San Diego and Mexico area. They had some great local wines to recommend, great Spanish style tapas and a tasty cheese platter. I also loved their wine cave and the fire pit on the outdoor patio. It was a perfect post-surfing place to relax!
Also, another go-to place in the area that we absolutely love and went to a bunch of times for breakfast or lunch is Swami’s Café. They have three locations: one in Encinitas, one in Carlsbad, right beside where we were staying and another one in Oceanside. The menu is enormous, they offer many delicious options for vegetarians, they also have vegan and gluten free selections as well. They also make tons of yummy juices and smoothies. For the price you pay, you can’t go wrong!
We discovered a great little spot on the drive down from Carlsbad to Encinitas called Pannikin Coffee & Tea. It’s a beautiful old train station that they transformed into a super hip breakfast, brunch and lunch spot. I had always passed in front of the place but never actually took the time to stop. It’s always filled with people. There’s a beautiful patio out front, a cute little tea and gift shop and the food is yummy! We ordered a bunch of cookies, pastries and dessert, it was to die for!
In between Carlsbad and Encinitas, there’s another little coastal town called Leucadia. They have a rad donut shop and also a great local surf shop held by a super nice guy JP, called Surfy Surfy. I love the shop because they often hold concerts, art events and are really all about the community. They sell lot’s of really great surfing apparel and also make custom boards. They’re also associated with a cute little café next door called Coffee Coffee. If you pass by Leucadia, please go say hi to JP!
Before leaving the area and heading up north to LA for the second part of our trip, we stopped by the biggest all-female surfing event in the world called the Supergirl Pro. Last year, local surfer Sage Erickson had won the competition. I had the pleasure of also watching the young French surfer Pauline Ado in the water. This year, we showed up early on day 1 to catch a few surfers from France, Japan, California and Hawaii compete. This is an ASAP 6-star event, 15 of the top 16-ranked pros were at the competition this year. Not only is there great surfing to watch but there’s also a great “Festival Village” they call where local female-oriented activities and companies come out and organize dance, prizes, contests, etc. for event goers. This year it was Hawaii surfer Malia Manuel, which we saw surf the first day, who took home the $40 000 purse at the Oceanside Pier.
All in all, it was a dreamy start to this long SoCal trip! The Encinitas area, still remains one of my favorite spots in the world. I truly feel at home there! Stay tuned for pt. 2 of our trip coming on the blog soon!