Summer’s been a whirlwind! We’ve been out of town nearly every week/weekend since July, but fortunately we have a few quiet weeks before school is back in session. We spent our final trip of the season traveling to Southern California for our eldest daughter’s soccer tournament. Amaia just so happened to be turning 13 while we were there, so we extended the trip to catch up with my dear sister and niece, spend some time exploring beaches and also spend a day at Disneyland! When combined with the beaches, her soccer team, quality family time and thrill rides, it was a pretty epic birthday and a wonderful trip to cap off summer!
Traveling to Southern California
The first stop on our trip was to Oceanside California! This is where her soccer tournament was held and ended up being such a great weekend, complete with lots of soccer, a birthday celebration with Crumbl cookies, team activities and a visit to Carlsbad State beach.
Although her team didn’t make the finals they did finish up in second place for their bracket.
This was such an accomplishment and rewarding experience for the girls, in a beautiful setting.
Oceanside is a smaller city, halfway between San Diego and Anaheim with beautiful beaches. It’s also just a short drive from Carlsbad, where Legoland and the flower fields are located. Although we didn’t have lots of time to explore the area this trip, we have been to Carlsbad in the past.
San Diego Beaches
When traveling, one of our favorite activities to do as a family is to explore different beaches. We actually made it to 4 on this trip and all of them were gorgeous, especially in San Diego! It’s been five years since our last trip to San Diego. Although our plans to attend a Wave game fell through, this gave us an opportunity to cross some of the beaches off our list starting with Mission Beach.
Mission Beach has a similar vibe to Venice, with lots of people watching, booths, amusement park rides and music. We walked the boardwalk and had ice cream but I think the highlight was the San Diego sweatshirts the girls picked up for $10 apiece.
Up next was Coronado Beach, which happened to be on my daughter’s birthday wish list! We’ve been to Coronado two times prior and it never disappoints. It’s peaceful, calm, with soft powdery sand that stretches for miles and the ocean waves aren’t too intense. It’s also a fun beach for shell collecting!
A highlight for me was the sand that sparkles when it hits the water. The mica in the sand creates a glittery shimmer that reflects off the sun for a memorable beach experience.
The birthday girl was all smiles!
And so were the rest of us!
If you are ever in the Carlsbad/San Diego area, Coronado is a must visit! It is easily one of our favorite beaches on the West Coast!
Traveling to Huntington Beach
Our final beach experience was further north at Huntington Beach. My sister and niece live in Los Angeles, so this was our meeting place for the day!
From the sand, to the location, it is the perfect beach for families, boogie boarding, sand castle building and of course sister catch up time!
We spent the day on the beach and in the ocean! There’s also a lovely open air mall and market just a few blocks away with a delicious Mexican restaurant called Ola. From the thick cut homemade seasoned chips, to the guacamole topped with pomegranate seeds, Margaritas and contemporary menu, it is so worth a stop the next time you’re at Huntington Beach!
The final stop on our trip was Disneyland! Our last visit was in 2018 and there have been so many updates to the park since then. Even though it was a hot 96 degrees, we loved getting back to the parks and soaking up all the magic!
From the character visits, to the quick bites to eat, and of course the rides, it was fantastic day back in Disney! Our youngest daughter is also old enough and tall enough now for all the rides, so it was the perfect time for her to go!
One big change we noticed was the addition of Avengers campus in California Adventure, along with the new form of fast pass called the Genie service. Similar to fast passes, you can reserve a ride for the lighting line once every 2 hours throughout the day for an additional $20 per person. The lines moved very quickly for the rides using this service, so we felt it was worth it.
One of our first stops was the vegan lemon sorbet in Calfornia Adventure to cool down, followed by Grizzly River Run, where you’re pretty much guaranteed to get soaked.
We spent the rest of the morning in California Adventure, switching over to Disneyland Park in the afternoon. The ride wait times were surprisingly short, most likely because the weather was so hot. This was a bonus for us being able to get on a few of our personal favorite classic rides without wait times.
Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean are my personal favorites along with Soarin. What are yours?
The Mickey shaped pretzels were cute enough for a quick pic, along with the Raspberry Rose macarons from Jolly Holiday Bakery, which I always make sure to get when are in Disneyland.
A must, try!
We wrapped up the evening with a few photos in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Since we’ve been to Disneyland many times in the past, we chose to forgo the parade and fireworks, which was great because we got to sneak out before the crowds! And that was a wrap!
Now we’re home and I’ll be getting back into a rhythm this weekend for Amaia’s 13th birthday celebration with family, including plenty of bakes and details to share soon!
Until next time!
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