California Dreamin’

Sooooo… can we go on a honeymoon every month? It’s been almost six months and sometimes we have major honeymoon withdrawals. Kyle and I went to Southern California on our honeymoon and ventured to three different locations-Disneyland, Laguna Beach, and Rancho Santa Fe. We had the BEST time. We had so much fun adventuring, trying new things, laughing, just spending time together, and not having to worry about a thing.

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For our first leg of the trip, we went to Disneyland! For those who know me, you know that I am pretty much obsessed with Walt Disney World. When Kyle and I decided we were going to California for our honeymoon, I had to make sure we could visit Disneyland since we had never been before. I had to see the place where it all began!

We stayed at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which is a more Craftsman style version of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in Walt Disney World (one of my favorite Disney resorts). The staff was friendly and efficient, as Disney is known for. When I asked for celebration pins at check-in, the hotel clerk exclaimed, “I was just about to get those!” She went in the back and came back with so many pins for us and a signed Mickey and Minnie picture. I was pretty excited. When it’s your first trip to Disneyland and your honeymoon, you have to get pins and wear them everywhere. We had so many cast members tell us congratulations which made our time at Disneyland even more special. 

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Disney’s Grand Californian lobby

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When we got into our room, it was decorated with flower petals, Cinderella carriage confetti, and filled with gifts like spa products, chocolates, and Mr. and Mrs. robes. My parents called every place we stayed at and had them put something in our room. My parents are the sweetest.

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The biggest difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland is the size. I was so astounded that you could actually walk to the parks. WHAT?!

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We watched World of Color twice because we couldn’t see much the first time. It was everything I hoped it would be.

The next day we explored Disneyland, which is so tiny compared to Magic Kingdom starting with the train station and the castle! Also, some of the rides were outside. Once again I was so astonished.

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I matched Minnie that day. She admired my ring, pointed at Mickey’s house, and I told her I would talk to Mickey for her. We became besties after that.

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Mickey pretzels for life. I’m allergic to wheat, but MICKEY PRETZELS.

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Also, Disneyland is cool because they have Mickey beignets. I spilled powdered sugar all over me about 40 seconds later.

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PRAAAAAAAISE that Disneyland has Dole Whips too. We love our Dole floats. (insert praise hands emoji)

Ever since I heard about Club 33, I added it to my mental bucket list. A “secret” Disney club?! Um, of course I needed to go. One of my family friends works for a company who has a membership and so graciously gave us access to tickets. The price of the meal includes a five-course dinner (or six-course if you want the cheese plate) and free park hoppers for the day. The restaurant was gorgeous, the food was outstanding, and the wait staff was exceptional. Dining at Club 33 was one of the highlights of our honeymoon. It was such a perfect getaway from the heat and crowds at the parks.

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The entrance to Club 33. You have to press a button and state your name. If you’re on the list, they open the door. Also, not many people know it’s there. It blends right in with New Orleans Square.

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This was my sneaky picture before I knew we were allowed to take pictures. If I had known, I would have taken pictures of our first two courses. We had an insanely amazing frisée salad with the juiciest strawberries, candied pistachios, creamy California avocados, and a buttermilk dressing. Ugh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. It was the best salad I had ever eaten.

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Our third courses. I still crave those cheesy grits and spicy shrimp nage.

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My all-time favorite dessert is molten chocolate cake, and they had it on the menu. It was meant to be.

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If you get the chance to dine at Club 33, make sure to go out on the balconies. It’s so fun to people watch and take in some fresh air. No one notices you are up there!

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One of our nice waiters took this for us. Also, there is a dress code. Also, felt weird walking through Disneyland all dressed up. But, it was so fun!

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This restroom (or powder room?) was the prettiest and most detailed restroom (powder room) I have ever seen.

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After dinner, we rushed back to our hotel (because it was only a 5-minute walk. Weird) to change and waited for the fireworks. Disneyland Forever captured my heart. It was incredible.

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Being in Disneyland for the first time during the Diamond Celebration was pretty incredible. I loved how Sleeping Beauty’s castle sparkled.

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We sprinted to Splash Mountain and caught the last log of the night. Kyle’s face makes me laugh every time.

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We rode the swinging gondolas on Mickey’s Fun Wheel. It was equally fun and terrifying.
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Disneyland, you were magical.

After the fun and busyness of Disneyland, we knew we would want something more relaxing. During the second leg of our trip, we stayed at Montage Laguna Beach. The Craftsman-style resort is tucked away from the Pacific Coast Highway and is set on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was Kyle’s first time to the Pacific Ocean and my second time. I heart the Pacific Ocean.

Montage Laguna Beach was incredible. We had a stunning ocean view from our bright, coastal room.

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The resort gave us chocolate covered strawberries. Those are my weakness.

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Hello, view. This is the view from the lobby. Stunning.

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The resort sits on a bluff with this gorgeous ocean view. We sat on a bench and watched the waves and surfers.

We ate at one of the resort’s restaurants, Studio, one night. The food was wonderful. For my appetizer, I chose the parmesan risotto, and it was everything a risotto should be, creamy and rich. We also made friends with one of our waiters who was probably around our age. I think he was pretty excited to see someone his age there. I ordered a dessert called a guanaja chocolate sphere. It was sea salt caramel ice cream covered in hard chocolate, and the waiter poured more chocolate over it and it all melted away and revealed the ice cream. I wish I would have filmed it because it was so neat.

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They treated us to dessert on top of what we already ordered. Double dessert? Ok!

If you walk down to the ocean, there are little tide pools you can somewhat climb around. We saw purple sea urchins inside the pools and a seal sunbathing on the rocks.

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We had breakfast on our balcony one morning because we thought eating breakfast with that view would be wonderful until birds wanted our food. We moved inside.

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Take. Me. Back.

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The Mosaic Bar & Grille on property is known for their fish tacos, so we had to give ’em a try. They were great. Also I love you California guacamole.
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Of course, we had to watch the sunset one night.

 

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We explored Downtown Laguna Beach a bit to try some restaurants and shop. We were not too impressed with the shopping, it was mostly art galleries, but we were impressed with this walk-up seafood restaurant, Slapfish.

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I had the fish and chips. They’re not quite up to par with my favorite fish and chips from Epcot, but they were quite good. The batter was nice and light, and the chips were perfectly cooked.

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Kyle ordered the lobster roll with chowder fries. I had a few bites and it. was. delicious. I’ll take some of that sweet, buttery lobster right now, please and thank you.

We wanted to go whale watching while we were in Laguna, so we took a cab to Dana Point and crossed our fingers to spot some whales.

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We spotted a humpback whale. See its tail?

And a blue whale spouted for us. They’re the biggest creature on the earth. Wow. Neither whale breached for us, but it was amazing to see part of them so close!

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This little guy came to say hi at the end of our whale watching trip. Or maybe he just wanted fish. Sorry, buddy.

The last few days of our honeymoon were spent at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe. We loved this Mediterranean resort located about 30 minutes outside San Diego. Our room was huge and gorgeous. We had our own outdoor jacuzzi, an automatic toilet, fireplace, and a steam shower. I did not want to leave. Every morning, we had fresh squeezed orange juice waiting for us outside our door. It forever ruined orange juice for me; I can’t drink it without wishing I was drinking orange juice from the Rancho. It was the orangiest (yep, making that an adjective), sweetest, smoothest orange juice I have ever had. I need it again.

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Our room!

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It was gorgeous.

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More strawberries!

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Can I have one of these, please?

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The best orange juice I’ve ever had.

We ate at one of the resort’s restaurants, Veladora. While I didn’t take any pictures of the food, it was incredible. We had this fruit board for dessert that included a variety of fresh berries, atop a tart lemon curd, with raspberry sorbet. I regret not getting a picture of it because it was beautiful. IMG_5961

Rancho Valencia had Porsches for guests to drive for four hours per day, so Kyle and I took advantage of that and tested all three models they had. The first day we took the 911, a convertible sports car, to Point Loma. I had been there when my family vacationed in San Diego when I was younger, and I wanted to go back and show Kyle.

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While in California, we had to see what the In-N-Out Burger hype was all about. I still think it’s hype (Five Guys is way better). However, for how cheap it was, I can see why it’s popular. I’d eat it again, but I don’t crave it.

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For our last hour of having the 911, we drove through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. It was gorgeous, and I wish we would have had more time to go hiking.

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The next day, we took the Porsche Cayenne out for a spin, which was our favorite out of the three Porsches.

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We went to Downtown San Diego to shop in Seaport Village and find a place to eat.

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We were craving Italian, so we got on Trip Advisor, which led us to Little Italy. Who knew San Diego had a little Italy?

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We decided upon Bencotto and chose to eat outside so we wouldn’t have to wait. They offered gluten free pasta and handmade pasta. I got gluten free pasta with their tasty red sauce, which was fantastic, but I was jealous of Kyle’s handmade wheat-containing pasta with tons-of-dairy cream sauce.

Our last full day of our honeymoon (tears), we borrowed the hotel bikes and rode outside of the resort property. We rode past Jenny Craig’s house, and up a steep hill past ginormous houses, and lush, green lawns (California is in a drought, but these houses still used all the water they wanted.)

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Later that afternoon, we drove the Porsche Panamera (our least favorite of the three Porsches, but it’s a Porsche so you really can’t complain.) We ventured to La Jolla Cove because I really wanted to see sea lions and they. were. everywhere. We could’ve watched them swim and bark for hours.

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We then drove to Coronado and walked around, got some ice cream for Kyle and sorbet for me, and checked out Hotel del Coronado. I had been to Coronado and Hotel del with my family, so it was cool to see it again.

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I made Kyle pose with this cow outside of the ice cream shop.

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This flower stand was so cute!

 

Sadly, we had to leave California and the bliss of our honeymoon. But, we got to come home and start figuring out our daily lives together. While I miss our honeymoon, I love living my everyday life with my husband. It’s so fun being married to my best friend. I can’t wait for the many more travel adventures we will have together!

 

Taking on Walt Disney World: 10 Tips

For those that know me, you had to guess that this post was coming. I LOVE Walt Disney World. It is my favorite place in the world. My parents took me when I was three years old, and I’ve been in love ever since. No one in our family is quite sure how many times we’ve actually been, but it’s been a lot. I like to say I’m an expert, but I know there are many people with far more knowledge than I. However, I’m going to share some of my tips for first-timers, and even some tips thrown in for those that have been before! Some are fairly obvious, but I know Disney is a bit intimidating for first-timers, so I’m going to share the “obvious” tips anyway. We’ll split this up into tips before you go, and tips while you are there. P.S. I love talking about Disney, so excuse me if I ramble. 

Before you go:

1. BOOK YOUR DINING RESERVATIONS

Disney dining opens 180 days in advance, and depending on the time you go, you may need to book at 6 a.m. in the morning. I’m not crazy, the popular restaurants book up fast. So if you know you want to go to certain restaurants, book them 180 days in advance of the day you go. If you don’t get in, keep calling or checking online. There are often cancellations, and you may just get into one!

2. Check the weather

This is one of those kind of “obvious” tips. But, Florida is not always sunny and hot. I’ve been when it was 35 degrees in the morning and 50 during the day. We bought hats, and gloves, and scarves. In Florida. So if you’re not going in the summer, check the weather!

3. Bring comfortable tennis shoes

I’ve seen people wearing flip flops, flat tennis shoes, boots, and even heels to the parks. Don’t do it. Just don’t. You walk miles each day at Disney, and you will want supportive tennis shoes.

4. Download the “My Disney Experience” app

This app is awesome. You can find your dining reservations, your Fastpass times, maps, wait and event times all in one place. That means you don’t have to walk all the way to the other side of the park only to find out Seven Dwarfs Mine Trains is a 75 minute wait. Make sure to have a backup copy of your dining reservation times with you, in case your internet is slow in the park. I didn’t have any problems getting the app to load, but I’ve heard of others who have had that problem.

5. Avoid busy seasons if possible 

Summer is probably the worst time to visit, in my opinion. It’s ridiculously hot and lines are long. Not a good combo. Christmas Break is also PACKED. We went over Christmas once and I’ve never seen the parks so full. So, if you’re a first-timer and want to see and do as much as possible, try to go when it is not so busy because you may not get the chance to do everything you want or it will take much longer to get everything done.

While you are there:

1. Take breaks

Sometimes at Disney you just need a break from walking, the heat, or crowds. Sit on a bench and people watch, walk through the shops, or go back to your room to take a nap. Everyone in your group will feel much better after a break, believe me.

2. Don’t feel like you have to do everything 

There is SO much to see and do at Disney, that it can be overwhelming. But, don’t feel like you have to see it all. Make a list of your “We have to do this or else” activities and do those! I still see things I’ve never seen before every time we go!

3. Don’t be afraid to let your inner kid come out

Disney is the perfect place to not care what others think of you. So wear Minnie ears or a Goofy hat, dance to the music of the parades, be in awe of the fireworks, take a picture with the princesses, and shamelessly eat a Mickey ice cream bar.

4. Take pictures

Disney has PhotoPass people everywhere, which is great for family photos. If you want a lot of photos, purchase the Memory Maker, which allows you unlimited downloads of your PhotoPass pictures. Downloads are normally $14.99 each. If you do not want PhotoPass photos, the photographers will gladly take a picture using your cell phone as well!

5. Take in the details

Walt Disney World is all about details. The queue lines are filled with little details, and some even have games! Each park has unique details from the music, to the trash cans, to the architecture. So keep your eyes and ears open!

Well. There is my opinion on top tips for Walt Disney World. I have many more tips and recommendations on what to do and see and where to eat, but maybe that will come in another post.

What are your tips for taking on Walt Disney World? I would love to hear! 

Disclaimer: These tips are my own opinions and from personal experience. I do not claim to provide expert advice on Walt Disney World.