Seven Laguna Beach Dining Destinations That Won’t Disappoint

When it comes to dining in Laguna Beach, there are lots of choices. Whether you’re looking for a contemporary and casual vibe, or something that’s historic or traditional, you’ll find it in this charming Southern California town, which is known almost as much for its cuisine as it is for its art. Next time you visit, consider one of the following restaurants to complete your Laguna Beach experience:

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Nick’s - Right in the center of town on South Coast Highway, this is the Laguna location for one of five Nick’s restaurants in beach cities across Southern California. The quality of their food is consistently good and they always earn excellent reviews. Located on the east side of the highway, Nick’s doesn’t offer ocean views but they do offer unique and flavorful foods, a friendly atmosphere and decent prices. Best of all, there is something for everyone on the menu. A few of us ordered the fish sandwich and it was — true to the recommendations we received — quite excellent. The carne asada tacos were also fabulous. Definitely a crowd pleaser, Nick’s may be my “new” favorite restaurant in Laguna.

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My Six Most Memorable Travel Moments in 2013: A Dramatic Rescue, A Tragic Fire and More!

What a great year 2013 was for travel! One thing I learned was that going back to a favorite destination a second or even a third time can still reveal new adventures, and that was certainly the case for me as we made our third journey to the island of Kauai last year.

hanaleicolony

Pristine beaches and a tropical paradise await you on Kauai’s northern coast.

But no matter how many times you visit a particular place, there are always signature moments that define each trip. And in 2013, my travels brought me very special moments that I’ll never forget — including witnessing a dramatic ocean rescue, feeling the impact of a tragic fire and enjoying the quiet solitude of nature.

Read on to find out about these unforgettable moments…

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Northern Kauai: Beauty on a Budget

Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, at approximately 550 square miles in size. And while that might not seem like a lot of ground to cover, it has taken us three visits to explore nearly every corner of “the garden isle.” This time, we spent our entire vacation on the tropical, rainy side of the island — on the north. Lucky for us, we were blessed to have sunny, enjoyable weather for the duration of our trip.

The famous Bali Hai peninsula, called Maka Mountain by Hawaiians

The famous Bali Hai peninsula, called Makana Mountain by Hawaiians

What we’ve learned through the years is that Kauai continues to be an affordable vacation destination for our family. On our last trip, we scored a great deal on airfare and accommodations. This year, we did the same, not only taking advantage of excellent pricing on Alaska Air (roundtrip fare of less than $400 per person, direct from San Diego), but also securing an ocean-front, one-bedroom unit at SeaLodge Condominiums at a rate of $140/night.

 

 

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15 Photos That Show Why San Diego in the Fall is Fabulous

When is the best time to visit America’s Finest City, otherwise known as San Diego? The general consensus among long-time residents, including myself, is that fall in San Diego is simply unbeatable. And perhaps that’s one reason we’ve taken so long to post on the SavvySojourns blog: we’ve been out enjoying the best that San Diego has to offer.

Long stretches of sandy beaches -- and no crowds -- are what await you during San Diego's warm autumn months. This photo shows D Street Beach in Encinitas -- located in north coastal San Diego County.

Long stretches of sandy beaches — and no crowds — are what await you during San Diego’s warm autumn months. This photo shows D Street Beach in Encinitas — located in north coastal San Diego County.

If you love the California coast like we do, and revel in clear, sunny days along with spectacular sunsets, then San Diego should be at the top of your destination list for autumn travel. Most San Diegans agree that fall not only delivers the best weather of the year — with daytime temps averaging 73 degrees Fahrenheit in October — but also provides a relaxing alternative to the summer chaos, along with off-season savings on lodging and other travel costs.

 
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Islands in the Sand: Six Reasons to Visit the Southwest

sedona

Sedona, Arizona

Mostly everyone who grew up in Southern California — like I did — has made a sojourn through America’s Southwest at least once or twice in their lifetimes. As you cross the picturesque desert, cities such as Santa Fe, Tucson, Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff crop up like islands in the sand. And the views are always amazing, no matter what the season. The history, art and cultural traditions behind the Southwest are also captivating, and of course, the cuisine — especially in Santa Fe — is spectacular.

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Off the Beaten Track in Florida: The Other Side of the Sunshine State

There is another side to Florida — beyond the towering hotels that line Miami’s famous beaches, away from the entertainment mecca of Orlando, and a far cry from the retirement communities and condos. For those with deep roots in the “sunshine state,” this other side exists in sharp contrast to today’s most common perceptions of Florida.

Pine groves in northern Florida

Pine groves in northern Florida

We’ve made our way to America’s most southeastern state a number of times over the years, and through family ties, have had the opportunity to discover the beauty beneath the surface. From the lush and dreamy shores of the Suwannee River in the north, to the wildlife and wonder that make up the Everglades in the south, Florida is so much more than most people imagine.

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Six Adventures for the Everyday Traveler – Part 2

In our last post we left you hanging after describing only three of our six favorite travel adventures — things we did that took us slightly outside our comfort zone while on the road. As mentioned previously, one thing we’ve learned is that adding a bit of a thrill to your travels can only make them more memorable. And so, without further delay, we give you the remaining three in the hopes you might try one of them yourself next time you have the opportunity. You won’t regret it. Except maybe the last one on our list…don’t try that one!

High above the rain forest in Costa Rica! Image courtesy of Costa Rica Anywhere.

High above the rain forest in Costa Rica! Image courtesy of Costa Rica Anywhere.

Zip Lining in the Costa Rican Rain Forest: Zip lining is clearly becoming more and more popular today. In Costa Rica’s rain forests near the Arenal Volcano (which is exciting enough, with smoke constantly spewing from its dome), there is a zip lining tour that takes you high above the rivers and valleys below. How high? Let’s just say if you fell for some reason you would most likely not survive. The line reaches several hundred feet above the ground in some places. Of course, we were attached securely, and as we stood on the first of 11 platforms, I watched my family take off, one by one, across the skies and through the trees. When it came to be my turn, however, I hesitated.   Continue reading

Six Adventures for the Everyday Traveler – Part 1

I’ll admit — I am not one to sit back and relax poolside for the entire duration of any vacation, even if the intent behind my trip is to chill out. For me, getting out and exploring the native culture, foods and most of all, the sights and experiences of the region, is what travel is all about. And that often means that a little adventure is in order. While I don’t consider myself to be anything close to an extreme adventurist, I enjoy a bit of a thrill every now and then. Here are six adventurous activities that have made my travels more memorable, and that you might consider yourself:

One of many spectacular views from our open-air heli ride on Maui.

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New Zealand’s Incredible Coromandel in Photos

New Zealand makes for a challenging place to visit, not only because it’s so remote, but also because there is something worthwhile to see in every corner of the country. On our trip, we (wisely) chose to spend time on the incredibly beautiful Coromandel Peninsula — which is less than a two-hour drive from Auckland. During our stay (for which we previously blogged about our amazing and affordable accommodations), we fell in love with the region, which features a magnificent coastline and an extremely pleasant lifestyle. Here, we capture the beauty of Coromandel in words and pictures:

Small islands line the Coromandel Peninsula, adding to the beauty of this lush coastal paradise — where hidden coves and unforgettable beaches are in abundance.

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Santa Barbara and Ventura Beaches: Classic California Style

This post courtesy of our sister site, TopCaliforniaBeaches.com

When it comes to the top California beaches, the Santa Barbara and Ventura coasts are in a class by themselves. These charming towns boast a unique blend of coastal beauty, history, culture and classic California style.

Above: the stretch of coast along the town of Summerland, just south of Santa Barbara, is one of the most beautiful areas you’ll see as you drive along Highway 101. 

There are plenty of hidden coves and stunning yet quiet beaches that you can hike down to along the Santa Barbara/Ventura coastline — many of them viewable from the highway that hugs the coast. But if sun, fun and activities are what you’re looking for, you can’t beat Santa Barbara, where beach volleyball is played almost 24/7. From the main beach area, known as East Beach, you can also rent kayaks, paddle board, people watch and enjoy easy access to all the great food that Santa Barbara has to offer. State Street, just minutes from East Beach, is lined with great shopping and top-notch restaurants.

Santa Barbara just may be the beach volleyball capital of the world. The above photo taken at East Beach — right in the center of town. Image courtesy of USA Today.

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