Disneyland/California: March 3

This was the second day we were heading out into the rest of Southern California, and Kyle and I were very excited!  The girls?  Meh.  On and off.  For some reason, driving along the coast looking out the window isn’t all that exciting to 4-year-olds.  They’d live, though, and even enjoy it. 🙂

We hung around the hotel room and played until about 9am since we weren’t in a huge hurry.  After some breakfast we had a nice drive on the 101 to Griffith Park.  As we had seen on our Hollywood tour (from a distance), this place is absolutely huge.  I have nothing local to compare it with, but it’s incredible.  Eventually, we found where we were headed – the famed (to Walt Disney afficionados (though not all “Disney people”, admittedly)) Griffith Park carousel.  Call me a dork, but to be in the place where Walt watched his girls from a park bench, dreaming of a creating place where families could play together made my entire trip.  It’s still amazing to me that my girls rode the same.

The carousel itself was breathtaking……. I’m sure, in its heyday.  Elise and Avery thought it was old and ugly, but to me it was perfect.  It appears to be under a plan for renovation, being touched up and restored one panel at a time.

The ride, however “ugly”, was quite fun for the girls.  It was super fast (no, really – it was absolutely flying, as I had read in reviews but not believed (since it is, after all, a carousel)) and their turn was ridiculously long.

After the experience I had been looking forward to for months, we had no other real plans for the day but to explore – especially the coast.  First things first though, time to blow off more steam on the nearest playground before spending hours in the car!

Nolan enjoyed his first time swinging!

Our first stop along the Pacific Coast Highway was the Santa Monica Pier.  The timing wasn’t right to actually spend much time here (we’d need lunch too soon), but it was really cool to see the pier amusement park.  Next we headed to Dockweiler State Beach where we had a “picnic” (of snacks) and played in the sand a bit.

However, he absolutely hated the ocean and the sand. Thankfully that’s changed quickly!

California girls.

 The drive along the coast was absolutely stunning.  When we arrived in Manhattan Beach, I felt like we were in picture-perfect California.  This was exactly how I pictured SoCal when I daydreamed about living there.  We decided to stop here for lunch at a little local sports bar called Shark’s Cove.  It was absolutely perfect for our (sometimes loud) family, and the food was more than outstanding.

Our next town of note was Hermosa Beach, which – as the name suggests – was also beautiful.  The kids were sleeping by now, so no actual stop at Redondo Beach.  Maybe next time!  We did get to see one of Wyland’s whaling walls though, which was really cool.  I spent the next few miles reading about his work – very neat stuff!

We drove through Torrence Beach to our next stop at the Point Vicente lighthouse, where we saw some of the most breathtaking views I had ever seen.  Kyle and I didn’t want to leave, and didn’t for quite some time.  The kids were still sleeping so we took turns walking farther from the car to take it all in.  We also got to get out and see the nearby Wayfarer’s Chapel.  So very neat!

When the kids woke up we drove some more – past Trump National Golf Course (um.. good choice, Mr. Rancic – Trump Tower is way more impressive!) to Point Fermin Park.  We played on the playground a while here, though apparently not long enough – as evidenced by the meltdowns Elise and Avery both had.  *sigh*  We were reaching our threshold in the car, perhaps…

Instead of stopping at some of the remaining sites on our list, we just took a “quick” drive through the Port of LA and Ports of Call, where we saw the Battleship Iowa.  We crossed the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge (the girls approved!) and the Gerald Desmond bridge into (then through) Long Beach and Naples, but we had to skip the Queen Mary and the gondolas.  We were pretty impressed though, with how well the kids were doing overall.  By this point our day had been several hours long.

Driving through Surf Side, we saw the infamous “water tower house” (which is exactly how it sounds) and made our way to Huntington Beach.  If it were warmer, we’d have spent a lot of time here.  As it were, the sun was setting and we were extremely cold.  I had to agree with our friends’ reviews though – this was the quintessential California beach.  Not the most beautiful, but the most stereotypical (while still being well worth visiting).  Picnic tables everywhere, kites, sand as far as the eye can see, surfers, photographers lined up to catch the sunset… it was a perfect place to end our journey.

We walked the (long, freezing, windy) pier to Ruby’s for dinner, which was a great time.  I mean, once we got finally there and thawed.

We didn’t make it to Newport beach at all (literally the last stop on our potential list), but counted the day a huge success.  We even saw Angels stadium on the way back to the hotel, for added measure.  As we neared the hotel, we passed by the airport – causing both Avery and me to lament that it felt like we had just arrived, only to blink and find our vacation nearing an end.

There was still some time left though, so off to bed we went to rest up for another fun day!