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Southern California

Literary Travel: California Adventure Weekend

It’s time to set off on a literary inspired California adventure weekend! When I put on my literary travel lens, I’m always wondering what books I can read before I visit a place or what books I can read that will transport me through the pages? As I was reading this book (details below!) I envisioned a whole weekend of things to do in California inspired by the book. And since I dream of someday hosting literary inspired adventures just like this, I knew this had to be the next installment in the Literary Travel series!!

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliates. At no extra cost to you, I may make a small commission on your purchase.

Read Before You Go

The Nerviest Girl in the World (grab your copy from Amazon or Bookshop) might be written and marketed for the 8-12 year old crowd, but it is a fun book for all ages. Set on an ostrich farm just outside of San Diego, California, this adventuresome historical fiction book looks at the beginnings of the film industry and ranch life in 1911.

Melissa Wiley hooks you from the first pages when the reader is introduced to Pearl as she is escaping from a hot air balloon by shimmying down a rope thrown over the side of the basket. And the adventures don’t stop there! Join Pearl as she cares for her family’s ostriches (hint: they’re feisty!!) and experiences life in San Diego in the early 1900’s. 

If you’re looking for some extra insight into the book before you head off on your adventure, be sure to stop by Wiley’s blog for a behind the scenes timeline!

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California Adventure: The Itinerary

First stop, Ostrichland USA. While not located in San Diego, Ostrichland is still in Southern California (Solvang to be exact) so it’s the perfect way to kick off your California adventure. There are more than 100 ostriches and emus and most days you have the opportunity to feed the birds. You can even purchase fresh ostrich eggs to take with you and cook just like Pearl and her grandmother. You can also spend some extra time in Solvang with this 24-Hour Guide.

Next up, head south down Highway 101 and make a stop at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Movies have come a long way since the early “moving pictures” Pearl and her brothers starred in during the book. The 60-minute Studio Tour is a chance to take a behind the scenes peek at the movie industry. After reading the book and visiting the Studio you just might be inspired to make your very own “moving picture.”

Continuing your journey south towards San Diego, you’ll make a stop at Magical Adventure Balloon Rides in Temecula. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to shimmy out of the basket down to the ground (for insurance reasons!). However, you can still get an idea of the views Pearl would have had on her ballooning adventure.

As you continue your California adventure plan for a stop in La Mesa. This is the town that inspired the fictional town in The Nerviest Girl in the World. Author Melissa Wiley recommends eating at Pancho’s on Fletcher Parkway or Por Favor in La Mesa Village.

The last stop is San Diego De Alcala, the mission in San Diego. In the book, Pearl and her family take the train into the “big city” of San Diego. Along the way they see both the mission and the fort. If you want to extend your trip, you can plan a visit to one of the 21 missions in California.

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Palm Springs Botanical Garden: A Secret Treasure

Palm Springs brings to mind mid-century modern architecture and the desert. So it’s only fitting to include a visit to a Palm Springs Botanical Garden. This is your chance to explore the wide variety of cacti and plants that call the desert home. You might think that one cactus is about the same as next but with about 2,000 different varieties of cacti around the world, Palm Springs is home to quite a variety.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy.

Palm Springs Botanical Garden

Established more than 80 years ago, Moorten Botanical Garden, is family owned and specializes in cacti and other desert plants. The botanical garden is also home to the world’s first cactarium. Admission is just $5.00 making this an affordable way to spend a morning or afternoon in Palm Springs. It is worth noting that the winter and summer hours are quite different. During the summer temperatures often climb into the triple-digits so during this time Moorten’s is only open in the mornings.

As you enter the garden there is a stone with the following inscription…

Take your time like a turtle…and you will see more.

I would encourage you to take time to enjoy these photos from this stunning botanical garden, head over to their site to see even more, and schedule a visit on your next trip to Palm Springs.

If you are planning a trip to Southern California be sure to check out these other things to do including a day trip to Ventura, the piers of Orange County, San Jacinto Valley and more. Also be sure to take some time in Palm Springs to check out all of the unique front doors!

Enjoy a Day at the Piers in Orange County

I think the first two things most people think of when they imagine visiting Orange County are the beaches and Disneyland. Orange County has 40 miles of coastline passing through seven cities. Any trip to these beaches should include stops at the piers in Orange County. With a total of five piers a trip to all of them gives you a pretty good look at the Orange County coastline.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

San Clemente

I’d recommend visiting the piers of Orange County from south to north because you’ll first want to have breakfast at La Galette. Located right across the street from the pier, this is delicious casual dining with a view. After enjoying a crepe walk across the street for a stroll down the San Clemente Pier. After you finishing your trip down the pier, I’d suggest a walk down the coastal path for views of the pier jutting out into the water.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach is home to not one, but two piers! The Balboa Pier was constructed in 1906 and is home to the original Ruby’s Diner. The Newport Pier is 1,032 feet long and is registered as California Historical Landmark number 794. While there is not a restaurant at the end, on a clear day you can see the Balboa Pier to the south and Huntington Beach to the north.

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Huntington Beach

In my opinion, this is probably the most iconic pier in Orange County. It is arguably the most photographed spot in Huntington Beach and at 1,850 feet in length, is one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. On a clear day the views from the end of the pier are simply breathtaking as you can see miles of coastline with snow capped mountains in the background. Stroll down the pier and watch the surfers below, browse the shops or grab a milkshake from Ruby’s Diner.

Seal Beach

Admittedly, the Seal Beach pier is not what it once was, but it’s still worth a visit! I remember walking out on the pier to the restaurant at the end as a kid. Unfortunately a fire in 2016 burned down the restaurant and damaged the end of the pier. While you’re no longer able to eat at the Seal Beach pier, the view of the coastline makes it a worthwhile stop.

If you’re looking for more things to do in Orange County, be sure to browse my Orange County Bucket List. The list has more than 150 things to do including a trip to the Redwoods and mining for gold.

Literary Connections

If you want to explore more of the Piers of the California Coast, I’d recommend the book by Ed Grant. If you are interested in the 840 miles of coastal California this is the book for you. The book will look gorgeous on your coffee table and is filled with historical anecdotes.

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Spending One Day in Ventura California

I believe that any trip to Southern California should extend beyond Venice Beach and Disneyland. As iconic as these places are, Southern California has so much more to offer. I’d recommend setting aside one day of your trip to venture just north of LA to visit Ventura. With so many wonderful things to do in Ventura, you won’t regret your visit.

As with most of my posts, some links may be affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission on anything you buy through the links.

Things to do in Ventura: The Food

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so kick off your day with a yummy breakfast. Not only does Marie Shannon Confections have a fun vibe, you’ll get a yummy breakfast to fuel you for your day.

I would argue that you can’t go to a beach town in Southern California and not get fish tacos. Specifically, the fish tacos from Spencer Makenzie’s. Voted the best fish taco in Ventura and ranked in the top 50 Tacos in America, you don’t want to miss these!

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Be sure to stop by Beach House Fish located on the Ventura Pier for a happy hour drink and appetizer. Grab a table along the windows and enjoy the coastline views.

Why not wrap up your day with a Fish Waffle Cone from Coastal Cone?!? Located in Ventura Harbor Village this is the perfect spot for strolling by the boats and enjoying your ice cream.

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Things to do in Ventura: The Sights

To learn a bit about the history of Ventura I’d recommend beginning your exploration of the city with a stop at the San Buenaventura Mission. The missions are an integral part of the history of California. Continue your journey through the history of the city with a stop at City Hall. The architecture of City Hall makes me feel like I’ve stepped on the set of a movie. In 1971 the building was declared a county, state and federal historical landmark so it’s definitely worth setting aside time in your day to visit.

If you’re looking for an unrivaled view of Ventura I’d recommend a visit to the Ventura Botanical Gardens. Not only will you get to see a carefully curated selection of plant life but with an easy hike up to Grant Park you will be treated to stunning views of the city and beach below.

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You’ll also want to make sure you set aside time for a stroll down Main Street. I always enjoy popping into bookshops when I travel and Main Street has several great options. Calico Cat Bookshop and Bank of Books. While usually I don’t recommend a stop at the post office, you won’t want to miss the post office just off Main Street. Inside you’ll find Gordon Grant Murals painted in 1936-1937. The murals are listed on the Federal Register of Fine Arts and you don’t even have to pay to see them…just pop in the post office!

A trip to Ventura is definitely not complete unless you’ve stopped by Surfer’s Point. With a south facing point right hand waves roll in consistently throughout the day. Not only will you be able to watch surfing, but on days where the wind picks up you’ll also be able to enjoy watching kiteboarders and windsurfers.

As you’re planning your time in Southern California I would also suggest a day trip to Solvang or a trip out to the San Jacinto Valley. And if you want to explore what Orange County has to offer beyond Disneyland, be sure to check out my Ultimate Orange County Bucket List.

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5 Things to Do in the San Jacinto Valley

For many people, November to March means having to bundle up every time you leave the house.  It means shoveling your sidewalk, scraping ice off your car, and  having to change out your summer wardrobe for bulky sweaters.  Enter Southern California.  Particularly the San Jacinto Valley.  Where average winter temps hover around 70 degrees making the San Jacinto Valley your ideal winter escape!

I was recently invited to visit the San Jacinto Valley courtesty of their tourism board and I can’t wait to share five things to do that make this your perfect winter escape.

As with most of my posts, this post may contain affiliate or referral links.

Diamond Valley Lake

On our trip we spent an incredibly relaxing morning out on this man made lake that was dedicated in March of 2000.  Diamond Valley is a drinking water reservoir that suppies water to much of Southern California.  But it’s more than just an hour glass shaped drinking water reservoir!  It’s a great spot for fishing and boating.  Water sports are not permitted (no human contact is allowed with the water) but there are 50 boats available for rental and if you’re escaping winter weather a gorgeous afternoon out on the lake is the perfect way to soak up the sun!

La Michoacana 100% Natural

Y’all know how much I love cupcakes!  But if this trip is your winter escape, what better way to celebrate winter in the sun, than with ice cream?!?  Enter La Michoacana.  Where the Mexican ice cream is made on-site…with real fruit! I enjoyed a Mango Mangonada and…WOW!!  Such a yummy treat that is perfect after an afternoon on the lake!

 

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Golden Village Palms RV Resort

If you’re going to take a winter escape, you need a place to stay!  And I would highly recommend this five-star resort.  Whether you’re bringing your own RV or staying in a cottage it won’t take long to call Golden Village home.  When you’re not out exploring all the San Jacinto Valley has to offer, you can relax by the pool, take in a game of shuffleboard, hit the gym, and so much more.

 

Western Science Center

Confession time y’all!  I’m a closet nerd.  I LOVE learning.  As much as I love healthy, active travel, I also secretly love visiting new museums where I get to learn.  And the Western Science Center does not disappoint!  When Diamond Valley Lake was built they uncovered a treasure trove of fossils so they decided to build a museum by the lake to house the findings.  Including Max the Mastodon!  Not only are there a variety of rotating exhibits in addition to the permanent exhibits but there are also 3 digs on site.  There are 2 archeological and 1 paleontological digs students use to help them with the study of everything left behind by past cultures and of extinct animals.  Y’all…I nerded out big time in the Western Science Center and can’t wait to return!

 

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Simpson Park

Simpson Park offer gorgeous views of the sun setting over the lake and 15 miles of well-groomed trails.  You’ll find hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers out on these trails which have been built and maintained largely by volunteers.  The trails are set up so that it is difficult to get lost which is great news for travelers!

Bottom line y’all…if you’re looking for a winter esacpe head to the San Jacinto Valley in Southern California.  And as an added bonus, once you’re there you’re only a quick drive from LA, Orange County (beaches, Disneyland!), San Diego and so much more!

What is your favorite winter escape?

Other Travel posts you might like:

The Ramona Bowl

San Diego Urban Adventure Quest

One Day in San Francisco

The Ramona Bowl: Tradition, History & Community

I was recently invited to visit the San Jacinto Valley and the Ramona Bowl courtesy of their tourism board.  While I was quite excited about exploring a new destination, I will admit I was a bit hesitant.  You see, the San Jacinto Valley requires me to take a drive on the 91.  For my non-Southern California friends, just know I avoid the 91 at ALL costs!  But after four days in the Valley I will say, 1) It was worth the drive; and 2) I can’t wait to go back!

As with most of my posts, this post may contain affiliate or referral links.

While in the San Jacinto Valley I visited the Ramona Bowl and fell in love.  Three aspects of the amphitheater drew me in, and now I have this event marked on my calendar for the spring!  I place great value on tradition, history and community and the Ramona Bowl is absolutely filled with all three!

Ramona Bowl Tradition

My family will tell you that I am obsessed with tradition!  I like being able to look forward to events year after year and building traditions around those events.  And the Ramona Bowl is steeped in tradition!  The cast is made up of generations of families who participate, and have participated, for the last 90 years.  The audience is comprised of families who have made it a tradition to attend together year after year.  The volunteers who support the play come back year after year and this event is as much a part of their calendars as national holidays.

History of the Ramona Bowl

Not only is the story of Ramona filled with historical significance, but the amphitheater itself is filled with history.  The drama is based on the book by Helen Hunt Jackson who lived a life of tragedy.  Ramona was written in the late 1800’s as a fictional love story meant to be so compelling people would not be able to put it down.  And in doing so, readers would learn about the injustices being done to Southern California’s native people.  But the historical significance doesn’t end with the content of the play!  Less than 10 years from the 100th anniversary of the play, the Ramona is the LONGEST running outdoor drama in the nation.

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Value of Community

I think this was my favorite part of visiting the Ramona Bowl!  Putting on Ramona every year is truly a community effort.  The play is powered by hundreds of volunteers from actors to the costume department to those who work on sets to the snake handlers. Yup, you read that correctly!  Because this is an outdoor play set in a mountainous hillside they need snake handlers on hand.  The snake handlers watch for the cue that indicates there is a snake on set during the play.  You can bet that if I was playing a rock Indian I would be nervous that a snake would slither by me and I would interrupt the whole show with my screams!

What is your favorite local community tradition?