Browsing Tag

California

Rewards Points Travel

Carmel-By-The-Sea

July 29, 2017

Last weekend Mat and I were able to go on a quick getaway to Carmel, California, also known as Carmel-By-The-Sea. It had been several weeks since we had been anywhere (last place was Palm Springs), so I was itching for another vacation. Mat, who hates the extreme heat that Boise gets in the summer, was ready for a break from having to sit directly in front of a fan 24/7 to not sweat, so he was happy to book flights to Oakland.

We both love San Francisco (it’s where we met 10+ years ago!), so it made sense to start our weekend there on Friday night. Plus, Southwest has a great flight option that allows us to work a full day on Friday and get into town early enough for dinner! So we packed our bags in Betty Lou (the name of our car) on Friday morning so we could head straight to the airport after work. We had a few minor delays getting into town, but we were still able to make our dinner reservations at The Saratoga.

Saturday we walked to a nearby bakery and picked up some breakfast and coffee, then made our way up to Twin Peaks. We were extremely lucky to get a clear day; typically it’s quite foggy in San Francisco. It was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny morning and it was so cool to see SF from this view. Our plan was to stop in Santa Cruz on the way from San Francisco to Carmel for either brunch or lunch, but we ran into the ever-dreaded California traffic. We have actually been extremely fortunate that each time we have been to California, we haven’t ever had to experience this notorious headache. We were not so lucky this time. We realize now why Californians are so drawn to Boise!

We ended up making it to Santa Cruz, but just for a brief pit stop, since we had now missed brunch and didn’t have enough time for lunch. We attempted to drive to the boardwalk, but there were sooooo many cars we would have never made it driving. We parked and walked the last mile, all while noticing that cars were backed up, bumper to bumper and not moving, in every single direction. It was nuts! We were in Huntington Beach last year for the Vans US Open and don’t remember this much car traffic. I was convinced that Santa Cruz was where Beyonce’s first outing with her twins was, because why else would everyone be there?!

We decided to keep moving to Carmel. This town looks like something you would see out of a storybook; cottages, bungalows, gardens and huge, mature trees everywhere! It’s gorgeous! It’s also quite chilly. I’m always cold, but I had to layer up with scarves and sweaters to be comfortable. Mat was absolutely loving the temperatures. This town is so cozy and romantic. We overheard a waiter say to another table that it is in the top five most romantic cities in the world. I just wanted to walk around in my cozy sweater, cuddle and drink wine all day, which is pretty much what we did. The highlight of the trip for me was buying a bottle of wine at the market, taking a blanket down to the beach and watching the sunset before our dinner reservations.

Before heading out Sunday morning, we made sure to check out Clint Eastwood’s ranch/estate, The Mission Ranch. Wow, this property is gorgeous. From what I read, the ground was set to sell to build commercialized condominiums, but the town wasn’t happy about that. Clint Eastwood (who served as Mayor of Carmel in the past) came along to save the day and bought the property. It has since been renovated to include a restaurant and lodging options, but still kept as a ranch; sheep and all!

Before flying home on Sunday, we made a stop in Monterrey for breakfast and, of course, more coffee. This town is adorable! We were intrigued with Monterrey originally because we have been watching Big Little Lies, which is filmed and based in Monterrey. We walked down Fisherman’s Wharf and watched the most adorable sea lion/otter swim just a few feet below us.

It’s amazing how many things you can see and experience in 48 hours when you aren’t stuck in a cubical. 😉

 

3 Peeps liked this so far.
Reviews Travel

Sunny Palm Springs

June 11, 2017

Mat and I took advantage of our three day weekend and flew to Palm Springs, CA for a quick and relaxing trip. Our three-day weekend can be described in three terms: naps, hats and pool floaties. Palm Springs was a great place to get the summer started because the weather was already HOT, which I loved. We stayed at The Avalon and earned 29k Southwest points for doing so.  I thought the hotel/bungalow accommodations were adorable. With these extra points, we earned the Southwest Companion Pass for 2018! Woo hoo!

After working a full day on Friday (we have to use our time off wisely!) we flew in late so we didn’t really get the vacation started until Saturday morning. However, The Avalon had a wonderful surprise waiting for us in our room-a HUGE plate of the most delicious and fresh fruit we have ever had. Mat went crazy on the fruit Friday night and I finished off some of it when I woke up on Saturday.

We slept in on Saturday and had breakfast at the Chi Chi restaurant, which has tables right beside the main pool at the center of the hotel. I had an amazing assortment of buttermilk pancakes, banana foster’s, barrel-aged maple syrup and candied walnuts. The best part was that it was still steaming hot when they brought it out. It was so good. If you follow us on SnapChat you probably saw me freaking out about it. Mat wasn’t as excited about his breakfast burrito, but it came with more of that amazing fruit and gorgeous poolside views, so it’s kind of hard to complain.

After breakfast we walked into town and did some shopping. This is when we made the most important purchases of the trip: our hats. I have become slightly obsessed with mine and it may have contributed to the fact that I didn’t brush my hair the entire trip. Mat looks extremely dapper in his, and of course they helped protect our skin from the blazing sun.

We made a quick stop at Las Casuelas Terraza for some giant margaritas before heading back to enjoy some pool time at the hotel. The Avalon has three different pools, which is nice that they cater to the different interests of their guests. One of the pools was kid friendly (we checked it out but promptly kept walking), and the main pool, located by the Chi Chi, seemed to be mostly couples. All the lounge chairs at this pool were already taken, so we kept going to the third pool. I called this third pool the ‘party pool’, which usually isn’t really our jam but we totally loved it! For the Memorial holiday, The Avalon hosted a variety of activities at the ‘party pool’ including: live DJ, a taco bar, booze-y snow cones, frozes (frozen rose wine), ping pong and bocci ball! We spent the majority of our time at this pool for obvious reason. 🙂 We then preceded to take a four nap after the sun had zapped our energy. Hey, it’s vacation-we can nap however long we want!

The best food of the weekend was at the hard to get into brunch joint, Cheeky’s. The Avalon provided cruiser bikes to hotel guests free of charge so we checked them out one morning and decided to bike the one mile to Cheeky’s. We arrived just 30 minutes after the restaurant opened and ended up waiting an hour and a half for a table! It was insane! During that hour and a half of waiting, dozens and dozens of people showed up to put their name on the waiting list. The restaurant is only open until 2 pm, so I have no idea if it was even possible to get through the list of people before they closed. The food definitely did not disappoint, so it was worth the wait.

Our last night we decided to drive the one hour and check out Joshua Tree National Park. The trees are so interesting, kind of a mix between a cactus and a palm tree. So cool! But to be honest, after you’ve seen 100, they all start to look alike. The park also has these amazing, huge, boulder structures. The park looked especially alien-like after the sun set and there were shadows everywhere.

2 Peeps liked this so far.
Travel

Los Angeles for President’s Day Weekend

February 26, 2017

Lacey and I didn’t originally plan on taking a trip in between Aruba (late Jan.) and Maui (next Saturday!), but the weather in Boise continues to be absolutely miserable.  The buzz from the Aruba trip wore off quicker than we’d hoped as the wind, rain, snow, and inversions of Southern Idaho kept coming.  Lacey and I are both really affected by ugly/dark/cold weather (who isnt?!).  I’m not sure if it’s to the level of seasonal depression disorder, but it sucks nonetheless.  After a few days in a row of being bummed out, we decided we had to seek out some sunshine.

With plenty of Southwest points paired with the Companion Pass and our recently earned 2 “anniversary” nights with Hyatt, I started doing some searching for a Presidents Day Weekend getaway.  From Boise, Southern California is usually our best bet for a quick trip to sunshine this time of year.  I had a little trouble out of the gates finding award night availability with Hyatt.  I searched places like San Diego, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach.  No luck.  It seemed this was just too short of notice to book a room with awards.  Then I remembered Lacey telling me about how much fun her and her mom had wedding dress shopping at Manhattan Beach.  I quickly searched for, and found, availability at the Hyatt House near Manhattan Beach.  After a quick chat with Lacey, we booked the trip.

The conversation went something like this:

  • Mat – “How do you feel about going to Manhattan Beach for President’s Day? We can get there for free, use 2 free nights at a Hyatt, and then book a 3rd night with a points+cash combination.  The entire trip would cost $83.”
  • Lacey – “Oh my gosh, yes! Book it!”

So I did, and we enjoyed a quick and casual, no plans, just hanging out, Netflix by 7pm, awesome weekend in the Los Angeles/Manhattan Beach area.

The weather was a little chilly during the trip, but the sunshine did come out each day after some morning clouds.  We ventured to Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, while hiking to the Griffith Observatory.  We made our way to Venice Beach and crushed some In and Out Burgers on the way back to the hotel.  We even caught a movie during a couple hours of cloudy drizzly weather one morning.

Another awesome experience courtesy of rewards points.  We saved $900+ on this trip by using the Southwest Airlines companion pass and the Hyatt rewards programs.  Let us know if you have any questions on how you can do the same!

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Sunset Blvd Hollywood

Sunset Blvd Hollywood

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Zoltar

Muscle Beach Venice Beach

Los Angeles for President's Day Weekend

Griffith Observatory

2 Peeps liked this so far.
Travel

Huntington Beach and the Vans U.S. Open

July 28, 2016

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of our free flights with Southwest Airlines and take a quick weekend trip to Huntington Beach, California. We had no reason to go there, other than having heard from friends that it was a fun little beach town. Since we loved our weekend in San Diego so much we thought “Why not?”

We had no plans other than beach, eat and drink. Just a week or two before our trip we found out that we had accidentally booked it while the Vans US Open was happening, so the timing worked out perfectly! We stayed at a place we found on Airbnb that was about four blocks from the events on the beach, so we were able to walk to everything: restaurants, bars, coffee, shopping, and of course, all of the Vans US Open events.

Not realizing how big of a deal the US Open is, we were quite shocked to see how busy the little town of Huntington Beach was! The second day we were up on the pier looking down at the boardwalk that lead to event and Mat compared it to Times Square, except everyone was in bikinis! Crazy! It was strange seeing everyone wear their swimming suits everywhere, including restaurants! It was pretty fun to be in such a relaxed environment. I literally didn’t brush my hair for the entire three days we were there and I loved it.

One day we rented bikes and (foolishly) attempted to ride to Newport. Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen. We did ride by a country festival that was happening on the beach though, which was so cool! A new item has now been added to the bucket list….attend a music festival on a beach.

Between the margaritas, watching world class surfing, skateboarding, outdoor movies in the amphitheater and the amazing sunsets the west coast offers….the weekend was an absolute blast! Oh yeah, we both left with some new Vans gear. 🙂

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach

Vans U.S. Open Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Vans U.S. Open Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pin Map

Huntington Beach Pin Map

2 Peeps liked this so far.