One of my lovely friends from work, who had heard we were traveling to Los Angeles and the surrounding area, had greatly recommended we take a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It's one of those "Drives of a Lifetime" they list in all those travel books. And it truly belongs there. It's one of those beautiful, exhilarating and enthralling drives that makes you want to stay on the road.
We started our journey by stopping off at the Orange County Farmer's Market to pick up some local goodies for a picnic we'd have later on the day. It was lovely little market, stuck in the middle of a super tacky swap meet.
|Halloween Treats we picked up from the market|
Our first stop along the highway was Newport Beach. We'd stopped in here the last time we were in town but it was a quiet, rainy day and when we arrived here this time, it was a warm, sunny day. All the locals were out, doing their shopping and getting their coffee and the streets were still walkable, before the tourist crowds flooded in.
After a coffee, we thought a good brunch idea would be one of their famous Frozen Banana's. There are two iconic shops, almost situated right beside each other, each boasting the original frozen banana (though neither one is actual the original after all). This time we decided to try Dad's Original Frozen Bananas, we had tried Sugar and Spice last year and had been thoroughly satisfied. Dad's was much the same. Three sizes to choose from, various dipped options and a myriad of toppings. At Dad's they even gave me sprinkle and nuts (half and half) for one price. Good deal. It was also delicious and although I ate each one of them a year apart, I want to say that Dad's won out by a slight edge.
Our next stop along the road was the infamous, Huntington Beach.
Huntington Beach is best known for its 9.5 miles long stretch of paradise (otherwise know as sand and surf). It's become a popular surfing hub since the waves tend to be larger than surrounding beaches, caused by the "edge-diffraction of open ocean swells around the island of Catalina".
Huntington is for sure the gold standard for beaches. No garbage, beautiful fire pits prepared for visitors and patrollers out even on such a chilly day. But it costs a pretty penny to park right near the beach and any visitor wanting just to pop in will either have to pay an arm and a leg or just park across the street where there is reasonably priced meter parking.
After dancing around the beach we headed back into the bar and drove down the road a bit to visit Seal Beach. The part of Seal Beach that we enjoyed the most was the surrounding town. All the beach houses were beyond adorable with their own little characteristics making each one unique.
The streets are empty and it's one of those places that you can just wander anywhere and come across something beautiful and interesting.
The beach itself was under some amount of construction while we were there. There is a giant sand dune/wall you have to climb over to get to the water. While annoying to trape through, once you get down to the beach it feel so secluded and private.
The clear, turquoise waters beaconed me towards them but alas it was too cold to be swimming. I would have to settle for standing and gleefully watching the waves roll in.
The last stop on our journey was at Redondo Beach. But before we got there, I desperately needed a Trader Joe's fix to make my little picnic perfect. We jogged in and picked up some other essentials we were missing and quickly jumped back on the road and over to Redondo
The beach has one of the most iconic silhouettes. "A wide sand beach starts below the bluffs of Palos Verdes in the south and carries north to the Redondo Pier. A paved path, called The Strand runs from Torrance through South Redondo, north to Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and eventually to Santa Monica. A typical day on this path will see thousands of people on foot, bicycle, skateboard, roller-blade, wheelchair and stroller enjoying the sun and surf."
We walked down the long, steep staircase and finally came to this magnificent sandy haven. We spread out some blankets and sweater and chowed down on our snacks. Although there was definitely a bunch of hungry seagulls surrounding, we tried to ignore them and just enjoy this lovely sunny day.
After a whirlwind morning and afternoon of beach hopping we decided it was time to go home. We got in the car and typed in our destination in the Sat Nav and routed "shortest distance" into our return journey. As we drove home, the beach left of sight and we were stuck amid crowded, LA traffic on a boring old highway home. It was a wonderful journey and if you have time to kill, travelling along the PCH anywhere in Cali is the way to go. I mean, if you're going to be stuck in traffic, you might as well have a beautiful view to look back on as you chug along.