Santa Cruz Weekend

Last weekend my husband and I enjoyed President’s Day weekend in Santa Cruz, CA to celebrate out 16 year anniversary! That’s right, highschool sweethearts, turned parents, to now husband and wife. It sounds crazy and out of order, but we love it! It’s us!!! We’ve been together so long that it’s a clear come every anniversary (Feb 15th) the day after Valentine’s, we’ll usually plan a getaway for us to relax, and enjoy each others company. This year, since we’re now residing in Sacramento, and due to the last minute planning of our trip, we couldn’t branch out as far as we wanted with the time frame give. But Santa Cruz, has always been a favorite, so check out every year or so. This time….Without the kids.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Paradox

Address:

611 Ocean St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

As we arrived to Hotel Paradox, we were welcomed to an awesome florescent sign at the front of the hotel. Modern lighting sitting against a cemented wall, leading you into a chic boutique hotel. My husband and I walked into the lobby and were greeted by the front desk, which was behind a huge fallen eucalyptus tree, as the reception desk. What a great wow factor!!!!!

Now I can go on with all the adorable swanky details in the hotel. From the succulent floor markers, clean poolside cabanas, heat lamps, the gorgeous fire pit, and tasty food. Hotel Paradox is your Santa Cruz hipster heaven of reclaimed wood and sleek design touches.

With just a short walk through San Lorenzo Park located right behind the hotel, you don’t need to worry about driving and finding parking downtown. My husband and I walked majority of the time of our stay. An amazing PLUS, it was walking distance to Trader Joes, Rite Aid, and also a Whole Foods!!

Hotel Paradox is such a great home base location for tourist. Since it wasn’t the season for the beach, the Boardwalk wasn’t an attraction to check out. But, if it were the season, there’s a shuttle to the Boardwalk!!!

The following day we walked through the park, and over the river which took us directly to downtown Santa Cruz. We started each morning with coffee from Santa Cruz’s coffee roaster, the Verve.

Verve locations we checked out:

Pacific Avenue

Address:

1540 Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Seabright

Address:

104 Bronson St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062

 

If you’re a coffee drinker or not, Verve is a Santa Cruz must!!! The coffee is amazing and the atmosphere is great at every location. Their latte is smooth and rich, and their coffee is definitely high quality. I do recall my husband saying their pour over was $7, which is ridiculously expensive, maybe because it’s their higher quality bean, on top of being a touristy spot. Overall, the Verve will serve you well, if you pay them a visit. I’d compare them to Blue Bottle or Temple if you’re familiar with your California coffee roasters.

We explored through Pacific Ave. as we shopped at local novelty shops, book stores, and even got to catch a movie at the Regal movie theater. There would be pockets of time, were we even walked back to the hotel for a small cat nap/recharge (times we usually don’t get while having children!)

Evenings were fun, as my husband and I would start drinking close to dinner time, and bar hop. One night we hung around Joe’s Pizza & Subs to catch the NBA All Star game. After a couple beers, and pizza slices, we found ourselves at Penny Ice Creamery.

The Penny Ice Creamery 

Address:

913 Cedar St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
When talking about Santa Cruz with friends, I’m sure somewhere in the conversation The Penny Ice Creamery will be mentioned. Their delicious artisinal ice cream made from scratch, and toasted marshmallow fluff, is what gives The Penny Ice Creamery all hype it deserves. With it being the only ice cream shop in Santa Cruz making small batches in house – this ice cream shop has that distinctive edge.
Open daily til 11pm (Cedar St.) this is the original location for The Penny Ice Creamery. I was able to try the Dark Chocolate Sorbet and Tahitian Vanilla with the marshmallow toasted fluff. Fresh and flavorful,  you can’t really go wrong here. When it comes to fresh ice cream, it all the texture and taste, which beats out store-bought. Coming in, I knew the marshmallow fluff would be on the sweet side, so I paired it was simple yet decadent classic favors. If enjoying a junior sized waffle cone, double scoop ice cream with warm toasted fluff, buzzed at 10pm on Sunday means not being an adult, we cannot be friends.
Along with many cities I’ve visited within the past 2 years, Santa Cruz has a special place in my heart. Only one hour away from San Jose, going straight down I-17, Santa Cruz has the beach, coffee, and small town feel….California at it’s best small scale. It’s no San Diego, but it makes the Bay Area natives, and people from all over visit SC to relish it for its beach town vibe, and family owned businesses. 
 

Labor Day In Los Angeles

Due to my crazy schedule of going back and forth to the Bay Area, and desperately needing a mommy daddy date this past Labor Day weekend, I’m going to take back a few years ago to a Labor Day getaway weekend Derrick and I had. It was our first weekend away together with two boys at the time were the ages of 4 & 10 months.

RoadTrip

This throwback, kind’ve brought me to tears as I was going through my Facebook ‘On This Day’ feature. Just about 5-6 years ago, having the opportunity to travel on a quick 3 day weekend road trip was so hard to come by. Now, to this day. It still is difficult to achieve. Be parents with full time jobs, children in after school activities and such has become harder, then it was to raise an infant and toddler back then.

Parent readers, if you’re new to parenting with young children…..Let me hit you with a parenting truth. It get’s harder. Or maybe it gets easier. It all depends. But as we parent our young beautiful children we brought to the world, we also have to find the balance with our love life. Our part of our grown up lives to explore and discover…A few years ago, we decided to take a weekend road trip to Los Angeles. Here’s a quick overview of what we checked out and visited while visiting Southern California.

VeniceBeachPIN

Derrick loves Venice Beach. If I could describe Venice beach in a nut shell….Think Berkeley hipsters or Haight/Ashby locals from San Francisco, hanging around the beach. From vendors, local food spots, recreational beach activities, and more!!

Venice is a residential, commercial and recreational beachfront neighborhood on the Westside of the city of Los Angeles. Venice was founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles. (Wiki)
VeniceBeachBike

One of our favorite things to do while traveling to different cities, is renting out bikes. Anything from taking your own car, or being in a motorized vehicle exploring the city, is the best option to take in the city…And actually ‘see’ it. It’s the same concept as walking around your own neighborhood. Walking/ taking a light jog around the neighborhood, may give you another perspective of your local area.

For a few bucks an hour, rent out a bike from Venice Beach and bike the boardwalk all the way down to Santa Monica Beach!!! Enjoy the sun, breeze, and fun cool people watching.

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Vendors with cool shades, to souvenir shops fill the boardwalk!! People from all over the world come visit sunny California, for the beaches to the celebrities of Hollywood.

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Venice has always been known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic. In the 1950s and 60s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art.

Venice is today a vibrant area of Southern California and it continues a tradition of progressive social change involving prominent Westsiders (Read more from VeniceBeach.com)

Exploring Venice Beach is alreays refreshing to us. Being close to the ocean, seeing artistic people express themselves through art, and expression, and also the cool locals that bring and make Venice Beach all together. During this time visiting, (as it was literally our first time traveling without both of the kids) it was a great reboot/ to our relationship as a couple, and as parents. The long 6-7 hour road trip gave us time to talk without being interrupted, and other times, just to sit and think, and reflex in quite peace.

All that sounds, so simple, but oh so so needed to parents…

SanteePIN

Another spot we checked out was Santee Alley in Downtown LA. Located in LA’s Fashion District they have everything from clothing, toys, knock-off purses, to Halloween contact-lenses.

Santee Alley is one of the most popular retail shopping areas in the LA Fashion District, best known for its festival-like atmosphere and amazing bargains. Santee Alley’s 150+ stores and vendors sell everything – apparel for the entire family, accessories, toys, perfume, gift items and much more! (Explore Santee)

Santee Alley is an actual alley, located between Santee Street and Maple Avenue, from Olympic Boulevard to 12th Street. It is open 365 days a year, including all holidays.

Santee Alley Address: 

319 E Olympic Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90015

Santee1

As far as the toys, pretty much everyone is selling the same thing just walk a few more feet and the next guy is selling the identical thing. Which helps in negotiating. They have tons of clothing here for men and women especially. Everything here is negotiable so don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Chances are they’ll give it to you at the price you want otherwise walk away and look somewhere else.
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The food is like your usual Mexican Street food. From fresh fruit, already pre packed and freshly cut for the day, to bacon wrapped hot dogs all from street vendors.  It’s all for the experience and the culture that lives within Downtown LA. Don’t miss out on all the tasty treats! It’s definitely something we enjoyed as a couple. LA3

 

Check out more of our family travels here on the blog! Click above to Life & Family to Family Adventures. I also created a page for San Francisco, and Sacramento. Both two of our most frequent spots we travel too.

 

I also try my best to upload my family vlogs as we visit different cities. This is something new, I’ve started within the summer. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a balance in created and editing on top of the up keep for my blog. But if you’re more of a visual person, and want to see San Francisco, and the discoveries here in Northern California, check out my newest YouTube Channel –different form my craft channel!

 

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