Behold the laid back, surfer cool, palm tree lined, wide sandy beaches of Southern California. It was my first time here!
We were staying in Santa Ana for a wedding and on the day of decided to spend the morning in Newport. We walked the pier and the beach, feeling invigorated by the suns warmth and salt water. Then we headed south to Laguna Beach. Downtown Laguna is bustling with fine art galleries and beachy shops; it's very picturesque and artsy. The landscape is essentially a canyon surrounded by rolling hills with wide arched beachfront coves. We had lunch at Nick's (440 South Coast Hwy) - a go to spot of the bride and groom. It was packed but we managed to snag seats at the bar next to the breezy open windows and street front patio. We loved the California comfort food menu, the Asparagus Fries ($11), Shrimp Taqutios ($13) and Spicy Thai Soba Noodle Salad ($18) were all terrific. The fun pink cocktail is a Spicy Paloma ($14) made with milagro reposado tequila, jalapeño, basil and grapefruit.
After the wedding we road tripped east and spent time in the desert. On the return prior to our flight out of LGB we hung out in Huntington Beach. We had an early dinner at Duke's (317 Pacific Coast Hwy) located right at the pier - it was recommended by locals in the surf shop across the street and turned out to be a great meal. We started with Moana Margaritas ($11) and the Crispy Coconut Shrimp ($12) with lilikoi chili water + green papaya slaw. I had Sauteed Macadamia Nut + Herb Crusted Ono ($18) - a Hawaiian white fish dusted in parmesan panko with tomato lemon caper butter, house rice, bok choy + macadamia nut slaw; Bob went with the Chef's Cheeseburger ($16) an angus chuck, brisket + hanger grind with smoked cheddar, black pepper bacon aioli, pickled maui onions + arugula on a brioche bun with a side of grilled asparagus. A pretty west coast sunset later and it was off to catch our red eye.
While the beaches are nice, no doubt relaxed and sunny and beautiful, the desert was life changing and easily my favorite part of Southern California. Can't wait to share more!