We finally made it to California safe and sound and more than ready to be out of the car for a while. Brooke has become the 4 year old road trip queen. Normally we take Brooke to Northern California for her to visit her dad but with our custody agreement, I bring her to Southern California once a year and that is usually during the holidays.
So that is why we are here and Brooke is going to have the time of her life. I feel very lucky that Andrew and I both ‘get it’ when it comes to saying goodbye to kids on weekends/holidays/etc and it is amazing to have that support from each other. We will miss them like crazy but we gotta keep doing the best thing for them and continue to support their other relationships as much as possible.
Just be prepared to hear about how much I miss them for the next week though;) When we don’t have them (for longer than just a date night) I always have moments where I freak out because they aren’t right next to me or reach for their hands… it’s strange to not have your little sidekicks with you when you are so used to it!
And miss the wonderful scenes like this one from our house the other night ha. They did a great job cleaning this up afterwards though:)
After dropping off Brooke we drove another hour to our hotel (by then I was really ready to be out of the car). Andrew and I decided that we are going to stay in Laguna for the week. He found a killer deal on a hotel (plus all of his expedia credit stuff) so we packed our lives with us.
Of course the mountain bike came too. I’m more than happy to have a week of perfect temperatures to run in. We are going to get in a lot of exploring this next week (with your help too please).
Our hotel room has a mini kitchen because we really wanted to be able to have breakfast and most of our lunches here rather than eating out every meal.
Once we unpacked (I am kind of crazy about that and have to do that FIRST thing when I get somewhere) we went down to Laguna Beach for dinner. Santa made sure to stop by for a picture. It made me strangely excited.
We went to Nick’s Laguna Beach for dinner and oh my goodness, it was amazing. We started with shrimp taquitos.
And then I had a halibut sandwich and an amazing salad. I’ll be eating a lot of seafood while we are here… Utah seafood does not compare.
We then walked around the little town by the beach and went into the different art stores.
And made sure to go down by the water too.
On the way home we decided to search for dessert (neither of us drink so dessert is our highlight while we are out) and we came across Cream. Andrew really wanted the donut ice cream sandwich but they were out, so we will be back again for more.
The Cream Taco was amazing though (I couldn’t finish it but the cinnamon churro flavor was incredible).
Andrew had the waffle sandwich and was very happy about it!
We finished off the night by checking out the hotel gym and then going to the hot tub (I really wouldn’t mind having one of these).
Oh, a good hotel gym… how I love you.
We need your recommendations! Where to eat, where to run, where to visit, where to explore in Laguna (or close to that)?
Nearest large body of water to you? Lakes? An ocean? A river?
Parents reading that have split schedules with your kids… what are your holiday arrangements?
What are your feelings on seafood?
-Love it all.
I hope you have a great week! I bet the weather is perfect! I live in south florida where it’s always warm/humid. I love living near the beach and going there for a run every day, but I would love to live on the west coast someday where it’s less hot and much less humid. Is it terrible that I live on the atlantic ocean and never eat seafood? I have a fish phobia (long story, hhaha)!
Sally @ sweatoutthesmallstuff
I live on the east coast so I’ve got the ocean right by me. I don’t think I could ever move away. I love it.
My boyfriend is divorced and has two girls 11 & 13. I always feel bad that they have to split weekends and holidays. He gets them every other weekend and Wednesday nights. He gets them only until 8pm on Christmas Eve and never on Christmas Day. His ex couldn’t bear to be without her girls on Christmas Day. But she gave up thanksgiving so he gets them every thanksgiving. Recently his 13 year old confided in me that she wishes they didn’t have to rush on sundays to get home by 7pm (per agreement when they have school). She was so sweet to start off by saying “I know it’s because of the divorce ageeement but…”. I learn a whole lot from those kids resilience.
Drive a little south and visit Dana Point, it’s lovely!
Thanks Janae for all the great pics and stories over the years. I just included Hungry Runner Girl as one of my favorite blogs on my personal blog. Happy holidays!
meredith (The Cookie ChRUNicles)
have the best time! I love a good dessert, especially on vacation when we discover new good spots…I live right by the atlantic ocean which is super nice in the spring and summer! my ex and I keep a really loose and flexible schedule so we don’t follow any set plans on vacation weeks, holidays or even weekends anymore now that my son is a bit older! it works well for us but we also living within 20 minutes of eachother so that makes the difference as well.
Awesome week for a visit. Check out el morro/ crystal cove. Great mountain bike riding and trail running. My personal favorite!!!! If you have time and need more hills try Aliso creek trail it’s a little drive but worth it. Top of the world is great for riding!
Have fun Laguna!!!!! You are surrounded by great running and shopping! Ha. Who could ask for more!!!!
Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side
I was going to suggest Top of the World, it’s a great trail, and view! We hike it every Saturday morning. Have fun in Laguna, oh and try Montage, it’s an awesome hotel and beach area, just down from where you are!
Growing up in Michigan, we were never far from lakes (either little lakes or the Great Lakes). Now that I live in NC, I’m not far from the beach! (less than 2 hours with traffic to Myrtle beach or the Outer Banks!)
I could literally live on seafood — it’s my favorite thing! But hubby doesn’t like it when I cook it at home, since the scent lingers in our little kitchen. He doesn’t like any type of swimming fish, but will eat crab, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and lobster – as long as there is LOTS of melted butter (^_^)
Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog
The closest body of water to me is the Potomac River. It’s pretty, but it’s filthy!
For seafood, I like salmon and tuna (steaks, not in a can) and absolutely nothing else. That made living in New Orleans for 10 years kind of rough, lol.
Michele at Everyday Snapshot
Haha, I have to unpack first thing too. Have to. And I really dislike going from place to place on vacation, because of the packing and unpacking. I prefer to stay at the same place, to feel settled. Anyway, when my step son was younger, we were only 1 town away from his Mom, so it made arrangements easier. She have Cmas Eve, we had Cmas Day. And all other holidays were alternated. I love seafood and anytime I’m on the coast, which is not often, I just get as much as possible. It’s so good. Enjoy that awesome gym!
I live in Miami so the lakes and the sea are the largest bodies of water near me.
Regarding seafood, I will put it this way: If seafood is the only thing there’s to eat, I’ll eat it and enjoy it. If you let me pick between seafood and a good steak, I’ll go for the steak. Yeah, I know I’m weird.
Nick’s is super good. If you like seafood, you HAVE to go to Slapfish. It has the best seafood in OC that isn’t crazy expensive. I also love Bear Flag Fish Company in Newport Beach on the peninsula, and its sister restaurant, Wild Taco, is one of my favorite taco places in OC, my hubby and I go there almost every week (also on the peninsula). It’s sooo good. You can take the ferry to Balboa Island from there and walk around, Balboa Island is super cute! Also great: Sidecar Donuts in Costa Mesa (best donuts everrrr). For running in Laguna, I would recommend Top of the World, which is the starting point to miles and miles of trails in the Aliso Canyon Wilderness Park. Great mountain biking, too, for Andrew! Hope you have a great time :)
Ahh cream looks so good!
Nearest body of lake near me – Lake Michigan! Although I haven’t seen it in weeks because it’s been WAY too cold to run outside. Sticking to the treadmill for a while :)
Have a great week!!
I live in Eastern Iowa, right along the Mississippi River. I just started running this year and I usually go to the path that follows along the river front. This time of year is challenging to get out (-35*F windchill) but there’s usually Bald Eagles at some point in the trees as I run.
I know you are going to miss those babies but ENJOY this time with Andrew!!!! It sounds like you are going to have an amazing week!
We have never been the CA but it is definitely on our bucket list and when that time comes I will definitely be asking you for all kinds of recommendations!! I love that you found the gym at the hotel and dessert out. Sounds like us! My husband knows not to book a hotel without a gym and the 1st thing we research is where the best dessert shops are!!!
The only thing about being in Charlotte is that we are far from a good body of water. . . at least 3 hours. We do live 3o min from 2 pretty good lakes.
Have a wonderful and relaxing week!!!!!
Welcome to SoCal! It has been COLD here lately (for us – but I imagine it probably feels good to you ?) If you get the chance, go to Dana Point. I live in Ssn Diego, but we go up to OC a few times a year, and I just love it up there. Lots of great seafood and eateries! Plus, it’s probably decked out for the holidays. Oh and in Laguna – Crystal Cove is great for mountain biking and Beachcomber Cafe is REALLY good! Have an awesome time, and Merry Christmas!
Mium m seafood! All kind any kind, I love it! I have to travel for work so I also get how hard it is to not be with our little ones for a few days. But if they are happy and well taken care of it makes it easier ;-) spending special moments with your significant other is also great. Hope you and Andrew enjoy it!
I love that photo of you and Brooke. Laguna sounds so great but I know nothing about it to be honest.
Living on the East Coast, we have the shore so that’s always nice.
Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona
I’m very lucky that there’s two rivers that go through the city I live in, and one of my favorite parks is right along side one of them. One of my favorite spots n that park has a couple mini waterfalls not far from the river. Whenever I walk down to them I think that they belong in a fairy tale.
I live right next to the TN river…………………….the running path I take is right next to it so it is beautiful! But I would not get in the water……………..current is way too strong, although they do have an Iron Man swim portion in it.
I like seafood and am willing to try most things, but I prefer tuna, mahi mahi, and things like that……………nothing too odd!
This is one of those times when I wish we could meet up for a hot chocolate and talk. Christmastime is the toughest time for custody arrangements, because every emotion is magnified. My kids are here Christmas Eve to Christmas morning, and then they go to their dad’s on Christmas morning. Andrew’s kids are with their mom on Christmas Eve and then they come here Christmas Day at noon. The only time we have everyone here is on the 22nd and 23rd, where we are cramming as much family time as possible into those two days. My kids come back on the 27th for another family gathering, and then their dad’s getting married on the 30th! It is going to be a VERY emotion-filled holiday season for everyone this year. I am approaching it with a soft heart and an open mind, and I’m going to start each morning with a few minutes of prayer and gratitude, just to keep my mind and heart in the right place. We can do this, right?! Gooooo team! xo
I like your way of thinking……”start each morning with a few minutes of prayer and gratitude, just to keep my mind and heart in the right place.” I had my good cry Sunday morning before a family (my Dad’s side) Christmas get-together. My mom, handicapped sister and step-dad moved to Idaho this past summer and I’m missing my other sister, brother-in-law, and nephews, who lives in Utah, like crazy (we are close). It was made 10x worse when my sister said they thought of coming to Missouri for Christmas but the drive is too long. On top of this my husband’s mom passed away 2 years ago and we all miss her. I love Christmas and celebrating the birth of our Savior and try to pass this to our kids along with all our favorite traditions. While they are never too far from my mind I can still spread holiday cheer to those around me. Merry Christmas Everyone!
I used to live about 7 miles from Laguna! Laguna in December is not a bad place to be. We loved to hike in Crystal Cove and it’s probably perfect weather for it right now. We loved Casa Ranchero in Ladera Ranch (where we used to live). It’s probably a 20 minute drive but in my opinion, totally worth it. Also, if you can find a Nekter, get a Toxin Flush. Amazing! Old San Juan (Capistrano) is fun, as is Dana Point. Have so much fun! And have an In n Out burger for me, please?
Mountain biking? ice cream donut sandwich?? Ross will be super jealous. Heck, I am super jealous. It was so cold yesterday. I want to be somewhere warm. Hope you guys have so much fun!
One last recommendation…we stayed at Montage Laguna Beach one weekend and ate at their restaurant. Kind of fancy and the food is good but the views are unreal. And they have the most gorgeous kitchen garden right next to the restaurant where they grow the veggies and herbs for their dishes.
SIDE CAR Donuts in Costa Mesa. The line is usually long but the quality is unreal! Also, the BeachComber in Newport Coast is super great for breakfast. If you sit on the patio and it’s chilly out, they’ll have blankets to wrap up in.
I live in Newport Beach! If/when you go to Newport Beach: Fashion Island is a great outdoor mall to enjoy the weather. Take the ferry from Balboa Island to the Peninsula, park and walk around the pier, etc. (it’s like $2 cash for your car to drive on and a lot of fun for a short ride). Go to Bear Flag in Newport as well for fish tacos and poke then you can walk around that pier, grab ice cream, more seafood at the Crab Cooker or Slapfish. The two piers in Newport are only 2 miles apart with a running/biking path the whole way so it’s great for quick flat runs, it actually goes beyond each pier a little so it’s maybe closer to 3 or 4 miles? You can run down to the end of the peninsula using a combo of the boardwalk and streets and see the Wedge where there are famously big waves for surfers when the weather’s right.
Laguna is beautiful but a small community and very hilly so definitely drive up to Newport, it’s super lively and entertaining! I also agree with Crystal Cove and eating in the sand at the Beachcomber.
I live right down PCH in Corona del Mar! We love running in Crystal Cove State park, and they have lots of great trails for biking too!
I have a friend that lives in Laguna Niguel (really close to laguna beach) and whenever I visit she takes me to Dana Point and we walk around the harbor. Has a bunch of cute shops and nice scenery with all the boats docked.
I don’t think you can go wrong with food there, anything with fresh seafood is a win!
Have a great time and a wonderful Christmas!
Have fun in Laguna. Always wanted to go there. We live in Waco which has two rivers cut through it and a Lake. There are amazing trails and outdoor adventures all around. Plus we are only 4 hrs from the Gulf of Mexico which makes for amazing seafood in Texas.
Hi Janae! I live really close to the river but the sea is also close by so I get to go to the beach a lot even in winter time. It’s rarely too cold so we can run or just walk close to the water and it’s super nice.
I really like sea food but now there are lots of things I can’t eat because i was diagnosed with a thing in my esophagus (don’t know the name in english).
Hope you guys have an amazing time!
Happy Holidays. I don’t usually comment but I wanted to say how much I admire the way you support Brooke’s relationship with her father and his family. You have never once put anything negative in your blog about that and Brooke is so lucky to have a parent who can rise above and put her first!
The Deck on Laguna Beach – go there at sunset :)
Come to LA for a day :) you can ice skate in the middle of downtown at Pershing square, try lots of different food at grand central market (best on weekend mornings but busy), go on the new skyslide at the library tower, check out the contemporary art museum, eat amazing Japanese food in little Tokyo… i could go on and on. And of course there’s Hollywood with all it has to offer, and excellent hiking nearby at Griffith park, great views and awesome planetarium shows at the Griffith observatory, fancy Christmas decorations and a sprinkles cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills… I’m not Mormon but if you haven’t seen the LA temple, it looks like a beautiful building with great views. Anyway. I live in LA if you can’t tell ☺️ Maybe you just want to hang out in the OC but I hope you’ll come back and check out more of LA some day. Have a great Christmas Janae!
Marissa @ Run Riss Run
The hubs and I hit up Laguna Beach a few years ago for our anniversary and we ate at K’ya Bistro, which if I remember correctly was mainly tapas, which made it super fun to try everything :)
We live about 2 1/2 hours from the beach, which is the perfect day trip distance.
I don’t split my time with the kiddos; however, I feel for you and you all seem to be doing a great job!
Oh my yum! That donut ice cream sandwich looks incredible! So sad they were out. But at least the other desserts that you all chose look incredible as well. My mouth is drooling over here!
i work right on the Boston waterfront so I see the harbor right outside my window! I absolutely love it, especially during the summer months :)
also, random but I did your pyramid treadmill workout this morning before work! I cut it a bit short at the end, but ended up doing 8.1 miles in an hour. it was a great workout and time flew by! I loved it! thank you so much for posting it
I live in Tahoe so there’s a big blue lake nearby. Coming from the mountains, I know just how magical it is to be at the Coast. Enjoy your week in Laguna! I’m sure it’s hard missing the kiddos, but how nice that you and Andrew get some alone time. Soak up the sunshine and dirt!
We always travel with a bike or two. And I unpack as soon as I check into a hotel, too. Not crazy, just efficient!
When we’re in Hawaii we are surrounded by the Pacific, and home is Simi Valley, CA, not too far from the Pacific. I grew up in California and I can’t imagine not being able to be at the beach in just a few hours.
I’ve only been through Laguna so no recommendations, but I’m sure there’s some great Mexican food there. Enjoy the sunshine!
Shay @ Whine Less, Breathe More
We live 1.5 miles from a 1700-acre freshwater lake surrounded by woods and trails. It is where I spend every minute that I can! It’s my happy place.
My girls tend to do what they want as far as seeing their dad now that they are teenagers. My youngest will see him most holidays, if it is his turn/year, but she tends to not stay as long per visit now. My oldest only visits him a few hours once a year for Christmas/her birthday. They have a complicated relationship. She’s also very busy with college full-time and working two part-time jobs.
No seafood for me. I’m a vegetarian. =)
I hope you treat this time together like a honeymoon and absolutely dote on eachother. :)
I LOVE all seafood and I live a few steps away from a river.
I second what LS says- perfect recommendations!!
I second what LS says- perfect recommendations!!
I live near the ocean and I love it. I’m a water girl, I’d say it’s because I’m a July baby but my parents were beach people and they’re both born in the winter months. I actually don’t think I could live far from the water. (lake or river would be okay).
I’ve never been to Laguna, it looks beautiful.
I love seafood except for mussels. (bad case of food poisoning ended any enjoyment I had for them). There is nothing like fresh seafood.
New Jersey = the ocean :-) I love love love seafood !
What a way to make the most of this time and supporting the relationships! Is it less emotional? Or, maybe more emotionally intelligent? I’m seeing this more and more: divorced people making the most of these arrangements for the kids and themselves.
During one of your more recent support periods I thought about how some/ many parents say they want a break. Well, in these situations, it’s built-in. (no sarcasm) Then the bigger thought was how parents, like the helicopters, get to acting like parenting is a lot like micro-management. Done right, maybe something like your example and the others I’m seeing, could the kids benefit and come away stronger because there is less room for the helicopter style? I’m thinking yes. Merry, merry.
I saw a little bit about Corona del Mar. There’s big Corona and little Corona – two beaches. Some major hills and a bit set of stairs. Plus a view of the Wedge from the other side.
No shortage of activities for you this week. For groceries, consider Mother’s Market. It’s OC only. Costa Mesa, 19th St., probably your best location. I think Side Car is close to it. We’ve got Orange Theory and others for studio workouts, too – maybe different from home.
I had a hot tub…..we had to leave it behind when we moved……along with the home gym. Sad times.
Janae…crazy. I have been reading your blog for three years and you are in my hometown.
I was born and raised in Laguna Beach and lived there my whole life. I’m 32 now, and have run 36 (uh huh) 36 marathons. I love to run.-! And j have loves following your journey…all the way up to Andrew, and seeing God’s faithfulness – again and again.
I have NEVER commented on your blog but your vacation warrants some recommendations!!
– please hike dartmoor (Google the rd. Park. Hike up 20 minutes for the most epic views. It’s located in north Laguna.
– back bay. Loop it. On bike or foot. It’s 10 miles.
– el morro (access through Newport Coast) great trails up there.
-woods cove – go visit the blow hole in the tide pools.
– balboa island (so this is 10 minutes up the coast in Newport beach but so epic in Christmas with the boat lights. Most festive little island you ever did see. Also fun for a morning run and post run donut. Take the ferry over to the peninsula. Go check the surf.
Wow – again so cool to find you in Laguna Beach, it’s a truly special place :)
If I’m not mistaken the Christmas Sawdust Festival is going on right now in Laguna. It showcases local arts and crafts. Also the Newport Beach boat parade is happening so the peninsula and Balboa island will be crowded at night with probably very few reservations available, but if you can swing it watching from either side of the bay is fun.
My personal favorite donut place is O Those Donuts. Sidecar is yummy if you like a unique donut, but O Those has amazing traditional donut; awesome fritters and the jelly filled are the best I’ve had.
As others mentioned Dana Point is a fun beach town and a little bit less touristy than Laguna.
Anaheim packing district
We live up in Pasadena but have a few favorites down by Laguna…
1. Rose’s Bakery… Amazing Diet Coke (their mix is spot on), sugar donuts, and low-fat bran muffins. The muffins are the best. Call early in the morning to reserve them or the day before. Also, I love the salsa from Rose’s, I order it by the pint.
2. Sidecar Donuts, http://www.sidecardoughnuts.com/ You will never eat a better DONUT. Go everyday!
3. Hopdoddy’s – Fashion Island. Their Truffle Fries are amazing, along with the Nutella Shake, and I love the vege burger but my husband loves the chicken.
If you want some Asian food, drive to Irvine (on jamboree rd) and check out the shopping center with the huge hmart (gigantic Korean grocery store)
There’s an 85 degrees bakery(yummy cheap bread and boba tea drinks, ramen, soon tofu soup restaurant (bcd), Korean BBQ, etc.
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bcd-tofu-house-irvine?ylist=diamond-jamboree-reviews-irvine (It’s 24 hours!)
There’s also a huge parking lot behind the businesses because parking looks crazy.. but it’s not.
We always stop there to eat after going to crystal cove. We also love driving around and looking at all the crazy beautiful houses in laguna on the winding streets.
Have a fun time in California! I’d love to stay at the beach…