A Piece of the World in Escondido

San Diego is at the Southernmost part of the Golden State and it features many touristic attractions that are both unique and world renowned such as the culturally enriching Balboa park, the charming Coronado Island, and the controversial Sea World. Amongst these popular touristic loactions is the San Diego Zoo which is one of the most famous zoo’s in the world.

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals from more than 800 different species. A notable feature of the San Diego Zoo is that they participate in the preservation of species and breed many animals at risk of extinction such as Rhinos. These endangered species are released into their natural habitats in the wild if suitable for the animal.

The San Diego Safari Park is a lesser known park that is owned by the San Diego Zoo. At the safari park you are able to experience the wildlife in a different manner than at any zoo. The safari park has attractions that the zoo does not offer. These attractions include a zipline ride across several of the animal exhibits, a hot air ballon lift that provides a bird’s eye-view of the entire park, and a caravan that takes you into the African savanna animal exhibit’s that contains Rhinos, Giraffes, and Buffalos. The Wildlife Safari caravan is our personal favorite. You get to ride in the back of an open-air safari truck and feel as though you have been transported to Africa. The ride is 1-hour long and is equally relaxing as it is exciting. While the zookeepers are careful to promise anything, on every occasion that we have done the caravan we have been able to both feed both Rhinos and Giraffes and have even been able to pet the Rhinos.

The Wildlife Safari caravan has always been the most memorable part of our visits to the safari park. If you are only able to do one attraction while visiting the park, we highly recommend choosing this one. Other fun and interactive exhibits include the Wallaby and Lemur exhibits. In the Wallaby exhibit you are able to walk down a winding path lined with various types of Wallaby’s and Kangaroos. Currently, the animals can only be observed and not pet, but hopefully soon they will allow the petting of these furry cuties again. In the Lemur exhibit, you are able to walk around their home which contains various trees for them to relax on. While the Lemur’s are not available for petting, it is exciting to be so close to these intriguing animals.

The San Diego Safari Park has attractions and exhibits for everyone. Each animal exhibit transports you to the jungles of the Amazon, savannas in Africa, and the unique island of Madagascar. If you are in the Escondido area and are in the mood for a bit of world exploration without the travel restrictions consider supporting this preservation mission by visiting the San Diego Safari Park your travel senses and the animals will thank you.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Kat + Alex’s Tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes-you will definitely get your 10,000 steps in here!
  • If visiting in hot summer months, consider bringing an umbrella or hat as it is all outdoors.
  • Their ice cream cookie sandwich is actually delicious if you’re in the mood for a sweet snack!
  • Get to the Safari Park early and during the week if you can in order to beat the heat and the crowds

Stay wild!

Kat + Alex ~

Garden Oasis on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

Rancho Palos Verdes is a city located in Los Angeles, California that is resplendent with rolling hills and stunning ocean views. It is home to the famous Terranea Resort which is a luxurious resort with Mediterannean-inspired architecture. The stunning resort has been featured in popular Hollywood films such as Charlie’s Angels, The Aviator, This is 40, and Pirates of the Caribbean among many others. While we could speak for days about the Terranea Resort, what makes it such a special place is how the Mediterannean architecture complements the gorgeous landscape without detracting from its beauty.

This is a common theme in all the infrastructure built on the beautiful Palos Verdes hillsides. The South Coast Botanic Garden is no exception. The garden sits on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the heart of the town. Upon arriving at the gardens you are surrounded by statuesque trees and are immediately presented with an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The garden expands across 87 acres of well maintained landscape that includes many unique species of trees, shrubs, and flowers.

The Most Beautiful Botanical Garden in Los Angeles

Two highlights of the garden for us were the enchanting Banyan Grove and the delightful New Rose Garden. The Banyan Grove is a portion of the garden that is lined with Moreton Bay Fig trees. These trees have thick roots that extend outwards covering the surrounding ground, their grand presence provides immense amounts of shade and transports you to your favorite fairy-tale. The New Rose Garden is also impressive in its own right. Here you will find a wide array of thriving roses varying in colors and scents. There are gazebos throughout the New Rose Garden that allow you to admire the roses from the shade.

Whether you are looking for a calm environment to have a picnic, a new scenery to provide artistic inspiration, or are a horticulture enthusiast, the South Coast Botanic Garden is a must see! It is an experience that is cheap monetarily but has a rich impact on your soul.

All in the Details:

  • $15 Admission for Adults; $11 for Senior and Students (Kids under the age of 4 FREE)
  • FREE Admission every 3rd Tuesday of the month
  • Peacock walks premises freely, see if you can spot it!

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~Albert Einstein~

If you stop, make sure to smell the roses.

Kat + Alex ~

A Journey Through Crystal Cove

The Most Breathtaking Hike in Orange County

If you take a drive down Pacific Coast Highway in Orange County you are certain to be left in awe by a little strip of coastline that is uncluttered by infrastructure. Nestled between the touristic destination of Laguna Beach and the small beach town Corona Del Mar, lies Crystal Cove. Crystal Cove State Park is a 3.5 mile stretch of natural beauty uninhibited by its urban surroundings. The park contains several campgrounds and wonderful hiking trails.

We decided to take a journey of the entire park and really experience its majestic peaks and valleys. The Crystal Cove Red Route is a difficult hike that takes you on a 9.2 mile trek around the Crystal Cove State Park. It’s highest elevation is 1,600 feet which is an arduous climb, but once you turn to glance at the view a deep calm sets in and you forget the struggle to reach the top. The first part of the hike is the most laborious as you scale the Crystal Cove mountain side, however, once you reach the peak, the land levels out and you gain a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking landscape.

When you gaze out onto the ocean with the sun glistening on its surface, then look back to the hillside replete with unique foliage and adorable creatures you come to understand why people are willing to pay absurd amounts of money to have a front row seat in this spectacular location. The view is simply priceless.

There are many intersecting trails in this region, thus, it is important to have a reliable guide to follow in order to complete the route and end your journey back where you began. We referenced an article written by “The Hiking Guy” on his website: hikingguy.com. His article is an invaluable source of information for all things hiking including what to bring, where to go, and more. The article he wrote for the Crystal Cove Red Route trail provided turn by turn trail directions with descriptive captions along with photos. We highly recommend visiting his site for any questions you may have with regards to hiking.

If you are looking for a challenging and picturesque hike in Orange County, this hike is the one for you! It challenges you with lofty inclines, then rewards you with astounding views similar to the way in which we all tend to experience life.

“The best view comes after the hardest climb.”


Inside Scoop:

  • Furry friends not welcome on this hike 😦
  • Parking Fee ($15 for 3 hours)
  • Allow 3-4 hours to complete (or up to 6 if you are not an avid hiker)
  • Portable restrooms available along trail

Enjoy the climb, but relish the view!

Kat + Alex ~


Daydreaming in Disney

One of the major tourist destinations in California is the self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on the Earth” Disneyland. For us, Disneyland is not only a place for fun and happiness, but it is also very inspirational. The original Disneyland theme park was opened on July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California. Disney’s amazing success did not come without struggles.

Walt Disney reportedly visited over 300 financiers and bankers in an attempt to fund his dream of an amusement park that would bring his cartoon characters to life. Disney parks and resorts generated over $20 billion in revenue in the year 2018. Disneyland is the number two most visited amusement park in the world trailing behind the Magic Kingdom in Florida. These parks have brought joy to countless families worldwide, giving them a safe place to laugh and dream together.

Imagine if Walt Disney had given up on creating the park after getting his idea rejected 100 times. Most people would argue that if you have attempted something 100 times without gaining traction, it may be time to pursue another “dream”. While it is true that most “dreams” or goals that we have are not of the same magnitude as a global phenomenon like the Disney Corporation, the majority of our goals have the potential to impact not only our own lives positively but also the lives of those around us.

Maybe your “Walt Disneyesque” dream is to sell your paintings to others, or to open a fitness studio in your neighborhood, or to share your homemade recipes online, or to be the next Broadway star. Whatever your dreams may be, however big or seemingly insignificant they might seem, if they light a fire in you, if you courageously and relentlessly pursue them not only will they succeed but they will have a positive impact on others. Life is about harnessing our strengths and passions and sharing those with others.

This is one of the many reasons we love visiting the Disneyland Resort. It fills us with the courage to pursue our dreams and remember that every amazing success story begins with a dream and a deep desire to go after it. The crazier that idea seems, the more determined you should be to make it a reality because everything seems impossible before it is done. So when you do get the chance to visit this magical place, make sure you allow some time for daydreaming and once you leave the fun-filled place that was once someone’s dream, go out and pave the way for your dreams to become reality.

Kat + Alex’s Disney Favorites:

  • Thunder Mountain Railroad (Ride) – this is a mini roller coaster that is in the form of a train riding through the Wild West wilderness. The wait time for this ride is usually about 30-45 minutes long, but if you get to the park early or when they are preparing for parades, the wait can be as short as 10-15 minutes!
  • Space Mountain (Ride) – arguably a favorite amongst all Disney goers and for good reason. This is the fastest roller coaster in the park with cool lighting and musical effects that are frequently changed to keep the ride novel. The ride’s popularity means that it also has the longest wait-times to be found in Disneyland. The wait time is usually 60 minutes long or more, sometimes it has risen up to 120 minutes. The long line sounds horrendous however, it really depends on who you are in line with. We have found that when we are in good company, the line allows us to have long, deep conversations that we normally wouldn’t have and the line passes by quicker than you would expect. So, just make sure you don’t decide to wait in this line with that one person…if you know, you know.
  • Dole Whip (Dessert) – like Space mountain, this dessert is raved about by Disney enthusiasts across the globe. The Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve ice cream. It has the perfect balance of being tart from the pineapple, and sweet from the vanilla ice-cream. Give this one a chance, we guarantee it will not disappoint!
  • Animation Academy (Activity) – the animation academy is found in the Hollywood Studios section of California Adventure. Here you will be given a clipboard with a large blank canvas and a pencil. The class is led by an animator who will walk you through the various steps of drawing an animated character. Here you can learn how to draw nostalgic characters like Mickey and Minnie, or newer Disney characters like Frozen’s Olaf and Sven. Our artistic abilities when it comes to drawing are like a negative five, but with this class, we are able to draw something that is a semblance of the character. These classes typically run every 30 minutes and end around 5:00 p.m., so be sure to check them out if you are in the park in the day time!

“First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.”

– Walt Disney

~Don’t ever give up on your dreams.~

Kat + Alex ✨

Scenic Hike in Laguna Beach

Our view, at The Top of The World, Laguna Beach, CA, when Ron proposed to  me | Laguna beach, California camping, Beach tops

Hiking has easily become our favorite outdoors activity to do. It is a free way to get in exercise and fresh air. Both southern and northern California are celebrated for their many stunning hiking trails. From the breath taking Yosemite Valley to the coastline of Big Sur to the barren serenity of the Mojave Desert, California is home to a wide variety of beautiful geographic locations to explore.

While Orange County, California is known mainly for the flashy lives of rich population that lives here thanks to the entertainment brought to us by the Real Housewives of Orange County and the drama filled lives of the teens on Laguna Beach, Orange County is home to many marvelous landscapes worth exploring.

One particular landscape worth visiting is Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is a quaint seaside community located in southern Orange County that is well-known for a fresh year-round climate, gorgeous coves, and a community of impressive artists. While there is much to discover in this lovely town, the first thing we recommend visiting is the famous hiking trail known as “Top of the World”.

Its name may sound exaggerated until you visit the scenic wonder. “Top of the World” hiking trail is found by traveling 1.8 miles up the mountain on Park Ave. It is nestled in a residential community of homes seated on the spectacular mountainside. There is free parking along the sidewalk as well as a small parking lot adjacent to the hiking trails entrance that usually has parking spots available. Free, convenient parking is something we cherish when it comes to hiking spots!

“Top of the World” has an elevation of 1,000 feet which allows for stunning views of the coastline as well as a glimpse into the rest of Orange County from a bird’s eye view. The main trail is the one that we usually take, the Canyon Acres Trail, which is a 2.4 mile trek with a good mixture of inclines as well as some flatter stretches.

The climate is usually fresh on this trail however, it can become blisteringly hot specifically during the summer months. We recommend visiting in the early morning, preferably before 11 a.m. during the summer months to avoid the heat.

Perhaps our favorite thing about this hiking trail is that unlike other trails in Orange County, this trail allows our four-legged friends to come along for the fun! My German Shepherd and Golden Retriever are big fans of this spot as there are many furry friends to meet along the way!

There is fun for the whole family on this picturesque trail. If you have never visited the “Top of the World” trails you are seriously missing out! Give this trail a try on your next explorative outing! We promise it will not disappoint!

~Happy exploring!~

Kat & Alex

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