Things to do in Southern California in the Summer

Things to do in Southern California in the Summer

I feel like California is the epitome of summer. The sun is always shining and there’s palm trees everywhere. The beach is, of course, a must during the summer but the cool thing about SoCal is that there’s so much to do. Here’s some things that I want to do and you can definitely check out!

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US Open of Surfing

If you’re looking to go to the beach in a completely different way, check out the US Open of Surfing. Trust me, even if you don’t know much about surfing you’ll love it. It takes place in Huntington Beach every year late July and it’s so fun. You can watch the competitions for free and there’s even a festival area where they have booths and food. Last year the Vans owner made hot dogs every day. Seriously one of my favorite ways to enjoy the beach in the summer. 

Botanical Gardens & Views

I like to look at pretty things and flowers so this is the perfect time to visit. One of the places I’ve been dying to go is the Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens down in San Marino, CA. It’s basically all my favorite things in one. You can look at all the gardens and go inside to cool down and still explore and look at some history. Museums and small gems like this can get overlooked so it’s a perfect time to check them out.

Movies at Random Places

So many good movies are out this summer (looking at you Spider-Man) and we all know how packed movie theaters get. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of cities are making movie nights in different areas. There’s some at the beach, parks, even cemeteries. Seriously, it’s interesting to see where some of these take place. Make sure to look up your city and see what kind of community movies they are having!


What’s your favorite thing to do in the summer?

Disneyland Planning Guide: On-Site & Off-Site Hotels

Disneyland Planning Guide: On-Site & Off-Site Hotels

Planning a Disney trip can be fun but also stressing when you’re trying to figure out the easiest and cheapest solutions. So on Twitter (I make a lot of important decisions based on feedback there so make sure to follow) I asked if I should do planning guides for Disneyland and Disney World and many said yes! So every week I will take an aspect that’s important when planning a trip and explain all the options and my experiences.

This is not a sponsored series, this is solely based on my own experiences. I get a lot of people asking for recommendations so I decided to get detailed with it! I will be alternating between Disneyland and Disney World, so make sure to follow along! To kick this off I will be talking about something important and that’s where to stay! I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts and favorite places to stay, so let’s begin.

On-Site Hotels

Paradise Pier Hotel

This is the only on-site hotel I have stayed at and it’s the cheaper of the three. It has a very laid back beach feel and has a direct view of California Adventure but still a bit more of a walk from the parks. If you want to stay on property but still want to stay in budget, this may be your best choice. There is character dining available at PCH Grill for breakfast and it was always a blast. From my experience though, I felt like rooms were a bit cramped, even when I got upgraded. Check it out here.

Disneyland Hotel

The classic hotel and one that will definitely get the magic going. This hotel will emerge you in everything Disneyland has to offer. The first on-site hotel, it’s the one with most history. Although it does sit at the end of Downtown Disney, the details and decor in this hotel will make it all worth it. The closest transportation is the monorail. I can’t say this enough, if you want to get the full magical experience, this is the hotel to stay at. It’s on the pricey end so it will be an investment. Check it out here.

Grand Californian Hotel

The newest of the three, this is the most beautiful, in my opinion. But it will cost you a pretty penny. It has a rustic, woodsy feel and features the Storytellers Cafe, which is cute for character dining. Grand Californian also has spas and a lot more activities to do when not in the parks. This hotel has direct access to California Adventure and sits at the center of Downtown Disney. If you’re looking for more of a luxurious touch to your trip, Grand Californian is the place to stay. Check it out here.

Pros of On-Site

  • The Whole Disney Experience: The main reason to stay on-site. You get Disney magic the second you check it and have it even when you’re not in the parks.
  • Extra Magic Hour: Stay on-site gives you access to the parks an hour early before they open for the public. Empty rides everywhere.
  • Distance and Transportation: Being on-site means you can easily use monorails, shuttles, etc. to get from your hotel to the parks.

Cons of On-Site

  • Price: One of the big cons is price. Since rooms are limited and it’s a Disney hotel, it’s going to cost you.
  • Availability: The Disneyland Resort only has 3 hotels (compared to WDW) so space runs out quickly if you don’t book in time.
  • Extra Magic Hour Times: Only certain days offer this and it’s not for both parks. You either get Disneyland or DCA and depends on the day.

Off-Site Hotels

Park Vue Inn

This is located directly across the Harbor entrance to the park. You just cross the street and you’re there. That’s one of the biggest wins. When I stayed there, it was comfortable, low noise, and offered a free hot breakfast and wifi. Park Vue has set pricing, regardless of when you book, so it’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking for deals. Check it out here.

Grand Legacy at the Park

From the places I have stayed in on Harbor, this has been the nicest. It recently got a revamp and it definitely worked. It’s luxurious and clean. There’s even a rooftop lounge, which is perfect for watching the fireworks. They offer many deals so keep your eyes pealed, especially if you’re a passholder, they have a special discount! However, housekeeping would leave my window open when they cleaned so I did have to let front desk know. It’s also at the corner of the street (facing Tower of Terror) so it’s a bit more of a walk. Check it out here.

Desert Inn and Suites

This location is also pretty close to the Harbor entrance. If you have a big family, Desert Inn has pretty great joint room options and are surprisingly very spacious. One of the things I liked was that it has garaged underground parking so it feels safer. Prices and rooms vary, so you do have to look into booking early on. Check it out here.

Pros of Off-Site

  • Assurance: Disneyland does have Good Neighbor Hotels so you can be assured that they’re good quality and you can save. 
  • Price: The best thing about staying off-site. There are plenty of options that can help you save.
  • Calmness: Staying off-site is easier to avoid the crowds if you want to take a complete break.

Cons of Off-Site

  • Distance: Probably one of the biggest cons. You will have to walk across the street or take a shuttle if your hotel offers it.
  • Not the Whole Experience: staying at a local hotel means you won’t be immersed in Disney magic. The Anaheim convention center is close by so you’ll have a lot of different people.
  • Walking: If you want to take a break during your day, you will have to walk back to your hotel, which takes time of your day or just adds more stress if you forget something.

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Do you prefer to stay on-site or off? What’s your favorite hotel?

 

Sun and Surfing | US Open

Sun and Surfing | US Open

Although I can’t swim, the beach is one of my favorite places ever. Something cool that happens here in California is the US Open of Surfing! This is seriously the epitome of summer. The first time I went was a few years ago when Hot Hot Heat and Weezer were playing. (Sadly they don’t do live concerts anymore) But I’ve been dying to come back and check it out once more and thankfully I got a chance this year!

Fun fact: Huntington Beach is nicknamed Surf City, so it’s the perfect setting for this event. Besides the surfing competitions, they also have skating and BMX so it’s super cool seeing all these types of talents flying around. Plus, the pier is across an amazing shopping strip which had a Sephora and Lemonade! It was quite the adventure.

Here are some pictures I took so y’all can visualize the mood!

The first weekend was actually really overcast and the surf was so high! They had to take some breaks for the fog to clear throughout the day. Even when the sun came out, it was still pretty chilly! But I’m all for it because sunburns are no fun.

There was a Vans popup shop, where I seriously splurged on merch and shoes. Plus, tons of activities like art sections and even arcade games! They created such a fun atmosphere with couches and of course, BBQs.

Since Vans took over (it used to be hosted by Hurley), I actually love the vibe more! It’s so carefree and people show up just to enjoy the atmosphere. I definitely gained more appreciation for Huntington Beach and need to explore around there a bit more. Also, the US Open of Surfing is one of the funnest competitions I’ve watched!

Here’s a video of it on my channel!

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What’s your favorite thing to do during the summer? Are you a beach lover like me?

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Disney Bucket List | Update

Disney Bucket List | Update

When I first made this bucket list, I didn’t think Disney would become what it did for me. It was just going to be a fun pastime that I would go to like 10 times in a year (real estimation we had) but Disney became so much more than that and I’m glad. I’m actually already planning a new list because things are getting crossed off so fast. For this bucket list I’m going to be sharing the favorite things I’ve done and what I haven’t! However, before I get into the bucket list, I need to explain why I love Disney so much.

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When we were kids we lived close to Disney but only went a few times. I never got to dress up like a princess or meet the characters, probably because I was so shy. But I never had that ultimate Disney experience. As I got older we probably went once a year but I just love the magic it has, although I was all about rides and Disney California Adventure and just getting my money’s worth. I honestly thought that when I got my pass I would go once in a while and ride California Screamin’ 30 times and then go home. But once I just started going with the flow, enjoying the little things, and people watching everything change. Disney is a fantasy and one I enjoy from the toils of my work week. I enjoy meeting people and having fun when meeting characters, which has made me step out of my comfort zone. People watching is so therapeutic and I get to spend a lot more time with my family all in one place. Disneyland gets you in the feels and just makes everything around you whimsical. I always get warm fuzzies when it’s dark and I’m at Fantasyland by Alice for some reason but that’s the moment why I get why Disneyland is such a magical place that people flock to.

People can think it’s weird or might tell me to chill. But everyone has a thing that makes them happy that they always gravitate to and Disney is that for me. Trust me, if I wasn’t there I would probably be shopping every weekend or stay home and do nothing. I usually do everything all or nothing. So if something makes me happy, I’m going to go to it. The following tweets kind of summarize everything.

That’s probably the reason I love Peter Pan so much is because Disney is like my Neverland. I know that one day I probably will grow up and not have a pass and things will change. It’s the place that keeps me imagining and where I can be weird and silly before I really grow up. So for now, I’ll keep being a lost girl and getting feels while watching Disneyland Forever and drinking all the hot chocolate at Jolly Holiday and enjoy all the magic that Disney has to offer. Live the magic.

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Now for the bucket list! I sincerely thought that this would take me the whole year but I think a lot of things were easier than I thought. I’m going to be sharing what my favorite things were and which I definitely need to do.

Disneyland

Like I said before, I used to be all about rides and never stopped to enjoy all Disney has to offer. This meant I had my first churro a couple of months ago. Crazy, I know.

Favorite Things: Spending all day at the park. I can probably live at Disneyland. I don’t even mind just being there and waiting for a parade doing nothing. I just love looking around. Meeting characters. I always thought I was too old for this but it’s so much fun. You can get the funniest conversations or random happenings. Watch Paint the night front row. I watched PTN the day I got my pass and that basically sealed my fate. I LOVE it. I found great places to watch it up close and even once got seated in reserved seats by a nice cast member. BONUS: Jungle Cruise Map. Okay, I’ve never ridden the Jungle Cruise but I did and enjoyed the corny jokes. My shy self mustered up the courage to ask the cast member for a map and I got it!

Still to be Done: Go on Mark Twain Riverboat. I basically have only weeks to do this before it’s down for a year, but I have to do it! Eat a Dole Whip. Judge me. I’m not that big of a fan of pineapple and the line was 40 minutes long the day I decided to get one. But I will force myself to do it.

Disney California Adventure

Okay so, when I first got my pass I thought I would spend so much time here because of the big rides and I don’t know what else I found extra appealing. But it’s nothing compared to Disneyland and somehow the theme of Hollywood Studious bothers me so much for some reason now. Doing stuff at DCA is hard now because I sometimes don’t even step into it when I take a trip but I still have to try to complete my list!

Favorite Things: Ride Radiator Spring Racers more than 3 times in a day. By some miraculous thing, there was a day that it had a 25 minute wait so we seriously got off and rode it again and again and we also had fastpasses. God was looking out for us y’all. Ride Silly Symphony Swings. This is random but I’ve always loved these type of rides and at DCA you fly over the water and it’s perfect. Thankfully one hot summer day I finally went on it!

Still to be Done: Draw something at the Animation Academy. Whenever I go I just see such a long wait time and it just tires me and I always miss the hour they draw Baymax and it’s just a mess.

Miscellaneous

Here are the things that are kind of all over and still very important.

Favorite Things: Befriend a cast member. Seriously, cast members are the nicest people and will go above and beyond for you if you’re nice to them. My favorite CMs are actually in Pixie Hollow and they’re always so fun. Enjoy Magic Hour/Morning. This happened unexpectedly because I always thought it would only get done if I stayed at the hotel, but one day we got there super early and a CM was kind enough to give us an early ticket in. It’s pretty cool to be inside the park early and with not a lot of crowds!

Still to be Done: Meet a celebrity. DRAKE BELL WHERE ARE YOU? But really, I’ve been there when celebrities have been there and the closest I’ve been to meeting one is to Meredith from The Office. I have yet to officially meet one. Trade a pin. I never thought I’d get attached to my pins but I’m going to have to trade one, one day just to say I’ve done this.

Have any of you tried anything in my Disney bucket list? What is something that you absolutely have to do when you’re at the parks? Give me ideas! I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a fresh list soon because this is one challenge I am taking seriously!

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Disney Do’s and Don’ts

Disney Do’s and Don’ts

Spending a day at the parks is like running a marathon. If you brave both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in one day, you’re sure in for a jam-packed schedule. In between, the attractions, shows, and food, it can get overwhelming and stressful, which can put a damper on the idea of fun.

A lot of these seem self-explanatory but somehow get overlooked once you’re there so make sure to always be prepared!

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Do Have Some Sort of Plan

Pick a park and start there. Remember that you can’t get fastpasses for a bunch of rides all at once because once you get one you have to wait sometime before you get another, so choose wisely. Disneyland finally has an app which tells you everything from wait times (which has greatly improved), fastpass return times, when characters will be out, dining times, restrooms, and all that, and that helps so you don’t sprint across the park and run into an hour+ line.

Don’t Be Mean to Cast Members

Look, I know there might be rude cast members, but you also have to understand that they work long hours with so many guests who are tired and anxious. It’s all about doing our part and being nice. But, if there is someone completely disrespectful, just let someone know. Remember, it’s not their fault if a ride breaks down or if something ran out. Also, there are so many wonderful cast members that go above and beyond to make the magic happen. Everyone is trying to make things run smoothly and sometimes cast members will be appreciative of visitors taking it easy on them and they will make sure to make sure you’re taken care of.

Do Take Water and Snacks

Walking around and waiting takes a lot of energy, so make sure you have snacks and water to keep you going when you’re deep in a 45 minute line. If you’re in Disneyland, the shop right outside the Jungle Cruise has bigger bottles of water than anywhere else in the park. Also, if you don’t want to spend too much on a meal in the park, Disneyland has a picnic area outside right by the entrance where the lockers are located if you want to bring food from home.

Don’t be Mean to Other Guests

Everyone is here to enjoy Disneyland. I know that there are people who do things like take spots or get inconsiderate about space. I’ve seen a fight break out before Paint the Night because of people taking spots. One: Don’t be that guy who is inconsiderate of other people. Don’t push people and look out for others. I’ve seen grown adults take spots from children. Just no. Two: If someone is getting out of line, tell a cast member and they will definitely step in and help out. Being considerate is the name of the game, don’t forget that.

Do Take Breaks

Sometimes we just want to cram everything in and taking breaks means wasting time, but it’s necessary. One of my favorite parts to take breaks is on the benches between Tomorrowland and the wishing well because it’s pretty calm and you get to see a lot of characters roaming around so you can still get some fun in while you’re sitting and regrouping. Breaks will help you last all the way to the end!

Don’t Miss Out on the “Little Things”

By “little things” I mean the galleries, shows, and other things that aren’t the big attractions you think of. Watch a Dapper Dans performance or the light up ceremony at Cars Land. There’s plenty of galleries and special spots that you can stroll through. That’s what is so great about Disney because there is so much magic to see that’s not just rides or the big parades, there’s always something great to see.

Do Be Strategic About What You’ll Do and Where You’ll Go

Kind of like having a schedule but more about where you should be. Small World is a good place to catch the parade and the firework show because you can sit through the whole thing and not be in the middle of a crowd like Main Street, except you’ll have no snow during “Let it Go.” There are plenty of shortcuts and plenty of hidden spaces to sit. Also, be aware of the places that give free refills for drinks and don’t forget to ask cast members! They’ll usually be kind enough to give you some tips and tricks.

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What are some do’s and don’ts that you learned at the parks? What is your plan of attack for a full day of magic? Share your wisdom!