This post is the last of our set of 3 posts (initial two were about the trip down and the first few days) about our kids’ April 2019 spring break in Southern California, highlighting ways we spent the week. This trip was a change of pace, compared to some of our other travels.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Morning Beach Walk
After two and a half days in Newport Beach, our next morning started with a walk to the pier to see if the sea lions were out and about. A beautiful snowy egret greeted us as he spent some time “guarding” a fishing pole.
Then we came upon a sea lion who decided to put on a bit of a show for us.
After walking a ways down the beach, we started to head back and stopped at a nice playground to swing.
Then the kids decided to have some fun at a spot near our apartment. James was fascinated by the seaweed.
And enamored by the waves. I learned my lesson about his insistence that he didn’t need to wear his swimsuit.
Meanwhile, John discovered that the cliffs were quite hard and perfect for some sand art. He started with a smiley face, then moved on to Poseidon’s favorite weapon.
After lunch and a rest, we decided to go check out the shops. I found some beautiful seashell dinnerware, but questioned whether I would still like it further from the beach. The kids found a candy shop. We all fully enjoyed our wander.
After that was more beach time! This time, James tried his hand at sand art.
And John decided that he wanted a sand chair – with arm rests, rather than a sand pit.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Today was a bit more low-key. We got a late start, then decided to rollerblade/scooter along the beach, then make a stop at the candy shop.
After lunch, it was back to the beach. The kids tried a little body boarding, but given the steep drop-off, they lost interest when they realized that they couldn’t go far enough out to get a decent ride in. The other side of the pier might be a better place for this.
Then they decided to simply have fun.
Back to the apartment for dinner and a beautiful sunset from our balcony!
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Our morning started with renting some bikes from a shop across the street from the candy shop – we found a weekday rental for $7/day. Since we weren’t sure exactly where we were going to end up, we also rented a couple of bike locks for $3 apiece.
Who knew that a single speed bike with back-pedal brakes would be so comfortable and so much fun! Our first stop was at the pier, but our sea lions were missing.
At the end of the bike trail, we still wanted to continue, so we transferred to a bike lane on the streets. When that ended, we decided to continue down a little alley until we reached the bridge to Huntington Beach.
After continuing a ways down the extremely wide bike path, we decided to turn back. One of the kids had been battling a minor cold all week, and after 6 miles, his throat started hurting again. So, we decided to turn back about a mile and a half from the more central area of the beach
Getting back to Newport Beach, we decided to park the bikes at our apartment and go out later in the afternoon.
Afternoon Beach and Biking
After lunch, the kids wanted to play in the water, so we went back to the beach.
The kids were quite tired at the end, so we rested at the apartment for a bit, then biked a mile or so along the bike trail before the kids decided they were ready to return the bikes. Super fun! Of course, James decided that another trip to the candy store was in order.
Friday, April 19, 2019
Rollerblading and Scootering
Our morning started with laments that this is our last day on the beach. This was followed by a delightful rollerblade/scooter ride.
Upon returning, we decided to go check out the kayak/paddle board rentals, but discovered that we would only have very limited assistance getting the boat to the water and back. John was disappointed when I said no, but I didn’t want to risk injuring my back and not being able to drive home.
We had planned to take a walk on the beach, but made a stop at the pier first. There was another beautiful bird. Does anyone know what kind it is?
We also got to see more dolphins! No breaching, but the kids were still delighted by the sheer number!
Upon realizing that it was really quite chilly out, we went back to the apartment to get sweaters, then continued our walk along the beach.
At one point, the boys decided to get their feet wet.
John wasn’t in his suit, so started off being careful, but that didn’t last long.
So much fun!
When the boys teeth were chattering, we decided to head back for lunch.
We went out after resting post-lunch. At least some of the local schools must have been out for Good Friday. The beach was packed with school-aged kids.
A pre-dinner walk (more rollerblading and scootering), followed by pizza and pizookie at BJ’s was a perfect end to the week!
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Alas, all vacations must come to an end. In our case, we were out of the apartment by 8am to avoid Los Angeles weekend traffic. Given that we took the slightly longer way (Highway 101) down, we decided to take the slightly faster way (Interstate 5) back up. Less scenic, but still greener than normal given the recent rains.
Newport beach is a 20 minute drive from John Wayne Airport (SNA). But that said, since we are from the Bay Area, and since we wanted to bring body boards, buckets, shovels, scooters, rollerblades, and the like, it made most sense to drive. The Bay Area is a 6 hour drive in light traffic; it’s possible to mitigate some weekend traffic by leaving either early or late.
Where to Stay
There are many different lodging options.
If you’re looking for a full-service resort experience, with a restaurant, pool, and plenty of amenities on-site, a hotel is probably your best bet. We actually looked briefly into renting a timeshare for a week (e.g. the Marriott Newport Coast one), but we realized that our best way to get super close to the water was a vacation rental.
The stretch of the beach where we stayed was much more vacation rentals than hotels – whether that was AirBNB, VRBO, or a local rental service. In our case, we rented a one-bedroom place, where the kids slept on the couch in the living room. True, we ended up without a pool, but the balcony overlooking the beach and being able to step off our doorstep onto the beach bike path was a huge plus.
Cooking in the apartment
Another advantage of an apartment, if you’re so inclined, is that you can cook some meals in, to keep food costs under control and to eat a bit more healthily. Eating in can be nice at the end of a long day, when it’s nice to just eat in the comfort of your own place, while the sun is setting over the water.
We brought the dry goods down in our car, then stopped at a local grocery store for perishables. Having milk, eggs, Bisquick, fruit, breakfast meat, cheese, and cereal provides many different breakfast options while allowing enough variations to not get bored. Oatmeal packets, pop-tarts, and toast with jam are other good choices. Just make sure that if you will be cooking things like eggs, that you have a minimum of salt, pepper, and a bottle of olive oil. Pancakes also require something to oil the pan, but if nothing else, small amounts of olive oil, spread with a paper towel, are fine for this.
For lunch and dinner, complete salad kits and simple meats feel a bit healthier and fancier. Sausage needs the least seasoning, but baked chicken or hamburgers are other good options. A loaf of bread or instant potatoes can complete the meal. If you want to get a bit trickier, try spaghetti, tacos, or pasta with a pesto sauce. Sandwich stuff (for simplicity of ingredients, choose pb&j or grilled cheese), a can of chili, a can of soup, or a box of mac and cheese can also be quick and easy.
Given our location, we actually didn’t use our car too much during the week; we could have avoided using it at all once we had our groceries and beach supplies. For doing just beach activities, it would have been technically possible to just catch a short Uber from the airport. That said, if one were staying a little further away from the beach, having car could be useful in car-oriented Southern California.