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Newport Coast

Notes for Kori:  Here's my recommendations for Southern California.

We love to stay at Newport Coast, the enormous Marriott property near Newport Beach.  There are some pretty great mansions in the hills nearby.  Ask somebody to point out which one belongs to Tiger Woods.  When you make your reservation, you can ask for a room with an ocean view.  If you have noisy little boys, you can ask to be on the ground floor so you don't have to worry about them jumping and disturbing people under you.  You can buy groceries nearby and then enjoy an apartment with a kitchen and two bedrooms.

When you want to go to the beach with the family, find the shuttle stop and take the free bus down to the beach at Crystal Cove (because parking down there is like $15 and you still have to walk a ways).  My favorite thing is to walk down the hill, walk down to the beach and enjoy it before sunrise when there's no people there.  It's a great morning walk, but I wouldn't want to walk up that hill with kids, wet swimsuits and sand toys.

These three photos were on a cloudy day.  My favorite thing to do is get out of the Utah winter sometime late January or February.  The CA locals think we're crazy to run around without coats when it's like 50* outside, and I'm not gonna lie:  the water in the Pacific is cold during winter.  But it's still fun for the kids to get wet.

I love being out on the water and seeing the marine creatures.  For a cool boat ride, leave early in the morning, drive to Dana point and hop on a boat with Captain Dave for the most amazing dolphin safari.  It's  worth the money!  Depending on which tour you book, some of the boats have an underwater viewing pod, so you can literally be three feet from a dolpin.  Dana point is an amazing landmark for the whales when they do their yearly migration.  They recognize it from out in the water.

Laguna Beach is one of my favorite beach cities.  There's great art galleries.

Rose bakery is in Corona del mar, and if you go there late in the morning you can eat brunch, find two tables on the patio, and watch the locals (they'll be equally fascinated watching your family of six).  Then drive through all the streets with flower names, and head towards the beach.  There's parking on the top of the hill just in the neighborhoods, then you can walk down to the beach.

The coolest zoo I've ever seen is the San Diego Safari Park.  What's an okapi?  We discovered a super cool animal there, a cross between a zebra and a giraffe.  Also make time to watch the cheetah run.  It was unforgettable, the ground vibrates as this amazing animal races past at top speed.

If you spend another day in San Diego, look for the battleship Midway, do Old Town and hit a great authentic Mexican restaurant, and the Mormon Battalion visitors center.

One year I drove with four kids during fall break and met my parents at Newport.  That's when I finally realized why Norm hates SoCal.  The traffic, the driving, the toll roads, etc.  I had to figure out how to pay my own fees online before we left.  toll roads  If you want to go to the Newport Beach temple or church right nearby, the faster more direct route is using these.

Another place I love is Santa Barbara   If you go to Santa Barbara, make sure to rent a surry with the fringe on top.  There's an amazing bike trail that runs parallel to the beach.  beach rentals  (But if you're staying at Newport, the drive to SB is horrendous so don't do it during rush hour.  Actually, the better way would be to add a day on either end of the trip and then do Santa Barbara first or last.)
The most beautiful cemetery is high on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  One time we saw dolphins out in the water.

Usually when we leave, we drive all ten hours home the same day.


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