The Charming Village of Carlsbad on the California Coast

If you are looking for a relaxing stay along the Pacific coast in California, then visiting Carlsbad might just be the perfect choice for you. Located about 30 miles north of San Diego, Carlsbad is a resort town with many restaurants, public beaches, and a very walk-able downtown area which is called Carlsbad Village. We spent close to a week there and enjoyed walking the beach, watching sunsets, and even went on a wine tasting tour. On Wednesday’s, the heart of the village shuts down to allow for a farmer’s market with a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, art work, and other local items for sale. We also happened to be there the weekend before Halloween and the local shops provide candy and a safe environment for families to go trick-or-treating.

Beach Style Architecture
Vineyards in Temecula
Farmer’s Market
One of the Sunsets
European Style Architecture

Carlsbad Village is certainly charming with a variety of architecture from typical beach-style buildings to some old-world type buildings. There are many different shops offering boutique clothing, beach clothes, gift items, as well as unique artwork. There are as many restaurants as there are shops offering a variety of meal choices. Although you can certainly find any type of food that you might want, the majority of restaurants offered seafood, Mexican food, and Italian. We had some wonderful meals during our stay.

Busy Beach on the Weekend
Fresh Vegetables at the Farmer’s Market
Another Sunset on the Beach
Shopping Area
Town Sign

Clearly the beach is the highlight of going to Carlsbad and if you are a surfer, you won’t be disappointed. It was a little too cool while we were there to swim in the ocean as the fog rolled in every morning and didn’t always burn completely off keeping the temperatures low. That didn’t keep us from walking along the beach though, watching the surfers, and making sure to catch some beautiful sunsets. Even in the off-season, the town got quite busy on the weekend as people from the surrounding areas come to take advantage of their beach properties.

Surfers on the Beach
Walking the Beach
Not Too Busy During the Week
Fresh Seafood at the Farmer’s Market
Tropical Flower

We took a wine tour in Temecula where we visited four different wineries and tasted a wonderful variety of wines. Napa Valley certainly has the best known reputation for producing quality wines, but Temecula certainly has a right to be proud of their growing reputation. Not only do they have a lot of vineyards currently, the hillsides are being covered with new ones as the city has approved additional vineyards to be started. Although you can certainly drive yourself on a wine tour, it is best to let someone else do the driving. We tasted up to six types of wine at each vineyard, which even in small amounts is a lot of wine.

Temecula has a Tuscan Feel
Vineyard About a Month After Harvest
Wine Casks
Looking Up the Hillside
New Vineyard in the Distance

Carlsbad Village is definitely an enjoyable destination with a relaxing atmosphere. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and all of the food and shopping make staying their a wonderful experience. There is also a train called the Coaster that will take you into San Diego if you want to spend some time their and go to Sea World, the world famous zoo, and other museums. Legoland is also a highlight of Carlsbad for those with children or just a child at heart.

People Out for Halloween
Kids and Candy
Last Glimpse of the Sun
More Architecture
Just Another Day at the Beach

Sometimes You Need a Vacation and Not a Travel Experience

We have always believed that we have two types of trips, travel and vacations. When we travel, it is all about seeing historic locations, exploring the architecture, tasting the local cuisine, and immersing ourselves into the culture. Vacations are about relaxation, refreshing our minds and bodies, and just getting away from the daily routines. We tend to travel more than we take vacations, but it is nice to just get away from time to time. Although there are many different places to visit in order to have a relaxing vacation, going to the beach is certainly one of our favorites. These are some of the favorite beach vacations that we’ve taken over the past few years.

Boats in Bay at Cabo

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – This is one of our favorite locations to visit and we’ve been there several times. It is located on the Baha Peninsula that extends south of California, making it very easy to get to from the United States. There are wonderful restaurants along the beach and in the marina, plenty of activities, and a variety of resort styles. We tend to go during the “bumper” season, meaning not quite off-season and not the busiest months. Because we have been there many times, we like the familiarity of it and revisiting places that we have enjoyed in the past.

Royal Service Area

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – We definitely indulged ourselves with our visit to the Dominican Republic as we chose to upgrade to the royal concierge service. This gave us a room right on the beach in an adult-only section of the resort. Because the resort was all-inclusive and had so many different restaurants, we didn’t actually leave the grounds of the resort during our time there, which we would do differently next time.

Ship on the Ocean from Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Located on the western coast of the mainland of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is definitely a tourist friendly location. We happen to go during the time when there was a flu scare that actually didn’t have any impact to the region, but it caused a lot of tourists to stay away. We also enjoyed going to a cultural show during our time in Puerto Vallarta in addition to doing the typical tourist activities.

Beach by the Resort in Spain

Estepona, Spain – Located in the Spanish Riviera on the coast of the Mediterranean, Estepona is slightly smaller than Marbella that is just a few miles away. We actually spent two weeks in Spain, so this was a combination of travel with a little bit of vacation mixed in. It was certainly a wonderful way to end our days of exploring southern Spain by returning to a relaxing resort.

Just Another Day at the Beach in Carlsbad

Carlsbad, California – We took a quick trip to Carlsbad, which is located north of San Diego. Not only did we spend time in the quaint beach town, but we also took a wine tour to Temecula where we sampled a wonderful variety of wine. We were able to enjoy the laid back lifestyle of California, even if only for a week. Once again we were treated to some beautiful sunsets as we ate at various restaurants across from the beach.

Sunset in Florida

Orlando, Florida – We went to Orlando for our twentieth wedding anniversary and spent time in Walt Disney World. We also went to Cocoa Beach in order to dip our toes in the water. We really enjoyed our time in Epcot Center as you are able to experience different cultures, food, and drinks in one place. There are many wonderful beaches in Florida, but obviously they can be quite crowded and we certainly wouldn’t go during the spring break season.

Cabanas, Umbrellas, and Palapas on the Beach in Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico – Although there has been a lot of reports of crime in the area in recent years, the beaches of Acapulco are certainly quite beautiful.  With the famous cliff divers, wonderful restaurants, and typical water activities, there is plenty to see and do in this resort town. This was the last trip that we took prior to the start of the pandemic.

If you are looking for a location where you can sit on the beach with a tropical drink in your hand, none of these locations will disappoint. Many of them are currently open to travelers although it is the start of the rainy season in most tropical locations, so we’ll probably wait for later in the year before considering a trip to one of these incredible destinations.

Tips for Traveling to Las Vegas

Millions of people travel to Sin City every year with the slogan of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” fresh on their lips. We have been to Las Vegas at least a half-dozen times over the years and we have some great and some not so great experiences while we were there. Obviously, the city is known for its over-the-top casinos, star headlining shows, and celebrity chef restaurants. If you decide to make the trip to Las Vegas, here are a few suggestions that we have to hopefully make your trip a better one.

Fountains at the Bellagio
  1. Don’t Bring Children to the Strip – Before everyone with children gets upset with us, let us explain. There was a time when Las Vegas tried to cater to families, adding rollercoasters and themed hotels like Excalibur. Those days are gone. Unless you really want to stroll the streets where strip club representatives constantly hand out cards with nude women and men, dancers and show girls wearing almost nothing stand on the street ready to take pictures with tourists and encourage them to attend their shows, and rolling billboards with half-naked people are at every intersection, the strip is not kid-friendly. Las Vegas is an adult playground, people wander the streets with drinks in hand at every hour of the day and the activities are designed for adults out to have a good time and let loose. There is nothing wrong with that, but in our opinion it not a place to bring children. There are places in Las Vegas that you can take the kids, it just shouldn’t be the strip.
New York, New York and Excalibur
  • If You are Going to Gamble, Give Yourself a Budget – Not everyone who goes to Las Vegas gambles as there are plenty of other things to do other than play one of the many games of chance that are available. Gambling can be fun, but for some people it can also be a little addictive as it seems like the big win is one hand or spin away. Set yourself an absolute limit of what you are willing to lose and don’t exceed it. If and when you have spent that amount, you are done, no matter how lucky you might feel about the next big chance.
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    Giving it a Spin
  • Go During the Off-Season – At popular times of the year, Las Vegas can be extremely busy. There are conventions with business travelers, bachelor and bachelorette excursions, international tourists, as well as your typical vacationers. If you want to get the best prices on hotels, shows, and other entertainment, consider going in October through the end of December, before Christmas as Christmas through New Year’s Eve is quite popular. There might not be as many headliners with shows during the off-season, but most of the year-round shows are all still running and you can get better seats at better prices. You might even be able to take advantage of the half-price, last-minute, show tickets and actually get seats that are worth the price.
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    Even Las Vegas does Christmas, Somewhat
  • Don’t Take Pictures with the Costumed People on the Street – In our opinion, this is true around the world, not just in Las Vegas, but these people wearing tattered costumes that look similar to popular characters and otherwise dress up to entice tourists to take photos and then demand money are con-artists. If less people would pay to have their photo taken, or worse yet, pose their children with them, and then give them money, then less of them would be on the streets. If you want pictures with costumed characters, go to Disney World where they are actual actors.
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    Characters in the Foreground
  • Take Advantage of Free Activities – These days there aren’t too many of them to be found, but there are some free things to see and do when you are in Las Vegas. There is the fountain at the Bellagio, the volcano eruption at the Mirage, and the Fall of Atlantis at the Caesars Forum Shops. The casinos themselves have elaborate displays that are well worth taking the time to see and some of them change from year to year. Even walking the high-end shops between the casinos like the Forum Shops or the Grand Canal Shops in the Venetian are truly spectacular. And then, since Las Vegas attracts such a wide variety of visitors, there is always people watching.
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    Volcano Eruption at the Mirage
  • Pace Yourself – Not to sound like your parents, but we too often see people that are inebriated or fighting heat exhaustion. We get it, people go to Las Vegas to let loose, have some fun, and sometimes push their boundaries. Not every night in Las Vegas should end up like the movie The Hangover. We aren’t saying don’t have a good time, but perhaps you shouldn’t start with a cocktail in two-foot glass at one-o-clock in the afternoon. Also, remember that Las Vegas is in the desert, that means that it gets hot, really hot. It also means that the air is very dry and it is easy to become dehydrated and alcohol does not provide hydration. What happens might truly stay in Vegas, but it is better if you at least remember it.
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    Walking the Shops
  • Book Popular Shows in Advance – Many of the really popular shows either sell-out, or at least the desirable seats do, weeks in advance during the busy times of the year. If there are particular shows that you want to see during your visit to Las Vegas, go online and book them prior to your arrival. Nothing would be more disappointing than arriving for a special weekend only to find out that you can’t get tickets to that one show you’ve always dreamed of seeing. Obviously that means paying full price for your tickets, but if you want the most memorable Vegas experience, it will be well worth it.
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    Show Signs Everywhere
  • Be Prepared for the Cost – With more and more millennials visiting Las Vegas who are less inclined to throwing their money away by gambling, the town has responded to the changing culture by seemingly raising the prices on everything. The food is more expensive, drinks are more expensive, shows are more expensive, activities like the CSI Experience and the Mob Museum are more expensive. By now you get the theme, Las Vegas is expensive. If you take the time to look around, you can find some deals, some happy hour food and drink options, and don’t be afraid to get off of the strip. Most importantly, just know that things will cost more than a lot of other places, so prepare your trip budget accordingly so that your wonderful dinner out doesn’t end with stress over the final bill.
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    Rack of Lamb
  • Tell Your Taxi Driver Not to Take the Highway – There are two ways for the taxis to get you from the airport to the strip. One is the overland streets and the other is the highway. They claim that the highway is faster, but we have not found that to be the case. Taking the highway and going through the tunnel will cost you more, regardless of whether it truly saves you a few minutes or not. It can as much as twice the price, so if you have the patience and time, tell the driver not to go through the tunnel or take the highway.
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    oLight Traffic on the Strip, Very Unusual