1 In Travel/ Uncategorized

Santa Monica, California – Anniversary Trip

My husband and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last month.  Woohoo!  You guys, 20 years is a BIG deal!  Marriage is hard, amazing, complicated, beautiful, ____________(fill in the blank!)  Honestly, marriage has grown me more than anything else.  I love my husband.  He is my best friend that I can’t live with and I can’t live without!  LOL!  He challenges me to grow all of the time, supports me and loves me, loves our kids, fights for our family and he loves God.

Enough of the mushy stuff…

So we had wanted to go to Europe or somewhere else amazing for our anniversary.  But we didn’t.  We’ve been busy and dealing with some health issues.  When my husband suggested taking off to the beach for the weekend, I was like, “Heck ya!”.  This would be the first time leaving all of our kids by themselves with our two-year-old.  Nervous mama heart here.  Luckily my parents were able to hang out with them for a bit.

So around 2 a.m on Saturday morning we took off.  It’s about a 6-hour drive for us from Phoenix. Do what you can do to miss the crazy Los Angeles traffic.  I can’t stress this enough!

What did we plan to do this weekend???? NOTHING!!!!  We took our beach chairs, umbrellas, a cooler with water and snacks, and a small tent in case we wanted to nap on the beach.  Doing nothing is beautiful!  Especially when you have four kids, work, sports, etc.

As we arrived in Los Angeles that first morning, we made a bee-line to my husband’s favorite Honduran restaurant in Los Angeles.  Breakfast anyone?  Oh. My. Gosh!  The food and coffee were soooo good.  It brought me right back to Honduras.  We also needed good coffee…the burnt coffee we had from McDonald’s on the way was very disappointing.

Doña Bibi’s Restaurant

Facebook page


(Chorizo scrambled eggs, avocado, fried plantain, crema, refried beans, and queso fresco and the coffee: Cafe El Indio)

After an amazing breakfast, it was off to the beach!  There are quite a few parking lots along the beach where you can pay, on average, $12 for the day.  We chose to park just a short walk from the beach for free!  Of course, we did have to carry our wagon (which was loaded with the umbrellas, seats, cooler bag, etc) down and back up two short sets of stairs.  But we survived.  After setting up “camp” for the day, it was time to relax.  And relax we did.  I would recommend, however, to set up umbrellas even if it is cloudy.  That sun is strong and it seeks to destroy your skin!  I’m an adult. I should know this.  Geez!

Here’s a beach tip.  If you are going to use a beach umbrella, I highly recommend you use one that has a built-in sand anchor.  Ours does not have one and it’s a pain to get it deep enough in the sand.  Also if it’s windy, there is more of a chance that your umbrella is going to freak you out by flying out of the sand!  That awesome built-in anchor keeps your umbrella from doing this.  I recently saw on the news, a story of a woman getting stabbed in the leg by a beach umbrella that did just that!  Eek!  That’s scary!

The wagon – get one – use it

Day 1 Santa Monica – the view

We were at the beach all day!  We survived on fruit and water until dinner time. Poor us…right?  We read, talked, read, tanned burned, people-watched, pondered, enjoyed the view and we each went on separate walks when we wanted to.  No pressure, just relaxing.  Sometime in the afternoon, I went on a walk in search of coffee!  We didn’t sleep much that night since we were traveling.  Sadly, the cafe right by us had no coffee.  It broke.  Bummer.  But it got me walking.  It took me awhile.  But I finally got a beautiful, delicious cup of coffee in my hands.  A caramel latte to be exact.

 Ignore the messy hair.  It was windy, ok? Like, so windy that I was cold sitting on the beach.  Coffee is the best on a cool day at the beach and when camping.

Finally, we couldn’t contain our hunger anymore.  So off to dinner!  My husband has been here a few times, so he already has a few favorite places to eat.  We both wanted fish…because…um…we were on the beach.  The Reel Inn Fresh Fish Market and Restaurant was our destination.  It was a short drive from Santa Monica.  The food was great and the price was great.  We decided to sit outside where we had a view of the ocean and an amazing view of the mountains behind.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  I had Mahi Mahi, home fries, and veggies.  It was soooo good.  However, make sure you know what you want before getting to the counter.  It makes the employees happy and keeps the line moving faster!  Also, listen for your name so that you can go back and pick up your food.  It was kind of strange waiting in line (a long line!) but it went pretty fast and the ambiance of the restaurant was very festive. Portion sizes were good.  I wasn’t even able to finish my entire dinner.

The Reel Inn  Check out there website if you are going to be in the area!
                                                                                     Vacation Smiles

After a lot of research before our trip, we decided that the best value was going to be found in staying in an airbnb.  Occasionally  I feel like a hotel is the best option.  Sometimes those extra fees can really add up with Airbnb.  It really just takes some searching. New places pop up every day on airbnb so keep looking!  This time, we stayed just a few minutes from the beach and we found a great place.  We actually rented a room in someone’s house because we just needed a place to crash as we wanted to spend every waking hour on the beach.  We live in the desert.  Being near the water is a breath of fresh air.  Seriously.  So far we have had really good luck with our airbnb’s. This time, we stayed with an awesome lady.  She had the cutest baby daughter and she owned her own cookie business.  She was so kind to leave us a small package of cookies in our room.  Her cookie company is called Bites of Luv.  Check out her website and follow her on Instagram @bitesofluvca!

***Have you used airbnb?  If you’re new to it and planning on booking one, click on the link below to get $40 off your first stay (if you spend $75 or more).  This is a great deal! ***

$40 off your first airbnb stay

The Second Day

We woke up at about 5:30 am thinking that it was 6:30.  We were still on Arizona time.  That one hour of sleep makes a big difference.  But we were awake already so we decided to head out to breakfast and then the beach!  My poor sunburned skin protested a little.  Our airbnb host was super sweet though and gave me some great lotion to use on my burn!

Again, my husband had a great place to go eat in mind.  Patrick’s Roadhouse is just across the street from where we had spent the previous day on the beach.  This is a must visit if you are ever in the area.  It’s a bit pricey but totally worth it!  It’s a small restaurant with very eclectic decor.  I wish that I had taken a picture of the bathroom walls.  If I remember right, there were alligator heads sticking out of them! Oh!  This restaurant has also been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri!

We opted to sit outside and breathe in the salty air.  Did you know that salty ocean air is incredibly healthy for you?  Drinking coffee, eating yummy food, and breathing in salty air with the love of your life…what could be better?  OH, let me tell you about the food.  It was delicious!  I ordered an omelet.  It had bacon, onions,  mushrooms, jack cheese, and cream cheese. On the side, I had hash browns and melon.  I think I ate a little more than half of my food.  It was so filling!  My husband had scrambled eggs with salmon.

This was our set-up on the second day.  We lived under these umbrellas after getting lovely sunburns on the first day.  Darn that sneaky, non-protective cloud cover!  Another day of reading and relaxing.  I did dip my toes in the water that day. The water was a bit warmer, but after seeing maybe 10 people get stuck by stingrays come to our lifeguard stand alone, I wasn’t going to risk it.

The Budget

Because of various circumstances, we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this trip.  But it was our anniversary!  We wanted to have fun and not live on a McDonald’s value meal style budget.

Here it is more or less.  I’m not going to dig out receipts or anything.  But it will give you an idea.

Gas: $120

Food: $150

Airbnb: $122

We could have gone cheaper if we had packed all of our food.  That is definitely an option.  But we wanted to enjoy some good food and not have to worry about food going bad.  We ate breakfast and dinner out both days.  We also brought a cooler with water and snacks so we wouldn’t have to leave the beach all day. The airbnb was a great price as it was only minutes from the beach.  We could have stayed farther out but we didn’t want to spend time driving even though it would have been cheaper!!!  We didn’t restrict ourselves.  When I wanted coffee, I bought coffee!  We completely enjoyed ourselves!

When going on a trip, you need to decide what are the most important things. What are you willing to spend money on?  How much do you reasonably have to spend?  Then do those things, spend that allotted money, and enjoy yourself!


This is definitely one of my favorite California beaches.  I can’t wait to get back.  Another favorite is La Jolla.  Next time…

Have you been to Santa Monica?  Did you find any amazing restaurants or other things to do there?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for awesome travel tips.  Comment below!

***The above links may contain affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission that helps fund this blog.

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Doné Gourley
    August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    This was so fun to read!!! Love you guys❤️

  • Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: