Our Favorite San Diego-Area Beaches

There are so many options for tide pools in/near San Diego but we decided to check out Cabrillo’s! We also wanted to see the Lighthouse, so it was win-win. As you can see, the entrance fee is $10 to enter and the pass is good for a full week.


Cabrilllo National Park


Path to Cabrillo Tide Pool path to tide pools at cabrillo

It was an overcast, semi foggy morning (as so many San Diego mornings are!) when we visiting in June. The guard at the entrance told us that was the best weather to visit the tide pools. The parking lot at the bottom is pretty small (maybe about 20 spots or less) so we drove to the upper parking lot. As you can see, the upper lots are definitely not stroller or wheelchair friendly, so just keep that in mind. Other than that it was less than a 10 minute walk down to the tides. Be sure to keep a close eye on little ones, though, as there were a couple steep 10-20 foot drop-offs.

cabrillo tide poolscabrillo tide pools

This was actually our family’s first time visiting a tide pool- we don’t exactly have these in the desert of Utah!  We weren’t sure exactly what to expect. But WOW! We found hundreds- thousands?-of tiny crabs ALL OVER! It was so fun to see these little creatures. We must of just sat on one rock for 20 minutes or so before we started to venture elsewhere.  They were fascinating. The water is pretty shallow, although the rocks can be slippery to walk on.

cabrillo tide pools  cabrillo  cabrillo tide pools

cabrillo cabrillo


cabrillo tide pools, san diego

cabrillo tide pools, san diego

Oh it was SO fun!! We can’t wait to visit more tide pools!

Lighthouse & Gift shop

Cabrillo Lighthouse   Cabrillo Lighthouse

A short drive up from the tide pools is the Cabrillo Lighthouse and Giftshop.

Cabrillo lighthouse stairs Cabrillo lighthouse

The kids really thought the spiral-and steep- staircase was cool!

Cabrillo Cabrillo lookout from museum

San Diego San Diego


And the views were gorgeous too!

Coronado Island

We spent an evening on Coronado and LOVED it! How can you not?! The first thing we did was rent a Surrey from Bikes and Beyond. There is a nice trail that goes along the ocean, past the shops and restaurants and even past a little park. We biked along that until we hit a major road, then turned around again. It took about an hour and was SO fun. The only funny thing (depending on who you ask- haha) was that on our way back I (Emily) commented how easy the Surrey was to pedal. Then I noticed poor Jeff was just sweating and huffing along. We looked down and noticed that my pedals weren’t connected at all. Jeff was hauling all five of us around by himself. Hahaha. Poor Jeff.

Surrey rental on Coronado Surrey fun on coronado Surrey rental on Coronado View of San Diego from Coronado

Hotel del Coronado Coronado at Sunset

We loved eating dinner at Lil Piggy’s Bar-B-Q and getting ice cream from  Moo Time Creamery at the Hotel Del Coronado.  Visit this link for more info. on our favorite family friendly eats in SD.  The beaches and powdery sand- heavenly! So fun to play in. Next time we’d love to stay on the Island. Where do you  like to stay when you visit Coronado?

East Chop Lighthouse

An Afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard

Cargo Ship to Martha's Vineyard Martha's Vineyard transportation

Em here: Confession. Thanks to those darn Gilmore Girls I’ve always wanted to explore Martha’s Vineyard. We had the chance to go back east for a couple of weeks fall of 2016. And it was amazing! It was a jam-packed trip and as soon as we started to plan it, I knew Martha’s Vineyard had to be a stop.  First, a little bit about Martha’s Vineyard. It is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and is divided into six towns. It’s primarily known as a summer colony, with a population reaching over 100,000 in the summer months. It is accessible only by boat or air. In early October, we took the Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, MA to Martha’s Vineyard. Or at least that was the plan. We ended up taking a little longer playing in Rhode Island, and missed our original ferry that was set to leave at 11 am and our backup ferry- but just barely! (I know–how did we miss both?!) The off-site parking lot for the ferry is a few miles away in Falmouth, MA, where after parking, a complimentary shuttle transports you to the port. We didn’t realize this and would suggest you plan to arrive at least 30 minutes (or an hour, during peak summer season) prior to your depart time. Thankfully, we were able to take the 45-minute-ride via cargo ship from the same port, which had limited seating for the public (pictured above). Tickets are available the same day, unless you plan to take a vehicle with you. If you plan to take your car, you do need an advanced reservation. To find more information about the ferry we took, visit here. There are several other ferry options available, through different companies that we personally haven’t tried out, that depart from Rhode Island (1 1/2 hour ride), New York and New Jersey (about a 5 hour ride for both). You can find out more about those options here and here.

Light House on Martha's Vineyard

There are five lighthouses on the Island:

West Chop Lighthouse East Chop Lighthouse Edgartown Lighthouse Gay Head Lighthouse                                                                                           Cape Poge Lighthouse
The West Chop Lighthouse, East Chop Lighthouse, Edgartown Lighthouse, Gay Head Lighthouse, and Cape Poge Lighthouse (Pictured from left to right). Images courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Aren’t they all beautiful?!! I’m so sad we weren’t able to visit all of them. We only had time for one, the East Chop Lighthouse.


Gingerbread Houses Gingerbread houses

Another stop on our quick tour of the Island: the Gingerbread Houses! More than 300 Victorian Homes in Oaks Bluffs are known as the ‘Gingerbread Cottage Village,’ some of the cutest and most colorful homes you’ll ever see. Check out this Image Gallery from Country Living here). Once home to the Methodist Summer Camps, these darling cottages replaced the tents originally used. During the summer, there is even a special day where, for a fee of about $30, you can tour six of these homes (aren’t you dying to get a peak inside??) and includes a treat. Find more about this one day special event here. There is a museum as well that is open during the entire summer season and gives you a glimpse of what life on the campgrounds in the 1800s would have been like. Find more information about the Cottage Museum and Shop here.

Flying Horses

Maybe the only bummer about traveling in the off season to this most ‘summery’ Island, was that we missed out on riding the Flying Horses Carousel (only open on weekends during off-peak). This is the nation’s oldest carousel, originating from Coney Island, New York. It costs about $2.50 to go ’round and ’round. Find more information here.

Martha's Vineyard Shopping

We grabbed some delicious ice cream from Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and ate it outside, pretending it was about 30 degrees warmer and easily imagined what summers must be like on the Island.

Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium

Popcorn on Martha's Vineyard

The many different shops were charming and fun to explore.

Martha's Vineyard Ferry

And thankfully, we did make it on time for our return ferry. The vessel is very large, filled with tables and soft seats. If you’re worried about sea sickness, it traveled just slow enough that we didn’t feel any effects (unlike our Whale-Watching Cruise– haha!). There are restrooms, snack bars, free wi-fi, tv, etc. Our kids did great round trip. I know I’ve typed this a few times, but we definitely hope to go back and spend a few days on the Island, hopefully during the summer- crowds and all!