This year for Christmas we convinced ourselves that we were skipping all the toys and taking a trip instead. We mostly managed to skip all the toys and I'm happy to report the trip was a total success.
If you remember we were supposed to go to Rocky Point over Fall Break in October and at the very last minute it got cancelled. By last minute, I mean our car was fully loaded, coolers, towels, treats,all loaded, when we found out the flooded road we had anticipated clearing up, had in fact, gotten worse. We were devastated and more than a little frustrated to say the least.
When planning a winter trip for our family, we're fairly limited in what works for us. It really boils down to one thing with the varying ages we're trying to please and it is this: A warm beach. We looked at a couple of options, but Rocky Point seemed to make the most sense.
So many from Arizona travel to Rocky Point frequently, and we've gone in the past as well and stayed at the big condo resorts. This time, though, we were both adamant about being in a house on the beach. The main motivation being accommodating a baby that still naps 5 hours during the day. We wanted to be able to have him napping and still enjoy the beach. While I realize the resorts also have the luxury of pools, I also wanted to save myself the hassle of my kids constantly wanting to switch from beach to pools. Nothing frustrates me more than paying to be at the beach and having kids begging for the pool...especially when we have a pool in our backyard. So I selfishly eliminated the option of the pool and my kids were none the wiser.
I'm happy to report we loved where we stayed. You can head over to my Instagram (@sonny_daily) and see a full video tour on IGTV. The house was right on the beach, with the big sliding doors I love leading out to a huge patio that overlooked the water. One fun thing we realized was that while in California, you get to watch the sunset, in Rocky Point you get the sunrise and the sunset. It was breathtaking. The place was 4bed/4bath with 2 master suites that had patio doors overlooking the water as well. The owners really did thing of everything...except a cheese grater. For reals, that was the only thing I couldn't find that I wanted. Pretty sure next time we go, I'll gift the property one. ;) While we ended up paying a bit more for lodging, my thought is that if I get my lodging right, I spend less on food and activities because I don't end up leaving the house.
We did head into town at least once every day and came across a few gems I thought I'd share with you!
A few restaurants we loved were Koffee Haus -- yes it's spelled in the German fashion, while they serve Mexican and American style breakfasts. Try not to think too hard on it and you'll love it. The place is fairly small, so go early if you don't want to wait for a table.
We also ate at the top of the lighthouse restaurant which is called something El Capitain. I liked that this was off the main drag and easy to get in and out of. It's a sit down place that overlooks the ocean, so snag a patio table if you can. The food was incredible and the view over the top.
Pan y Vino (Bread and Wine) is located right next to the lighthouse restaurant and is an amazing Italian place. We didn't get to try this, but our neighbors in the house next to us who travel to Rocky Point once a month, told us it was their favorite place.
We shopped for groceries at Super Ley and if you buy your meat there, they've got a guy that will grill it up for you outside. He wasn't there while we were there, but I've heard great reviews and this is on our list for next time. Be sure to also grab some Mexican Vanilla while you're there. Not only is the flavor amazing, the price is even better. What I can get for $45 at my Costco, I picked up for $1.50 there. I bought 10 I was so excited.
While the food was great the relaxing was better. So much needed relaxing on this trip. Scot and I both received massages right on the patio and I've got to tell you for $20, it was the best decision we'd ever made.
Liv got her hair braided and of course, they all had to get henna tattoos...while I read my book and the baby napped. When we got tired of being lazy we played endless games of ladder ball and did beach workouts (quite possibly one of my favorite things). See how amazing a house on the beach is?? It's hard to beat in my opinion.
It wasn't perfect by any means, as no family trip ever is. The night we arrived on Christmas Day (!) there was a huge down pour and we lost power in the middle of trying to cook dinner. I was sweating it for a bit, but the power came back on and we all survived. The kids still bickered and Luke skipped some naps and one day the weather didn't cooperate, but at the end of the day, those aren't ever the things I remember and we're looking forward to getting back soon!
We had so much fun on our family vacation last summer that I’ve been thinking about this summer’s ever since. For whatever reason I had told myself family vacations were over-the-top expensive...I’m not sure why I sat in that thought for so long. When it was all said and done, we literally spent $2,500 and did everything we wanted to do. Well almost everything, I was pregnant, so we didn’t go mountain biking, which I’m still a little sad about.
This year, we’ll have to plan another tricky trip...because while I’m not pregnant this year, I’ve got a baby on my hip. Soooo, we’ve batted around a couple different ideas, one of which includes leaving that cute, squishy baby behind. Eek. I don’t think that’s the route will go, but who knows.
One of the best things we did was stay in a Home Away property. Growing up we always stayed in condos or houses as opposed to hotels and after a meh hotel experience last summer, I told Scot no more. No more shoving 5 people through 1 shower in the mornings, no more going to bed at 9 pm and no more getting after my boys for wrestling and being loud. No more.
Just like I could scroll through real estate indefinitely...the same is true of vacation rentals. Today I rounded up my some of my favorite vacation rentals properties...most I've stayed at, others are on my list.
Malibu Airstream...guys, have you seen this place before? It is looks incredible! Breathtaking views and maybe the best part? Peace and quiet.
This is on my list for a quick getaway for just me and Scot -- totally unplugged for a night or two in this place sounds just about perfect.
Carlsbad Waterfront Dream — We stayed here in 2016 and are heading back again this year with my in-laws and guys, this place is incredible. Some vacations, you know like Disney or ski trips, you're not in the actual unit much and just want a comfy place to lay your weary head each night. This is not that place. Let me repeat, this is not that place.
This rental is all about the property, like you never leave the house. So while it is a bit pricey, remember, you’re not staying here & then heading out to Disneyland and shelling out for all of that each day. Here you’re waking up late, enjoying breakfast by the pool, lunch on the lagoon and dinner on the patio. For reals. We can’t wait to head back sooooon!
PS: I realize I didn't show any pictures of the inside, it's equally beautiful, but you'll still spend all your time by the water
Speaking of good places to just rest your head, I’ve recommended this hotel for Disneyland about 100 times recently. I’m also going to go ahead and eat my words about staying in hotels, because this is one hotel I’d go back to. I’ve always been a Marriott fan and they did this close-to-Disney-hotel right. Our room had 2 queen beds and a set of bunk beds...all great BUT the very best part, besides no sign of Mickey on my walls, was the bathroom. It had a tub & two sinks, then a separate door on the bathroom AND a shower. If you visualized that correctly, that means you can have two people bathing/showering at the same time. An easy walk right to the Disneyland gates makes this a great option.
Newport is my family’s jam. Each year we try to think of something new and then we’re all like, ‘nah, let’s go to Newport.’ While I can’t link you up to the exact house we stay at, I can like you to this one and this one. Both are in the same neighborhood, have good beach access and can sleep a crowd. For the whole run down on our Newport hot spots, head here.
Last year, we headed to the mountains of Durango and stayed here, close to Purgatory Ski Resort. We went hiking, participated in a rodeo, went 4-wheel driving and hung at the local ski resort. I loved heading into Silverton and jeeping back through Telluride, they call the mountains behind Silverton, the American Swiss Alps, not that I've been to the Swiss Alps, but they are really beautiful.
This summer, we've thought about staying here, which is closer to home for a couple different reasons. My work schedule gets a little hectic in the summer months, so we could save on travel time, but also, at some point, we want to acquire a vacation home that is relatively close to home...so we've got some exploring to do as well. Scot went up last year to mountain bike in the area and really loved it, so we'll trek his bike up and rent some for the kids and take it easy.
A few other gems on my list? Here, here and here.
Want to peruse a few more? Some other great lists by state here, here and here.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.