Labor Day Weekend in Solana Beach

Hello and Happy Wednesday. Joey, Dempsey and I just spent a full week in Solana Beach, California (just north of San Diego) and I am so eager to recap the trip here, before I forget all the details and just how perfect a time we had ❀ Is there anything better than truly disconnecting from every day life and living out your beach dream life with your two favorite people and not a care in the world? I say no. I mean, we were there during a California heatwave and had an Airbnb without air conditioning, but beside that minor detail, we had the very best time!

This was our first week long vacation since 2019 and our first ever vacation as just the three of us, can you believe it?? We flew out late afternoon on Saturday, so we could fit Dempsey’s nap in beforehand and he did so good on the plane, with his very own seat, no less. We had his little fanny pack all ready to go for him! He didn’t really want to stay seated or buckled but we were able to distract him every time he got antsy and wanted to get up. Picked up our rental car and headed to our Airbnb and it was about a million degrees inside there. A pregnant woman’s worst nightmare 😱 It was somehow less hot outside than in. Unpacked a bit then walked over to Solana Beach Fish House, which wasn’t glamorous by any means, but sat us right away and served pretty good fish tacos!

Very unlike me, but I had NOTHING planned for this vacation. We thought we might take a trip to the San Diego Zoo and we had purposely booked an Airbnb very close to the beach, but otherwise, we did zero research and didn’t even start looking at restaurants in the area until the night before. Felt really good, honestly. We fell into a pattern of waking up, grabbing breakfast, hitting the beach, eating lunch, putting Demps down for a nap and either reading or napping ourselves, then randomly filling time till dinner. It was so nice! Started our first full day there with breakfast at Lofty Coffee, which is my favorite kind of coffee shop, meaning it does good coffee AND good food. Then we walked over to the beach, with too much stuff and quickly learned how to minimize for the rest of the trip. Dempsey’s first time seeing the ocean! I posted a video of his reaction, but he was none too pleased when that water hit his feet. He was happy to have us hold him while we stood in the water or play in the sand though and he liked popping the seaweed too! I had randomly seen that there was a Solana Beach Farmers’ Market open on Sundays from 12-4, so after beach time, we headed over and grabbed lunch + some fresh California fruit, then headed back “home” to eat and put Demps down for his nap. He was wiped and fell asleep real fast. We walked over to ALCE 101 Kitchen + Tequileria for dinner that night and Dempsey was very into the cornbread appetizer! The plates of food they serve are seriously huge!!!! And good too πŸ˜€ I think this was the night Joey and I also started Elvis and no joke, it took us the rest of the trip to finish it. It’s very bad, folks.

In an attempt to get out of the heat for a bit, we had gone to Sprouts the day before and grabbed some simple snack/breakfast stuff, so we opted to just cook for ourselves that next morning. When in California, you eat as much avocado as you can, right? Dempsey was a fan of his first real avocado toast and Joey got us all drinks from Barefoot Coffee 😍 Afterward, back to the beach! It was Labor Day, so there were lots of people out but it’s not so busy in the morning, luckily. That water felt so cold when you first went in, but it was such a relief compared to the heat. Demps still didn’t want to stand in the water on his own, but he kept telling Joey, “Daddy, run!” and he was having the best time getting hit by the waves. Me and baby girl went into the ocean for a bit, then watched the boys from our beach chair. We hit up a nearby pizza place called Pizza Nova for lunch and it seriously hit the spot. I think I ate a Caesar salad a day on this trip. I just cannot get enough! Put Demps down for his nap and relaxed out front. I told Joey we had to stop putting off baby preparations, so we made a list of the stuff we need to buy/do before baby girl arrives, but that’s about as far as we made it. Luckily, you don’t need nearly as much stuff for the second kiddo but it does feel weird that we did so much planning and decision making and researching for Dempsey and we haven’t done any of that with Baby #2. We all showered once Dempsey was back up — there was no stopper for the tub and honestly, it was so sandy in there anyway, so we gave Dempsey a week of showers and he was NOT happy about it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜¬ — then headed to Del Mar for dinner. Sat outside at a place called WestBrew, that was out of almost every brew on the menu πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ But we saw a beautiful sunset and the food was really good. I liked my fish tacos but I just love a soft pretzel, ya know?

Tuesday was Joey and I’s EIGHTH wedding anniversary! I’m just telling people we’ve been together since we were born at this point πŸ˜‚ There will be plenty of years to celebrate as just the two of us, so it was nice having Dempsey with us for this one ❀ Started things off with breakfast at Claire’s on Cedros. Definitely a cute spot, but I didn’t love my frittata. Joey’s chilaquiles tasted much better though, so I said I’d be willing to try it again. Dempsey is just happy to go anywhere that has pancakes and eggs. Afterward, we loaded up in the car and drove to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. Wow, La Jolla is beautiful, huh?? The star of the show is definitely the Little Blue Penguins, so we popped into that exhibit twice and I’m so glad because the second time around, we actually saw them jumping into and swimming around in the water. They were so cute and only like a foot tall! I think Dempsey was having more fun running up and down the ramp, but he did like when they swam by. We also saw sharks, stingrays, a sea dragon (who knew that was even a thing??) and learned too much about seahorses. There were some open air exhibits outside where you could touch some sea creatures and I think Dempsey really liked feeling the anemone! Afterward, we grabbed lunch at Shore Rider and I don’t think I need to tell you what I ordered πŸ₯— but know that it was really good. When we got that little boy home, he just played around in his Pack N Play for an hour before we decided to pop him back in the car and drive up the coast. He ended up falling asleep pretty quickly, so he got some kind of nap in. We had dinner reservations at Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar and we weren’t sure how we felt about being sat outside literally by ourselves, until another couple (with another pregnant lady!) joined us, but actually it made for a pretty peaceful dinner, so we’ll take it. Dempsey loves bread and burrata as much as we do! And the pasta dishes we all shared were amazing. Ordered tiramisu for dinner and, in an attempt to not have our toddler eating espresso and amaretto, we got him his own sundae but then he kept trying to make us eat his sundae and reaching for our tiramisu πŸ˜‚ It was a really good night!

Back to our normal routine on Wednesday (and apparently I took very few pictures this day?), so after we were able to drag Dempsey away from his important game of Backgammon πŸ˜‚, we hit up Achilles Coffee for drinks and breakfast, then headed over to the beach. What a difference a day makes! This was our first non-weekend/holiday day there and the beach was EMPTY. Dempsey had taken a little step backwards in terms of his water comfortability but he still had fun using his new binoculars on the beach. After his nap, we walked down to a nearby toy store, then showered and headed into San Diego to meet Steve and Lorna (who were also in California) for dinner at One Door North. I cannot believe the traffic into SD! How do people do it?? We were 15 minutes late for our reservation and we had left an hour before! Luckily, Steve and Lorna were there on time and had already ordered appetizers, so we could dive straight into cornbread muffins and spinach-artichoke dip. Demps was being such a goof all night, dancing to the music the restaurant was playing and he was VERY into roasting marshmallows when we ordered S’mores for dessert 🍫❀

We had floated the idea of going to the San Diego Zoo and almost didn’t go through with it but I’m so glad we did, because it ended up being our favorite thing we did on this vacation! Ate a quick breakfast at home, grabbed coffee at Achilles again and hit the road, so we could be there right when the zoo opened and I think we made a wise choice. It was cool, cloudy and crowd-less! And what an amazing zoo! It’s big, so we did LOTS of walking (and sweating), but it’s very jungle-y in there, meaning lots of shade and we saw so many cool animals! A baby orangutan, a lion, lots of bears, the sleepiest koalas, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs so close it felt like you could’ve touched them, a honey badger that it’s apparently very rare to see, hippos and my personal favorite, the red panda! Definitely worth how swollen my feet and ankles were afterward πŸ˜‚ For dinner, we headed to a brewery we’d been wanting to try. We felt very fancy getting valet parking until we saw our Nissan rental next to a Tesla and a Mercedes πŸ˜‚ Joey said the beer was just okay but the food was really great! Dempsey mostly wanted to look at the lagoon but sat still long enough for us to eat dinner.

Friday was our last full day in Solana and wouldn’t you know it, it rained most of the day. We walked back over to Claire’s for breakfast and yes, I did get the chilaquiles but it was crazy busy in there, so A) loud and B) service wasn’t the best. Also, the man who bused our table made a weird comment about how much of my food I had eaten and can we just not do that?? K, thanks! We spent the first half of the day relaxing at our bungalow, watching Coco for the fourth time πŸ˜‚, “playing” Backgammon and puzzling and then when Demps was up from his nap and it was just misting, we decided to head to the beach. It was our last chance, after all! The beach was extra seaweed-y but otherwise we had the best time. Dempsey finally got brave enough to go in to the water on his own two feet and then he couldn’t get enough! Made me really glad we decided to take one last trip to the ocean. He really like watching Joey boogey board too. He said “bye, bye, ocean” before we left and it was the sweetest πŸ₯Ί We had planned to order in so we could pack up, but then ordering in and watching a movie sounded better than the packing up part, so that’s what we did. Pizza and, you guessed it, Caesar salad plus Big Hero 6, which we’d never seen and really liked. I think Dempsey requested Coco πŸ˜‚ Did I mention Demps slept like a champ this entire trip?? I am rolling from side to side and getting up to go to the bathroom at least once every night these days, so I am EXTRA dependent on good toddler sleep and he thankfully delivered πŸ™Œ

On our last morning, we walked back over to Lofty Coffee and both Dempsey and Joey got drinks that gave them milk mustaches πŸ˜‚ Afterward, we packed up and headed to the airport. Made it back to Denver without any issues or delays and man did I miss my TempurPedic 😍 It was really nice coming home on a Saturday because it meant we had all of Sunday to do laundry and meal prep for the week. I’m going to remember this vacation forever, it really was one of the best ones we’ve ever been on ❀❀❀

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