Story & photos by Masada Siegel
ou would never guess that you didnt have to leave the mainland
USA to find an Island with lush gardens, oceanside views and fabulous
food all minutes away from downtown San
Diego. I wondered what exactly we were heading towards, an Island
in the middle of a city? It sounded slightly absurd, never-the-less,
we drove onto the property of Paradise
Point Resort and Spa and were pleasantly surprised.
Our bungalow looked at best rustic on the outside, but
I was wowed once I opened the door. It was positively perfect on the
inside with modern amenities and best of all with doors that open right
onto an waterfront view.
My goal on this road trip adventure was spending quality
time with my husband, seeking beauty, relaxation, fun and an attempt
to switch off and tune out the world as my ever-busy brain is always
on the move. So San
Barbara were on the agenda.
Paradise Point Resort and Spa was the escape that it
promised to be with waterfront views, several swimming pools, a marina
and delectable restaurants such as their signature restaurant Tidel,
which was filled with international flavors.
Each day was filled with activities from relaxing massages
to surfing lessons to romantic boat rides around the marina while watching
the sun set and the seeing the firework rise high into the sky.
After a few days, we ventured onwards to San Diego proper
and stayed at lovely property called Hotel
Indigo which had an amazing beach vibe, casual yet elegant. Our
room had a balcony where ocean breezes lifted the curtains and little
birds chirped happily outside our window. Located in Del
Mar it was central to everything such as the farmers market, outside
shopping malls, parks and the beach.
The culinary choices in San Diego are endless. The
Kitchen 1540, located in the L'Auberge
Del Mar Hotel, is the place to experience its devotion to fresh
local ingredients, organic produce and farm-to-table delicacies. One
evening, we shared a delectable dinner with old friends Jeff and Lori
and dined on an exquisite meal filled with steak, seafood and salads
all bursting with taste and rich with vibrant colors. The desserts were
spectacular and complemented by after dinner drinks. It was a feast
filled with flavor.
While many might think of San Diego as simply a beach
town, there are many attractions such as the San
Diego Zoo Safari Park, Pepper
Grove Childrens Playground and Mission
Trails Regional Park.
One of my favorite places was the Self
Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens in Encinitas
which is both peaceful and beautiful. It is an oceanfront garden with
colorful plants, meditation nooks and koi ponds. Visitors can walk through,
study, meditate and gaze as the spectacular shoreline. It's not widely
found it guidebooks, more-so word of mouth type of place and it is worth
In my quest for scenic and serenity we headed to Rancho
Valencia, which again is a short drive from the bubbling city, but
an escape with a Mediterranean feel where we touched down in a hacienda-style-suite.
Our room had a private garden, outdoor Jacuzzi and I must confess the
most hilarious part was the Japanese style toilet. It opened up the
moment one walked in the door, had a seat warmer and provided a myriad
of other functions which were both hysterically funny and useful.
The property is filled with Spanish style courtyards,
gushing fountains and boasts an uber-relaxing atmosphere where its
easy to unwind and forget the world outside. I indulged with a massage
and truly relaxed in the spa while enjoying cakes, fruits, specialty
teas and an actual newspaper.
After just chilling out, which is something I don't
excel in, we headed to a sumptuous dinner which was a culinary masterpiece
at the resorts signature restaurant Veladora
which is run by Executive Chef Jarrod Moiles and Chef De Cuisine Josh
Holt. Everything was mouthwatering from the Heirloom tomato salad to
the pan seared salmon complemented by fresh nonalcoholic fruit infused
beverages and over the top desserts that to this day make my mouth water.
Our journey continued driving up the coast to Carlsbad
which is known for surfing, whale watching tours and the nearby Del
Mar Racetrack. For families with kids Legoland
is often the nearby destination of choice.
The streets were filled with wandering tourists and
simply strolling throughout the city was entertaining as there are many
art galleries, eclectic antique shops and of course ice-cream and candy
stores. After all what city is complete without a good piece of chocolate!
Photo courtesy of West Inn &
A great place to stay is the West
Inn & Suites, an 86-room boutique hotel that boasts creative
excursions for its guests. One fun option is the Hops Highway Retreat,
which is a four hour tour, a must for beer lovers (and it includes luxury
style transportation) to the Stone Brewing Co., The Lost Abbey and Mother
Earth Brew Company.
The hotel also offers a tour of its 3 acre farm, where
the chefs use the seasonal vegetables in their extraordinary meals.
Additionally its a fun place for families as there are pop-up
beach parties, game nights and it makes every kid feel at home with
cookies and milk at bedtime. Its a thoughtful hotel which also
offers free shuttle services in the area too.
Our next stop was the magical city of Santa
Barbara. Perhaps it is the almost always perfect weather, the pristine
beaches or just something in the air, but if nature, calmness, peacefulness
and beauty is on the agenda, it is the city to visit.
The farmers market never ceases to delight with fancy
fruits and unending colorful, fragrant flowers as well as vibrant vegetables
filled with flavor. It is the perfect city to have a hotel with a kitchen.
While cooking was not on our agenda, relaxing was, and
the beachfront view from the Fess
Parker Hotel is the way to go if you wish to dreamily stare at the
ocean. The hotel is centrally located so visitors can walk to the center
of town and enjoy The Santa
Barbara Museum of Art which always boasts great exhibits as well
as a fantastic permanent one.
Another venue to explore is the Granada Theatre, which
hosts everything from the ballet to top international touring acts.
Perhaps one of the most unique and special places we
visited was Ganna
Walska Lotusland, which located in Montecito, a short drive outside
The 37 acre gardens were created over four decades by
Polish opera singer Madame
Ganna Walska, a fascinating woman who had been married six times
She owned the property as a private residence from 1941 until her death
Visitors need to make an advanced reservation and are
taken on an incredible journey with a guide throughout the gardens which
are phenomenal. There are species of plants from all over the world
and one can see everything from cactus to Japanese gardens.
It reminded me of gardens in Europe. Lotusland was filled
with colors, flavors, fruits and what made it even more special was
the stories behind the woman and her massively beautiful creation.
Traveling is always full of surprises, and this trip
seemed to have an international, exotic flavor without even needing
my passport. A peaceful, perfect, relaxing vacation. In other words,
my mind was cleared, I was relaxed so yes mission accomplished.
Coast: From San Diego to Pismo Beach; Passport
to San Diego; Santa
Barbara Scrumptious; Delightful
and Delicious Del Mar; Paradise
Point Resort & Spa