La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla

La Valencia

The gorgeous La Valencia hotel.

During my recent weekend in San Diego, I had the absolute pleasure of spending the second part on the beach in La Jolla, in an ocean villa at La Valencia. After spending the night downtown at the lovely, artsy US Grant, my friend Christy picked me up so we could head to the beach. Since I live in Las Vegas, I look forward to any glimpse of the ocean with a ridiculous amount of excitement. And nothing says “California” like the pink stucco and terracotta of La Valencia. When we pulled up to the distinct palm-tree lined arches of the historic hotel, I knew it was going to be a wonderful day!
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Perfection in La Jolla

Abby Tegnelia George's

Having brunch at George’s in La Jolla.

After a really fun evening in downtown San Diego, where I stayed in the artsy, historic US Grant, I headed to La Jolla for a fabulous day at the beach. I met up with my friends Christy and Scott, of Ordinary Traveler and headed to brunch at the famous George’s Ocean Terrace. As you can see, it was a gorgeous afternoon. The food was delicious, and it was quite a scene. I loved it! After we ate, we wandered through town for a bit. We didn’t have to walk far before bumping into We Olive, which provided fun for the rest of the afternoon.

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Sweet dreams of art and history at the US Grant in San Diego

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to no one that life in hectic Sin City can get a little tiring — so I’m no stranger to rejuvenating weekend getaways in places such as Sedona, Austin, Ojai and Napa. On my most recent trip to San Diego and La Jolla, I had a one-track mind: to get some R&R. My quick trip started at the historic US Grant in the Gaslamp district. The hotel was gorgeous! And full of history: The hot spot opened to much fanfare in 1910 and now houses a $6.5 million art collection. I loved everything about staying downtown, from the enormous, old-fashioned hotel lobby, to the neighbors who seemed just feet away when I looked out my hotel room window. Sometimes I miss city living! And sometimes…

A night alone in a hotel room is just the night’s sleep that the doctor ordered.

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Ojai, California Grand Finale: wine, shopping, cocktails

The final day of my girls getaway to Ojai, California just might have saved the best for last: shopping, a vineyard tour and cocktails. I really did not want to come home! Being so used to all of the name brands that dominate the Strip in Vegas, I found Ojai’s boutiques especially  adorable, and I loaded up on unique knickknacks to take home. Catherine and I also talked up the owners, who knew everything about Ojai and the surrounding areas. It had been a long time since I’d spent 20 minutes in a store just chatting! But we had nothing but time, strolling the main drag in the California sun. This was my kind of day.

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Learning How Olive Oil is Made in Ojai

travel, California, Ojai, MercedesWhen Catherine came to pick me up for our first adventure in Ojai, it was in a cherry red Mercedes, oh yeah. How do I look in the passenger seat? Our first stop: Ojai Olive Oil, for a fascinating few hours. In addition to learning what kinds of oils different olives yield, we learned so much about the industry. Instead of using a press, most olive oil manufacturers now use a centrifuge. Ojai’s equipment is Italian (of course!) and goes through 800 lbs of olives in an hour. They’ve decided that keeping the pits in yields better taste — so they’re not separated until the very end! Ojai Olive Oil’s owner, Ron Asqith, will take you through the whole process, from washing to paste to the separation of all water, if you take his tour.

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Ojai or Why I Don’t Go To L.A.

travel, California, OjaiLas Vegas and Los Angeles are so close, just one affordable 70-minute flight away. But I have not been back once since I moved back to the United States more than a year ago. The huge elephant in the room is that L.A. was not good to me, and I really don’t have any affinity for the place at all, although I have two very dear friends there. But while I do like to get all riled up about the place, saying “why would I ever go back?” blah blah, the truth is simpler. My life in Las Vegas is ridiculously, over-the-top, out-of-control busy. I moved here from a town of 3,000 people, people. When I want a weekend off from Sin City, I am not headed to L.A., where I get lost and sit in traffic and can’t find parking. When I can get away for a few days, I want peace, a charming little getaway where I can see lush landscapes and get outside.

Enter Ojai.

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