Santa Monica Beach Days

The world is filled with beautiful poems, quotes, songs, and images of the ocean. Nothing anyone says, nothing anyone sings, will ever capture the wild and true beauty of the sea. The way the air fills your lungs, salty, cleansing. The way the sand feels in your toes, soft and rough, smooth and sinking. The water when it rolls over you, washing away life and replacing it with infinity. There is nothing so marvelous, so captivating, so healing as the ocean.cropped-20160712_141428.jpg

If you have never been to an ocean, please – if you go on no other adventures in this life – go to the ocean. Go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Let the tide roll over your toes. It will roll right into your very core, and you will be forever changed.

The Duo needed an ocean fix, so they headed to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Santa Monica!

Granted, this is VERY touristy, so if you are looking for something that is a lot more beach, and a lot less people, WORRY NOT! One of our stops was at Carlsbad Beach, and it was glorious. A long stretch of beach, not a lot of people, and very impressive waves. There is parking near the beach, and an easy path to walk down to get close to the water. This is an excellent beach for having a relax, going surfing, or going for a gorgeous beachfront walk.

During our stay in Southern California, or SoCal, we went to Santa Monica twice, and both times were AWESOME! The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most famous spots in the world, featuring roller coasters, live performers, incredible food, fun shops, an aquarium, fishing, swimming, surfing, the LAST STOP of Route 66… the list goes on and on! One of the shops, the Oatman Rock Shop, claims to be the oldest shop on the pier! Worth a look sea…er…see if you want to pick up some fun 60’s style stuffs. On both our trips, we ate lunch at the delectable Albright. It was soooo good the first time, we went back on our second trip. If you love clam chowder you NEED to try the bread bowl they have. A delicious delectable delight, you won’t be disappointed! The prices were reasonable, the beers were cold, and the atmosphere was awesome!

Walking along the pier is an experience in itself. You never know who, or what, you are going to see performing on the pier! While we were there we saw face painters, jugglers, temporary tattoos, a singing goth 60’s gigolo, and “Rock and Roll Jesus” singing Sublime songs, just to name a few. The acts change periodically throughout the day, and no two days are the same! 20160712_123917

Taking up a large section in the middle of the pier is Pacific Park, featuring roller coasters, a full boardwalk, and Awesome K’s favorite – funnel cake. Funnel cake as large as your head. Seriously. While we did enjoy the funnel cake, we did not get a chance to ride any of the rides, or play any of the games. However, if you are looking for a boardwalk adventure, this is the place! 20160712_161024.jpg

Just a short walk away from the Pier is one of the most well known beaches in the world, Muscle Beach! This is where anyone who was anyone went to work out. Today you can still find plenty of outdoor exercise areas, as well as volleyball pits, bicycle rentals, and some of the best people watching out there! There were a handful of people working on their fitness, which was neat to watch. We would have joined them, but we were still sticky from the funnel cake – which that statement alone should tell you how often we would work out on the beach. 20160712_134630

Do you love Geocaching? Of course you do! So does Saucy G (poor Awesome K can’t seem to get into it)! While cruising the beach, there were some super sweet caches to be had. One that bumped it’s way into her Top Five Favorite Caches was “Lord of the Rings.” Not only is this a fun play on words – as the exercise rings are close by, but this was the first one involving a secret code! If you are a geocacher, and are looking for a fun – albeit easy – cache, be sure to check out the caches around Santa Monica and Muscle Beach. “What is Geocaching” you ask?! Oh adventurer, you are in for a real treat now! Geocaching is an adventure all of its own! Our words won’t do it justice, but the basics are that there are real hidden “caches” all over the world, and one in space, that are hidden for you to find. They are EVERYWHERE, and range in difficulty from 1 to 5 based on the terrain, and the type of container it is. All the caches have a log book for you to sign, and some have hidden treasures in them! If you have a smartphone, you can download a free app that helps you on your hunt – turning it into a GPS as well as your traveling log book. If you have questions, feel free to ask us, or check out these fun videos on YouTube “Geocaching Basics” and “Etiquette“, but like we said – your best resource for your new favorite hobby will be the website. Best of all, it is completely free!

Other not to be missed attractions on/near the Pier is the Loof Hippodrome Carousel, and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The Carousel is located inside, near the Soda Jerks, and is said to be one of the oldest around. We can’t back that statement up with facts, but it sounds cool. It IS on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is the #3 Historic Landmark in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium can be found sort of under the pier, just follow the signs. It is NOT in the Soda Jerks hall, which one might be lead to believe. Just head down the stairs behind the Jerks, and you should see signs for the Aquarium. It is pretty neat inside, with lots of interactive areas letting you pet and love on Santa Monica sea life! Just be gentle, and listen to the guides as they help you meet some of the locals.  The main goal of the Aquarium is to Save the Bay, and help bring awareness to what trash, water wasting, and other nasties can do to our sea friends. While we were there we met some other fun Santa Monica locals, animals! A local wildlife rescue was visiting, and brought with them some of their friends to help bring awareness to who, and what, live around us! It is a neat little aquarium, and worth a visit, and help us all HEAL THE BAY!

One of our beach days was dedicated to hanging out on the beach and swimming. No sight seeing, no stress, just beach. It was exactly what we needed! We packed up some waters, a couple little snacks, our towels, and we were off! There may be no better way to unwind than by sitting by the waves. It was a little crowded, even for a Tuesday, but we did go in July, so there’s that. It was still really easy to find a spot, even getting there at noon! We were right near the water, no one in front of us, and we had plenty of room to relax. There seem to be “two beaches” at Santa Monica, one to the left of the pier, and one to the right. It seemed like to the right of the pier was WAY busier than the left side, so we opted to relax on the left.

Our relax day was so wonderful! Everyone, at least once in their lives (but hopefully A LOT more then just once) gets a relaxing beach day. Awesome K brought along his own castle building kit, but opted to give it to a little girl instead. He sat, read, and relaxed in his chair while Saucy G spent pretty much the entire day in the water. One of her most favorite things is to swim, although she is no Simone Manuel! Saucy G did her best to stay afloat, and even rode a small wave or two! One of her next goals is to become a certified diver, like her Old Man before her (the Incredible Old Man was one of the first ever certified diving instructors in Los Angeles!), or at least be able to go diving. The Old Man was, in fact, a Super Hero, so diving like him might be impossible – but that is a totally different EPIC story!

If you are in Southern California, be ready to spend at least one day, if not two, at Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beaches. There is a reason they are some of the most famous beaches in the world! Enjoy your walk on the Pier, get some great food, stick your toes in the ocean, and breathe in that wonderful ocean air. Take a minute to look, really LOOK at the ocean. Hear the waves. Feel the salt in the air. You’ll be glad you did! 20160712_203508

Adventure Pro Tips:

1. Never go outside without sunscreen! This is especially true at the beach. Whether or not you get in the water (although if you are not at least wading in the water you are a silly person), reapply the sunscreen throughout the day. Nothing ruins a great day at the beach like finding out you look like one of the lobsters!

2. BRING PLENTY OF WATER! It is easy to get dehydrated while playing, and swimming in the salt can suck a lot of moisture out. Be sure to keep your insides as wet as your outsides get.

3. Forgot your umbrella? While we were there, we saw a few people walking the beaches selling umbrellas, sand castle kits, and body boards. The prices seemed reasonable, so we bought an umbrella for the day. Whether you buy one there, or bring one with, a beach umbrella is a must! That little bit of extra shade keeps you cool, and keeps you from burning. Please still follow tip number 1, though.

4. While we didn’t see any nefarious business, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Make sure to keep you purse/wallet/monies someplace safe. Our chairs came with hidden pockets for wallets, which was handy. We recommend either leaving valuables at home, or only bringing enough with you for beach day. No need to be swimming with stacks of cash, fish don’t accept that, or credit cards. Just keep it safely secured, and you should be fine. This article has some great ideas for keeping your valuables safe while you build your tribute to Game of Thrones out of sand!

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This is not our picture, nor our sand art. BUT IT IS AMAZING!

 

5. Going to Santa Monica Pier and can’t find parking? Pier parking full, and the only other advertised parking is for $40? Don’t get sand in your socks, we found the spot for you! This site helps you find the parking, and lets you know the costs up front…but if you are like Saucy G that info means nothing to you without a picture, so here ya go!2016-09-07.png

If you take Ocean Ave south east-ish (middle bottom on the right of the picture), past The Lobster, you can turn right onto a road that takes you to the huge parking lot. The parking is cheap, and it is right on the beach! Don’t get scammed! You can also turn right on Seaside Terrace, turn right on Appian way, and that will get you there. The two times we went we parked here, saving us time, money, and a lot of hassle.

6. While walking the Pier it may be tempting to hunt for Poke` whatevers, or to stare at your phone in some other fashion. You are at the BEACH! There are wild and crazy things happening around you! Please look up and look around, it’s worth it! Yes, there are Pokes to be caught, and eggs to be hatched, but try not to walk into or over other people in the process.

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7. Bring two pairs of shoes. Flip flops and sneakers. That way you don’t get sand in your sneakers, and you don’t get burns from your flip flops. Or just wear sandals, but make sure they are comfortable. Walking in warm sands can be difficult, and hot! The $15 flip flops sold on the pier are worth it in a pinch, but not very comfortable.

8. The beach on the south side of the pier, or left of the pier, is the less crowded for a beach day. You are not as close to the parking lot, but it is a VERY easy walk under the pier, and there is a lot more room!

9. Did we mention sunscreen?

10. Funnel. Cake. One serving is enough for at least two people, so save your pennies and just get the one. Did we mention bringing water? Anything and everything on the pier will be priced for tourists, so plan ahead and bring your own bottle of water.

AwesomeSauce Rating: Full House. There was a distinct lack of kittens, and we are pretty sure that Santa Monica beaches are not animal friendly, so no swimming puppies either. The prices can be a bit high, and it can be a wee crowded, but what does one expect of a main tourist spot in the middle of summer? Honestly, this place is amazing, and everyone should check it out at least once, maybe twice. Muscle Beach is a sand dollar throws away, and if you play your cards right, your trip could be free! Nothing beats the ocean, and walking on the sand in the surf. THIS needs to be done by everyone as much as possible.

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Want to see more pictures of our beach days? Looking for the most current AwesomeSauce happenings? Check out our Facebook Page!

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MidSummer Scream!

Groupon may be one of the best tools in any travelers arsenal. Not only can you find amazing deals on just about everything, you can also find tickets to events and attractions you might not have otherwise known about!

One night we were chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool, when we started cruising Groupon for something to do…

That’s when we saw it. A MidSummer Scream! A convention for horror, Halloween, and everything in between. Ghosts! Horror movies! Haunted Houses! REAL Haunted Houses! ALL HALLOWEEN ALL THE TIME! So, of course we had to go to that! 20160731_124420

We opted to go on the final day (remember, the final day of a convention or show is the best day, you get the best deals!), for the deals, and for the panel discussions. We were able to find a schedule online, and saw that one of discussions was going to be about the Winchester Mystery House! Saucy G has ALWAYS wanted to go there, hearing legends of it from her parents, and Awesome K had always wanted to go. He spent a lot of time in that area growing up, but never made it to the house. winchestermysteryhouse1

HOLY CRAZY PANEL, BATMAN! That discussion was AMAZING! We got to see pictures that no one else has seen, we learned the history of the house, and Sarah Winchester, AND we got some super sweet insider info! We learned about a few psychics who have come through the house, a couple of ghost hunters and their adventures, and we got to hear about a particularly interesting seance that happened in the house recently, performed by James Van Praagh! The best part was at the end, everyone who attended the panel was gifted a YEAR LONG MEMBERSHIP to the new Skeleton Key Club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, ALL the exclamation points are needed). Now the Duo can go to the Winchester Mystery House ALL THE  TIME! FOR FREE! Plus discounts on the gift shop (which is, of course, filled with all sorts of fun stuff), as well as discounts on tickets for friends! So, if you want to go to the coolest house ever built AND have an adventure with the DUO, now you can! 20160731_182351

After the panel, at the Winchester Mystery House booth, they were selling shadow boxes that contained actual relics from the house! The only had a few, and they were WAY out of our budget, but they were incredible! One in particular had blue tile, some crown molding, and a piece of wallpaper, all original from the House, for around $400. Saucy G may kick herself for the rest of forever for not getting that. Such a gorgeous box, an amazing bit of history, and it might even be haunted! If you happen across a this shadow box, let Saucy G know, she might be able to scrape up some cash. Or trade you. Or beg and cry at you. That sounds fun, right?

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You can almost see a corner of one of the Shadow Boxes. *sigh*

After enjoying our incredible panel, we hit the floor at the Midsummer Scream!

The entire show floor was covered in a fog. Screams echoed through the halls. A zombie shuffled by, a bag brimming with delights from the underworld. Slender Man stood tall and opposing, while a couple of rotting nurses took a selfie with him. It was perfect! The only way this event/day could get better would be haunted kittens.

This was the first annual event, so the show floor was not as jam packed as it could have been, but what was there was quality stuff. In addition to the Winchester Mystery House, there were several exhibitors and panels about haunted houses, make up artistry, and how to get into the horror business professionally. One entire section was made into a haunted house, but we might have been too scared to go in. From all the screaming, it seemed pretty awesome, though. There was an area where you could have Halloween effects and makeup done, which also looked AMAZING! A lot of booths were mini room escapes, promoting their larger attractions (like the game on your phone, but in real life. We NEED to do that one time).  There were also a lot of booths dedicated to paranormal investigations, a horror museum, a vlog about scary baking (which  we are following, because she is a delight), all sorts of cool and kooky things to purchase, and…..HAUNTED KITTENS! KITTENS!!!

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We didn’t take this picture – but these are the kittens!

Ok, so the kittens PROBABLY aren’t haunted, but as we all know, kittens and cats DO keep bad demons away from your house, so everyone should have at least two (for demon hunting, and to keep each other company). The actual booth was dedicated to cat and kitten adoption, and awareness of the perils of being a black cat*. Saucy G MIGHT have lost her mind a little bit, kittens and horror all mixed together like this. IT WAS EPIC! And this was just on SUNDAY! (This is also the reason there aren’t a lot of pictures taken by the duo. Too much awesome makes for a forgetful photographer).

We didn’t go Saturday, but we wish we could have (Long Beach was a little far from Altadena, AND we didn’t really know about it until it was too late to plan ahead)! On Saturday night there was a Halloween Ball, with only the greatest band of all time….OINGO BOINGO! OINGO….BOINGO!

All in all it was probably one of the coolest events we have ever been to, other than Nerd Mecca of course. Although it is definitely on par with Nerd Mecca…this had all horror all the time, goth makeup, and haunted kittens. It is really hard to top kittens. If you are in the Long Beach area, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this screaming good time next summer! Don’t forget to check for discount tickets on Groupon! (This blog was not sponsored by Groupon, but if they do sponsorships, let us know).

AwesomeSauce Rating: Royal Flush. There were kittens! Horror icons! We won year long admission to the Winchester Mystery House! It does not get better than this, unless we went to the Fest for free. Or got paid. Seriously, this event was one of the best ever in the forever ever, and you NEED to check it out next time! We will be there!

Don’t live near Long Beach, but are dying for some devilish delights of your own? Fear not! Click HERE for a list of some horrifying haunts coming to your area!

 

*Black cats are the hardest to get adopted, due in part to the stigma and superstitions behind them.  During the month of October, it is especially dangerous to be a black cat, as they are often targeted for some nasty tricks. There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer as to why they are less likely to be adopted.  In fact, in some cultures, black cats bring about the best of luck! groucho-cat