Why California holds a special place in my heart. 

I was 20 years old when I took my first ever vacation. Growing up, my family didn’t really take any trips or vacations… the only trips we did take was traveling to Mexico 2x year to visit my family. We did that up until I was 8 years old. 

But I never got to experience a real vacation… with the amusement parks, and plane rides, hotel rooms, etc. 

Dont get me wrong, my trips to Mexico to see my family were always fun and special to me. I hold those moments as teasures… I have fantastic and fun memories about our shopping and food experiences… they were great times! (I can expand on my Mexico trips in a future post) 

But my first vacation was when I was twenty years old and I went to California with some friends. We went to Disneyland (my childhood dream! 😊), Hollywood, Newport, Santa Monica, and my Favorite: The Ocean(my lifelong dream). 


Growing up, my family didn’t have the money or time to take trips to all the fancy and fun amusement parks that kids dream of going to. We lived in the beautiful desert, so I never saw a beach but always dreamed of it. We never even flew on a plane for any of our trips to Mexico. I had never truly experienced a big city either. 

I joined the military at 17… so I have traveled and flown on a plane, and lived in other states… but those were obviously work related and not for pleasure… lol

My 2013 trip to the golden state was my first real experience of vacation and I wish I could explain how much it meant for me when I finally saved up enough money and experienced my childhood (and adulthood desires) 
DISNEYLAND:



I honestly felt like a little kid when I arrived at Disneyland! We went in   October so the whole park was fall festive and decorated for Halloween! 👻🎃 it was so fun! And the “haunted mansion” attraction and ride was decked out and turned into The Nightmare Before Christmas! I had never been on a roller coaster so when I rode Space Mountain, I was so nervous but loved it! (I’ve since then been on crazier and much bigger roller coasters) 


I loved all the shops and restaurants and remember going to an old fashioned Ice cream shop and having the most delicious orange soda ice cream float and eating a tasty churro! I remember falling in Love with Minnie Mouse’s house and how adorable it was! 

BUT my most favorite part of my Disneyland experience was the firework show at the castle at the end of the night! Even though I was already an adult at Disneyland for my first time, I still had the time of my life and I’m eager to go back! 

NEWPORT, SANTA MONICA, AND HOLLYWOOD: 

I’ll be honest right off the bat: I was so unimpressed with Hollywood… I’m glad I got the experience, but it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. 

Trashy streets, dirty sidewalks, crazy people in costumes, polluted air that you can smell… lol it just wasn’t my favorite… but it was nice seeing it and realizing that it’s not like the movies.


SANTA MONICA was lovely! Clean, pretty, calm, and gorgeous! The pier was so fun and the cute little bookstores and quaint coffee shops were like something I dream about! And I get to go back this summer and i can’t wait! 


NEWPORT WAS FANTASTIC! My friend, Briana, who lived in Cali at the time took us to the best places to shop and eat there… and she took us to such a lovely beach! 

It was my first time at Nordstrom, Joe’s Crab Shack, and the beach! 


I’ll be honest, I did tear up when we were driving along the coast and I saw the ocean for the very first time… it was breathtaking, magical, and overwhelming! 


The beach was definitely my favorite part. I had it as #1 on my bucket list to go to the beach. I had always wanted to go, and to finally see and be in the presence of one of God’s loveliest creations was amazing for me!

And it probably sounds silly to some about how exciting and fun all of this was… but for me it was a brand new experience… i never had the privilege to take trips and vacations like this.  So to finally get to do it and know I worked hard as a young adult to take myself on a vacation was rewarding and an experience that will forever keep California as a special place in my heart! 
I’ve since been to California about 3 more times… luckily my boyfriends sister lives there, so we get to go there to see her! And I’ve since traveled more and seen different places and different parts of California. 
Now California isn’t a place I ever see myself living… why? For one, they have horrible gun laws (too liberal for me), and I’ve always been a Southwest girl. 

As much as I love the beach, I’m definitely a mountain girl who prefers quiet and small towns. 

But California will always be a place I’ll  go back to to vacation! It will always be special since it was the very first place I took my first vacation at! 
Where is your favorite place to vacation? How old were you when you took your first vacation? Let me know! 
Here are some other photos of other trips to California that I’ve taken! 

[ALL PHOTOS ARE MINE]

Comments

  1. Briana Kim

    Thanks for sharing your story and nice pictures! I visited California last year with my hubby and went to many of the places you mentioned 🙂 This post brought back many memories.

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Awesome! Thanks for reading! I hope it brings back great memories for you like it did for me! 🙂

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  2. Laurie

    Congrats on your first real vacation. California was a great place to choose with its diversity in culture and so many wonderful places to visit and eat. Love the pictures.

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  3. Paula

    Great to feel the happiness from your words 🙂
    The country I come from, Poland, is lucky enough to have the Baltic Sea up north and chains of mountains down south. And because we were living roughly in the middle of the country I was lucky enough to see them both at an early age. But I’ve never seen the ocean in my life 😉 I bet it’s massive <3

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Yes it is massive! Definitely something to see!!!! 🙂 thanks so much for checking out this post!

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  4. Patty

    I’ve lived in California since 1989 except for s year where I lived out of state. I live in Northern California though which is a whole different California. Our town used to be a farming community but it’s changing to a commuter town and Amazon just built two distribution centers here so while there are green fields around they are slowly getting eaten up by business. I highly recommend visiting “the other California”. It’s just as amazing as Southern California.

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Awesome! I’ve been wanting to check out Northern California!!! I’m hoping I can sometime soon!!!! Thanks for reading 🙂

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Awww!!! Hope you have just as much fun as I did! I’m sure you’ll love it!!! Thanks for reading and stopping by 🙂

  5. Kate

    I love California too! We’ve been to Disneyland a few times, as well as San Diego and Los Angeles (I felt the same way about Hollywood,!) and this year we’re going to San Francisco. My goal in the next few years is a three-week California road trip from San Francisco right the way down to San Diego!

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Awesome! San Francisco is next on my list… I’d love to see Northern California! That three week road trip sounds like something I’d want to do!

  6. Lisa May

    Love this post! I’ve never been but it’s definitely on my bucket list. My bestie is going for her honeymoon and I’m so jealous. Will definitely share this post with her!

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      o.wildandfreeoutdoors@gmail.com

      Awesome! You gotta go at least once in your life! There’s so much to do! Hope your bestie has a BLAST!! ❤️

  7. Tereza

    I’ve never been to California but doesn’t everyone & their cat wanna go? It’s such a beautiful place! Looks like you had a wonderful time too – and got some lovely pictures from your holiday:) xx

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