On Location: San Marino, California

by Tamara Mendoza – Owner and Creator of Suitable Travel Today

     updated 12:43 AM PST, Mon November 11, 2014

 

Being a college student, it’s always busy at about this time of the year with midterm exams and it was no different for me. With that I wanted to apologize for the lack of posts recently, it’s been a very busy month. If you watched my introduction video on the home page you know that I mentioned a very exciting new development…my first column in an internationally published magazine is being released within the following months! I’m ecstatic about this opportunity which will be a stepping stone in my career as a travel writer. As I discussed in the video the exposure will direct others to the Suitable Travel Today website as well as the social media I have available. It’s a incredible time in my career and I’m anxious for all the remarkable things to come and even more so to share it with everyone.

Aside from the current events I mentioned, I have also put myself on what my mom calls a “spending freeze”. This is a term we use for saving our money instead of spending it on extra activities, fast food, or unnecessary things we want in the spur of the moment. I usually do this right before a trip and its been a system that has helped me tremendously. This weekend, however, was an exception since I only spent about $50…

About a week ago, I ventured to San Marino in Los Angeles County for breakfast and boutique shopping with my mom and sister and concluded our half day adventure with an exploration of the tree lined neighborhood streets. Although we’ve spent more time in the Pasadena area we wanted to explore a more quaint San Marino, away from the hustle and bustle of L.A.

Patrons sitting on the patio of French bistro, Julienne, in beautiful San Marino.

Patrons sitting on the patio of French bistro, Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations, in beautiful San Marino.

I made my first stop at the popular French bistro, Julienne Fine Food and Celebrations, well known for their delicious breakfast menu. Julienne has an impressive 4.5/5 rating on TripAdvisor and is also rated the #1 restaurant in San Marino on the website. A Yelp reviewer noted that due to the popularity and smaller size of the restaurant visitors dining at Julienne experience anywhere from a 20-60 minute wait on average for breakfast. Their breakfast menu is served from 7 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., so unless you don’t mind waiting outside the patio area taking in the wafting smells of the food being brought out to the seated customers I strongly urge you to arrive as early as possible.

When I arrived with my mom and sister around 8:30 a.m. we ended up having to find street parking which was (luckily) just a few minute walk away. We were immediately seated on their outdoor patio with functioning heaters and leisurely enjoyed several mouthwatering dishes which we all shared, served by Julienne’s friendly and attending staff. Paired along with lattes and mimosas here are two of the dishes we enjoyed:

Baked Crème Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise •  15

Baked Crème Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise •
15

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Waffles, Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Shaved Chocolate, Strawberries •  12.5

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Waffles, Honey Vanilla Crème Fraîche, Shaved Chocolate, Strawberries •
12.5

During the entirety of the meal I had to remind myself to savor each and every bite. I’m constantly impressed by the restaurants I’ve been to in the Los Angeles area and Julienne is now another of my favorites. Next time you are in the area please take the time to stop in at Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations and take your taste buds on a trip to France.

Stuffed and happy, we also took some time to explore their adjoining gourmet market and bakery where you can purchase wines, delectable desserts, lunch specials, and even gifts for your friends and family.

My mom browsing through the gourmet market/bakery and gift shop.

My mom browsing through the gourmet market and gift shop.

The gourmet market also serves bakery items like these delicious lemon custards.

The gourmet market also serves bakery items like these delicious lemon custards.

Julienne Fine Foods and Celebrations is located at 2651 Mission Street, San Marino, California, 91108. The restaurant only takes reservations for parties of  8-10 and be contacted at 626.441.2290. www.juliennetogo.com

Waddling to our car it was time to head on to our next stop…boutique shopping! There are a few shops along Mission Street next door to Julienne but if you are looking for a variety of shops head to Lake Avenue where the well kept streets are lined with not only old fashioned boutiques but large retail stores too. We only stopped in a few of the boutiques since our time was limited but I’m in love with San Marino and its neighboring city, Pasadena!

During the remainder of our adventure my mom and I decided to explore the neighborhoods and then it occurred to me…San Marino is the setting of one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time, Father of the Bride (1991) starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short.

 

 

I have always been a traveler at heart but one thing that has influenced me a great deal has been films created by the magic of Hollywood. I’ve recently made it a hobby of mine to research filming locations used in some of my favorite movies. Father of Bride was filmed in San Marino and also in parts of Pasadena, Hollywood, Burbank, and Los Angeles.

The residence of fictional character, George Banks (Steve Martin) was very easy to find and was only a short drive from where we were on Lake Avenue. Immersing us even further into the world of the Banks family I began playing the soundtrack to the movie as we drove down the timeless streets. A few minutes later we turned onto South El Molino Avenue and suddenly…there it was…

Filming Location: Father of the Bride (1998)

Filming Location: Father of the Bride (1991)

If you have not seen this movie already then I highly recommend it! If you’re a big fan of this movie like I am then adding a stop at this home on your Hollywood Home Tour is well worth the drive. Even with the Halloween decorations up the stunning $1.35 million home brings its visitors right into the heart of the film. Any minute I expected to see the characters walking on and off the drive.

The Father of the Bride House is located at 843 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106.

As I mentioned earlier I was only out and about for half a day so following our stop at the Father of the Bride house it was about 2:30 p.m. when we started to head back home. After having been at home a lot recently, plowing through my midterm study material, the day out was much needed. In fact, I’m convinced I enjoyed the day out more because I’ve spent so much time at home. With that being said, even if you’re busy and only have time to stay close to home you can still plan out an eventful itinerary. Since my mom is a teacher and doesn’t have as much flexibility as I do to travel most of our adventures are close to home! It amazes me when locals here in Southern California look at me in such wonder when I retell some of my most recent adventures. It’s incredible how many things you can find near by! It has nothing to do with being hipster–it’s about being well acquainted with where you live.

Happy and safe travels!

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It’s a “Pirate’s Cove” Life for Me!

Just a short little blurb from me tonight… It just occurred to me that I have not mentioned the day I spent at Pirate’s Cove in Corona Del Mar! As I talked about during my last post, my childhood friend Rachel visited me here in Huntington Beach for a birthday vacation. Over the weekend, my mom and I had several activities planned out for her to enjoy, among them San Diego and Long Beach. The day she was to return home my mom and I planned a shorter half-day adventure to Pirates Cove. After our beach day we would adjourn to Fashion Island to walk around, enjoy the shops, and pick up her favorite dessert…Pinkberry. Luckily she was departing out of John Wayne Airport (SNA) so we were able to complete every stop. If you have not been to Pirates Cove then you really should put it on your to-do list, on a clear and sunny day the water is illuminated and gives off a pretty blue-green hue. This beautiful paradise is located opposite the Newport Beach Jetty and is technically located in Corona Del Mar. Families can enjoy the calming waves perfect for small children (a lifeguard is always on duty) and couples can enjoy a romantic picnic overlooking the harbor. For the movie buff, here’s a fun fact: Pirates Cove is no stranger to Hollywood and was the filming location for several movies and TV shows including Treasure Island, Pirates of the Caribbean and Gilligan’s Island.

Pirate’s Cove, Corona Del Mar – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today (Photo is featured on Visit California’s official Instagram account.)

Corona Del Mar Beach Map - Pirates Cove or Rocky Point can be seen above. Parking is $15 from 6AM to 10PM. Click here for more information.

Corona Del Mar Beach Map – Pirate’s Cove or “Rocky Point” can be seen above. Parking is $15 from 6AM to 10PM. Click here for more information.

After we were all good and tanned it was time to head to Fashion Island for a bit of shopping. This outdoor shopping destination is popular stop for visitors because of its upscale shops yet casual atmosphere. Walking around I have noticed lots of new fun stores opening up and I can’t wait when I have more time to go back and explore them. Fashion Island also offers several upscale dining options including Red O, Fig & Olive and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Our motive for going to Fashion Island was to pick up some Pinkberry frozen yogurt before Rachel headed back to Arizona (there are few locations close to her home), typically I tend to stray from chain restaurants/shops because I really do enjoy finding unique locations but this was a stop made specifically for Rachel. It was a good call, however, because after a hot day at the beach this is just what we needed to cool off. It was now time to take Rachel to the John Wayne Airport for her evening flight so taking MacArthur Blvd. we headed inland–if you take this street it runs directly into the airport entrance! The short drive was super easy and took less than 10-minutes. I love this airport because it is quick to navigate through and is central to a lot of great properties in the Orange County area. Some of you may also know that I frequent this airport for a lot of domestic trips since it is conveniently located so close to my own home. Well as I have said before this is just a short post this evening but I have lots of new posts coming up everyone so keep up with me as I update you on some of the wonderful places I’ve been to recently! Happy and safe travels!

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The Weekend of Firsts: Pacific Surfliner and Hydrobikes

A childhood friend of mine, Rachel Fischer, visited me in Orange County and was looking to spend ample time gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. Due to the impending last few days of finals for summer semester I did not get to plan out a full itinerary as I had originally wanted to but there were two days I wanted to highly focus upon in this post…

Day 1 – “America’s Finest City,” San Diego

Rachel and I, took Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner into the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) which is the closest in proximity to the USS Midway Museum and other major attractions. Let me first take a moment to go over Amtrak’s easy to navigate online booking system…Amtrak’s website looks very similar to that of a major airline’s. I have already included some direct links to portions of their site that include maps of the Pacific Surfliner’s route and also the station my train pulled into. Another piece of information I wanted to point out is that there are discounts even for students!

I had only been on a train one other time going into Los Angeles, which is not the most scenic of routes, so I was determined to change my perception of our train system. I chose the Pacific Surfliner route to San Diego because I wanted to go somewhere Rachel and I could enjoy some views of the ocean–this was the right decision! Enjoying nice comfortable seats by the window, we watched the scenery roll by transitioning from agricultural greenery to tumbling waves and surfers. Wanting a full day in “America’s Finest City” we took the first train of the day at 6:52AM out of Anaheim (ANA) and arrived at the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) at exactly 9AM.

Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner making its last stop at the Santa Fe (SAN) Depot. - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner making its last stop at the Santa Fe (SAN) Depot. – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed with how well taken care of the Santa Fe Depot (SAN) station was and it made me excited for the changes currently being made to the Anaheim (ANA) station. Anaheim’s is located right next door to Angel’s Stadium, Disneyland Resort, Honda Center and The Grove, which will make it a central transportation hub. An article on the construction can be found here.

Downtown San Diego is one of the easiest areas for a tourist to get around and with the help of Uber is extremely cheap (several of my own trips were approximately between $5-10). Our first stop was less than five minutes away in Little Italy! It has been some sort of a tradition of ours to track down unique coffee shops for breakfast each morning of our vacations and the one I chose this particular morning was called Caffe Italia, located right in front of the Little Italy main entrance and sign. Caffe Italia was bustling with activity as regulars stumbled in for their routine brew of fresh ground coffee. I’m not too fond of coffee myself but quite enjoyed their Orange Baba: a combination of Strawberry banana gelato blended with orange juice and topped with whipped cream. There were also an assortment of delicious pastries, bagels and coffee cakes to choose from. If you’re like me the environment is a large factor in my enjoyment of wherever I’m dining and Caffe Italia’s indoor/outdoor patio seating with friendly staff and romantic serenading background music took their small little coffee shop to the next level. And for the animal lover, pets are welcomed and dog treats are complimentary!

Taking another UberX car, our driver Darren laughed with us and shared stories of his own experiences as a college student in Southern California (turns out he had even temporarily lived in Huntington Beach, Surf City U.S.A.). Darren dropped us off right at the park next to the USS Midway and since we had time to spare before we enjoyed a stroll before heading over to check-in with Hornblower Cruises for a two hour tour of the bay; check-in can be found right in front of the battleship. Once on the top deck of the boat passengers can purchase drinks and snacks while the captain provides facts about everything there is to see in the bay. Incredibly scenic views, the harbor cruise is a photographer’s paradise!

"America's Finest City," San Diego Bayfront - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

“America’s Finest City,” San Diego Bayfront – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

USS Midway - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

USS Midway – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

"Unconditional Surrender" invoking both Romance and Patriotism - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

“Unconditional Surrender” invoking both Romance and Patriotism – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

After our tour of the bay, waiting at the dock was a pedicab–I’ve never ridden in one before but since there were so many people looking as if they were enjoying themselves I just had to try one myself. Our driver’s name was Gary who had a simple bike, others blast memorable 90’s songs, I wish could remember the name of the pedicab company Gary works for but should anyone know he deserves recognition. Initially what I thought would be a short ride from here to the Seaport Village turned into another mini tour! Gary took us around the park we casually walked through and pointed out the World War II memorial statues and their importance. As we continued around he pointed out an aircraft carrier across from the USS Midway with a #70 painted on it–this particular vessel was the same that took down Osama Bin Laden. Watching her sit across the way a thought occurred to me: this is either the most dangerous or safest place to be right now. I settled with the latter, what better environment than being surrounded by our troops. Continuing on our ride, we headed towards the Maritime Museum where Rachel and I learned about each of the ships docked there. Among all of them I was extremely drawn to the HMS Surprise which was used in the filming of Pirates of the Carribean and in my opinion the most beautiful ship I had ever seen. Now it was a very hot day so Gary thought it would be fun to take us to the Waterfront Park located directly across the street from the Maritime Museum. We strolled with our feet in the cool water while we watched families playing around us and I was impressed at the level of customer service we were receiving on this simple pedicab ride. Relaxed and cooled off, we got back on the bike and headed toward our final stop, Seaport Village. After we said our goodbyes and gave Gary a generous tip, Rachel and I proceeded to explore some of the shops at the Seaport Village and even rode the carousel (which mind you goes extremely fast) before heading to the next stop on our itinerary.

Dine, educate and relax at Balboa Park - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

Dine, educate and relax at Balboa Park – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Today

By this time it was about 3:45pm so it was off to Balboa Park to explore! I absolutely love Balboa Park not only for its gorgeous Spanish influenced architectural designs but also because of all that is offered there! Here is a list.

After wandering around enjoying the scenery for a while Rachel and I start to get hungry so we opted for a restaurant in Balboa Park I had been to before called The Prado. Now this is typically not a slip I ever make but I neglected to check the menu to see if there was a difference between the lunch and dinner menus. But when you are as hungry as I was this mistake can cause irritability and frustration which resulted in what Rachel referred to as being “h-angry” (a play on the words hungry and angry). Let me finish by saying that The Prado is not to be shamed in terms of the customer service, their servers are very attentive and delightful which is one of the reasons why I love this restaurant. They also have a gorgeous outdoor patio which is my favorite place to dine while on property, make sure you ask for it! When the sunlight catches the leaves it illuminates the rest of the patio. In my personal opinion, their lunch menu is much more appealing and has variety for everyone in your party. Take a look for yourself!

Surfers at Sunset - Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Time

Surfers at Sunset – Tamara Mendoza/Suitable Travel Time

By the time we left the restaurant it was time to head back for our 6:45PM train departure on the Pacific Surfliner heading back to Anaheim. This was not enough time in order secure first choice seating since there was a huge line to take the last train of the day, I would recommend getting there 30-minutes before departure. We were some of the last passengers to board but we still easily found seating near the rear of the train. Now as I mentioned before the route in the morning to San Diego was absolutely gorgeous…watching the sun set at the end of the evening was even better! I got a lot of great shots on my camera most of them didn’t even require a filter! The passengers on this train were a lot more rambunctious than the morning ride but soon fell asleep shortly after. Exactly at 9PM we arrived at the Anaheim station where an Angels game was going on! I love Southern California, there is always something exciting going on.

At the end of the day we were exhausted from our grand tour, I do not believe we could have had a better day in “America’s Finest City.”

Day 2 – Hydrobiking in the Alamitos Bay, Long Beach

Completely beat from the day before we slept in and then lazily tried to figure out what our plans for today would be. I have used Groupon on many occasions but sometimes it seems to be a hit or miss on what they offer. One that I had been wanting try out for the longest amount of time was a hydrobike. I had seen many of these in the Alamitos Bay Marina of Long Beach while strolling through some of the shops next to the landing and in my mind they appeared to be fun and fairly easy.

On a hydrobike the rider peddles on top of the water on a contraption like this…

*Note: Most items on Groupon you purchase require users to reserve at least 24-hours in advance…do not use it for a spontaneous trip.

Long Beach Hydrobikes highly recommends making a reservation and I was able to do so via text! The attendant responded quickly and we were on our merry way. When we arrived there parking was easy and best of all, free. We got out and walked down to the landing with time to spare, on a busy day I recommend utilizing the I-405 North freeway over Pacific Coast Highway, two words: carpool lane.

The attendants at the landing were pleasant, to some they could come across as scruffy irritable men but deep down underneath their tough exterior they were tremendously helpful. After signing a waiver form, one of the attendants shows you a map of the bay where you will be biking on a pre-routed one hour ride to Treasure Island and back. I was fine with the idea of getting on one of these puppies until it was my turn…instant panic struck as I experienced a “Peter” lack of faith that I would stay afloat. Frozen on top of my hydrobike the attendant tried to coax me to start peddling, “Sweetheart, you have to peddle. You can do it.”

As I finally started peddling away from the landing I suddenly felt as if I was tipping to one side and that at any moment would topple over. Were it not for the approaching yachts I would have never budged from where I sat petrified. One peddle at a time I started to become more comfortable peddling faster and faster until it became easy…like riding a bike.

It was a fun and a great workout! I’m very proud of what we both accomplished.

Conclusion –

Rachel conquered different activities on other days when I was working at the hotel but all in all she had a fantastic time. She has in a way become a great travel buddy for me and I can’t wait for our next adventure–next time hopefully it will be outside the realm of SoCal.

I have some other blog posts coming out within the next few days so keep up, you’re in for a nice treat!

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