Exploring Balboa Beach with the Family and Crocs

Crocs Shoes for the Whole Family

last week, we had spent the entire weekend running around – there had been no real down time for our family. i looked around and the house was a mess, i really didn’t know what to make for dinner, and the kids were annoying each other.  i knew we needed to get out of the house and head to a happy place to get some fresh air, and clear our minds for the upcoming busy week. for many of us Southern Californians, that place is the beach. so that’s what we did. the boys threw on some clothes, grabbed some sand toys and towels…just the essentials, and their brand new shoes. i recently teamed up with my friends at Zappos x Crocs, so we had just received a delivery of new Crocs. now you may be thinking…what? CROCS?!!!! because, you’ve never seen any of my kids wearing Crocs before. but it’s true. Crocs have changed. there are now more styles to choose from….really cute ones. they are durable for my busy boys, with bright colors even my tween and teen love. and since they are easy to clean, they make a great choice for beach trips.

Balboa Beach State Beach

we piled in the car, picked up a couple of pizzas on our way down to the beach. Balboa Beach in Newport Beach was where we decided to go. i like Balboa Beach because it has a nice boardwalk, the pier, there is a nice playground on the sand, a grassy area where the boys can run, and if you need a little more entertainment, you can easily walk over to Balboa Fun Zone for some more fun or to ride the ferry.

i must say, we had a great evening together. i really love living in Orange County and having access to the beautiful beaches….and the best weather. check out some of our photos from our evening. don’t forget to check out our shoes…aren’t they so different from what you expect Crocs to look like!

Fun shoes for Tweensfor Vann, i got him the Crocs Kids Bump It Shoes. i really liked the two-toned look, and thought they would look great with a lot of his outfits. the slip on aspect is perfect for him, and makes getting ready easier for the entire family.

Best Croc Shoes for KidsWearing Crocs at Balboa Beachmy shoes are the Crocs Isabella Mini Wedge in Coral. i prefer a wedge shoe for my feet, and something that is very comfortable. these are great…nice and cushy, and they come in four colors.Jill Parkin at Balboa BeachBalboa PierFamily Fun at Balboa Beachmy older boys love bright colored shoes, so i got the Crocs Citilane Roka Slip Ons. what i love about Crocs is the material they are made of is completely washable…so with my boys stinky feet, they are easily washed and don’t absorb the odor. they are also great for running up and along the pier.Croc Shoes for TeenagersYes, Crocs can be Fashionable Running on Balboa Piermy hubby is really digging his Crocs. he got the Santa Cruz style, which are perfect for casual and dressy casual. i consider them true Southern California style!
Best Crocs for Menone of our favorite parts of Balboa Beach is the playground. there are swings, slides, a jungle gym and this giant spider web that the kids can climb. Climbing on the Spiderweb at Balboa State BeachOrange County Beaches with Playgroundsand bringing pizza to the beach was the best idea. it travels well, takes great whether its hot or cold, and it doesn’t require utensils. i couldn’t have asked for an easier dinner. i’m just grateful i didn’t have to cook.Eating Pizza at Balboa State Beachwe ended the evening dipping our toes in the sand and sitting together on the lifeguard stand watching the waves.

Balboa State Beach Lifeguard standBest Family Shoe Styles CrocsBest Beach ShoesBest Crocs for Women heading to the beach that evening ended up being the perfect cure to the weekend blues. there’s just something about the fresh smell of the ocean and crashing waves. plus, all of us are really loving our new Crocs shoes. there are a wide array of Crocs styles and colors available on Zappos.com, so go check out the new styles. Zappos’ promises fast, free shipping, 365 day return policy, and world class customer service.

our new Crocs are a big hit…i can see us wearing them for lots of more adventures in Orange County. i hope that we have inspired you to also #FindYourFun with the whole family.  sometimes you need to just get out and have some fun….forget about your messy house or the millions of things that need to get done. you’ll be glad you did!

Sandy Toes and Popsicle Blog Family Crocs

{This post is sponsored by Zappos and Crocs. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

A Visit to Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach

Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna Beach. home to some of the most beautiful Southern California beaches you can see, and Victoria Beach is one of them. nestled between cliffs and upscale beach homes, Victoria Beach is one of the hidden gems of Orange County. many refer to this beach as having a Rapunzel’s Castle or a Pirate Tower. and as you can see, it kinda does. last week, the boys and i decided to have sunset picnic on Victoria Beach. what a special evening it was to enjoy the magical landscape and candy coated sunset over the Pacific waters.

Victoria Beach is located on Victoria Drive, off of Pacific Coast Highway. the address to the stairway entrance is 2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach. it is not the easiest to spot, as it is surrounded by gated homes and private beach mansions. and parking? yes, it is very scarce! most likely you will have to park on Pacific Coast Highway and walk down. luckily, my hubby dropped us off at the entrance, and went off to search for parking on his own.

Entrance to Victoria Beach in Laguna Victoria Beach Lagunathe trek down to Victoria Beach is fairly easy. the walkway and stairs are paved and nicely kept. Access to Victoria Street Beach in LagunaStairs to Victoria Street Beach in LagunaAccess to Victoria Beach in Lagunawhen you reach the bottom, you will see a small white sand beach. i am sure it gets crowded at times, but it wasn’t too crowded the evening we went. p.s. there isn’t bathroom access or lifeguards.Victoria Street Beach

to get to the “castle”, you need head to the right and walk around the cliff to the North. there you will see it, a fantastic rustic castle-looking rocket structure nestled up to one of the Laguna Beach cliffs.

so what is the deal with this tower?

Victoria Beach Castle Laguna Beach

this structure, is a 60-foot castle-inspired tower that was built in the 1920’s along with the house at the top of the bluff. the tower has a staircase inside that was used to get down to the beach. it is made of poured concrete, and has an ocean stone foundation. the cone-shaped roof is made of shingles. there are several narrow window openings in the tower wall that allow light to pass through to the wooden spiral stairway inside.

Laguna Castle Beach

the home above the tower is known as the “Norman House”, and it and the tower are landmarks of Laguna Beach. they were built for the wealthy, California State Senator William Edward Brown and his family as a summer home. many Americans who spent time in France during WWI were inspired by the chateaus and castles. many of them built homes during the 1920s that would emulated these chateaus and castles. the Norman House is one of the few remaining examples of this on the oceanfront of Southern California.

Laguna Beach Castle Detail

just a few yards south of the tower, you will see a circular concrete structure that was once a seaside pool. it is now filled with sand, but you can still see the basic outline where the pool once was. kids can run and play here as the waves crash around it.

Laguna Beach Historythis is the view from the tower looking to the south. if you look closely, you can see the circular pool structure.Best Beaches in Laguna

we had such a fun time exploring Victoria Beach. not just the tower, but also the beach, circular pools and tide pools.

Family Fun at Victoria Beach - OC Mom - Popsicle Blog
Jill Parkin Popsicleblog at the Beach

 

the tide was in that evening, so the water was a bit rough. i had to keep a close eye on all the boys to make sure they were safe from the water. but that didn’t stop us from having fun.

High Tide at LagunaBeach

Laguna Beach Tide Pools

i highly recommend visiting Victoria Beach. it is always a treat to check out the different hidden gems we have in Orange County as well as the beauty of our beaches. Victoria Beach will not disappoint.

Victoria Beach in Laguna

Family Dinner on the Beach with Sessions West Coast Deli

the-wedge-newport-beachsometimes you got to get out of the house and get outside to enjoy the sunshine. that’s exactly what we did monday night. the house was fully clean inside…including the kitchen (for once!) and i had had a not so great day with my anxiety getting the best of me. we needed to get out and enjoy some time as a family. so that is what we did.

we drove down towards Newport Beach and picked up our dinner at Sessions West Coast Deli. it’s a new sandwich shop that just opened this past April. it has a surfer vibe, and a very cool look.

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right now, they have an amazing deal going on…from August 25th – August 29th, Sessions West Coast Deli is offering a “Last Week of Summer Sandwich Special” beach picnic basket for $35 (a retail value $75), to serves 4+ people. the beach picnic basket features four gourmet sandwiches, Cucumber Salad, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, their famous Shaka Spuds and any four fountain drinks. 

we picked up our food that was all packed up for us and ready to go, and headed down to The Wedge. the waves were pretty big, and it was awesome to sit on the beach and enjoy our food with the most amazing scenery.

session-sandwiches-to-gocheck out our feast.

sandwiches, margherita salad, cucumber salad, chips and more…

best-newport-sandwichesmy favorite had to be the Summer Zephyr. loaded with fresh mozzarella and marinated tomatoes, it was the ultimate caprese sandwich.sessions-caprese-sandwich-newport sessions-sandwich-shop-newport-beachand don’t forget to order the famous Shakka Spuds. homemade potato chips with fresh rosemary, sea salt and shaved parmesan cheese…they are the best potato chips i have had. so addicting.

session-sandwich-shop-best-potato-chipsor how about a giant pickle!sessions-west-coast-deli-pickle-ocSessions West Coast Deli has a great selection of unique sandwiches, salads, sides and even hot dogs. they also have a kids meal to satisfy the little ones. we especially love how everything is named in surfer lingo. you can eat in the deli, have your order to go, and they even offer catering. session-sandwich-menu-oc

we give our family dinner on the beach two thumbs up and will make sure to do this outing more often. we are so very blessed to be able to live so close to the ocean, it is truly an wonderful gift of nature. hang loose!

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{ disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Thank you Sessions West Coast Deli for feeding us yummy food. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. }

7 Family-friendly Orange County Tide Pools

Best Tide Pools in Orange County

one of the things we are BLESSED with here in the OC, besides the weather, are the beautiful beaches. and with this being such a mild winter…the weather has been perfect to head down to the beach. my boys love all of the beaches here in Orange County, but when they have the choice, they always pick going to the beaches with tidepools. there are some great Orange County tide pools here in SoCal, perfect for families to explore.

we go to the tidepools often, even on cold days because you don’t really have to get wet. just your feet. so you can wear a hoodie and roll-up your pants so you can wade in the pools. but honestly, how often do you really need to wear pants here!

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last week, we took the boys to our favorite tide pools in Corona Del Mar. it is often called “Little Corona” and is located off of Pacific Coast Highway on Poppy Street. you can park on Ocean Boulevard, and walk down the hill to the small coved beach.

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the waves are small and kids can wade into the water without to much worry from the adults. and there are lots of rocks and areas to explore.

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if you visit during low tide, you are sure to find some beautiful finds, like ocean critters and plant life.  if you look carefully, and in spots that are hidden, that is where you will find the hidden gems. check out these starfish we found. those colors are real…#nofilter

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and all these sea urchins were nestled in a rock pool hidden on the side of a big boulder. we climbed up the side and were surprised at what we found.

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we spent the rest of the time hiking up some of the larger rocks just to see what was on the other side, and enjoying the beauty that surrounded us. it was one of those days you wish would never end.

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if you are looking for some great OC tide pools to visit, these are some of our favorite beaches that have tide pools:

Crystal Cove State Beach – ( Pacific Coast Highway – between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach)
Reef Point, Rocky Bight, Pelican Point, north end of Treasure Cove are the best places to explore here. you can park in the beach’s parking lots for $15 per day.

Main Beach – (Pacific Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road)
this is Laguna’s main beach. often crowded, and parking is scarce.  you can find public parking lots in the shops north of Pacific Coast Highway. this beach is flanked on both sides by some small tide pools. you can find the Heisler Park tide pools and Shaw’s Cove tide pools in the beaches north of it…just a short walking distance.

Little Corona Tide Pools – (Corner of Ocean and Poppy – enter from Marguerite and Pacific Coast Hwy)
located at the bottom of a small hill, you will find a small beach with tide pools flanking both sides. restrooms are located halfway down the hill, and lifeguards patrol the beach during summer hours only. street parking is available for no charge, but can be hard to find during busy times.

Treasure Island Beach – (Wesley &  Pacific Coast Hwy – Laguna Beach)
this is one of the hidden gems of Orange County, and a bit of a hike to get to. there is only one small public parking lot off Wesly Dr. (Parking is horrible) or you can park on the street on the north side of PCH up the hill.  to get to the beach, follow the sidewalk path that runs along the front of the Montage Resort, past the main hotel’s beach. north of that beach you will find a stairway leading down to the small tide pool flanked beach. the cliffside views of this beach are breathtaking.

Shaw’s Cove Tidepools – (Cliff Drive & Pacific Coast Highway, Laguna Beach)
a small beach hidden off of main beach located within the Laguna State Beach Marine Preserve. it’s one of the local favorites for tide pools and snorkeling/diving. the waters are clear here and you are sure to find anemoes, sea critters, starfish and even rays and sharks.

Heisler Park Reserve (Cliff Drive &  Pacific Coast Hwy – Laguna Beach)
this is a little hidden gem of Orange County north of main beach in Laguna. parking is metered at the park above the beach on the cliffs. stairs lead down to a small rocky cove beach.  be sure to watch the tides here as it comes up quickly here, and you can get trapped. be careful bring small kids here because it is rocky.  this beach is full of character and has great views and trails to explore.

Cresent Bay – (located where Cliff Drive intercepts North Coast Highway)
this beach is a sandy stretch with rocky areas at the north and south ends. off the north point there is a large rock about 120 yards off shore called Seal Rock because of the seals and sea lions that take refuge there. it’s often closed due to high tide and it’s dangerous rocks.

when visiting the tide pools 
when visiting the tide pools in Orange County, make sure that you are careful when exploring the tide pools. it is a good idea to wear shoes, and remember, collecting sea animals and rocks are prohibited.

it is REALLY IMPORTANT to check the tide before you go, or else you may find a beach covered with water and no rocks to explore in sight.  we were fortunate to have a negative tide this particular day (meaning the tide was out further than normal) so we had more tide pools to explore than most of the days we go. you can check the beach tides online, or by using an app on your phone such as the Surfline.

 

 

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and if you can time your visit to the tide pools to end around sunset time, you will be in for a special treat. beach sunsets are amazing and bring a sense of peace and calm to your spirit. this is one of the special treats you get for living on the west coast. a sunset like this is the perfect ending to a perfect day.

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Family Night at Seal Beach

i am a firm believer that unplanned family outings are always unexpectedly the BEST. i think kids get too excited when they know something fun is coming up and start to act out, so i like to be spontaneous with them. this was the case last night. my husband announced he wanted to take the kids surfing at Seal Beach. within a few minutes, we packed up, put on our swim suits, jumped in the car and headed to the beach.

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we arrived at the beach around six o’clock. luckily we found a great place to park on Ocean Avenue & 6th Street. there was still at least 1-1/2 of sunlight left.

seal-beach-surfing

you don’t have to pack a ton of stuff for a quick beach trip. towels, a few sand toys, waters, a chair (which we didn’t need) and boogie boards is all we brought. the less, the better, in my opinion.

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we picked up Subway sandwiches across the street from the beach.

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 for some reason my boys have been begging to go to Subway for the past month, so they thought we were awesome for getting it for them. i was just happy not to cook or have to do dishes.

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we all played in the sand….

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and the boys were in pure bliss playing in the wave with daddy. you see, my husband grew up learning to surf at this beach. he loves that the nice sandy ocean floor, and the fact that there isn’t a drop off and the waves a rolling. perfect for beginners learning to surf and boogie board.

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watching my hubby play in the surf and boogie board with them was magical.

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 they were all smiles!

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and all of them played and played in the water. jumping and splashing and livin’ it up. the water was surprisingly warm…not even a bite of chill. it was awesome.

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 there is something about nature that soothes the soul, washes your troubles and cares away, and brings the love that a family has for each other to the surface. it’s not the big fancy trips or elaborate plans that create the special memories your children remember. it’s the unexpected moments of pure bliss shared together that matter most.

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and as they played in the sand as the sun began to set. i sat there thinking. all. is. good. the perfect recharge a momma needs in the busy life of worry about everyone else.

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this unexpected family night enjoying the sand and water of Seal Beach was all i needed. what a beautiful place.

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we could have walked over to the pier, played on the playground on the beach or enjoyed the beach shops running along Main Street. however, the boys were content just playing in the waves. Seal Beach is a wonderful beach to take the family, it’s clean and nostalgic and has some great places to eat. if you would like to check out where we went, here is where we went.