The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

The Best Weekend Adventures in Southern California

Another great post by my husband Mike. A geologist by day, adventure writer by night.

Enjoy.

-Heather


Do you ever go on a trip or an adventure and afterward think “wow, I can’t wait to do that again” but then never do? Yeah, we do that at least once a month. When we moved back to California earlier this year we put together a list of places and things that we have done once and have been dying to experience it again. 

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Adventures by Mike

Whether you have lived in California for years or are just visiting Southern California and are looking for a few untraditional things to do; this list is sure to please all types of adventurers.

Malibu Winery, Malibu, CA

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Malibu Winery

For  Heather’s  25th birthday we went with friends up to Malibu Wines, a winery and tasting room in the hills between Malibu and Thousand Oaks in Southern California.  The wines are from the Saddle Rock Winery, just next to the tasting room at Malibu Wines. The views in and around the tasting room are excellent, the wine is also pretty great.  They have some add-ons now including a wine safari that we really need to adventure back to enjoy.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, San Luis Obispo, CA

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Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort on top of Avila Hot Springs

This resort sits on top of the Avila Hot Springs, in a quiet, hidden, woodsy area.  Out the back of every room is a hot tub that is piped into the hot springs. You turn a valve and 100+ degree spring water flows directly to you.  Luckily the Sycamore Resort is located conveniently to the Edna Valley, a low key wine region in Central California. The Edna is a cooler wine region and produces lovely Pinot Noirs and Syrahs.  After a day of wine tasting, there is nothing better than unwinding with a bottle of wine, soaking up the ocean breeze, and hanging out in your own private hot tub.

Skiing/ snowboarding in the mountains and golfing in shorts the same weekend

California is one of the few places I know where you can legitimately accomplish this. for the overachievers, you can technically, do both in one day. I played golf on Friday in LA and snowboarded in Big Bear on Saturday.  Pick your favorite summer and winter activity, come to southern California, and accomplish both in the same weekend! (Best to plan in January or February).

Take a random Las Vegas road trip

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Las Vegas at night

Mostly a rite of passage (at least in my opinion), Las Vegas is so close but yet so far from the cities in Southern California.  Although we have been to Vegas dozens of times (literally dozens) this trip was one of my favorites. Heather and I planned the trip with another couple on a Friday night, left on a Saturday morning, and came home on a Sunday.  Next time you got a free weekend, head to Vegas for a spontaneous weekend of fun.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park – Behind the Scenes Safari

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Visit this cutie at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Heather likes zoos, has a serious affinity for large, wild animals. This safari park has special excursions that take you right up to the animals and give you a much different experience than a traditional zoo. The Safari Park is experienced via tram so its a great activity for all ages and all abilities.

What are some adventures that we need to add to our Southern California list?

Happy Adventuring!

-Mike

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Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Growing up my family went to  Yosemite National Park every year on vacation and some of my best childhood memories were exploring this beautiful national park. To increase the love I have for this place, this past year I got married at the Yosemite Chapel in the Yosemite Valley and it was the most magical location and day. So when deciding on the topic of my first official blog post there was no other option than Yosemite.

While planning our September nuptials we decided that we had to hike half dome prior to the big day, major mistake. The day of our wedding, I could barely walk my body was not having it but I was so thankful that I had conquered one of the most majestic mountains (rocks?) I had ever seen.

The day of the hike:

It was the last week of August so we knew the weather was going to be hot, what we didn’t know is it was going to rain; I mean, shoot, its California. We had our bags all packed the night before, we were doing this hike in one day so our packs were relatively light. We were in the third car in the parking lot promptly at 6 AM.  Prior to the hike, I drank a sugary coffee drink, and by mile three I felt so sick, not my best nutrition choice. We made it to the top of the peak by 10:30 AM, I still have no idea how we did the hike so fast. I wasn’t prepared for how scared I was going to be climbing the cables but turns out it’s pretty scary. Once we made it to the top we had very little time to enjoy the view because a storm was rolling in and we would be stuck on top if we didn’t get off the peak before it hit. On our way down back to the valley the trails were packed with hikers, we were tired and it took us the same amount of time to hike up to half dome as it did to hike back down. The parking lot is .5 miles from the trailhead, after that hike it was longest, slowest half mile of my life.

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The top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, I’m not sure if I have ever been that happy in my life.

Items I packed for the hike:

  • 1 gallon of water, the hydration pack I used can be found here. Note: this pack only carries 2L so make sure to bring additional water bottles.
  • Snacks- packages of tuna, beef jerky, baked apples, gum and trail mix.
  • Sunscreen. Sun protection is no joke, my sensitive skin reacts best to this Aveeno Sunscreen.
  • A long sleeve shirt
  • Hiking Socks (Columbia makes a great pair) Extra socks are always a great idea as well.
  • My phone and headphones (Big shout out to My Favorite Murder and Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald because I think I would have quit if I didn’t have entertaining podcast content in my ears.)
  • Gloves, there are always more expensive options but these will do a great job on the cables.
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About to start half dome cables. That smile is not a proper indication of how my body felt.

Tricks to help you start planning your half dome trek today.

  1. Take tons of water! There are very few places to fill up water bottles, the last potable water station is on the other side of the bridge at the bottom of vernal falls, less than a mile into the hike!
  2. Hike at least 20 miles in your boots prior to the hike. I bought new hiking boots just a few weeks prior to the hike but I made sure that I hiked/ walked 20 miles in them.
  3. Don’t forget your Half Dome permit. To climb the cables you must have a permit that is awarded through a lottery system starting at the end of March, permits can be obtained here.
  4. Gloves are a necessity. The cables are really tough and you want to have the best grip possible so an investment in a decent pair of gloves is recommended. At the bottom of the cables, there is a huge stack of discarded gloves for use in case hikers forgot theirs but don’t bank of that stash being available.
  5. Don’t sleep on the intensity of sub dome. I read and I researched this hike intensely and I never stumbled across anything detailing how this portion of the hike would exhaust me before I even hit the cables.
  6. Start Early. This seems like it should be common knowledge but still feel like its worth mentioning.
  7. Repeatedly check Yosemite weather and fire conditions. The day before our hike we were discouraged by Yosemite employees to do the hike because of the nearby fire would restrict the views at the top. We kept a close eye on the fire reports but ultimately decided that it was worth it.
  8. Are you acrophobic? If you are scared of heights or steep slippery surfaces this hike probably isn’t the right one for you. The cables are there for a reason, the last stretch of this hike is slippery and steep!

Do not take this hike lightly, I hike all of the time and at the time of the hike I felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life and this hike was tough!! 

If you have not visited the majestic Yosemite National Park, its a must!