Bahia Resort Hotel on Mission Bay

IMG_7430Located on 14 acres of tropical landscape on Mission Bay, The Bahia offers a relaxing destination to unwind and a variety of fun activities that appeal to all ages.


There are a variety of rooms for guests from lush garden views with streams to bay front one story to multi-story hotel rooms. I stayed in a single story bay front room #130. The amenities included one king bed with a rollaway for our family of three. Other rooms offer a queen bed or two double beds. I enjoyed the complimentary high-speed wireless Internet , HBO, AM/FM radio, coffeemaker, ironing board and iron, hairdryer, refrigerator and signature bath supplies. The bed was very comfortable and there were lots of pillow.

Poolside Fun

The sparkling blue pool has plenty of lounge chairs to soak up the San Diego sun. There is also a hot tub that easily sits 20 guests. IMG_7424Nearby is a gym and video arcade.


The onsite Cafe Bahia offers a sunrise breakfast buffet until 11:30 a.m., then lunch and dinner. Sit on the outdoor patio near a trickling fountain. On Friday night they serve a BBQ buffet and on Saturday they serve a prix fixe dinner. At the Moroccan-style Tangier Bar they serve a Happy Hour special from 3 to 6 p.m. with appetizer and drink specials. On Friday night there is a live band and Saturday night the bar has karaoke.

Bahia Belle

The turn-of-the-century Bahia Belle sails around Mission Bay to the Catamaran Hotel throughout the evening. The IMG_7462Mississippi-style sternwheeler starts sailing at 6:30 p.m. for families. At 9:30 p.m. the Belle lights up with a cocktail cruise. All cruises are offered Wednesday through Sunday and are free for hotel guests. Non-guests pay $6 at the dock.

Mission Beach

The Strand offers over two miles of paved walking and bicycling paths along the sand, Mission Bay and Pacific Ocean. Along the path are hotels, homes, restaurants and shops. Next to The Bahia is a rental stand to rent bicycles, kayaks, paddle boats and paddle boards to explore the bay. Within two blocks is the Giant Dipper roller coaster at Belmont Park and 25 other rides, shops and restaurants. Free lessons are included with rentals.

Seal Habitat

Near the Bahia Cafe is a home for Gracie the California Harbor seal. She is a resident at the Bahia Hotel Resort. Gracie was rescued as a pup when she was found sick on the IMG_7445beach. Since she is almost blind, she was nursed back to health, but couldn’t be released back into the wild. Guests enjoy calling out her name as they visit her swimming in her water-dwelling.

Bahia Resort Hotel – 998 W Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109 (858) 488-0551 –

7 Destinations for Mother’s Day

IMG_1615Mother’s Day is approaching soon. What should you get that special lady in your life? It depends on what interests your Mother. Is she active? Does she enjoy being pampered? Is she a Nature lover?

Here are 6 of my favorite spots that your Mother will enjoy to experience on her special day.

1. Beach-Loving Mom

Book one night at The Beach House in Hermosa Beach. Across the street is the Hermosa Cyclery to rent a one speed cruiser bike for $7 an hour. Take a ride along The Strand. The 22 mile paved path winds from Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades to the Torrance County Beach.

Sit out in the sun at Good Stuff along The Strand for lunch of salads, sandwiches and burgers. Back at the hotel, grab a few beach chairs, beach toys and a boogie board. Enjoy the beach as the sun is starting to set.

Take Mom to Manhattan Beach for  dinner at MB Post. Soulful Chef and co-owner David LeFevre createsIMG_1633 fun small plates to be shared around he table. Start with a great glass of wine  and a cheese plate. A fresh fish, Diver scallops or meat dish will satisfy her appetite. Save room for one of his sweet and savory desserts.

In the evening, Jay Leno usually performs on Sundays at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. – 1300 The Strand  Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. (310)374-3001.

Hermosa Cyclery – – 1142 Manhattan Ave  Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (310)545-5405.

Comedy and Magic Club Hermosa Beach –

2.  Relaxed Mom

Drive or ride the Amtrack train up to Santa Barbara to enjoy the newly opened El Encanto Resort and Spa. Book a Vitamin Sea Facial for Mom IMG_1695with Esthetician Kelsey Webb. It’s an amazing experience. Mom will walk out completely relaxed, appreciative and content.

Reserve a seat out on the Terrace for High Tea from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Sit among eucalyptus groves overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands while enjoying a Traditional or Bellini Tea. Bring your bathing suits, because the infinity pool is the perfect temperature. It’s tranquil and serene.

Stay overnight in one of the beautifully renovated suites or cottages. Take Mom for a divine dinner prepared by Executive Chef Patrice Martineau. His French dishes are spiked with a delightful Japanese fusion flair. – 800 Alvarado Place, Santa Barbara – (800)393-5315.

3. Whimsical and Adventurous Mom

img450_LLH_day_ofA drive down to Carlsbad will put a smile on the face of  this type of mom. The colorful LEGOLAND California Hotel just opened. The 250-room, three-story LEGOLAND Hotel showcases three room themes: Kingdom, Adventure and Pirate. It’s the perfect complement for the mom who enjoys playing with her children, riding on amusing rides, and cheering at shows at LEGOLAND California, LEGOLAND water park, and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

If Mom gets tired, the outdoor pool area at the hotel features a gradual incline 5-foot-deep swimming pool and offers a plethora of lounge chairs to cool off after a day at one of the Parks. or LEGOLAND 1 Legoland Dr  Carlsbad, CA 92008 – (760) 918-5346 –

4. Palm Springs Loving Mom

For the mom who longs to play golf or lie in the sun and relax with a favorite book on her special day, Palm 2.1_splashtopia_1280x394Springs offers over 130 hotels and resorts, and over 100 restaurants.

Book a night at Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa. Children will enjoy the newer Splashtopia, featuring a 425-foot lazy river, two 100-foot water slides, a cliff-side Jacuzzi, and a sandy beach. Splashtopia also features unique water-play zones with fountains and sprinklers for the kids.

If the noise level gets too loud, mom can saunter over to the refurbished adults-only Azure Pool with its sleek decor and elegant teak furniture. Poolside service has an attentive wait staff  that will cater to her every need with great food and signature drinks. – 41-000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage – (866) 423-1195.

  • Walk across the street to The River for dinner or brunch at the popular California Bistro – Aqua Pazza restaurant. They offer outdoor dining on their water-viewing patio and special value menus that will appeal to every family member.

5. Mountain Mom800px-Lake_Arrowhead_Village,_California

Mom will enjoy getting away from the frenzied pace of the city, while driving up to an elevation of 5,106 feet in the San Bernardino National Forest. Treat Mom to a special Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet at the Lakeview Terrace at The Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. Sit along the shores of picturesque Lake Arrowhead, with plenty of fresh air and clear-blue sky.

After brunch, go for a hike or walk with Mom to the Lake Arrowhead Village to peruse the quaint specialty shops, and outlet stores such as: Jockey, Bass, Famous Footwear, and Coach.

Before leaving book Mom a massage  at Spa of the Pines inside the Lake Arrowhead Resort. Kids and Dad can don bathing suits and swim among the pine trees. Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa – 27984 California 189, Lake Arrowhead, CA  92382 – (909)336-1511.

6. Ojai Yoga Mom

Send Mom to one of So Cal’s best all-inclusive destination spas, The Oaks. The staff offers guided hikes into the nearby hills and mountains, water IMG_1532aerobics and calming yoga classes.  Treat her to a day or 2-night stay. The Oaks provides a well-rounded 1,000 calorie a day food plan that consists of three meals, snacks and beverages. The varied menus feature natural foods, fresh fish and poultry, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, homemade salad dressings and soups – all without a touch of additional salt or refined sugar used in the preparation. Many meals feature freshly-grown herbs from their special gardens.

From May 10 – 17 is a  MOTHER-DAUGHTER special. Receive a 40% discount off program rates for each daughter sharing a room with Mom. Ends Friday, May 17, 2013 at noon. Book early, as this is a popular time!

Founder Sheila Cluff “The Mother of Aerobics” since the 1950s, has owned this wonderful resort since the late 1970s. Her daughter Cathy now manages the resort, while Sheila and her husband Don travel the world educating people about fitness, health and gratitude. Her latest book, Living Your Dream is a must read for every mother.

The typical Oaks guest at The Oaks is a fifty-year-old woman who just wants to relax and take in all the positive, nurturing elements of a healthy lifestyle. If this sounds like your mom (or You) this will be a memorable gift. – 122 East Ojai Ave. (800)753-OAKS.

7. Beverly Hills Mom 

Baldemar Fierro - Montage Beverly HillsWould your mom like the red carpet treatment for Mother’s Day? The Montage Beverly Hills is offering the quintessential gift. Start with a heavenly brunch by celebrity chef Scott Conant. Bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys will be served for $22. Call to make reservations at (310)860-7840.

If Mom would prefer an Afternoon Tea served in hand-painted china with exclusive artisan tea varieties, small bites and divine desserts. Tea is served every Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Reservations are (310)860-7940.

For a light lunch, Mom can sit up at the rooftop at the Conservatory Grill near the pool and receive a complimentary rose and chilled glass of Rose wine.

Here are a few of the Spa services that they are offering for Mother’s Day –

·       Mother, Manicure and Mimosa: Treat your Mother on this special day for a Montage Manicure, while sipping on a Mimosa. She will also enjoy access to the rooftop pool, Fitness Center and Spa Montage facilities. $65 per person.
·       Mother’s Day of Indulgence: Delight in a day devoted to mom with the ultimate gift of relaxation:  a day at the lavish Spa Montage, which includes a 60-minute massage and 60-minute facial, Montage Manicure and Pedicure, poolside lunch at our rooftop Conservatory Grill and all-day access to the pool and Spa Montage facilities. $565 per person. Lunch is received in a credit of $50.
·       Mommy & Me Spa: Mom knows any day is good if it includes bonding time with her daughter. This package, designed for girls ages 5-12, includes a Montage Manicure and Pedicure and a Paintbox Manicure and Pedicure. Children will also receive a special braiding at the Kim Vo Salon. 225 N Canon Dr  Beverly Hills, CA 90210, (888) 860-0788
Show your appreciation to Mom everyday. On Mother’s Day pamper, spoil and love her even more.

Hermosa Beach on Dwellable

Eat This, Shoot That! Tour of Santa Barbara

Food, Wine and Cultural Tour

A great way to see Santa Barbara is taking an Eat this, Shoot That tour.

It begins at the park where the Cabrillo Art Walk sets up every Sunday. We found Tara Jones and Natalie Morris next to a large picnic blanket spread on the grass. Jones started her tour company in June 2012. Both Jones and Morris are graduates from Brooks Institute and experts at photography.

While walking through some interesting Santa Barbara streets and tasting food and wine from some popular venues, we shot some great photos. Tours are on Fri. and Sat. from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. or larger groups can reserve an afternoon. It’s an eat, drink, shoot, and exercise tour all-in-one.

After nibbling on calamari with a chipotle dipping sauce from the Fish House, we walked out to the Sterns Wharf. Jones told us to stop and shoot at one optimal photo spot. Natalie showed us how to get out of our automatic focus setting and drop our f-stops and shutter speeds.

One stop that Natalie helped me take an artistic photo of a row of flags near the Ty Warner aquarium. “These colorful flags represent the different regimes that have dominated Santa Barbara,” shared Jones.

While sitting in the Moby Dick’s restaurant to taste their salmon cakes and quesadilla, Michelle Rodriguez, Director of Communications, from the Santa Barbara CVB & FC shared, “August and Sept. are the best months to see whales in the Channel Islands.”

Jones enjoys the views from Moby Dick’s. She told us that during the holidays, boats are dressed as Christmas trees and parade around the harbor. “Moby Dicks is a great spot to see the holiday boat show.”

The restaurant offers a Happy Hour Mon. through Fri. from 4 to 6 p.m. with oyster shooters with vodka for $1.95 and an 8” shrimp and lobster pizza for $7.95. It’s been on the wharf for over 30 years.

Walking out to SB Shellfish Co. for some fresh ceviche, Natalie advised us to shoot photos early in the morning and late in the afternoon for optimal lighting. “This is when everyone looks like they have a golden tan.”

Some hungry seagulls eyed us the entire time we sat outside taking photos and eating ceviche with tortilla chips. A highlight of the experience was watching two dolphins surface nearby.

Walking off the pier, Morris taught us how to find cool backgrounds and how to shoot in the shade. “F-stop #8 is a nice area for taking a portrait of someone.” She encouraged us to always choose a simple background. “Shade is your friend. It’s the best for portraits,”she emphasized. “Shade makes the photo have smooth and even lighting.”

Next stop, Santa Barbara’s funk zone for a Caesar salad flatbread and glass of water at Union Ale. Then we caught up with the Urban Wine Trail and walked into Oreana Winery for a tasting.

Once an old tire shop, this space now is a funky tasting room, art gallery and gift shop. This winery specializes in Pinot Noirs, rare Italian varietals and sweet wines. While sipping a sweet wine, Morris gave me one more photography tip. “Window light is gorgeous. It can create light in your subject’s eyes so they don’t have dead eyes.”

Eat This, Shoot That! Ends at the Urban Wine Trail. With 15 other local wineries to peek into for tastings and artistic photos, it’s an ideal ending to a stimulating two-hour tour.

The tour is $99 per person or $149 a couple. Grab a friend and learn more about some beautiful spots along the “American Riviera.” For additional information or to sign up, go to or call (805)637-0760. 

Avila Beach is Family Friendly

One of the safest beaches for families along the Central Coast is Avila Beach, tucked into a picturesque cove south of Point San Luis.  It’s protected from offshore winds, doesn’t have undertows, and is often sunnier than other beach communities along the coast.  The average temperature is a warm 70 degrees.

With a year round population of 200 residents, it’s a friendly town offering great beachcombing, shopping, dining, hiking and kayaking.

In 1910, UNOCAL built a pier and oil refinery at Port San Luis.  Before WWI, this was the largest oil pipeline project in the world. Avila Beach wasn’t much of a tourist, however in 1983 the wharf was destroyed by one of the roughest storms in California history. In 2002, UNOCAL leased its pier to CAL POLY, SLO for a Marine Studies program.

The city revitalized itself and now is filled with new hotels, restaurants, shops and housing.  It has a fresh new look and is ideal staycation for families.


We’ve stayed twice at the oceanfront Inn at Avila Beach.  It’s funky with its Mexican and Moroccan décor.  The rooms offer a sitting area with a futon couch, bedroom, refrigerator and microwave.  It works for a small family.  What guests enjoy about this little Inn is the Rooftop deck with ocean views, couches, tables, BBQ’s, wet bars, TVs and DVD players, microwaves, blenders, and hammocks.  We celebrated a family birthday party up on the deck.  Buying  fresh fish from the local pier, we had a bbq and relaxed in hammocks.  Inn at Avila Beach (805) 595-2300, 256 Front Street, Avila Beach.

An alternative spot is the newer Avila Lighthouse Suites. Located across from Avila Beach, it appeals to families with its ocean views and a heated swimming pool and hot tub.  The rooms are light, bright and spacious. The 54 two-room suites offer a bedroom and seperate sitting room with a sofa bed, wet bar, and patio or balcony. The resort has a spa, fitness room, putting green, giant outdoor chessboard, and ping pong.  In the morning they serve a continental breakfast to guests. Avila Lighthouse Suites (805) 322-7010, 550 Front Street, Avila Beach.


1.  Take a free trolley tour to visit 12 different locations in Avila Beach and Shell Beach.  It operates every weekend from 9 am to 6 pm.

2.  Avila Main Beach is divided by the pier.  The right side facing the bay is ideal for families and children.  There is a whimsical children’s play area with a pirate ship theme, dolphins to climb on, slides and monkey bars.  Nearby and under a bridge is a tide pool exploration area when the tide is low.  It is also an ideal place to view wildlife in this protected estuary.  Closer to the pier is a swing set adults and children enjoy.

3.  Harford Pier attracts families because of the pelicans and sea lions.  The pelicans allow visitors to get very close for great photo opportunities.  In the water, sea lions swim and bask in the sun on decks. They bark and cuddle each other just like the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco. This is a commercial fishing pier and at the end of the pier is a fresh fish market that sells fresh oysters, red snapper, crabs and lobsters in full view for visitors to see up close and purchase.  The Old Port Inn is located nearby and offers delicious fresh fish meals.  Its been here for over three decades. In the middle of the pier is a snack shop that serves delicious clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

4.  Avila Barn is owned by a local dentist, it’s a popular stop for families.  I met a very friendly cow, who slurped my cheek and they grabbed my hair and wouldn’t let go. This working farm has animals, fresh fruits and vegetables for sale, hayrides and delicious baked goods. You must stop here to buy a freshly baked pie and a few ears of their roasted corn on the cob.


For casual dining the Hula Hut is my favorite.  It sells delicious sandwiches, gourmet coffee and teas, ice-cream and baked goods.  Located at 380 Front street.

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Avila Beach on Dwellable

Kauai – An Ideal Travel and Movie Location

On Hawaiian or World Voyage cruises, some of the NCL, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruise Lines and Holland America ships stop at the “Garden Island” of Kauai for at least one day. Cunard’s Queen Victoria stops here too.

While on a recent Hawaiian cruise, we got off the ship in the port of Nawiliwili and rented a car to explore the oldest and most verdant Hawaiian island, Kauai.

Our first destination was Princeville on the North side of the island. Princeville and nearby Hanalei and Napali beaches offer dramatic emerald colored scenery and aquamarine colored water. We were excited to visit this destination after watching the movie, Descendants with actor George Clooney. The location lured us to enjoy a swim, snorkel and sunbathe.

From a calm beach in Hanalei, we had a great view of the St. Regis Princeville hotel and a beach house featured in the movie.

As we drove to the end of the road admiring sea caves and white sandy beaches, we commented that the North side of Kauai feels the most Polynesian, with its jagged canyons and taro fields.

 We stopped at Tunnels beach for a quick snorkel adventure. It was thrilling to see yellow tang, colorful angelfish and pretty butterfly fish within steps of walking into the warm water. The highlight was swimming with a Hawaiian green sea turtle.

Driving back towards Princeville, we stopped at Dolphin Restaurant and Fish Market in Hanalei for lunch. Locals and tourists come here for fresh sushi, poke, seafood chowder and fresh Ahi and Ono plates. Afterwards, we drove to the St. Regis Resort to admire the views.

We found a spot in a small public parking lot just before the entrance of the spectacular St. Regis resort. A public access path led us to Hideaway Beach. It can be a dangerous hike if you don’t have good shoes, and is very slippery after a rain. Looking into the clear warm water, we saw sea cucumbers, bright pink brain coral and the state’s fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

After our snorkeling adventures we decided to head back to the cruise ship with one stop at Kauai’s northern-most point to see the historic Kilauea lighthouse. Celebrating its 100th year, the scenic lighthouse was recently refurbished. A volunteer pointed to a preserve where hundreds of sea birds reside. Whales, seals, dolphins and sea turtles can be viewed at the point too.

Near the port of Nawiliwili lies the main town of Lihue that offers restaurants and shopping for cruise passengers. A visit to the nearby Marriott Resort and Beach Club sitting on the lovely Kalapaki Beach, is a nice stop. We finished our Kauai excursion with a stop at Duke’s Canoe Club and Barefoot Bar for a Mai Tai  before boarding our cruise ship to sail to another beautiful island.

 If you fly or cruise to Kauai, the beauty will leave you wanting to come back for more. This article was published in the Sept. 2012 issue of Not Born Yesterday.





Princeville on Dwellable