Summers in Southern California

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
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ummer weather has arrived and with it countless activities and nostalgic memories. The smell of chlorine in the spa takes me back to our days spent practically living in our pool. A child absent-mindedly licking their melting ice cream cone reminds me of riding bikes along the boardwalk and always, always stopping at the tiny ice cream stand at the start of the Newport Pier.

From birth I was a total water baby, ready to jump into the nearest body of water at any moment. Is that a speck of dust on my skin? Darn, guess I need a bath now! Some of my favorite childhood memories are summers spent living in our swimsuits. Only leaving our backyard pool for meals and bathroom breaks.

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

It was a pretty strict routine: wake up, eat breakfast, put swimsuit on, apply sunscreen (maybe), swim until mom brings out some form of sustenance, quickly use restroom, try not to slip on the trail of water left on the kitchen floor as you race back to the pool, continue to swim until eyes are burning from chlorine, exit pool for family dinner/restroom break, turn spa on as soon as the sun sets, soak in spa until someone is dared to jump back in the pool, prolong water exposure as long as possible until friends must go home and mom coaxes us out with the promise of ice cream…..repeat every single day until school starts in September…..

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

Man, weren’t those the days. When the only thing I had to worry about was getting out of the pool in time to make it to soccer practice….Life has continued to race on and the memories are all the sweeter for it.

Growing up in Southern California, with a pool in the backyard and the beach within driving distance, I had no concept of just how unique my SoCal lifestyle was compared to so many other places. I remember my first time flying I looked out the window as we soared into I don’t know which state. The first thing I thought was, “Where are all the swimming pools??” Flying back, I couldn’t even count the number of bright blue pools coloring the bleak California landscape.

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

As I have traveled more, my appreciation for my home state has grown exponentially. I really had no concept of what “weather” is until I lived in other states and countries. My idea of a thunderstorm was gentle rumblings in the distance and some slight rainfall. When I experienced my first true thunderstorm in the farmlands of Pennsylvania I just about sh*t my pants from the ferocity of the booming thunder. I was running through the house looking for a basement to hide….Luckily, I survived to tell the tale…

I always tell Omid that my ultimate dream would be to live abroad in Europe somewhere for 6-8 months out of the year and then return to Southern California for the summer months. For me, there is just nothing quite like summertime in SoCal. This post is an attempt to give you a glimpse of what the magic is like for us locals and maybe tease you just enough that you’ll finally book that trip to Cali you’ve been putting off for so long.

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

So what is summertime in Southern California??

It’s jet skiing, kayaking, sailing, taking the Duffy boats out on the bay, bike rides along the boardwalk, day drinking in San Diego, tanning poolside with amazing ocean views, soccer on the beach, sunset dinners looking out over the  water, running along the sand, fireworks over the pounding waves, the smell of bbq’s floating through the air, lazy drives up and down PCH, aquariums and tide pools, coffee and work in the ocean breeze…..

Kayaking

  • We spent fourth of July morning paddling through Newport/Balboa Bay, weaving our way through the obstacle course of other boats, kayakers, paddle boarders and swimmers. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a lazy afternoon out on the water while still getting enough exercise to not feel guilty about it!
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

Jet Ski’s

  • Although I am partial to jet skiing on lakes rather than the open ocean, Omid and I had a blast renting these last weekend. We jumped over waves, said hello to some seal friends and raced along the beach chasing the sunset.

Sailing

  • My step-dad (AKA Pop) was raised in Newport Beach. He grew up sailing and fishing in the much calmer waters of Newport. Last fourth of July he took the family out on a sailboat to enjoy the crowded canals of the bay.
  • He’s always been eager and willing to teach others no matter what skill it may be and this outing was no exception. We all got a chance to man the sailboat, Pop stepping in to prevent any crashes or flips when needed. While many of our “learning experiences” have ended in someone injured, thankfully none of our sailing adventures have resulted in any injuries to either ourselves or others!
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Babe steering us through Newport bay 🙂
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Professor Pop, working on setting a new sunglasses trend...

Beach Days

  • Even with water sports and restaurants galore, never underestimate the beautiful simplicity of a casual beach day; spending hours soaking in the sun, playing soccer in the sand, jumping over waves and exploring caves….
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

Duffy Boats

  • You haven’t truly experience Newport Beach until you’ve drifted along the bay in a Duffy Boat. Every year my Grandpa rents several beach houses for an entire week for the whole family to come out and stay together. It’s tradition that one night of the week we all go out on the Duffy Boats for an evening ride. Packing a picnic dinner, we putter past all the gorgeous waterfront homes, snacking on cheese and crackers, sandwiches, wine and any other leftovers that have made it to the end of the week.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

Biking/Walking the Boardwalk

  • For the past 10+ years, I’ve ridden bikes along the Newport Beach boardwalk during our family beach house vacation. Even at 23 years old, I still get excited to ride along the boardwalk all the way to the Balboa Fun Zone and stop at the candy shop. Filling my little plastic bag with about 100 flavors of saltwater taffy, then eating about half of them on the ride back home….
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Always taking photos of the gorgeous homes along the Newport Boardwalk.

Pool Days

  • Whether you live by the beach or not, pools are in no short supply in Southern California. You already read about my childhood pool days and even though I have the beach just a stone’s throw away, I still enjoy a nice relaxing pool day. With my parent’s backyard oasis, our gym’s waterpark pool or the Montage’s luxurious oceanfront pool, we have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to a sand-free water day.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
The pool at our gym, Lifetime Athletics.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Lunch at Lifetime
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Pool at The Montage, Laguna Beach.

Sunset Dinners

  • With miles of coastline, there is an endless list of beach front dining options. Without a doubt, our favorite spot is The Loft at The Montage. The view from their balcony seating is absolutely stunning with an equally impressive menu. As if the swaying palm trees, crashing waves and setting sun weren’t gorgeous enough, you can often see dolphins or seals playing in the water below. And if you are reaaally lucky you might spot some whales swimming by. Whenever we go I pretty much just scan the water non-stop, sure that each time we visit will be the time I spot my first whale haha
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Our favorite truffle fries from The Loft.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures

Aquariums/Marine Life

  • Here’s the thing, land animals are cute and all, but nothing is as fascinating to me as sea creatures. I regularly have dreams I can breathe underwater or am a mermaid haha. Probably going to regret sharing that with you all but oh well….
  • Marine life is utterly captivating and even though I hate to see animals in captivity, I’ll still stand for hours completely mesmerized by the glowing jellyfish. The 3 year olds trying to press their faces against the glass will have to find their own place to do so because I’m not moving for anyone! Or at least that’s what I tell myself until the adorable little girl with pigtails asks if she can stand in front of me….

Coffee Shops

  • It’s no secret that Omid and I are huuuuuge coffee lovers. There are plenty of good coffee shops sprinkled over Southern California. A few of our favorites in Orange County are Kéan Coffee, Café Gratitude and Philz Coffee. Kéan Coffee is just up the street from the beach and Philz is right across the street. Both locations are absolutely heaven, sitting there working away with an amazing cup of coffee, pastry or avocado toast in hand and the ocean air dancing across your skin….Pretty much the combination of all my favorite things.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
The sun setting over the water just outside of Philz Coffee in Huntington Beach.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Another favorite location of ours, Cafe Gratitude.
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
Our all time favorite coffee shop in OC...Kéan Coffee.

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway

  • Let me tell you this, I drive along the Pacific Coast Highway at least 4 times a week, but I can’t seem to get enough of it. There is just something so utterly peaceful about driving along its twisting roads. There is just something about the atmosphere that makes you wish time could stand still and your drive alongside the water would never end. With the windows down, Spanish pop music playing loud through the speakers; lazily making our way past the shops and cafes. The cool ocean breeze mixes with the sunshine pouring through your window to create the kind of warmth that just lulls you into that hazy, sleepy state. God, I’m about to jump in my car and drive there right now….
summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
I used to make fun of people with convertibles until I drove one along PCH.....

I feel like I just wrote up a Summer campaign for SoCal haha. I always wish I could play tour guide to people who are visiting Southern California for the first time because there are just so many amazing experiences I want them to have!

While I could go on and on with the list of things you could do in Southern California during the summer, I wanted to share what it’s like for me personally. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our SoCal summer life! For any locals, what are some of your favorite Southern California activities? For those who have never visited, what have you been dying to do here and when can I plan your first trip??

summer southern california socal leigh ann countries and cultures
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