Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach - The Strand

Are you looking for a gorgeous little downtown to spend the evening, with stunning sunsets on a clean beach, great restaurants, safe and happy vibe?

Manhattan Beach is the place! This coastal town sits between Hermosa Beach to the south and Los Angles to the north, with a busy downtown district and great beach activities.  

My favorite thing to do when visiting is to walk along the Strand – a long walkway connecting Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach.

Pedestrians and cyclists use this path, but in Manhattan Beach, the bike trail splits away from the main trail making for a more pleasant and safe walk. As walk the Strand, you can admire the multi-million dollar homes terraced on a gentle slope.

The separate bike trail is actually part of the longer Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which runs along the Santa Monica Bay.

Fort Walton Beach

Florida Emerald CoastFort Walton Beach is a small beach town located on the Emerald Coast with beautiful silver sand beaches and emerald waters. It is a major tourist attraction and gets very busy during the summer months. 

If you plan to visit during those busy months, you need to make your reservations months ahead of time. 

The weather in the Emerald Coast is warm most of the year, with a few rare cold days during winter. The last time it snowed in this area was in 1977. 

While talking about Walton Beach, I am including Okaloosa Island, Ocean City, and Niceville because they are all interconnected.

The try-city area is surrounded by several Bayous, the Gulf of Mexico, lakes, creeks, and inland forests.  While staying in Fort Walton Beach, we enjoyed visits to the beach, parks, major attractions like the Gulfarium, hikes in the forest, and great dining experiences.

Oxnard, CA

Oxnard - Channel Islands harborThis beach town's claim to fame is that it is the Gateway to the Channel Islands. But wait a minute, a few miles northwest of Oxnard, Ventura also claims to be the Gateway to the Channel Islands. So confusing!

But no, not really. They both have a lovely harbor with regular service to the Channel Islands, but I think Oxnard's harbor is more fun.

The channel islands harbor has an extensive canal system making it look and feel like Venice, Italy, or Venice, CA. You can even get gondola rides on those canals. 
On both sides of those canals, you can find homes with ramps, restaurants, and recreation areas. 

Destin, FL

Florida Emerald CoastDestin is a small beach town full of fun attractions and activities. Located on Florida's Emerald Coast, Destin is known for its white beaches and emerald green waters. It is now a major tourist destination, started as a small fishing village. 

The city is on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. This makes for beautiful beaches and views on both sides, facing the Gulf of Mexico and the bay.

The sand on Destin's beaches (and the rest of the Emerald Coast) is some of the whitest in the world. The sand comes from the Appalachian Mountains and is made of finely ground quartz crystal, giving sugar's appearance. 

Okaloosa Island

Florida Emerald CoastThe island is an extension of the city of Fort Walton Beach. It is a popular tourist area with silver-white sand beaches, luxury condominiums, an aquarium, a boardwalk, and a fishing pier. 

Several beautiful beaches overlooking the bay and the gulf are spread out along the road connecting the island to Destin.

With all the sounds, bayous, and lakes in the area, everyone seems to own or rent a boat to enjoy the clear emerald waters. 

If you are visiting, you can join the seafaring population by renting a boat or going on a cruise. 

Where to Stay

Okaloosa Island has an abundance of hotels, resorts, and condominiums to choose from. They are usually located along the beaches on either side of the island. 

Some belong to major chains like Marriott, Whydahm, and Hyatt - and others belong to independent owners offering their homes on Airbnb.

On a recent visit, we rented an apartment via Airbnb and stayed at the El Matador resort.

Brea, CA

Brea Oil FieldsCalifornia is known for the gold rush, which caused many prospectors to head west to strike it rich. But California also experienced a black gold rush when oil (petrol) was discovered.

Brea started as a village for oil field workers, but when the oil boom became the oil bust, Brea became a citrus producer with orange and lemon fields instead of drilling fields.

You can still see some oil drills on the hills above Brea, but they are dwindling. 

Over the years, Brea turned into an important retail center because of the large Brea Mall, several mini-malls, and the recently redeveloped Brea Downtown. 

Anaheim, California

Disneyland - ready for HalloweenPeople usually flock to Anaheim to visit the Disney Resort,  with amusement parks, shopping, restaurants, and hotels.
But Anaheim has much more to offer like parks, hiking trails, entertainment, ethnic food from around the world, flight simulators, spectator sports, golf, and tennis.

I live in Anaheim and experienced it all. So here is a guide to some of my favorite places in and around Anaheim.

At the end of this page, read a brief history of Anaheim.

Rocky Mountains Zipline adventure

Rocky Mountains Zipline - Bill ZainI love the feeling of flying over a forest canopy while admiring the nature around me.

Well, I wasn’t exactly flying, but sitting in a harness and sliding on a long zipline is close enough.

And I wasn’t admiring nature too much as it was zipping under me way too fast, but I still loved every minute. 

While visiting Denver, I decided to go on this zipline adventure with Denver Adventure and chose the 6-zipline adventure with a media package.