Archive for Travel

Review: Newport Landing Whale Watching Tours

If you ever get the chance to go to Southern California, there is one excursion for your must do list: Whale Watching. It is an experience that will utterly amaze you because no trip is ever the same. You never know what you might see out on the open ocean.

Newport Landing Whale Watching was just a short drive south of Anaheim, CA and Disneyland. The beach parking lot was about a 10 minute walk from the check in office on the dock. There are quaint shops and restaurants in the area to explore before or after your ocean excursion. There are whale excursions seven days a week all year long. Depending on the time of year, you may see the California Gray Whales annual migration, Blue Whales, Finback Whales, Humpback Whales, or Mink Whales. You may also see large pods of dolphins including Common, Bottlenose, Pacific Whitesided, or Rissos dolphins.

On our particular trip we saw a mother Finback Whale that was 70-80 feet long and her calf. They were so close to the boat that when the larger one blew out her blowhole, she sprayed those of us in the front of the boat. The captain joked that we were all “baptized” by the whale. We saw them feeding with their enormous mouths. We watched them for a long time as they came right next to the boat to check us out. The captain narrated with some information as we watched and photographed these amazing animals.

On the way back to the dock we spotted a pod of about 20 Common Dolphins. They were incredible as they darted around the boat. WOW they are fast!! It was a great way to end the outing. The Newport Landing Whale Watching website includes prices and times, a whale count information for school and company trips, whale and dolphin information, directions, and contact information. It was really one of the coolest things we did on our trip to California.

I will be recommending it to everyone I talk to about my trip. One word of caution though, there were a few guests who got seasick on the excursion so make sure you are prepared for that if you happen to get some rough waters on the ocean. Luckily, my family and I thought the ride was awesome and would take the trip daily if we could. Too bad we live smack dab in the middle of Illinois. Next time we go to Southern California, Newport Landing Whale Watching will still be a “must do” for us.

Review: LA Dodgers Baseball Game

Great baseball.  The Los Angeles skyline.  Celebrity sightings.  Gorgeous So Cal weather.  Delicious Dodger Dogs.  What more could a sports fan want?  A visit to Dodger Stadium will satisfy your appetite, excite your senses, and have you thinking blue as you cheer on your favorite MLB players.

Recently we had the opportunity to catch a game at this iconic sports landmark.  Located just minutes from downtown LA, the stadium sits high on the hillside in majestic glory.  Excitement will grow as you park your car and walk towards the stadium.  Be sure to note the location of your vehicle as we made a rookie mistake and exited from a different gate than we entered from and had to walk around half of the stadium to find our car.  One thing that was new to us was the multiple levels and entrances.  If you are not sure which gate to enter, the friendly staff will guide you in the right direction.  If you are on an upper level, escalators are available so you don’t need to conquer the staircases.  Once inside your gate, be sure to get a world famous Dodger Dog and an ice cold beverage.  The All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion tickets include free Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, Coca-Cola products, and water.  Yum!  If you are looking for something for dessert after polishing off a few dogs, try the helmet ice cream.  This soft-serve treat is served in a small Dodger helmet dish (we got a pink and a white) and makes an awesome souvenir for the kids.  We also ordered some “helmet fries” that came in a larger, blue Dodger helmet.  Clearly we enjoy our stadium food.  We were seated in an upper level which provided an excellent view of the entire park plus the neighboring mountains and downtown Los Angeles.  Because Dodger Stadium sits higher than most venues, it provides incredible views of the surrounding area-a far cry from other stadiums we have been to in the Midwest.

A day or night at Dodger Stadium is a must for baseball fans and Southern California tourists alike.  Whether your hometown team is playing or not, I highly recommend getting some tickets, grabbing a Dodger Dog, and cheering on the team in blue.  It is an experience that will rank high on any sports fan’s list.  Go Dodgers!

Review: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Baseball Game

Living in the Midwest, I’ve been to my share of Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and even Kansas City Royals games.  I can say I enjoy myself on these trips to the ballpark.  However, nothing can compare to recent game I attended.  While I was on a family vacation in Southern California.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim has created a dilemma for me.  I’m not sure I can go to another game in a different stadium.  First off, parking was only $10.00. According to the car in front of us, who had been to 21 ballparks, that was the cheapest price he had seen.  Parking was convenient as we only had a short walk across the lot.  No communte by The EL or trekking in from blocks away.  As you approach the ballpark you can’t help but notice the gigantic Angel baseball caps outside the entrance.  What a way to get you ready for a ballgame!

The friendly staff greeted us with a smile as we entered the venue.  We arrived when the gates opened and simply asked an usher if we could go down by the field.  He guided us to a section where this was possible.  This was a great way to get up close to our favorite players during batting practice.  Get those autograph pens ready!  We even got a picture with visiting Minnesota Twins player, Jim Thome.

With a seating capacity of over 45,000, there are ticket options for every budget.  We didn’t stay in our seats for long because there were so many things to see and do around the stadium.  There are many concession choices in the food courts and along the concourses from hot dogs, to pizza, to Bar-B-Q, and even sushi.  I recommend watching an inning or two from the center field concourse area.  We saw a home run come right toward us.  The fireworks shot off from center field creating a magical moment for all Angels fans in the park.

We found games for kids to play as we continued to explore the stadium.  Like I said, there is just so much to see and do that you don’t have to stay in your seats to have a great time.  One of the best things is that if you have ventured out west to visit Disneyland, Angel Stadium is less than 10 minutes away without the traffic that plagues Los Angeles.  So if you are in Southern California and the Angels are at home, get yourself tickets and head over to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.  You won’t be disappointed!