Two of my good friends from my 1982-83 days at Purdue University came to Southern California for a family event and spent Saturday with us. They got us out of the house. After busy work weeks, we always enjoy slowing down and hanging out at home. But this Saturday we were weekend tourists, showing off the area. We had a great time, and I was left thinking we need to do this more often.
We started out at Mollie’s Famous Cafe Mollie’s Famous Cafe in San Juan Capistrano. Just your great neighborhood diner, perfect for a good breakfast on a Saturday. It was crowded, which provided a sense of energy. We’d never been here before, but it had good reviews on Yelp. We ate outside, enjoying huevos rancheros, two orders of French toast combo, and a pancake combo. My coffee came in a huge mug. Amtrak trains chugged by across the street. San Juan Capistrano is an Amtrak stop further up the tracks. I always enjoy the sound of a train.
Next we walked up the street to Mission San Juan Capistrano, number seven in a twenty-one mission chain that helped the country of Spain settle California in the early history of our state. I’ve been there many times as a fourth grade teacher on a field trip, studying California history. We enjoyed the gardens, the architecture, the history, and spent some time exploring this beautiful place. We saw two weddings doing photographs on the grounds.
We stopped at Starbuck’s across the street for a light snack and water before heading on. And guess what! There was one of the wedding parties just hanging out. That made me wonder if they were modeling for the photographer and not really a wedding, but who knows?
We also wandered the Los Rios Historic District, a street filled with old homes made into shops, cafes, and restaurants. We enjoyed seeing the old, quaint homes and gardens. We did not stop to shop or eat here. The photo below is from an article in Pelican Hill Magazine. Click on the link below the photo if the Los Rios District interests you further. It was about a block or two, beyond the train tracks from the mission.
We walked back to the shopping area where Mollie’s Famous Cafe is and got our cars. I liked that the day’s stops in San Juan Capistrano were within walking distance for us. It was a beautiful day for the walk while talking and catching up. The beach cities are usually about ten-degrees cooler than where we live.
Driving up the coast, we climbed up the curvy streets in part of Laguna Beach and reached The Top of the World. We parked the cars and walked on up the short path to the top. What a great view! From the ocean, across the valley, to the various mountains in the distance, with lots of suburban housing sprawl in various places.
Back down the hill we went to Pacific Coast Highway. Turning north, we pulled in at a famous restaurant called Las Brisas. I had not been there for a long time. It was busy, but we arrived early and waited for our reservation time. We had a good time sitting on a bench on the ocean side, watching the sunset. A young couple had just gotten engaged in the gazebo with most of their family present, so we felt the joy. This was a magnificent setting and great way to end the day.
I could sit by the ocean for hours, but an order of guacamole drew me into the restaurant. We sat in the cantina and enjoyed chips with guacamole and also delicious artichokes. I enjoyed one of my favorite drinks, an Arnold Palmer – part lemonade and part ice tea. We shared the appetizers and more conversation. Meanwhile, the Dodger World Series game #4 against the Houston Astros had begun.
On a side note, I’m not a Dodger fan except for this series, but it is fun living in a town with a team in the World Series. The energy, the hope, the pride, the ups and downs all give to a special sense of community.
We ended the night with a fine dinner at Las Brisas. I shared a Caesar salad and the maple-crusted salmon with my husband. Delicious. It was pricey, but the food and the view were spectacular. And a table of great company made for a fun end to a delightful day.
It often takes out-of-town guests to get us out to the typically touristy places in our area. We need to get out there and explore more on our own. We had a great time – good food, some exercise, beautiful scenery, some history, and the ocean. We really took a break from the demands of our jobs and housework. That’s always a good idea.
We braved traffic, the challenge of parking, and crowds, fairly constant in Southern California, and got out to explore some of the great spots in our area. Such a fun day away from the routine with the luxury of time to talk. Sightseeing energized us and made a deposit to our soul care accounts in ways we deeply needed.
Where do you take visiting friends? Cheers to weekend tourists! It can be rewarding in many ways. Love your friends. Love where you live..
Stay charming, my friends.