10 Things September

September has arrived and is barreling through like a freight train! I need it to slow down just a little as we are entering into my favorite season of the year and I want to enjoy every moment as much as possible. Not only do we get to celebrate the end of summer and begin decorating for autumn, I’m doing a wedding cake (its been quite a while) in just a few days, and we are just six weeks away from the arrival of our first grandbaby.

So many exciting things coming up for sure.

But, lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. First, we must enjoy September and here are ten things on my to-do list for the season.

1 – It’s not to late at all to Visit a Flower farm. Did you know 80% of American flowers are imported? It’s time we quit shopping for out of season florals and support our local flower farms. Recently I spent time at Posie Fields in Roswell and enjoyed every last minute of seeing this local flower farm in action. If you aren’t a fan of dirt and bugs, check out you local Saturday farmers market. You are sure to find a local grower there!

2 – Celebrate the end of summer with a delightful girl’s luncheon. My girlfriend Tami, recently hosted a lovely nautical themed luncheon on Lake Lanier. Decorate the table and choose food to fit your theme. If you don’t have time to “do it all” consider hiring out one or more of your party elements. Royal Tea Picnics is a local business here in Atlanta who will create the perfect scene for your next dinner. Time with friends is precious and should be treated special.

Royal Tea Parties did a fabulous job on the table decor!

3 – Attend a 9/11 Memorial near you. This year marks 20 years since our country was violently attacked by terrorists killing thousands and sending us into a war that ended with tragedies as well. We should never forget and take time to honor those who were killed or gave themselves in sacrifice. From diginified memorials to climbing stairs as many of our first responders did that day, there are plenty of ways to “Remember” the anniversary.

Kennesaw Mountain Field of Flags honoring those killed on 9/11

4 – Take a late summer hike. Get outside. It’s good for your health, both physically and mentally. Here in metro-Atlanta I love going over to Kennesaw Mountain or Sweetwater Creek to hit a trail, but my favorite trail in at Foster Falls SP in Sequatchie,Tennessee.

Beautiful Foster Falls State Park

5 – Indulge in pumpkin spice. Yes, I am one of those girls, but y’all I really do love all things pumpkin! Whether you hit up Starbucks for a cold brew or whip up you own at home, take time to savor and enjoy. Add a pumpkin cupcake or muffin for an even more delightful treat.

If you want to make your own pumpkin spice coffee check out my recipe here.

6 – Decorate for fall. Go all out with mums and pumpkins and wreaths and witches hats…. Decorate to match you home or just have fun and keep it whimsical. There are no rules to decorating for holidays; just have fun & give the neighbors reason to talk.

7 – Tis the season for the county fairs to begin! Load up and head out for an evening of rides, exhibits, and competitions while celebrating summer’s end.

Gwinnett, Georgia County Fair

8 – If you want something bigger than the county fair, head down to Walt Disney World and Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival. Purchase a gift card to make life easier (cashless and touch-free) and enjoy delectable tastes from Around the World throughout the park! You might find a new taste you enjoy or inspiration to be creative in your own kitchen.

9 – I’m loving Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather candle. It’s still fairly hot in Georgia, but when I light a couple of candles and fix a cup of tea … I feel fall in the air!

10 – Lastly, take time for tea (or coffee). We stress ourselves out so easily with busyness, news, and the like so take time to unwind, gather your thoughts and relax. I’m loving Tevana’s Lavender Citrus tea. Add a little fresh lavender and honey to your cup and curl up with a good book. No one can take away your stress but yourself. Take time to do things to create peace in your life.

I found my Tevana at our local Ingles … and for a delightful read, pick up a copy of Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life by Marta McDowell

What is on you agenda for September? Let me know in the comments!

10 Things August

Would someone please explain to me how it is August already?  I know I’ve been absent on the blog (I stay much more active on my social media), but where has this year gone?

In an effort to share a few going-ons in our life, I thought I would share ten things that I’m loving right now as well as give you an idea into our year!  Who knows, maybe this will become a permanent addition to the blog.

 1. It’s farmer’s market season and I love visiting our little local, Saturday market here in Cartersville.  Audley & I do very little grocery shopping during the summer, choosing to focus on supporting local farmers and small businesses.  If you have a chance, check out your own local markets.  Eliminate the middle man and find much better quality food to enjoy!

2. Hit the outdoors and enjoy a waterfall hike.  Our health is one of the most precious things we have, and it’s up to us to protect and nourish our health.  One way to do this is get outside more, taking in natural Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and exercising our body, both internal and external.  The North Georgia Mountains are abundant with waterfalls to choose from, but I’m sure there is one near you as well.

Helen, Georgia

3. One of my resolutions this year was to dig a little deeper into Bible Study.  I am loving Candace Cameron Bure’s devotional books geared towards women.  From dealing with our own brokenness that we often don’t want to face, to discovering power in kindness, these little studies are simple yet impactful.  I found my copies on Amazon and  Dayspring and they are definitely worth investing in.

4. Another resolution I had for this year was to write more personal notes and remembering to send cards.  This beautiful stationary from American Stationary really makes that goal easy, as I love the beautiful colors and textures of the paper.  

5. Graphic tee-shirts for all occasions are all the rage right now, no matter your age.  I love these cute shirts from Kelley & Co.  Of course when your daughter is Kelley & Co you can’t help but love her work as well!  Check her out on Facebook or Instagram

Less News, More Nature
Girls trip anyone?

6. I have 6 pounds of fresh huckleberries arriving  tomorrow, so its time for a little jam session.  Huckleberries aren’t native for us here in Georgia, but hopefully the ones arriving from Idaho will satisfy my craving for this sweet berry!

7. Head out one Saturday morning to catch sunrise on the lake/river/creek/secluded field with someone special.  A thermos of coffee, fresh donuts, and a blanket are all you need for this inexpensive but romantic date.  Audley and I love taking our canoe out for sunrise, but believe me, a blanket and viewing point are all your need!

8. From Kindergarten on I’ve maintained a summer reading list every year.  I may not earn a free personal pan pizza or tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game any longer, but the satisfaction of finishing another great read is great in itself!  This summer I’ve finished Mary Kay Andrews The Newcomer, The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House by Adrian Tinniswood, When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplin, The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner, Below Stairs by Margaret Powell, and The Glitter & The Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt.  I also purchased several books about Laura Ingalls Wilder while on our road trip (see my social media) last month that I can’t wait to dive into.

9. Summer gardens are at their peak and even beginning to fade away, so now is the time to plan and organize your fall garden/container gardens with cooler weather vegetables.  Start your seeds for sugar peas, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, parsley and the like for fresh veggies through the next season.  Hopefully some of the summer heat will begin to loosen its grip soon and help make for a productive winter. 

10. Finally, if you don’t know already, I’m going to be a grandmother in just two months!  It’s a girl!  I’ve spent several weekends up in South Carolina helping Gracie and Michael pull together the nursery this summer using paint and *gasp* wallpaper.  The color scheme is just beautiful and I’m loving this gorgeous mural from Photowall that pulls everything together.  It adds so much color and personality to this sweet room.  I can’t wait to see everything completely arranged after her showers.

I hope August is full of simple pleasures and you find joy in the small things as we roll through the last days of summer!

10 Things: Visit Pensacola Beach

Happy Wednesday dear Friends!

Over the weekend I hit the road with my friend, Tami, for a girl’s weekend in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  We had a fabulous time getting away from Atlanta, soaking up some vitamin D, and catching up on the latest happenings in our lives.

Between Hurricane Sally in late 2019 and Rona shutdowns in 2020 Pensacola Beach has weathered its storms and is ready for summer 2021!  Pensacola Beach is not a PCB, Destin or Daytona (thank goodness), but it’s the perfect location for a family or girl’s getaway.  The atmosphere in Pensacola Beach is so much warmer, welcoming and friendlier than larger beaches.  It retains a bit of a vintage vibe which I appreciate more than ever right now!

So, what can you do in Pensacola Beach?  Here are “10 Things” to fill your week while vacationing here.

1) Eat at one of the many local restaurants along the strip. Pensacola Beach is making a splash in the foodie scene and there are so many great options!

Tami and I first ate at Laguna’s Grill and Bar as we rolled into town. This adventure park/restaurant was so bright and colorful, a fun place to dine and play!  The coastal views made for the perfect welcome to the beach.  I ordered delicious shrimp tacos made using gulf-caught shrimp and the crispiest fries ever!  Tami dined on a grilled cheese sandwich made with gruyere and Havarti cheeses.  It was all so delicious.

Another great place to eat was Water Pig BBQ. Sitting right on the water the chopped brisket with caramelized onion tasted even better.  You have to try the pimento cheese as well!  After supper, walk next door to Water Pig’s sister restaurant, Red Fish, Blue Fish for a drink and watch the sun go down.  The setting is beautiful.

Sunday Brunch at the Hilton is absolutely wonderful.  With live music, fresh seafood and so many other dishes from prime rib to fresh pasta, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.

Also located at the Hilton is an unassuming restaurant on the second floor called Bonsai.  I plan to review this separately, but y’all, trust me, you will want to check Bonsai out!

 

2) Head over to Ft Pickens National Seashore for trails, fishing, and history.  This beautiful area is rich in history and absolutely stunning. Learn about the fort itself as well as the fortifications that were made up through World War II and take in all the natural shorelines this preserved area has to offer.  There are park rangers around to answer your questions, but tours are mostly self-guided.  If you’re not a fan of history, you can hike along the parks many trails, or take a guided nature tour.  While in the park we saw a majestic eagle, turtles and so much more.  If i hadn’t been driving, I would have love a pic of the eagle.  Y’all, he was stunning!  Fort Pickens is a great place to watch the sunset, ad I’ve heard rumors that it makes a fantastic viewing area for watching the Blue Angels practice. The area is a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and if you are an America the Beautiful passholder you are covered here.  Otherwise, it’s $25 a car and the admission is good for seven days.

 

3) Find adventure out on the water.  Pensacola beach has so many options available for water activities aside from playing in the surf.  Rent a boat for fishing, or dolphin watching, take a sunset cruise, kayak the calmer bay water, paddle board, parasail, or rent a jet ski to jump wakes and fly across the water.

Tami and I rented our jet skis from Key Sailing and had an absolute blast out on the water.  The staff at Key Sailing were friendly and helpful.  The jet skis were new and well maintained.  I highly recommend that you check them out.

Key Sailing

400 QuietWater Beach Rd.

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 932-5520

 

4) Shop the Boardwalk shops.  These shops are a mix of small boutiques as well as the more well-known Ron Jon Surf Shop and southern beach staple Alvin’s Island.  In the Boardwalk area you will also find a few restaurants and ice cream!  There is also a beach entrance in the area, so if you forget your sunscreen or need an extra towel, everything is extremely convenient.

 

5) Miniature Golf at UFO’s.  When our kids were at home no beach vacation was complete without at least one mini golf excursion.  UFO’s is cute and different with it’s out of this world theme.  It’s also walking distance from many of the local hotels or restaurants making it super easy to get around.

UFO’s Pensacola Beach

2 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 677-8830

 

6) Stay at the Hilton Pensacola Beach.  This beachfront property has everything you need for a fabulous vacation stay:  great food, beautiful views, fantastic pool area, a top-notch staff who went above and beyond, and of course access to the beach right out the back door.  Tami and I had a 2 1/2 room suite that could easy sleep 6.  There were 2 queen beds as well as a set of bunks perfect for kiddos.  The sitting area had a sleeper sofa if needed as well as a kitchenette for making sandwiches and keeping drinks cool in your room.

The breakfast buffet each morning is convenient and delicious.  Have Miss Shirley make you an omelet from scratch or choose a more carb heavy breakfast by munching on a large assortment of muffins, bagels, and waffles.  There is something for everyone!

If you stay at the Hilton, have Donna or Jacalyn from the Butler’s Pantry.  make you a Teavana Peach Tranquility tea in the evening to drink as you unwind on your patio.

Hilton Pensacola Beach

12 Via de Luna Dr

Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561

(850) 916-2999

 

7) Visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Fort Pickens is not the only preserved area on Pensacola Beach. On the opposite side of town you will find the Santa Rosa area of the National Seashore.  This, to me, is the beach.  Sand dunes, and plenty of natural, and mostly unspoiled beauty.  This is a beautiful area for a walk, catching the sunrise, or sitting and savoring the quiet, natural sounds of the coast.  I wish that more beaches would would retain these large areas of preservation and less development.

 

8) Get your fitness on.  Pensacola Beach is bike and pedestrian friendly.  Leave your car at the hotel and venture out to explore.  Take a walk on the beach, hit the trails in the National Seashore areas (there is a great paved trail in the Santa Rosa area), or bike around Pcola.

You never know what you’ll see on a beach walk!

If you need a workout, hit the gym at the Hilton.  They have everything you need for a great sweat session!

 

9) Be sure to watch the sunrise or sunset in Pensacola Beach.  There is prime viewing for both just about any way you look!  My favorite sunrise was out on the beach as i was walking back from the pier and the most beautiful sunset was one I watched from Red Fish Blue Fish.  There are other beautiful places to watch from, but plan ahead, because it goes fast!

 

10) Finally, don’t forget to catch some rays on Pensacola Beach!

{Like you would, right?}

The beaches were well staffed with trained and attentive lifeguards (who stayed on top of red flag conditions).  Watching them work over the weekend was exhausting, especially when dealing with people who overindulged in alcohol and others who just wanted to push their buttons.

If you need a chair and umbrella, the guys at Lazy Days are great to work with and will happily make a great deal for more than one days rental.  The chairs were well kept and comfortable for tanning, enjoying the waves, or people watching.

It’s not too late to plan a getaway for this summer.  Pensacola Beach is a 5 1/2 hour drive from north Atlanta which makes for an easy weekend road trip.  Check out all Pcola has to offer and let me know what you think!

Eight Things San Diego

The boys & I just returned from a fun-filled fall break trip to San Diego, visiting the beautiful city Audley was once stationed in while in the Navy, and visiting with some of his extended family.  The weather was amazingly gorgeous plus we had a fantastic tour guide with Audley’s cousin sharing fabulous highlights over 3 1/2 days!

I totally fell in love with southern California and wanted to share a few of our highlights for a little travel inspiration for your next trip!

I absolutely love history (it was the other half of my double major in college), so when we travel a lot of sights we visit are related to history.  This has always been a fun way to teach our kids to appreciate and learn about the country in which they live without spending as much time in books as I did!

  1. The Hotel Del Coronado.  This National Historical Landmark on Coronado Beach built in 1888 is one of the very few wooden Victorian hotels left in existence. IMG_E7082       This resort hotel has hosted celebrities, royalty, and presidents for nearly 130 years as well as been the location of many literary efforts and even movies sets!

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{Think Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, & Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot“!}

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While the hotel has been added on to and grown much over the years, the original Victorian structure still stands and is used for lodging.  We chose to stay in the original Victorian Building mainly because I am such a romantic and loved the historical element.

Our room was so lovely and very roomy.  They have been renovated in recent years, and the more modern decor mixed with the Victorian architecture was tastefully done.  The staff was so friendly and very helpful which always makes a difference in a lodging experience.

Hotel-Del-Jr-Suite | ohfiddledeedee.com

If you love architecture, the Hotel Del has it!  I love the towers, curves, colors and stairways.  It is a step back in time; most definitely one of my favorite time periods of all.

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Oh, I can’t forget… the elevator!  The old fashioned cage-style elevator is still run by an elevator operator which of course totally amplifies the atmosphere!

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The Hotel Del Coronado is family friendly, BUT I’m not real sure that I would take small children (TOTALY MY OPINION) as there are so many couples there for romance, older couples for the resort vacation, and expensive restaurants where the atmosphere is not really for children.  While trying to enjoy an early quiet morning on the patio sipping coffee and savoring the atmosphere, I was really irritated by parents allowing their children to run wild; screaming, yelling and fighting (UGH) and another parent with a screaming toddler who did nothing but make the situation worse by telling her how bad she was.  I try to be understanding, but respect for those around you goes a long way.   Young children in an unfamiliar and more of a grown-up environment really can ruin for those who appreciate and desire it.

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Coronado-Sunset

The Hotel Del offers fabulous shopping options (the B&S Emporium could’ve easily emptied my checkbook AND DID cause my suitcase to need a “Heavy” tag on our return flight) from home decor to formal and resort wear!

The Del Coronado is owned by Hilton Properties now, so those who are brand specific when booking lodging will really enjoy the perks! They do not have a shuttle service, so if you have not rented a car, you’ll need to use Uber or a taxi service for transportation.  Many restaurants, galleries and shops off of the resort are in easy walking distance.  The town of Coronado is so cute and definitely pedestrian friendly.

2.  San Diego Zoo. Don’t let the ticket price throw you or even balk at the idea of a two day ticket ($52 for one day/adult & $83 for two day/adult); the legendary San Diego Zoo is so much fun and absolutely worth it!

San-Diego-Zoo

I wish we could’ve had two days to visit, but we managed to make the most of one and enjoyed every minute of it.

Vacation-Family-Picture | ohfiddledeedee

After all, a zoo is not necessarily for the kids; big kids and children at heart love them as well.

San-Diego-Zoo-North-Pole | ohfiddledeedee.com

With temperatures in the upper 70’s it wasn’t so hot the animals were hiding out.  We were awed, entertained, and mesmerized by the variety of animals and the show many were happy to put on for us.

San-Diego-Zoo-Elephant | ohfiddledeedee.com

We laughed quite a bit as well since I think some of the animals know you are watching and do things like pose for pictures.

San-Diego-Zoo-Penguins | ohfiddledeedee.com

San-Diego-Zoo-Reindeer | ohfiddledeedee.com

Do these ginormous reindeer make anyone else want to decorate for Christmas in October?

Some tips for visiting the zoo….

**Go early in the day & purchase advance tickets.  There are MANY school and day care groups that visit the zoo so getting in can be crowded and a little chaotic. Parking is free and appeared to be plentiful and despite the crowds of children the zoo was very clean!

**Wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare to get your steps in for the day… uphill, downhill and everything in between.  We managed over 15,000 steps each on our zoo visit!

**Food is available inside the park.  They have several options that fit the theme of whichever area you may be strolling through at the moment, but like most parks, it’s a little pricey.  We did a “snack” which included a kids meal for me.  I mostly wanted the cute little bag, but it was tasty as well!  If you don’t mind the extra bags, you can bring in your own food and drink.

**We didn’t do the bus tour, but having a guided tour around the entire zoo would definitely be an added bonus, if you have the time.  It does cost extra to do this, though.

**Right now (October 2017) the zoo is undergoing some construction work, creating new exhibits.  This also creates a little confusion when following the map and signs.  Be flexible and don’t be frustrated over it.  Progress can sometimes be a pain, but changing up the park makes for a new adventure each time you visit!

3.  Balboa Park.  If you still feel like walking, right next to the zoo is the beautiful Balboa Park.

San-Diego-Balboa-Park | ohfiddledeedee.com

{The zoo is actually a part of the park, but you don’t have to do both at the same time.}

San-Diego-Balboa-Park-Architecture | ohfiddledeedee.comIMG_E6932

Named for the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the park was originally built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition, which left behind beautiful architectural delights that were restored after vandalism, arson, and neglect several years back.  The park has had a storied history, but it is now well-maintained with a Prado for strolling, a theater, shops, restaurants, museums, fountains, a conservatory and grassy areas for picnicking and enjoying the day.

Balboa-Park | ohfiddledeedee.comBalboa-Park-Musician | ohfiddledeedee.com

The park is a National Historic Landmark (since 1977) and well worth spending time inside!

4.  Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma.  This gorgeous National Park overlooking the bay commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.  This is significant as it was the first time a European explorer landed on the west coast.  There is a fee per car (unless you have a National Parks pass) , then stop in at the visitor’s center for a brief history of the area and monument to give you an idea of what you are seeing.

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Walking is easy around the monument and up to the Point Loma lighthouse (the highest point in San Diego) completed in 1854.  There are often reenactors and historians around the area to answer questions and do demonstrations.  Unfortunately we missed them the day we visited, but check their website or with the visitor center for times.

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The monument of Cabrillo was commissioned in 1939 (to accompany a stone marker placed years earlier) by the Portuguese government and donated to the US.  It is so imposing when you look at it up close.

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This beautiful park is not huge, but worth a stop.  The views overlooking the Naval Air Station and Coronado Beach are stunning and make for a pretty picture.

5.  Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  Registered a California Historical Landmark in 1932, The National Cemetery is on your way to Point Loma and covers over 77 acres.  Stop, Pay your respects, and honor the many brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  If you have your family with you, take the time to explain how important the sacrifice of those who served and/or killed in war, those who served in peace and those who stand ready to defend our nation at any time.

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Read the tombstones and the monuments; there are many scattered throughout.

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Let the magnitude of sacrifice soak in.

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Then teach your kids to respect all those who serve our nation, for without them, we would have truly lost our freedoms generations ago.

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6.  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Yes more history and another nationally registered Landmark, but its history mixed with shopping and food and from time to time costumed reeenactors sharing tales of early San Diego!

Old-Town-San-Diego | ohfiddledeedee.com

This historic park represents the early days of San Diego and is home to many historic building from the years of 1820-1870.  Some buildings are original to the area, first a mission and military area, while other buildings were moved to the location and preserved.

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Cosmopolitian-Hotel

You can still dine and lodge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, check out an old schoolhouse, courthouse, and a private home showcasing a little upperclass living in the old west, or shop for local goods from Temecula Olive Oil Company.

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Located in Old Town San Diego, and built in 1825 by lieutenant José Maria Estudillo, Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family.  Standing as the most famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town, it’s furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries and is was built with a Catholic Chapel included within its 13 rooms.

Casa-Tablesetting

It was a religious and social center during the early years of San Diego.

Old-Town-Casa-Courtyard | ohfiddledeedee.com

I loved the horseshoe shape of the home with the beautiful courtyard at it’s center.

Old-Town-Casa | ohfiddledeedee.comOld-Town-San-Diego-Catholic-Chapel

 

Portions of the casa are under construction, but you are still welcome to tour other areas.  It is free to tour as you are strolling through Old Town.

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There are also several authentic Mexican restaurants for you to choose from for you cravings dining pleasure.

7.  La Jolla Cove.  Only pictures can describe this picturesque beach area.  Breathtaking and stunning are the only words I can come up with.

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It is well worth spending a day or two, just swimming with the sea lions!

8.  USS Midway and Seaport Village.  While we were unable to tour the Midway itself, I absolutely loved this area of Naval history.  Our visit to San Diego happened to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week so we spent a lot of the weekend doing things related to that with Bradley. With his plans of joining the Marine Corps after graduation he was totally taken in by all of the military activity going on.

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The military police demo with the dogs was wonderful & the marines spent a good bit of time talking with Bradley.

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Bradley was a last minute in a “Run Where the Marines Run” obstacle course & 3-mile run… He did so good!

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This boy of mine will make a wonderful & dedicated Marine.

Around the Midway are several monuments and memorials to sailors or ships from the WWII era and even a tribute to Bob Hope and his work with the USO!

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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US Aircraft Carrier Memorial

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Monument for the USS San Diego and her crew.

If you just want to relax and stroll by the harbor, this is a wonderful park to do that!  You can also catch a trolley (it does cost) and take a guided tour of San Diego near the harbor area.

Seaport Village with architecture from Mexican to Victorian is great for touristy shopping, sweet treats and just strolling through for fun.  There is a gorgeous and historical 121 year old carousel with hand-carved horses!

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The harbor is right near the airport, so it was the final destination of our trip before catching our afternoon flight back to Atlanta and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy it.

Have any of you ever visited San Diego?  What did you enjoy most?

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