Wild and Free California–Your Guide to Adventure!

Wild and Free is coming to California!
I am just so thrilled that the next Wild and Free conference  is coming to my home state, and even better, to my home town!
I love where I live, and I’d love to share some of my favorite spots with you.
I hope you’ll be able to carve out a little time to explore beautiful California while you are here for the conference.
To help you get started with your dreaming and planning, here are a few sight seeing ideas.
There are ideas for any schedule–whether you find yourself with just a few hours to explore, or a few days.

If you have just a few hours…. 
You can head to downtown Long Beach. It s right across the bridge from the Queen Mary and there is so much to see and do there. You can visit the Aquarium of the Pacific for a chance to see an amazing variety of sea life. You can also explore Shoreline Village around the aquarium. Then you can walk down Pine Street for lots of great spots for a good meal.
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For a more eclectic vibe, you can visit the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach, where there are vintage shops, coffee shops, and some great little art galleries.
A little farther afield, but still in Long Beach is 4th Street. If you love vintage shopping, and good food, this is the place for you! Be sure to stop at Lola’s for amazing Mexican food–you are in California after all. And if you want to indulge in the best pedicure ever, schedule one at Salon Pop.
Last stop for strolling, shopping, and dining in Long Beach is beautiful Belmont Shore on 2nd St. Long, walkable blocks offer lots to see and do. Blue Windows is the best place for sweet stationary and beautiful gifts for you and maybe your kiddos. Stop at La Creperie Cafe for a delicious desert crepe and a cup of coffee. 2nd st ends at the beach, so you can stroll the sand too.
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If you have an afternoon….
You can go farther afield.
This is Southern California though, so having a car would be helpful for these excursions.
Just a short drive from the Queen Mary is the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There are stunning ocean views, cliffs to walk along, and great tide pooling. If you go, be sure to stop at the Korean Friendship Bell for gorgeous views to Catalina Island. Then hike along the bluff trails above Trump Golf Course and stop for lunch at Terranea Resort. If you are up for more hiking, visit Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, hike down to the beach and visit some incredible tide pools.
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For the perfect, small beach town experience, you can drive south a bit and stop in Seal Beach. The main street feels a bit like Mayberry, but with better shops, a pier, and the beach! Get coffee and amazing pastries at Crema Café and shop for pretty things at Petals and Pop shop.
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Farther south is Huntington Beach, also called Surf City USA. You can eat at Ruby’s Dineat the end of the pier, and watch the surfers catch waves.
If you want to see a beautiful piece of Southern California’s past, drive just a bit farther south to Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove State Park. The park is miles of beautiful beach, tide pools, the Beachcomber Café for meals right on the sand, and a hillside of gorgeous, abandoned cottages, just perfect for gramming.
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After Crystal Cove you can drive a few minutes south to the beautiful town of Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is perched on the hills above the Pacific and with its windy roads, ever blooming flowers, and gorgeous architecture, it feels like you’ve stepped into the Mediterranean. Be sure to visit Shaw’s cove, or stroll the hills above the cove for perfect California views.
If you’d like to see a little more of the urban side of Southern California, then drive north a bit to Venice. If you dare, stroll Venice Beach to see the wild and wacky. Or just head over to Abbot Kinney Blvd for fantastic shopping and unbelievable food. It’s a must stop.
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For more culture, you can head to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA It’s a beautiful museum, inside and out. And just up the street is the Original Farmer’s Market, an LA institution since 1934! There are heaps of great food options, fun outdoor seating, and a great people-watching scene. It’s also right next to the beautiful, outdoor mall, The Grove. I generally don’t recommend malls for sight seeing spots, but this one is pretty marvelous.
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If you have a whole day…
You must drive north to Malibu. You can simply drive the coast with the windows rolled down to smell the salty air, and take in ocean views. Or you can spend part of your day at the Getty Villa.You’ll feel like you are in Ancient Greece or Rome. The art, architecture, views and food are all spectacular. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.
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Drive a little farther north and stop at the Malibu pier. Its small and so charming—my favorite southern California pier. There is also a completely wonderful restaurant, the Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, at the end of the pier. It’s beyond perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Right near the pier is Malibu Country Mart, home to uber fancy shopping, despite its homey sounding name.
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Malibu is famous for gorgeous beaches, so you should visit one or two while you are there. El Matador State Beach is breathtaking. Go there.
Leo Carrillo beach has sea caves and tide pools and is wonderful too.z

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If you’d like to end your day in Malibu with a bowl of clam chowder or some fish tacos, stop at Neptune’s Net for dinner. It’s right on PCH, and has been a Malibu institution since 1958.
After dinner you can drive back south, watching the sun set over the Pacific. A perfect California day.
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I’m so excited to know you’ll be here in California, enjoying some of my favorite spots, and getting your hearts filled up at the Wild and Free conference.
Please be sure to stop and talk to me at the conference.
I’d love to hear about where you explored and what all you got to see.
Can’t wait to see your smiles and give you a big hug!

5 thoughts on “Wild and Free California–Your Guide to Adventure!

  1. Shelli Sittler

    Thank you Greta for putting this together! It’s great to have local recommendations. I am coming to the conference and am so excited!! I went to Williamsburg and I was the crying mama that came up to you after your encouraging talk and you prayed for me. I appreciated that so much! Anyways, I am considering flying to the conference on my own and my family possibly meeting me there and possibly finding a house to stay in for a week or so. ?? Is it crazy expensive to do something like that? And would you suggest VRBO? Or an area that would be family friendly? We are just dreaming at this point, so I thought I would ask a local. 🙂 Thanks Greta and I look forward to seeing you in May!

  2. cailan matthews

    GRETA! This is so AMAZING it’s making me tear up. Now I feel like I have to come! Probably still can’t, but I am absolutely tucking this away as my bible for when we finally make that family trip to California! (And I’ll probably have an extra chat with my sweetheart about the conference 😉 Bless your heart, thank you. xo

  3. Prescilla

    Thanks for the tips! I’m heading down there and I probably would’ve just stuck to the ship and not ventured out. I’m so excited!!

  4. Corey Norris

    I won’t get to be with you all in May, but I will be in your neck of the woods visiting my sister in 3 weeks. I think this guide is a treasure! I’m so excited to check out some of these places. Thanks for putting in all the time and energy to put this together!


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