Archive of ‘Travel’ category

Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe


Rancho Valencia is a beautiful resort set on 45 acres of gardens and olive groves, in Rancho Santa Fe, a 20-minute drive north of San Diego. A few years ago the property underwent a 45 million dollar renovation, and there is not one stone that when unturned. Most recently Rancho Valencia was voted #1 resort in the U.S. by U.S. News & World hotel rankings. It is no surprise as everything at Rancho Valencia is 5 star down to the heated toilet seats, and all is perfection. The resort features a spa, fitness center with exercise classes, sports facilities (including tennis, croquet and bocce ball), 2 heated pools and hot tubs (1 adults-only), 2 restaurants and a wine bar, plus complimentary use of luxury cars.

Rancho Valencia PatioRancho Valencia really does stand apart from most 5-star hotels, you will find everything has been perfected. There are no resort fees, no parking fees, complimentary WiFi, and waiting for you in your room are delicious snacks and drinks to enjoy during your stay at no extra charge. In the morning any newspaper you would like will be delivered to your door along with fresh squeezed orange juice. Enjoy coffee on the private patio, while reading the newspaper.

Rancho Valenica Fireplace

Suites feature flat-screen TVs, stereo systems and private patios, plus high-thread-count linens, espresso machines, designer toiletries and 24-hour in-room dining. My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Rancho Valencia during this trip. The resort knowing it was a special anniversary celebration for us, had a bottle of wine and an artisan cheese plate with dried fruits and nuts upon arrival.

Rancho Valencia Hot Tub

After we were settled in, we hopped down to the Pony Room for a drink by the outdoor fireplaces while watching the sunset. For dinner we decided to opt for in-room dining and we ate out on the private patio. The patio hosts an outdoor fireplace, and a two person hot tub, perfect for a romantic getaway.

Rancho Valencia

After dinner we took a stroll around the property and found the beautiful brick lined Wine Room. The room is perfect for an intimate birthday dinner or just nice dinner for a small group of friends. The wine cave has over 250 of some of the finest bottles of wine I have ever seen, the sommelier has to be one of the best in San Diego. With wines from France, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa and of course California you will be able to find a perfect wine for the occasion.

IMG_1651For breakfast we went to Veladora, one of the two restaurants on property. Veladora is beautiful and refined without being over the top, although can you really have too much luxury? We enjoyed latte’s and fresh pressed slow juices, as well as the famous fresh squeezed orange juice. My husband ordered the crab Benedict with vine ripe tomatoes, grilled asparagus, country bread with a chipotle hollandaise. I ordered the California breakfast panini with free range eggs, smoked bacon, avocado, white cheddar and herb roasted potatoes, it was divine! The only problem with breakfast is we couldn’t finish it all, but they were nice enough to box it up for us and had it waiting for us to pick up after we dined.

Rancho Valencia Bedroom

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is offering an exclusive offer right now of 15% off room rates. During the summer and during Del Mar Race season the resort will be booked solid, don’t wait make a reservation to visit this beautiful resort now!


Accommodations, meals, and spa treatments were complimentary, all thoughts and opinions are my own. See full disclosure policy for more information.

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Plan a “Winter” Getaway @ SpringHill Suites


Winter (noun)  The coldest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from December to February and in the southern hemisphere from June to August.

Most San Diego locals, will in fact tell you Winter is the best time of year. The beaches, restaurants and amusement parks are uncrowded, the weather is beautiful, but shhhh don’t tell anyone I told you. My husband likes to say the true SoCal summer is October through March, because of the amazing weather we generally have that time of year.

SpringHill View Sunset

Most of the United States is being hit hard with harsh winter storms right now. Yet another reason to visit sunny Southern California. Last week it was in the 80’s along the coast in San Diego and Los Angeles, while that is a little high for February it is still not that unheard of.  My family spent the entire day at the beach on Sunday, yes at the beach in February, this is not a joke. The picture below is the best of both worlds, enjoy a dip in the pool or hot tub while looking at the beach.  How many rooftop pools are there in Oceanside, just this one!  The view is incredible and is the same from the fitness room located on the same floor.

SpringHill Pool


SpringHill Chris Nic PictureVisiting Oceanside, California is the perfect destination, especially the SpringHill Suites hotel which is within walking distance to the beach.  When I mention walking distance is really is only a minute walk. Above is the view from our room, and there is no additional cost for incredible sunset. SpringHill Suites is nice for a romantic getaway, we enjoyed a glass of wine on our patio during the sunset, there is nothing more romantic than a sunset with the one you love.

SpringHill Suites also has fire features throughout the property, my favorite is pictured below. We enjoyed the comfortable couches while sitting next to a warm fire, and watching the early evening clouds go by.


SpringHill Fire PictureThe rooms at SpringHill Suites are contemporary-style and let you sleep immersed in modern design. Pictures of the Pacific Ocean keep the surf theme throughout the hotel. The pictures brighten up the living room area, which also hosts a sofa out bed, perfect for children. The bathroom has a sleek modern design and all the products are eco-friendly. If you are traveling with children the mini-refrigerator and microwave will help for the snacks that kids love. Also included in the room is an array of coffee and teas. Wi-Fi is a must when traveling? My son asks everywhere we go if there is wi-fi and it is complimentary. Another item in the room that I loved was the iPod dock, just place your iPhone on the dock and listen to your favorite music.

SpringHill Room Picture

Including in your stay at SpringHill Suites is complimentary hot buffet breakfast, eggs, waffles, sausage which were my favorites. Attached to the hotel is one of my favorite restaurants Hello Betty, we visit a couple of times a month.

I held my birthday there last Hello Betty Roof Top Decksummer on the roof top deck, which offers drinks, chips and salsa and delicious tacos. The roof top deck is a perfect place to stop on your way home from work for a drink, and to watch the sunset.

To plan your next vacation a SpringHill Suites in Oceanside, California visit the website here.




This is not a paid post, hotel accommodations, parking, dinner and breakfast were given in exchange for a review.

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Join us at the leading Lifestyle Conference 2015


Social Media Influencers The Nation’s Leading Lifestyle Bloggers Conference hits LA Feb. 19-22, 2015!


SoCal Savvy Mom is attending the fifth annual Lifestyle Bloggers conference next month and I would love for you to join us!  The Fifth Annual Lifestyle Bloggers National Conference will inspire and educate bloggers through training, celebrity workshops and more.  We were lucky enough to attend last year’s conference as well, and I can NOT say enough great things about it!  Because you are a SoCal Savvy Mom reader we have a special VIP code which will cut the cost of the conference in half! *Details on this may be found at the bottom of this post.

The 2015 Lifestyle Bloggers National Conference (#LBNC15) is a multi-day, boutique blogger conference and is focused on providing the necessary training and instruments needed for professional bloggers to properly elevate their creative vision, transforming their blogs into polished digital publications and valued content sources.

From the founder:

“This conference was inspired by the overwhelming need among lifestyle bloggers for tools and training to help them take their craft to the next level,” said Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco, Founder & Creative Director of #LBNC15. “We’ve been working hard to make sure this year’s event is bigger and better than ever, and we couldn’t be more excited to share our wonderful speakers and programs with the blogging community.”

Why you should attend:

  • VIP reception Feb. 19 at the Citadel Outlets – luxe setting replete with delicious appetizers and libations
  • Leading brands including Ford Motor Company, OPI, Corner Bakery, Citadel Outlets, Fresh Brothers Pizza, Maker City LA, and Oubly
  • Blogger Junket, with nationally recognized lifestyle and business experts
  • Celebrity Keynotes with:
  • Cisco Pinedo, Founder of Cisco Home
  • Effie Weiss, Cupcake Wars winner Author and self-made Millionaire
  • Daisy Teh, Founder of the Award-Winning Multimedia Blog “The It Mom”
  • Matt Kovacs, President of BLAZE PR and 2014 PR News Award Finalist
  • Pauline Campos, Latina Magazine “Dimelo” Columnist and Award-Winning Blogger

Tickets for the two-day event range from $149.99 for a one-day pass, to $199.99 for a two-day VIP pass.  *Enter VIP code NICOLEVIP at checkout and the ticket price will drop from $199.99 to only $99!  

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Lifestyle Blogger National Conference and join the conversation on Facebook  and Twitter. Limited sponsorship & partnership opportunities are available by contacting:

Pictured:  Havi Goffan the CEO of Target Latina, Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco Founder & Creative Director of #LBNC15, and Nicole Hughes SoCal Savvy Mom at last year’s Lifestyle Bloggers National Conference 2014.

Havi, Ana, Nicole

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Oceanside’s Best Fish House – Hello Betty


Located just steps away from the Oceanside Pier, Hello Betty is perfect for locals or for those visiting the area.  Hello Betty is one of my favorite restaurants, since it opened we have had my birthday there, my mother’s birthday and my best friend also had her birthday celebration there!  It is one of those places you take anyone who is visiting from out-of-town, and how could you not with the view?

Oside View

With daily drink specials from 4-6 it is the perfect place to stop on your way home from work, you will not find a better view on the coast.    During the summer the best place cool off with a drink is the roof top deck, which hosts drinks and light appetizers.  For my birthday I invited around a dozen friends to join me on the roof top deck for drinks and tacos.  Because Hello Betty had just opened a few months prior no one had visited before and everyone was blown away!  My friends couldn’t believe the incredible view and the exquisite tacos put it right over the top for a great birthday.  The hardest decision will be which taco to choose, with Mahi Mahi, Shrimp, Carne Asada, Veggie or a huge list of different types of fish tacos you will want to try them all.

Hello Betty Roof Top Deck

Hello Betty’s menu is not limited to just fish, the Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich (garlic mayo, chopped lettuce, tomato, avocado, pickled jalapeño, jack cheese all on a brioche bun) is the best in all of North San Diego County!  Last week I tried the Herb marinated Chicken Breast which is mesquite grilled and is accompanied by roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  The dish was so heavenly from beginning to end, I may have found a new favorite on the menu.  My mother in law was visiting from Florida and she LOVED the Steamed Mussels with chorizo, tomato, chilis, garlic and dos equis amber she said they were the best mussels she had ever had.

Shrimp Taco

The decor in Hello Betty is spot on, with the surf theme touches throughout the restaurant.  The picture below is the hallway leading to the restrooms made out of surfboards.  You may even watch surfing movies while at the restaurant as it is usually playing on the many TV’s located in the bar area.  If there is a big game on they will of course put a game on for you if you would prefer.  A huge BONUS for dining with children is the little mini arcade located on the first level of the restaurant.  It is perfect as you can see your children playing video games (think old school ones) from your table.  The kids are close enough to see but not so close you have to listen to the sound of video games.  All of the games are only a quarter or two, not like some sports bars that charge upwards of $1 for one turn on a video game, this is a highlight if you are dining with children.

Hello Betty Surf Boards

When you visit Hello Betty be sure to sign up for their loyalty card, I just saw this last time I was there and couldn’t believe I didn’t know about it sooner.  Reservations are not required it is walk in’s only, even if there is a small wait you will not be bothered by it as you sit outside on the patio with a drink while waiting for a table.  Did I mention the view?  For more information or for the full menu click here.  Let us know after you visit and tell us what you think, but really what is better than a fish taco and a margarita…nothing, visit Hello Betty today and thank me tomorrow!

This is not a paid post, products and services were exchanged for a review. 

Visit the Julian Holiday Train Express


Julian is a little mountain town just an hour from San Diego (depending on your starting point.)  The town itself is so fun to walk around in because it is like being in the late 1800’s.  You will not want to leave without bringing home a Julian apple pie, my mother loves the pies!

A fun treat for parents and children is the Julian Holiday Train Express! The train ride is about 1 mile long, be sure to bundle up as you are in an open train car.  You will get to visit the authentic Smith Ranch 1870 gold rush mine and plenty more country holiday surprises.  Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, threw the end of December.  Train times are 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. by appointment only.

Please take note many of the trains sold out last year, so please phone ahead for available seating and reservations.  Contacting the Julian Holiday Train Express is easy! Phone 760-765-2288 or RESERVE HERE.

Cost:  Adults $15, Children $12 (ages 3-12), and children 2 & under are free with paid adult. Please pay with cash when you arrive.

Group discount for 12 or more paid people: Adults $14, Children $10 (ages 3-12). Please have one person handle payment for the group. (School discount available for 20+ students. Please phone for pricing.)

All aboard the Julian Holiday Train Express!

julian train

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