Jullie: California Vibes

My family's Disneyland annual passes expired last month, and though we ultimately decided not to renew, we were at least able to get in one more trip to The Happiest Place On Earth! My parents are also Disney Vacation Club members (as mentioned in a couple of previous posts), so they were able to book a room at the Grand Californian Hotel! We loaded up the car, picked up my cousin Samantha (again, mentioned plenty of times in previous posts :P), and made the oh-so-familiar drive down to Anaheim...and we had a couple of fun stops along the way! I'll be using a combo of photos and video clips from my Snapchat throughout these posts, so here's a quick preview of what I'll be talking about in Part 1:

We drove down on a Friday, a non-park day for us, so we had plenty of time to relax and just sight-see. Our first stop was North Shore Poke Co. in Huntington Beach. Chelsea and I actually first tried North Shore Poke a few months ago, during our birthday trip, and we loved it so much that I decided my family and I definitely had to come here again. This place is located right in the middle of a bunch of shops and is only a short walk to the pier and beach. Whether before or after your meal, there's plenty to see and do. (A little advice, though: While there are parking spaces available right in front of North Shore and all along Main St., those can fill up quickly--especially during busy lunch hours. However, there are a couple of nearby parking garages and even the beach parking lot. You may have to pay, depending on which lot you choose.)

This time around, I had the salmon and tuna mix with a cucumber base and the coconut waimea sauce! It was a different kind of sauce from what I usually order at poke places...a little sweet, creamy, and a touch of heat...but the rich sauce paired well with the super fresh fish and the crisp cucumber! I also had them add fresh mango to my bowl. :D

My parents ordered salmon and tuna mix as well, but had theirs with the Off the Wall sauce. This was what they ordered last time too, so it was obviously so good that they didn't feel the need to change things up... ;) We all got cucumber bases, but you can also order white or brown rice!

And last but not least...Sam ordered the sashimi sandwich. *insert shocked OMG emoji here* This baby comes with fresh ahi sashimi, avocado, sprouts, and papaya seed dressing, all on a La Brea roll. YUM!

Both times we've eaten here, service was great. They get your food out to you quickly, and the quality of flavor never disappoints! So, it's worth repeating: If you're anywhere near Huntington Beach, are a fan of fresh seafood, and love things with a Hawaiian twist, I HIGHLY recommend checking out North Shore Poke Co.!

After devouring our lunch, Sam and I just went a couple of doors down for a little dessert/treat to bring with us on our walk to the beach...Banzai Bowls! When we first walked in, we noticed the music playing and funky art on the walls. This is yet another fantastic place with a SoCal-meets-Hawaii vibe.

Banzai Bowls has just a few locations in Orange County and one shop on the North Shore of Oahu! They serve up a great variety of smoothies and acai bowls, and they also have my personal fave on the menu: the pitaya bowl! *heart eyes* The story goes...the founder made acai bowls before and after surfing, then these refreshing creations became hugely popular with friends and family. Finally, a business was born, and Banzai Bowls was created. And with bowl names like "sharks cove" and "Maui sunrise", you definitely can't help but think of sand and surf!

Sam and I both had the V-Land. This delicious bowl is made with a blend of coconut milk, pineapple juice, pitaya, strawberries, banana, and mango! The toppings include granola, more fresh fruit, and honey! I loved how you could really taste the pineapple, and it was just so light and refreshing! I'm officially adding this place to my list of SoCal faves! If you love places like juice bars and smoothie shops, give Banzai Bowls a try!

So after a couple hours of eating/wandering around...it was finally time to make our way over to the Grand Californian! I actually plan on doing a more detailed post on the DVC villas later, so for now, here's a peek at checking in at the hotel and strolling around Downtown Disney after we got settled in our room. The hotel has super convenient entrances/DD access, so it's always fabulous staying here! There's still a lot of ways to enjoy the Disney magic, without having to actually enter the parks. :)