Katherine Pope is a wife, mother and Realtor who loves cooking.

“All I wanna do is have some fun, until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard.”

If you are like me, instead of reading that song lyric from Sheryl Crow’s hit “All I Wanna Do,” you sang it to yourself. I am just back from a quick girls’ trip to California; it was fabulous. I’ve been humming Sheryl to myself since my return.

My gal pal, traveling companion and cousin, CJ, and I had a fabulous time exploring Los Angeles, Marina del Rey and Santa Monica. This was my first trip to the greater Los Angeles area, but it definitely won’t be my last. I feel like I could have stayed for a month and still not had time to see and do everything I wanted to.

One well-spent day was dedicated to wandering the streets and beaches of Santa Monica. We started our adventure on the popular 3rd Street Promenade. This open-air shopping experience extends for three totally uninterrupted, car-free blocks, and it is heavenly. The sun kissed our shoulders and the cool, dry breezes blew through our hair as we went from shop to shop, finding presents, prizes and surprises of all kinds. There were street performers on every corner who were as much a treat for the ears as the blue skies were for our eyes.

One of the sweetest stops we made while exploring was KC Chocolatier, whose flagship store is on 2nd Street just off the Promenade. Their melt-in-your-mouth, luxury Belgian confections are handcrafted from recipes three generations old. The smell of the fresh chocolate drew us in, and my silky, rich Grand Marnier truffle gave me the boost I needed to power through the rest of the afternoon.

After shopping, we made our way down to the iconic Santa Monica Boulevard, and what a sight it was: the bustling city behind us and the beach wide open and wild before us.

Beach days, in my opinion, are the best days. The miles and miles of chilly but beautiful blue water and creamy sand certainly did not disappoint.

After a quick stroll along the Pacific we took a walk down the famous Santa Monica Pier, which was touristy and quaint all at the same time. The smell of cotton candy combined with the sea air and swirled around us while the barking of the carnival hawkers mixed in with the rhythmic waves crashing created a truly unique and visceral experience.

I felt like a child again, and all the smiling faces around me let me know that I wasn’t the only one.

We finally decided to break for a very, very late lunch at Blue Plate Taco, which is just across Santa Monica Boulevard from the Pier. It was the perfect choice. Filled with beachgoers, businessmen and tourists alike, the whimsical Mexican eatery offered a little taste of home to this Texas girl but with a distinct Cali twist. I ordered the shrimp tacos, which were just the right mix of spicy and adventurous. The pumpkin pesto and jicama reminded me, as if the scenery would let me forget, I wasn’t in Texas anymore, but the plump juicy shrimp and tender corn tortilla were familiar and welcomed.

If you ever find yourself in Santa Monica, make a point of stopping at Blue Plate and KC’s; they are both worth the trip.

I loved every moment I spent in California; well, every moment that wasn’t spent in traffic. I wanted to keep the California fun going when I got home, so I whipped up these Baja shrimp tacos. I hope you love them. I can’t wait to share a little more of my vacation with you next time.

Katherine Pope is a wife, mother and Realtor. She loves cooking almost as much as she loves living in Jackson County Texas. Katherine can be contacted by email at whatscookingkatherine@gmail.com.

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