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It's Always Sunny In Venice, California

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It's Always Sunny In Venice, California

While the rest of the country is hit by snowstorms and bone-chilling weather, the forecast in Venice, California is currently 76° and sunny with a predicted high of 82° tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day. In the spirit of gratitude, not only for the warmth but the iconic California light that inspires my daily work and play, this photo essay is a celebration of the quintessential California surf, sand, and sea lifestyle. Happy Thanksgiving from my the city I'm grateful to call home.

The iconic Venice sign at dusk.

The iconic Venice sign at dusk.

Protect your eyes (while accessorizing) with an array of sunglass options.

Protect your eyes (while accessorizing) with an array of sunglass options.

Treat yourself to a strawberry and pina colada shaved ice any time of the year.

Treat yourself to a strawberry and pina colada shaved ice any time of the year.

Never underestimate the power of beach yoga.

Never underestimate the power of beach yoga.

But first...a beach selfie.

But first...a beach selfie.

Surf year round or grab seat and watch the pros.

Surf year round or grab seat and watch the pros.

This light...

This light...

Spicy Mango Tree Cocktail at  High Rooftop Lounge  at the  Erwin . 

Spicy Mango Tree Cocktail at High Rooftop Lounge at the Erwin

Best views in town from the rooftop of the  Erwin Hotel . 

Best views in town from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel

One of the best times of the day to catch some waves.

One of the best times of the day to catch some waves.

The colorful Venice Boardwalk.

The colorful Venice Boardwalk.

Beauty as far as the eye can see, from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel. 

Beauty as far as the eye can see, from the rooftop of the Erwin Hotel. 

Destination tips:

- I like to park anywhere near the Pacific and Windward intersection. From there, walk under the sign and follow the golden light towards the beach.

- In addition to Hotel Erwin for a sunset cocktail, I also frequent Larry's for their burger or Venice Ale House for the nachos. 

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8 Hours on Isla Mujeres

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8 Hours on Isla Mujeres

A 500 peso (about $45) taxi ride from Cancun, Mexico, Isla Mujeres is worlds away, a charming oasis of white sand beaches and a small town vibe. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for the bustle of Mexico's spring break metropolis but I personally prefer the laid back island time of Isla. While in Cancun for TBEX 2014, I was fortunate to have an extra day before returning home to Los Angeles. Thanks to my new friend Britney of GypsyJaunt, who visited Isla prior to the conference, I decided to see it for myself. A day trip was enough to confirm that this is a destination I plan on returning to.

Ticket to paradise

Ticket to paradise

Gentle breezes on the island

Gentle breezes on the island

The Ultramar at Puerto Juarez is the fastest way to get from Cancun to Isla. Round trip tickets can be purchased for 146 pesos and it boards every 30 minutes between 5am and 8pm. 

With the exception of taxis, cars are not allowed on the island. My freshly rented golf cart.

With the exception of taxis, cars are not allowed on the island. My freshly rented golf cart.

First things first. To get around the island, I rented a golf cart to make the most of my 6 hours there. Prices are pretty standard - about $45 for a 9-5 rental and almost all places take credit cards. Above was my mode of transportation for the day. Not having ever driven one on an actual golf course, it was extremely simple to operate and park. 

Below are some of my sights along the way. Isla Mujeres has no shortage of color and charm. The tiny pedestrian friendly streets make it easy to park your golf cart or moped at the sight of anything cool to explore, something I did almost every few blocks.

Residential building on a side street

Residential building on a side street

Playa Norte

Playa Norte

First official stop - Poc-Na Hostel for a refuel of fresh watermelon juice and wifi. This charming hostel is steps away from the ocean, with hammocks scattered across their beach access area. Hydrated and refreshed, I was ready to get back on the golf cart.

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Crystal clear waters and powder-white sand, enjoyed by tourists and locals together.

Crystal clear waters and powder-white sand, enjoyed by tourists and locals together.

Isla Mujeres pretty much has one main road that runs from the north to the south of the island. It was about an 85-90 degree day and I stopped once again for some refreshments and chatter at this colorful beach shack on Playa Norte before heading south. On the way, this lush palapa caught my eye and I had to go inside. I immediately made a mental note of staying here at the aptly named Casa de los Suenos when I return. 

How could anyone resist this entrance looking straight through to the ocean?

How could anyone resist this entrance looking straight through to the ocean?

Loved the colors of the open lobby.

Loved the colors of the open lobby.

The deep blues contrast perfectly with the lush ivy.

The deep blues contrast perfectly with the lush ivy.

Whats a boutique hotel without an infinity pool?

Whats a boutique hotel without an infinity pool?

By this time, around 2:30pm, I was ready for some protein and ordered some fish tacos. The dining area faces the infinity pool (above) with open, expansive views of the ocean. Seated next to me was a friendly couple from Colorado who watched in amusement as I snapped pictures of the tacos before tearing into them.

Three of the freshest fish tacos I've ever tasted.

Three of the freshest fish tacos I've ever tasted.

Stunning views from the dining area.

Stunning views from the dining area.

Winding my way around the southern part of the island, I stopped to marvel at this beauty, and of course, snap a few images. Despite many sightly beachside homes, this simple shape and color of this one caught my eye. I love the seeing the ocean through the street entrance. I was admiring it from my golf cart when Kyle, whose parents built this beauty, arrived and asked if i wanted to take a look inside. Of course, I said yes. Recently built, it also features an infinity pool and cool architectural elements. If you're looking for a vacation rental on Isla, Casa Gemelos happens to be on the market. 

Casa Gemelos aka The Twin House

Casa Gemelos aka The Twin House

After so many leisurely stops, I was now close to my time limit and ended my visit with some fresh coconut water before returning my golf cart and getting back on the ferry to pack for my flight home. 

Destination tips:

- Pack lightly (wielding huge luggage on and off a ferry slows everything down)

- Try to stay overnight if possible. I would have loved to continue exploring but most of the golf cart rentals by the day end at 5pm. 

- Seems like a no-brainer but lots of sunscreen is mandatory for all of the beach time you're going to want in the crystal clear waters.

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