Turning 30 in California, after Christmas: what to do?
August 30, 2009 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm turning 30 this year, and my birthday is between Christmas and New Years. I live in central California, and may not have a lot of time for vacation. I want to do something interesting. What would you recommend to do in (central-ish) California, or possibly the greater West Coast, in the end of December? Sights to see, food to eat, events to attend? Lots of thoughts inside.

I've never wanted a big or specifically interesting event for my birthday. Usually it's been family somewhere near home because my friends are elsewhere with their respective families. The only year that felt like it fell a bit flat was my 21st, which lacked the excitement I associated with 21st birthdays (in the US) in general, but it wasn't terrible. For whatever reason, I want to do something interesting this year. The fact I'm turning 30 doesn't seem to be weighing on my mind, but I feel like I should do more to celebrate it.

I've been married for a bit over two years now, and I don't know how much time I'll have off. With that, a nice trip with my wife sounds pretty good, and probably closer to home so I don't spend most of it traveling to get somewhere (unless the trip is part of the fun).

What are some good winter trips in California (and farther)? What have people done for birthdays or celebrations that add some level of interest to things?

In regards to previous 30th birthday AskMe posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5): 1- not looking for travel, and a "treat myself well" day is lacking some oomph, 2- turning 30 is no big deal to me, 3- I'm not looking for some present of significance, 4- closest suggestions so far, and now I realize I don't want a showy, public event (fireworks) or a big countdown (advent calendar), and 5- no desire to skinny-dip in tropical oceans. Thanks!
posted by filthy light thief to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For my 30th me and a friend drove to Big Sur, Carmel and Sonoma - this was in March, so it was a little warmer, but it was a spectacular way to spend the weekend. From the beach with Purple sand to sipping wine throughout the wineries it was perfect.
posted by Unred at 11:15 AM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: The spectacular Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Santa Cruz boardwalk? (Though I don't know how the boardwalk's gonna be in terms of weather.) If you go boardwalkin', don't forget to get taffy!
posted by thisperon at 11:27 AM on August 30, 2009

You could contract somebody with a small plane to fly you guys around the county and look at it from above for a few hours. I think that'd be really cool.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:01 PM on August 30, 2009

I've been on a bike tour along the beautiful coast in Central California in late December. It's a wonderful way to properly appreciate its wonders (and celebrate your birthday!). I have recollections of there being a lighthouse/hostel you can stay at somewhere between SF and Santa Cruz. A good rule of thumb for me has been that an hour by car is a day by bicycle. Rain is never as big of a deal on a bike tour as it seems like it could be, and threats of rain in California in December are generally not worth canceling a trip for, in my experience. Happy [un-]birthday!
posted by aniola at 12:27 PM on August 30, 2009

I just read this comment. It sounds like a bike ride for your 30th birthday would be a wonderful experience! If you can already ride, but not turn, you're well on the way to riding a bike! Now is your chance to practice! What better birthday present could you give yourself than the freedom of being able to ride a bicycle? Once you can ride a bike, being able to go on a trip like the one I suggested will not be out of the question at all. There's a word I'm looking for to describe that feeling you get when you do something that seems out of the question, but all of a sudden you find that it has gone from outside you ability to conquered/feasible/reasonable/wonderful, but I can't think of what it is. It is certainly the sort of feeling that would be an appropriate gift to yourself. And your wife could come, and it would be all sorts of romantic/memorable!
posted by aniola at 12:42 PM on August 30, 2009

A trip to San Francisco perhaps?

House of Prime Rib is excellent and way better than it sounds. Comfortable, but really really good. I was blown away.

Other than that, great running in SF and check out: http://www.pctrailruns.com/ if you are in for a nice trail run.

Plenty of options in that city and you'll always feel youthful! Enjoy!
posted by mymanb at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2009

I've hung out in Cambria during the time period you're mentioning and had a good time. I'd second Monterey/Carmel as well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2009

Best answer: What about skiiing? Or renting a house in Tahoe for a weekend? Driving the coast? Camping in Joshua Tree? Renting a houseboat and cruising the Delta? Rafting?
posted by shinyshiny at 3:54 PM on August 30, 2009

Response by poster: A houseboat sounds awesome, and I'd love to go back to Joshua Tree (how is it in the winter? I went in spring.) Heading to those northern locations sounds nice, but my wife mentioned Lego Land and Sea World, both which pulled at some happy place in my brain.

With that: any suggestions for San Diego between Christmas and New Years?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2009

Best answer: Wild Animal Park - but do the special $80 or so caravan tour where you can feed the giraffes and rhinos by hand. The Park itself is quite lovely.
posted by thisperon at 11:06 PM on September 1, 2009

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