We drive in to the lush green landscape, windows down, the smells of sunscreen and the sea welcoming us.
We’re only 30 minutes from home...yet worlds away.
The Bahia Resort Hotel rests on a fourteen-acre peninsula in Mission Bay, San Diego. And in the summertime — when you have that sweltering desire to escape to the tropics, to sit poolside and listen to steel drums with something cold in hand — consider it your beautiful, beachfront destination.
The afternoon starts, lounging and laughing in the FunCat, an electric catamaran that cruises around the bay with nothing more than a soft touch of the finger. Lunch comes next, and we pair a classic daiquiri and margarita with our clam salad and burgers.
The food is fresh and tropical, prepared simply so that the ingredients and colors shine.
In the evening is the main event, the California Dreaming beach party and clambake on the sand. There are welcome Mai Tais with fresh lime, barefoot vacationers, and a live concert by The Mar Dels (who just so happen to sing an incredible rendition of Walking on Sunshine).
We pile our plates with comfort summer food, like the kind you eat at a backyard barbecue with family and friends. There's macaroni salad, baked beans, cold iceberg lettuce with blue cheese, and tri-tip which the chef carves in front of us.
"Make sure to get the chimichurri sauce," he says, with a nod to the parsley, olive oil, and garlic based green sauce beside us.
We visit the steam pot next. It's a massive spread of mussels and clams, steamed red potatoes and corn on the cob, and linguica — a smoke cured pork sausage simmered with garlic and paprika.
As the sun sets over the water moments later, we too kick our shoes off, taking the last sip of our Mai Tai and mustering any form of hunger we have left for the dessert finale of apple cobbler, ice cream, and s’mores pie.
California Dreaming seems to be an ode to summers past, a celebration of the nostalgic charm of the Southern California lifestyle — where nights are lived barefoot, free, and sun kissed.
The evening comes to an end with a cruise on the Bahia Belle, a 74-foot, 3-story turn-of-the-century, Mississippi-style sternwheeler boat. It cruises Mission Bay between the Bahia Resort Hotel and its sister property, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.
Breakfast sliders and burritos served alongside big glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice will come in the morning.
But for now, we’ll lay our heads to dream— sweet, warm, California dreams — simple sun drenched memories of Nick's birthday clambake on the sand.