Traveling with the Bucket List Family: A Q&A with world-traveling mom Jessica Gee

The Bucket List Family kicked off their world-traveling expedition one year ago with a trip around the Pacific Ocean. Now, they're taking in the sites of Europe.
The Gee family sold everything and set out to travel the world on Aug. 21, 2015. Their 6-month travel plans turned into a year of adventure-filled family fun, and there are no plans to put a stop to it yet. (Photo courtesy Jessica Gee)

For most people, traveling the world is just something to dream about or put off until after retirement. But for Jessica (30) and Garrett Gee (25), it’s a here-and-now reality, even with their two young children (Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1).

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What to do in Newport

Jack & Lola Photography
Jack & Lola Photography


I have major vacation FOMO, so I research all of my options when it comes to food and activities before I take a trip.

I got some great recommendations from friends who live in the Newport area or have visited there, so we had enough food and activity choices to keep us busy for a year.

Here are our favorite beaches and food spots:


Thousand Steps Beach

Treasure Island Beach

Crystal Cove: The little beach village at Crystal Cove beach is so quaint. We ate at Beachcomber, which is a cute little cafe right on the beach.

Corona del Mar

El Moro Beach: A little slice of beach that’s perfect to watch the sunset from.


Bear Flag Fish Co: This was my favorite. The fish is fresh, flavorful, and surprisingly inexpensive. Their clam chowder is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their fish tacos were amazing too.

Slapfish: Casual, yummy seafood. The chowder fries were surprisingly good.

Lumberyard:  Yummy American food with a unique atmosphere.

Gelato Paradiso: We went there two nights in a row, because YUM. The salted caramel was crazy-good, but you can get up to four flavors in your cup, so don’t worry if you can’t pick just one.

La Rue du Chocolate: We were sold at homemade chocolate. The peanut butter cups are a must.

Go Greek Authentic Yogurteria: I get serious about my frozen yogurt. I hate the synthetic stuff. If I’m eating strawberry yogurt, I want it to taste like an actual strawberry. Not something that was concocted in a laboratory and tastes akin to children’s cherry Tylenol. Go Greek knocked my socks off. The yogurt is a heavenly, creamy consistency and the flavors are real. Even my husband, who doesn’t care what his yogurt is made of, was going on about how amazing it tasted. I can’t believe we only went twice.  I could eat there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Other stuff:

Fashion Island: A big, beautiful shopping center with tons of great stores and restaurants.

Knott’s Berry Farm: I know Disney is a must for most people, and don’t hate me, but I just cant face the crowds, the long lines and the price tag with kids as young as mine. I went to Knott’s Berry Farm when I was little, so it was fun to take our kids there. We never had to wait in line, and tickets were a measly $40. There’s a huge section of rides that were perfect for our kids and they had the time of their lives. And I didn’t have a panic attack from claustrophobic crowds. Win-win.

Balboa Island: Driving through the picture-perfect beach houses in Balboa Village then taking the $1 ferry to the island is a must-do. Our kids loved riding the ferris wheel, playing on the playground by the beach, and walking to the end of the pier. The food at Ruby’s at the end of the pier is definitely nothing to write home about unless you’re really into mediocre greasy diner food, but it was still fun to get a shake and be on the ocean.

Marriott Newport Coast Villas: We booked this resort with some Marriott rewards points we had, but it’s hard to imagine ever going back again and not staying there. The villas are beautiful and overlook the ocean, which is just five minutes away. There’s a kid’s center with daily activities, a movie theater, arcade, volleyball court, tennis courts, basketball court, tether ball court, putting green, fire pit, grills, koi pond, and fitness center.

The pools are big and beautiful, and my kids loved getting the free saltwater taffies from a local candy shop that were in little bowls throughout the resort.


If you have more recommendations for the area let me know. I’m sure we’ll be back soon! My kids are still talking about it and I have a feeling they will be for a long time.


We took a family trip to Newport Coast to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. The most important thing on our agenda during our eight days there was to hit up a new beach every day. When we weren’t exploring beaches, we were at the pool, discovering local food (including the FOUR ice cream/frozen yogurt spots we hit up), or relaxing in our villa.

The kids loved the activities at the resort and we loved having my mom there for the last few days so we could sneak out a couple of times for some quiet(er) beach time or to grab some dinner.

I’ll be posting some of our favorite things to do, beaches and places to eat in the Newport-Laguna Beach area. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy this little video of our trip.