Apr 18, 2018

Family vacation in California 2018

To think I am prepping this blog post and there is snow on the ground right now. I’m really tired of talking about the weather, as I’m sure all of us are.

Let us shift gears and talk about the beautiful California coast and the sunshine, all day, every day. It’s amazing how beautiful the weather is down there. I think it rained for all of 10 minutes one morning, after which the clouds parted and the locals hit the bikes paths along the beach for a run.

We knew we wanted to take one last trip before Smith turned two (gotta take advantage of those free flights, am I right?), but we just weren’t sure where or when. Well, the when had to be before wedding season started, so that gave us a time limit.

The opportunity presented itself when my husband received an invitation to his college roommate’s 40th birthday in California. Yes, Tim went to college in Cali. Why he ever left is still baffling to everyone…mostly him. Especially when you wake up to snow in April.

Anyways, we braved the 8 hour travel day to bring our little guy to Cali for a week of fun in the sun and a mini road trip. Tim and I did a very similar trip in 2012 along the coast, with wine tours and beaches. This trip was more about playgrounds and trying to best coordinate nap time on the road.

We got in pretty late on our first night in LA – 12pm EST to be exact. And Smith barely slept a wink on the plane. Of course, he woke up at 3:30am PST so our day started off pretty early. Wasn’t too difficult coordinating nap time on this day…he passed out the second we hit the road. At 7am.

toddler asleep in car seat with stuffed animal

Our first stop, which was really a pee break, was in Carpenteria, a little beach town. Smith and I were happy to get out and stretch our legs. Tim was happy to have his first (of many) breakfast burritos.

Streets of Carpenteria, CaliforniaCarpenteria beachCarpenteria beachFather and son looking at railway tracks in CarpenteriaFather and son looking at train passing by in Carpenteriaold volkswagon beetle parked among green bushes The Palms hotel in Carpenteria California

From here, we continued our trip to Santa Barbara, arguably one of the coolest cities in California. It still being mid-morning, we couldn’t check into our hotel yet so we took Smith to the Santa Barbara Zoo. There’s nothing like watching a kid see something for the first time…he was just amazed, each time we turned a corner.

father and son looking at giraffe at the Santa Barabara zoolittle boy looking at animals at the Santa Barbara zoo little boy looking at elephant at the Santa Barbara zoo

Our time in Santa Barbara was spent visiting Tim’s old college friend (who happened to have a little girl the same age as Smith), hitting up Three Pickles, one of Tim’s favourite sandwich shops, and exploring the beautiful streets and parks that Santa Barbara has to offer.

palm trees and blue skieslittle boy standing amongst the Santa Barbara trolleys kids watching videos on cell phone at the table flowers and vines growing on white brick wallmom and son standing on the pier of Santa Barbara sailboat along the Santa Barbara coastFather and son sitting at the bar of Three Pickles sandwich shop

Next, we headed up to Los Olivos, a.k.a wine country. A.k.a my version of heaven. A sleepy little town that comes alive on a Sunday afternoon with Californians (is that a word?) who’ve driven down for the weekend to do some wine tastings and eat all the delicious food. Wine tasting with a toddler is obviously not ideal, so once Smith (and Tim – who partied until 1am with his college buddies) went down for his nap, I hit the streets and did a little tour myself. What happens when you go wine touring by yourself? You buy 4 bottles of (not so cheap) wine. Surprisingly, they all made their way home to Ottawa with us.

toddler running away from old metal and wood building in black and white old turqupise pick up trucklittle boy wearing Billabong hat pushing his stroller

From Los Olivos, we made our way to Pismo Beach. We stayed in this brand new hotel on the pier called The Inn at the Pier. Highly recommend it. It was the perfect spot for us, because, you see, when you’re traveling with a kid who goes to bed at 7:30pm, what do you do before it’s your bed time (which, lets be real, isn’t that much later). The lobby and little outdoor patios were the perfect spot to sit and have a drink where we could still listen in on Smith through the baby monitor. Oh, AND, they have a SWEET rooftop patio with a pool and hot tub. And a bar. Magical.

We hit the beach the next day where Smith got his first taste of surfing.

little boy watching the surfers head into the ocean in black and white little boy wearing Billabong hat looking out into the ocean on the beach in Pismo little boy standing at the water's edge on Pismo Beach little boy on Pismo beach sunset at Pismo beach

A pit stop in Santa Ynez on the way back to LA for a night, we stopped in to visit Tim’s friend one last time, who’s son Noah is born the day before Smith. Perfection. They played while we sipped our wine and hung out in their gorgeous home.

boys playing in the kitchen in black and white

Lastly, we found ourselves in Venice Beach for the night before our flight. If you’ve never been to Venice beach, you have to experience the energy here. It’s incredible. Not somewhere I would want to live, but definitely worth a walk any old afternoon.

venice beach skyline los angeles graffiti that says "someone loves you"

Until next time, Cali. You were a real treat. xo

parents with their son on pismo beach



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