Friday, November 29, 2013

CA Coast Family Vacation

Here are some highlights of our CA coast trip!! We had SO much fun! I LOVED being together as a family, and just hanging out. We haven't been able to do that in a long time, so it was long over due. We fit a lot into five short days (two of them spent mostly driving), and it was my first time going up the coast. I've been to San Fransisco a few times, but we have never taken the scenic route, so I thoroughly enjoyed the new sights and adventures. I also gained a new love and appreciation for the beauty of CA. I really do think our states is one of the prettiest, with the coast, mountains, lakes, forests, and so much more! (Oh...Disneyland haha but I'm mainly just talking about natural beauty) So here's our fun, little family, enjoying our CA Coast vacation! 
Ps. The weather was GORGEOUS! I thought it was going to be cold, but it was SO nice. I just needed a light jacket for nights.

  • San Luis Obispo
  • Avila Valley Barn
  • Avila Beach
  • Monterey Aquarium
  • 17 Mile Drive
  • Big Sur
  • San Simeon Elephant Seals
  • Hearst Castle
We made it to the coast, Ventura, just in time for the sunset! It was gorgeous! Our  vacation had finally begun!
Being that we got a later start than planned, we didn't make it to Solvang until about 6pm. If you're planning a visit, get there earlier in the day!! The town looked SO cute and I really wish we could have walked around and what not, but most everything was closed. I definitely want to go again to experience everything. PS. We ate at the Viking Restaurant because it was one of the only places that was wasn't terrible, but let's just say that if somewhere else is open, I would try to go there instead. 

San Luis Obispo

Here's Hunter, feeding his obsession with pumpkins. At one point, he was hugging all of them. Haha 

Here was the best part about the Barn, feeding the animals!!
There were turkeys, goats, alpacas, horses, mini horses, donkeys, chickens, roosters, and sheep

I love Hunter's reaction in these next pictures! He got a big kick from feeding the horses! 

Cade had a great time at the barn! ha

Yay for hay rides! 

There were rows upon rows of fruit plants and trees! It would be fun to go there when fruit was in season. 

These two loved being around each for the whole trip! Hunter didn't have to go off to pre-school, or the sitters, or anything. It was fun having them together with no interruptions. 


Hunter LOVES LOVES LOVES the beach. He could play in the sand and water all day.  The water was cold, so we obviously didn't go in, but it was still a lot of fun.

Before we headed out of SLO, we ate at the famous Madonna Inn. It was delicious! They are famous for their cakes. We took a piece of toffee cake to was pretty much one of the best cakes I've ever had! Oh, and Janelle and I split the Monte Cristo Sandwich. It was really good, but if you've had Disneyland's MC's, try something else, because Disneyland's are better. (;
I didn't take this picture, but I wanted to show you how the roads looked driving from San Luis Obispo to Monterey. We took the 101 instead of the CA 1, and I loved seeing vineyard after vineyard. They weren't green like in this picture that I found on Google images, but they were still neat to see.  

The aquarium was a lot of fun. Hunter has a natural love for ocean animals, so he was in Heaven. It was big, had a lot of kid areas, and at our hotel, we were able to get a two day pass for the price of one day, so we were able to split the aquarium into two different days. 
I think Hunter enjoyed the jelly fish the most, hence the reason why he is hugging the jelly fish tank. haha 

Bubba Gumps in Monterey is the 8th Bubba Gumps we've been to. It's kind of our tradition to go to Bubba Gumps if there is ever one around. 

Crystal Fish Sushi
A sushi place that was recommended to us from a local. It was good, decent prices, and how could we go to a coastal city and not have any fish.
One of the best steakhouses we have ever been to! We LOVE our steakhouses, and this one was top notch. They even brought you the different cuts of meat to tell you about them. It was pretty awesome, and what was even better was that Aunt Jay Jay stayed at the hotel with Hunter so we were able to enjoy it, (well, the best we can...haha we still had our sweet little Cade) By the way, their clam chowder was one of the best I've ever had. I highly recommend this place. It was pricy, but was worth it.
This drive is a must if you ever go to Monterey. It is absolutely gorgeous there! There are a lot of places to get out and walk around. We stopped in this place and we found a large crab. Hunter was really excited about that. 


Look at this view...It was absolutely breathtaking. Big Sur was about a half hour-45 minute drive, depending on where you go, but this specific area was about a half hour from our hotel. It was a lot of fun to drive 
Highway 1. At first we planned to go on a hike, one from this site:, but most of the areas were at least a hour drive South from Monterey, so they were too far drive being that we had more to do in Monterey, but I'm glad we found the spot where we stopped because it was a lot of fun to once again just run on the beach and enjoy the beautiful view. 

He could do this ALL day if we let him! 

They sure do love each other...

First time at the beach. He kept trying to eat the sand! haha 
Loving Aunt Jay Jay time.

Elephant Seals and Hearst Castle
San Simeon
On our drive home, we stopped by the elephant seals, and also did a tour at Hearst Castle. Once again, Aunt Jay Jay was a big help and went to the beach with Hunter while we took a tour. I don't think Hunter would have lasted, it was a lot of just talking and walking, and no touching...with is a little difficult for three year olds. 
Elephant Seals at San Simeon. They come here and just hang out (and breed, and have their pups during a certain time of year). You can't touch them, but there's is a little  pathway to walk on and you can see them. They were pretty fascinating to watch!

This cute little smile quintessentially describes the character of this sweet little boy. He is SO happy and loves, loves, loves to smile at others. He was the best little trooper on the trip, and he just went along with the flow pretty much the whole time. Near the end, you can tell he was probably getting a little home sick, but he was still happy as a little clam. 
And here is what we call his cabbage patch face! haha 
We took the Cottages and the kitchen tour, partly because it was the next one leaving, and we still had about a five hour drive home. I liked the tour. We didn't get to see the grand rooms inside the big part of it, but it was still really neat. You get to walk around the gardens and pools no matter what tour you take, so that was kind of nice. We also had lunch here, and although I don't like to eat at touristy places because it's usually over priced and not very good, but eating here was the right choice. This site is not only where he built his castle, but also has a live, working, very enormous, cattle ranch. We had cheeseburgers from the cattle that were there on the ranch, and they were pretty delicious! 


Lastly! Here are the hotels where we stayed. I was VERY happy with them. You know, it's always a gamble when booking a hotel. You never know if it's going to be in an odd location, or smelly, or beds are uncomfortable, etc. I always read the reviews, but I usually go with the ones that are a little cheaper with decent reviews. I'm not looking for a 5 star's not like you spend too much time there anyway, and I'm all about cheaper hotels, so we have more money to spend on the adventures! 

So, we stayed one night in San Luis, just to break up our drive, and I just got a cheap one because we were literally just staying the night and then driving once we got up. I was pretty pleased, and it was pretty close to attractions. The rooms were clean, kind of small, but perfect for one night. They have a pretty fancy spa and pool too. I would stay here again. 

1585 Calle Joaquin · San Luis Obispo

Here's our hotel in Monterey, and I LOVED it! Our room was very big and spacious, and I was VERY pleased for the price we paid. It was close to everything. I think we drove more than 10 minutes to get somewhere, and it was so nice having a heated, indoor pool, especially because it would be too cold to swim outside. Oh, and there was a fireplace in our room! Loved this place, and I would definitely stay again! 
1046 Munras Ave · Monterey
Well, that's our trip in a nutshell! I feel like we saw pretty much everything we wanted to see. We did want to go to the Winchester Mystery House, but being that it was a hour drive North and we still had stuff to do in Monterey, we made the choice to stay more local and go to Big Sur. I'm not sure I would tour around Monterey again. It was beautiful, but I think it would be good for just an overnight stop on the way to San Francisco. Or if the kids really wanted to go the aquarium again, we could do that. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED it, but it's a smaller city and I was happy with what we did! I loved the trip as a whole, the scenic drive, SLO, the beach and much more! The best part was spending the time with family and having fun together! I can't wait for our next vacation!