We were undecided for months about what to do for Spring Break. So many ideas and places got tossed around until we finally decided on San Luis Obispo and exploring the Central Coast of California. It’s been kind of the trend this year for us to stay in California, our last trip was to Palm Springs in January. I have to admit we made a good decision.
Some locations that we researched were New Orleans, Chicago, etc. but for some reason, if the flights were cheap then the hotels were not or vice versa. We were working with a small budget too, so adding in food and extras made it not feasible to travel to those places. Although both of those cities would have been fun and we would have made them so memorable. It was loud and clear, the Central Coast was calling our names. We have visited this area of California many times before (here and here) and have done so many wonderful things, but we somehow still find more great stuff to do. Of course, as the kids get older we are able to add more age appropriate things to the itinerary that we couldn’t do before.
On this vacation, we crammed in a lot of activities, but at the same time it was so laid-back and we never felt like we were rushing from one place to the next. We were able to absorb all the goodness the Central Coast had to offer. There was so much wild beauty and moments that took our breath away.
An uneventful, but very memorable 4-hour drive up from Los Angeles with a lunch stop at Industrial Eats. Nothing fancy about this eatery, just really good food. I can’t get enough of the Wild mushroom pizza.
We then visited Ostrichland, for a small fee you get to feed these amazing giant flightless birds. We get a ton of laughs and smiles from the kids every time we visit.
Our next stop was for ice cream and the petting zoo at Avila Valley Barn. What can I say, we love farm animals and the smell of fresh hay. We could seriously spend all day here. The farm store could not have been cuter. Fresh fruit galore and the prettiest flowers around.
After breakfast at the hotel, we drove towards the ocean to visit Morro Bay and catch views of the Rock. I really adore these small beach towns because time appears to stand still here. The food is meh, there are lots of touristy shops that sell the same trinkets, and those penny engraving machines at every corner, but I love that it feels familiar and nostalgic. We surprised the kids with a shopping spree at the candy shop, one that sold what seemed like a million flavors of salt water taffy. We had a field day in there and came home with 2 pounds of taffy.
Later we made our way to the next beach town of Cayucos for lunch of smoked tuna and salmon sandwiches at Ruddell’s Smokehouse. This place was not meh at all. This place would be worth the trip to Cayucos alone. Seating is first come first serve and very limited. You could also bring a blanket and cross the parking lot to have a picnic lunch on the beach.
This little beach community was too adorable, we strolled around for a bit after stuffing our guts. Flowers and vines growing in abundant on white picket fences, my kind of dream neighborhood.
We then headed to another beach in hopes of finding lots of sand dollars. After spraying ourselves down with massive amounts of sunblock, the kids ran round in the sand and built a kingdom out for sand. We were tired out and started to head back to the hotel. Even after all the beach play, the kids could not resist a night swim in the pool, and we also did movie night in the room. PS we only found a couple of intact sand dollars and not the bucket full we had hoped for.
The next morning we headed out to breakfast at our favorite restaurant Kitchenette located in the city of Templeton. I highly recommend their steel cut oatmeal, topped with all the healthy stuff, like chia and hemp seed. They win for best breakfast in town, hands down, and they make a pretty mean latte too.
We then drove over to the winery Sculpterra. When we arrived we were just gobbled up by the beautiful natural landscape and sculptures all around that we passed on the wine tasting and just wandered around the grounds.
After the winery visit and since we didn’t do any tastings we decided to go to Paso Olivo for olive oil tasting instead. Something the kids could enjoy too. This wasn’t our first time here, so the kids were really thrilled about it because they had so much fun the last time. We tasted a whole bunch of olive oil from basil to lemon to oil with vinegar and oil with seasoning and so on. It helped hold us over until lunch.
Firestone Walker Brewery was the pit stop for lunch. It was rather late in the afternoon so we decided this would also be dinner and we can snack later. Lunch was the usual American fare, sandwiches and fries and beer. The hubs loves him some brewpub. We tried to do a brewery tour, but the last tour had left for the day by the time we were done with lunch. Next time.
A tour of Hearst Castle was on the agenda for this day. If you’re into history and architecture then this place is where you want to be. The grounds and gardens are really what draws me in. It is so dreamy and really transports me to a different world. Think the book “The Secret Garden” coming to life. My imagination running wild. The views of the Pacific Ocean and the rolling hills surrounding the property are divine.
The tour ended right about lunch time and luckily I packed some bread and PB and J packets from the hotel for our picnic lunch on the beach. Before we made our way to Moonstone Beach, we stopped at the convenience store and raided it for Funyuns (little guys road trip favorite), a few other snacks and some unique local sodas.
Moonstone beach is a gem. The kids didn’t mind the cold waters and the best part is collecting the colorful rocks. The jade ones are my favorite.
By this time, we were hungry and had dinner in San Luis Obispo. We finished dinner in time to head to the main street for SLO’s Thursday night farmer’s market. Every time we visit this area we make it point to stay over on a Thursday. The kids love visiting the gum wall and leaving their own mark. It’s eeeew but just weirdly fascinating. I love the live music, hippie vibes, and a promise of dessert at the end of the night.
We bid farewell to the Central Coast and headed home. 100% Dreaded the LA traffic and it never fails to disappoint. We were also trying to make it to the orthodontist for an emergency appointment and thank goodness we made it before the office closed otherwise we may have needed to wait a whole weekend before getting it dealt with and that would have been horrible for my gal. This was the second time we’ve had a dental mishap while on vacation. What a blessing this trip and we are already dreaming up Summer vacation.
Kitchenette // Templeton, CA
Ruddell’s Smokehouse // Cayucos, CA
Industrial Eats // Buellton, CA
Libertine Brewing Co. // San Luis Obispo, CA
Firestone Walker Brewery // Paso Robles, CA
Batch // San Luis Obispo, CA
Avila Valley Barn // San Luis Obispo, CA
OstrichLand // Buellton, CA
Sculpterra // Paso Robles
Morro Strand State Park // Morro Bay, CA
Moonstone Beach // Cambria, CA
Hearst Castle // San Simeon, CA
Paso Olivo // Paso Robles, CA
SLO’s Thursday Night Farmer’s Market // San Luis Obispo, CA
Springhill Suites by Marriott // Atascadero, CA