Road Trip on HWY 101 with my mom, two kids and a blog
I think I am pretty brave to take a road trip with my mom, two kids, a blog and all without the help from my husband. First of all, the key to a road trip is having a general pit stop plan. So of course I went online to search for road trip guides for HWY 101 to the Bay Area. I was a bit disappointed to the articles that are out there. The best one I found was from Sunset Magazine,
It had good descriptions, suggestions and pictures. I decided that I would time my stops based on attractions, so our first stop- Santa Barbara.
The one main street that I know of in Santa Barbara is State street. It is their where there are a lt of retail stores and restaurants are. Luckily, I parked near the historic and beautiful Santa Barbara Court House. They allow people to walk up ( or take an elevator) to the top of the tower. There you will find amazing views of the coast and city.
When we got to the top of the tower, it felt like it dropped 20 degrees, but the views were amazing and totally worth the shivering! The architecture and Spanish design was very inspiring. After we had lunch, we hopped back into the car for a 45 minuet drive North to Solvang. This small town that is rich in Danish heritage. The architecture, retail shops, bakeries and restaurant have the same look and feel. You do feel like you have stepped into small town in Denmark.
I remember coming here as a little girl with my family on a road trip from the Bay Area to L.A. (what a turn of events!). However, I remember it being a lot more charming and quaint. Yes it has been MANY years (ahem, nope- still not giving out my age!) but I thought I was going fall in love with this place more, but it has now turned into a major tourist destination, however it doesn't mean that it was a wasted stop. We loved our hotel (Hotel Coquet) and loved all of the small shops and bakeries. We had to stop by the famous Paula's Pancake House, where they serve Danish pancakes. Which are thin, yet fluffy, and super tasty breakfast treat!
After breakfast, we totally made the amateur move of relying on our weather app and believing there was only a 30% chance of rain, but in reality it was 100% pouring! We had to race four blocks back to our hotel. It made for some good laughs and Instagram pic.
Once it was clear and sunny again (about an hour later!). We took a stroll around town some more. Tried Danish candy (it was kind of like taffy) and stopped by the Solvang Danish Bakery to pick up some baked goodies for the road- meringues and Danish cookies of course!
After finished exploring Solvang, we got back into the car for another short 15 min. drive to a tiny winery town called Los Olivos. This was one of my favorite design inspiring stops of the trip. This little town is only about 3 to 4 blocks long but it is packed with tasting rooms, shops and restaurants. It's heaven on Earth of a super chic wine enthusiast! One of my favorite spots was the Los Olivos General Store. You can have a sandwich, have a glass a wine and find super cute and unique items for your home.
Right across the street from the General store are other great little home shops and a card store. All of the merchandise from these stores are so beautiful and unique. It will be hard not to pick something up when you go visit.
It was hard not say good bye and not stay longer in Los Olivos, but I was determined to get tour next destination (which was three hours away) and I couldn't have a glass of wine, so it was only torture to stay longer in this cute wine town, but I will definitely be back- with the hubs! So we continued to drive up North on HWY 101 towards Monterey Bay.
This was our last overnight stay on this road trip before we got the Bay Area to stay with family and friends. I think it was one of the best stops we made. Monterey Bay is a beautiful coastal town that is surround by forest. Before you reach the town you pass so many fields of veggies and fruits. The soil must be awesome here for all of this agriculture. We stayed at a small in about 10 min. away from the famous aquarium and Fisherman's Warf. However we didn't visit those locations. Instead we went to visit my niece at her place of work- a small children's museum called My Museum, off of Washington Street. We also ate dinner in the town next to Monterey, called Seaside. Both places were amazing and tourist-free!
The next day I wanted to take the road trip crew to the beach to take some pictures. I looked up Carmel beach, which according to Google Maps, just 3 miles away. I soon found out that I was in line to take the 17 mile scenic drive through Pebble Beach. Too late to turn around, we already found ourselves in front of a Ranger and paying our $10.25 entry fee. So we paid, rcvd a driving map and was on our way. It's these types of moments on a road trip that can make it fun and exciting. As long as you have a good attitude and not worry about time, then all experiences will be a good one! Back to the 17 mile drive, or should I say a drive next to amazing coastlines , beaches, golf courses and mansions! The kids, my mom and I had the best time stopping by almost every beach, taking pictures and being silly in the sand. It was the best moments I had with them on the trip.
I can't believe I survived a three day road trip with my mom, kids and without a husband- but it was totally worth it and I would most definitely do it again. I cherish moments like these and will use this trip as an inspiration for design in future projects and to help remind myself that life is incredibly fast and short, so make the best use of it! Until next time!! Road Wariror- Valerie