Sheena's west coast road trip!
Published: 27 July 2017
We loved our recent family road trip to California and then onto Las Vegas, Nevada. We were super excited to be exploring places we had dreamt of for so long! Since we were traveling with our 21month old twins, we used an agent called Audley Travel to help us put together our 19 day, child friendly itinerary. They were great and worked with us until we were happy.
What a gorgeous city!
Cycling over the Golden Gate bridge with the babies in tow was a bucket list tick for us. A wonderful experience. Overall this was a 3.5 hour round trip - but worth it for the incredible views and experience alone.
Exploring Fisherman's Wharf, the famous Ferry building that hosts a great farmers market, Alcatraz, Union Square and a day visit to Sonoma Wine Valley were among our top things to do in the city! We highly recommend going to Mamas and Zazies for their brunch too - the pancakes and french toast were well worth the hour long queue!
San Francisco is very hilly and google maps doesn't always point this out. Make sure you have comfortable footwear and carry lots of water to keep hydrated! Also, if traveling with young babies, it's best to hire a car with a car seat right from the off! Unlike the UK, taxis over there are reluctant (due to the laws of the city) to take any young children without car seats, even from the airport.
Heading south out of San Fran, we drove 2.5 hours via the coastal route 1 to Monterey Bay which was great. An easy drive and so scenic, with lots of places to pull over to get those special photos. Monterey Bay has a world famous aquarium with some fantastic displays of marine wildlife which our toddlers loved. Well worth a visit. We also did the 17 mile drive in the afternoon which was fantastic, with some great scenery and spectacular vistas.
After a night in Monterey, our next stop was Pismo Beach. It was a slightly misty day so unfortunately our photos were't the best but the drive was straight forward and the Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa where we checked in for a night was wonderful; boasting great views over the ocean. The rooms were huge with a fully serviced kitchen and living area too. We went to a local farm (Avila Valley Barn) where the kids had fun feeding the animals and we picked up some great fresh produce from the farm shop for dinner! There is also a great outlet mall nearby for designer brands at discounted prices.
We left the following morning and followed a mix of Route 101 and Route 1 headed to LA, stopping in Santa Barbara on the way for a coffee and stroll! Our next stop was in the smart coastal town of Malibu for lunch at Nobu which was one of the best meals we had. The location was great and it was certainly 'the place to be' with a buzzing and vibrant atmosphere and child friendly too! After sitting in some famous LA traffic, we finally reached our hotel in the afternoon where we checked in for the next 4 days. The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, the famous Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica pier were the highlights for us. We loved the city but were grateful we had a car as everything was very spread out, certainly not a fully walkable city!
Our final leg of the journey was a 4 hour drive to Las Vegas. What a crazy and wonderful place this is! My husband and I were lucky enough to have the grandparents join us for this leg, so we also got to enjoy some evenings out. The buzz of Las Vegas, for us was incomparable to anywhere else in the world! We watched a show called Le Reve in our hotel (the Wynn) which was fantastic and also had a bit of a gamble at some of the famous Vegas casinos. Another bucket list tick for us was a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon - stopping and having lunch inside was incredible.
The west coast was a great road trip for us and has something for everyone (especially for budding photographers, if you're taking the coastal route). We found it very child friendly and would highly recommend it. If we had more time we would have included Yosemite National park and a visit to San Diego!