Southern California Coast: Family Road Trip
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Spring is here and it's time to find some sun! Maybe you've been cooped up in a house taking care of kids or suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Your skin is dry, your lips are cracked, and you've got cabin fever. Time to get outside! As a Florida girl, I say if it's mere sunshine you want, head on over to my home state for lazy days on the beach. BUT, if you're looking for a family adventure in the sun, Southern California is where to go! SoCal has beaches, outdoor fun, hip landmarks, and the most gorgeous sunsets. Whether you've only got a weekend or 2 weeks, here's a possible road trip destination itinerary for you and your fam!
San Diego---> Los Angeles---> Santa Monica Pier---> Channel Islands Natl Park
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START HERE: San Diego (3-7 days recommended)
Fly or drive into San Diego, California to begin your family road trip. There is seriously so much to do! For more specifics on San Diego with kids, check out my upcoming blog post in the Travel Guides section. If you're traveling to San Diego with the family, you cannot miss the San Diego Zoo! As in, it is a MUST! It's the theme park of zoos and you won't regret it. Balboa Park, located next to the zoo, is another option if you and the kids are into museums. But, remember, you came all this way to see the SUN! #optoutside I suggest venturing out to hike at Torrey Pines State Park or plan a beach day (or two or three) at the groovy and very family friendly Ocean Beach. PS- Ocean Beach (known as OB) has an ocean side dog park! Bring your furry friends.
Pictured below: (1) looking at the map at the San Diego Zoo (2) hiking at Torrey Pines State Park with our kid carrier hiking backpack (3) hanging out watching the sunset at Ocean Beach Pier
NEXT: Los Angeles (1-2 days recommended)
I'm not a big fan of L.A., maybe it's just me. But, the traffic is horrendous, all the attractions are far apart and it's a bit (*cough* A LOT) superficial. I just don't understand the hype. But, it is worth a stop even if only for a day. You could of course stop and see the famous tourist sites: the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Warner Bros Studios, or Rodeo Drive. But I suggest driving up to The Griffith Observatory. It's a great place to take the kids and the views are stellar. Admission to the building and grounds are FREE. I repeat FREE! Although, the planetarium show is an additional fee. It's the best place to see the famous Hollywood sign and there are numerous hiking trails that begin at the observatory. Pack that hiking backpack!
A visit to Venice Beach is also a suggested add-on to your LA stop. You can meander through the Venice canals, visit the TOMS flagship store at the super hip Abbot Kinney Blvd, watch the surfers hit the waves, bike down the ocean walk, and snap an Instagram-worthy pic of the Venice Beach sign at sunset.
Pictured below: (1) Visiting the TOMS Flagship store on Abbot Kinney Blvd with my son and a friend (2) The view of LA from Griffith Observatory (3) Mason and his cousins at the Griffith Observatory
THEN: Santa Monica Pier (1-2 days recommended)
This may be one of my favorite places EVER! That salty air, those gorgeous beach views, the playfulness of Pacific Amusement Park. Not quite sure how this totally stole my heart but I can't wait to go back. The Santa Monica Pier is a historical landmark, most people could recognize that famous ferris wheel. So, as a result it's crowded, as in people everywhere. But, it's still a must-see with your little ones. Your kids won't give a hoot about the significance of this place but they will have a blast on the amusement park rides. Enjoy an ice cream together, eat funnel cake, have fun! Stay overnight and add in a beach day and a drive to Malibu. Quintessential California.
FINALLY: Channel Islands National Park (1 day)
This place. This most magnificent place! My husband and I talk about this hike on Santa Cruz Island ALL THE TIME, that's how memorable it was. Channel Islands National Park is only accessible by ferry (reservations needed in advance). Even the boat ride is an experience. We saw a pod of dolphins and lots of seabirds on our ferry trip over.
Now, imagine this. You're dropped off by the ferry at 9am and not picked up again until 5pm. For the day, the only agenda item is hiking and exploring this desolate (and breathtaking) island. Even though there are other hikers and campers, we spent most of the day, just the three of us, walking around in awe. We hiked 7 miles by the end of the day and our son slept so well!
Something important to note, this island is a carry in/carry out park so there are no trashcans, only outhouses for bathrooms, and no food. PACK REALLY WELL!
PS: DO NOT FORGET YOUR CAMERA!
A Driving Route: San Diego to Channel Islands
Southern California Coastal Drive
Does this get you pumped to see that California sunshine? Make a plan and drive on out to the west coast for some family fun. Have any questions about this route? Ask below...
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Many Blessings and Happy Travels,