On the back roads of Santa Barbara County, over San Marcos Pass and down a side road named, appropriately, Stagecoach Road, lies a piece of Old West history.  Preserved and yet polished, Cold Springs Tavern was originally a stagecoach rest stop on the lonely road from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but is now a destination for delicious food, drink and live music. Taking a turn off the modern 4-lane concrete highway 154 that snakes from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos, Stagecoach Road gets smaller and begins to wind around the hills like the original stagecoach road it was.  At the bottom of the arroyo, it winds by a collection of buildings dating from the 1860s, which have been maintained to look much like they did at that time.  The road was completed in 1870 and in use up until 1901. We try to visit Cold Springs every time we’re in the area, as there’s just nothing…Continue Reading
Intertidal Wonders touch pools
Whenever we visit Santa Barbara, we never miss an opportunity to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.   Located on Stearns Wharf, what this sea center may lack in size it makes up for in quality. Upon entering the exhibits kids can look at and crawl through a 1,500-gallon tidepool tank.  It’s up close and beautiful, filled with local creatures. Our twins loved the Shark Cove exhibit where they were invited to gently touch coastal sharks and rays.  They were fascinated by the baby sharks, which can be seen inside their translucent eggs. At the Intertidal Wonders exhibit, you can touch and feel sea anemones, starfish and hermit crabs.  Trained naturalists stand by to engage and answer questions.  Our boys really enjoyed this hands-on experience. Our teen was quick to head upstairs to the dimly lit and beautiful “Jellies & Friends” exhibit.  Black lights glow through tanks full of these gorgeous creatures as they move slowly through the…Continue Reading
Santa Barbara must be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.  We love the Spanish revival architecture, beaches lined with palm trees, amazing cuisine, and of course the laid-back California vibe.  We lived in Santa Barbara in the 1990s and we still have family there, so we get to return regularly.  It’s always exciting to visit and so very hard to leave. We spent a week there this winter, which is out of the peak tourist season in summer, but the weather was very moderate.  There were no crowds and getting into restaurants was easy. We stayed at The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, which is a wonderful family (and pet) friendly hotel.  Located across the street from the beach and within walking distance from the pier, it’s in a perfect spot.  The resort has some great restaurants and relaxing pools! ” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]  Running through the middle of Santa…Continue Reading
One of our favorite things to do in Los Angeles is visit the LA County Museum of Art, or LACMA.  So when we arrived in LA, we decided to take the boys to LACMA, and we were pleasantly surprised to find an exhibit featuring one of our favorite movie directors: Guillermo del Toro, of Pan’s Labyrinth and Crimson Peak fame. Wall-size photo of Guillermo Del Toro’s home, Bleak House Entitled “Monsters at Home”, the exhibit is an ode to creepy and scary in all its forms.  Del Toro has been collecting movie props, costumes, paintings, books, artwork, and more for many years, and turned his LA home (“Bleak House’) into a sort of museum for them all, pictured above in a wall-size photo that Miles is standing in front of. Character from Pan’s Labyrinth Someone at LACMA saw this remarkable collection, and together with del Toro they designed a museum show to share…Continue Reading
After visiting with Jen’s parents in Cayucos, it was time for our annual family trip with Rich’s family.  This year the choice was the stunning Catalina Island, a jewel of an island only 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.  Catalina is one of the eight Channel Islands, and the only inhabited one, known for its “Old California” vibe and well-maintained Art Deco architecture.  The island became popular in the 1920s as a playground for Hollywood, and the Wrigley family famously built mansions and the “Casino”. Getting There Unless you have a private plane or boat, the best way to get there is by taking The Catalina Express, which runs from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point to the port of Avalon.  The boats are comfortable with air conditioning, bathrooms, and a snack bar.  The ride can be choppy so be ready if you are prone to motion sickness.  We have found that sitting outside…Continue Reading
After returning from Costa Rica we decided to spend some time in California visiting our family.  Our first stop was Cayucos for a little time with Grandma.  Cayucos is an adorable beach town on the central coast of California.  It’s a wonderful place for families, with beautiful beaches and a relaxed California vibe. We started the day off with an early lunch at Duckie’s Chowder House.  Duckie’s is a small casual restaurant by the Cayucos pier, serving up yummy chowder, fish and chips, fish tacos, bowls and burgers.  They have a to-go window, so you can grab lunch to eat on the beach.  We chose to sit down in the restaurant and enjoy a long lunch and a beer. The food was great!  We loved the clam chowder and the garlic fries. After lunch, the kids ran to a playground on the sand at Cayucos State Beach.  The beach is beautiful and it’s a great place to relax…Continue Reading
Sunset over the Pacific in Albion, CA, on the Mendocino Coast
  We survived our first long drive of the trip.  The drive from Tahoe to Albion was long and winding, but was well worth it when we finally took in this amazing coastline.  Our vacation rental is in a small housing development perched on a cliff overlooking the sea.  The neighbors are set back so it feels like our little house has the meadow to itself.  Deer are grazing in our yard and seagulls are perched on our deck.  It’s breathtaking! Fort Bragg We drove up the coast to Fort Bragg to shop and have lunch.  We decided to eat at a little fish and chips shack on the harbor.  The Sea Pal Cove is a small funky place surrounded by fishing boats.  It has a bit of an odor from the fishermen cleaning their daily catch but the fish couldn’t be fresher.  The seagulls attempted to steal Rich’s Salmon…Continue Reading
Tahoe Keys, South Lake Tahoe, CA
We rented out the house, packed our bags and are heading out on a family adventure.  Our destination is Europe but our first stop is our annual family vacation with my husband’s family in beautiful Lake Tahoe.  We have rented a house in the Tahoe Keys complete with speed boat, paddle boats and a kayak.  The kids are having a blast.  Rich and I are still recovering from our preparations, as moving the family household into one POD was quite the challenge.  It’s nice to sit back and relax while the kids play with their cousins.    We think Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in the United States.  It’s a wonderful place to visit year round with water sports in the summer, skiing in the winter and casinos year round.  Usually, we spend time on Tahoes’ north shore in Nevada.  But for this trip we choose…Continue Reading