Leaving Los Angeles

Day 12 – This morning, my six-year-old woke up feeling a bit better again. I was glad, as it was time to pack up all our belongings and hit the road. Again. But before we left, we had breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.

Disneyland Hotel

The food was plentiful and delicious, and we had an added bonus: Cinderella made an appearance during our meal! That really made Amber’s day. It really made my ten-year-old’s day to have a plate of cookies for “dessert of breakfast”!

Cinderella at Goofy's Kitchen Breakfast

After breakfast, we got the minivans, divvied up the kids, and got on the road. I had all the teens in my vehicle, and our first stop was going to be the city of Santa Barbara, the setting for the “Psych” television series. This is one of our favorite shows. Our route took us along Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, which was very beautiful. I definitely need to come back and drive more of this road! We went through Malibu, then up the Malibu Canyon Road, enjoying its sweeping views all the way.

We arrived in Santa Barbara. It’s a very picturesque place, with lots of red Spanish tile roofs and stucco buildings; and they have a lovely beach, too! We just drove around taking pictures, while I mentally added it to my “List of Places to Visit Again Someday”.

A Random Street in Santa Barbara

Then we were back on the road again. Our next stop would be in the town of Solvang, a quirky Danish city. Yes, in California. It was a quaint place, and we stopped for a late lunch at The Red Viking and a quick peek in a few stores before getting back on the road.

We finally made it to our destination for the day, Pismo Lighthouse Suites in Pismo Beach. Each of our families had a two room/two bath suite, and it was really nice to have lots of room to spread out! One thing we hadn’t counted on here: it was freezing cold at sundown! In late June! Grab the sweaters, kids! We got settled in, and called it a day.

Day 13 – Today, we enjoyed the free breakfast at our hotel. It included waffles, pastries, fruit, yogurt, boiled eggs, cereal, milk, assorted juices, and hot beverages. It was plenty to start our day. The only shortcoming of the breakfast was a lack of indoor seating. There was outdoor seating, but at 9:00am in Pismo Beach, it was still freezing outside! So we ate our shivery breakfast, and it started warming up shortly afterward.

This hotel is very family-friendly. They have a large outdoor game area with ping pong, badminton, checkers, chess, and a few holes of mini golf. The kids loved this, and it was a perfect low-key activity after so many days of theme parks.

Mini Golf at Pismo Lighthouse Suites

Checkers at Pismo Lighthouse Suites

After everyone had a turn playing games, it was time to find another activity. We took the kids to a place called Dinosaur Caves Park. This is a wonderful area – there’s a playground with restroom facilities, lots of walking trails, scenic overlooks, and stairs where you can walk down the bluff to a rocky beach area.

Dinosaur Caves Park

This beach is known as a great place to find “sea glass“, which is something I had never heard of. We actually found some, and the kids were really excited about it! They also loved finding round stones that had been polished smooth by the ocean. (“Mom, look at this rock!”) This was a totally FREE activity, and the kids had so much fun.

Then it was time for lunch. We chose a little place called Zorro’s Cafe and Cantina, in Shell Beach. We were eating at an odd time, so the place was pretty empty. Most of us had an assortment of Mexican food, and WOW it was all so good! If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely eat here. The salsa, chips, beans, rice, quesadillas, tacos… everything was fantastic, and we all ate too much.

After lunch, I took my little one back to the hotel for a nap (she’s feeling better, but still not 100% yet) and some of the others went back to hunt for more sea glass.

Later, Gina and I, and her oldest daughter decided to go check out the sand dunes that we heard are here in Pismo Beach. We plugged the destination into the map, but when we got there, we saw a big sign saying to have your papers ready, permits only, fines and fees… that sort of stuff. We figured we were in the wrong place, so we turned around and tried a different destination on the map. That one ended up with us at a horse stable and RV park. Not easily deterred, we tried yet another destination.

This one led us out of town, on twisty roads, past some sort of factory, and on through several miles of farmland. We only passed tractors on what was becoming a smaller and smaller road. Hmmm, I’m thinking maybe this isn’t a big tourist destination where we’re headed. There was a weird haze in the air, and our road was positively desolate. It was getting downright creepy, but we weren’t giving up! We eventually ended up in a small parking lot with a couple other cars, at some kind of trail head. This was the sign:

Parking Rules

Gina’s daughter pointed out that the sign sort of resembled a ransom note. Yes, we were pretty creeped out by now. We saw a lady coming off the trail, and asked her if we could see the dunes here. She said yes, but it would be a bit of a hike. She gave us directions, and we headed happily to the trail. There we saw this:

Poison Oak Sign

Okay, we won’t go off the trail. No problem. Then we walked a little farther and saw this one:


All righty then.

So we continued on down the pathway, making lots of noise and trying to look big. Also, the sun was starting to set, and it was getting really cold. This was becoming the most ridiculous outing ever!

Then we came to a clearing with this sign:

Mountain Lions

But darn it, we’d come this far already, we weren’t turning back! So we plodded on, freezing cold, making noise, looking big, and listening for growling sounds. After spooking ourselves more times than I can count, and after basically being sandblasted as we got close to the coastline, we were rewarded with an incredibly pristine beach.

Beach via Oso Flaco Lake

It was beautiful, and totally worth it.

Then we hot-footed it out of there! Time to call it a night.

My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a travel planner with Travel with the Magic. Like the Travel with the Magic page on Facebook, and follow me on Pinterest to see more of our trip.

It’ll either be fabulous or awful, but it’s bound to be interesting!