California Break Down - Our Family Adventure Part 2
Day 1: (Thursday)
Family Day! Waking up in Hemet CA after a week circling the Grand Canyon we needed a down day. Laundry, food shopping and hanging at home! Family Dinner for the win!
Day 2: (Friday)
Wine tasting in Temecula CA 🍷
Mom’s Night Out: The Gas Lamp San Diego
Kids had movie night at home, Moms went out dancing! Enjoyed some good music and adult time. Stopped at several places to explore the strip with style and urban flare.
Day 3: (Saturday)
Stayed home, swam in pool, relaxed, BBQ 🍗
Prepared for the next day's big outing!
Day 4: (Sunday) - Family San Diego Day
Up Early, eat a good breakfast
Pack picnic lunch in cooler and drive to Balboa Park, San Diego
On Sundays, there is a free 2pm Open Air Organ Concert - Spreckles Air Organ this is magnificent to see!!
The pianist plays a mix of classical and new music for about an hour and this is sure to be a family hit!
Depending on how early you arrive at Balboa Park plan to see the following things before or after the air organ concert: Timken Museum of art, the Botanical Garden and the lily Pond are all free and great experiences for the family. The park is built with classical Spanish architecture and feels historical. There is much to see and do. Find a great spot in the grass to picnic and eat your packed lunch to save money. Eating here gets costly if you are feeding a family on a budget.
Drive over to the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge which hangs between two neighborhoods creating foot traffic. This cool stop is a bit out of the way but kids will love the engineering and hidden nature of it! Plus, it sways! Fun!!!
Bay Walk – Walk from Sea Port Village to Waterfront park
Hiking Trail: (for the more adventurous, skip if you are not wanting the added exercise) Hike the Ho Chi Minh Trail - .4 mikes to the beach very strenuous - 9883 La Jolla Farms Rd, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-1136
La Jolla – Mural Art Walk/ The Cove for some seal watching 🌊🌊🌊
Sunday (great public street parking, free + no time limit on Sundays!), park next to the La Jolla Open Air Market The mural locations map is on the website, download and go on a quest to find them all. The waves wash up on the jetty and the seals roll in with the water!
You could stay by the La Jolla water front enjoying the view and watching the seals for ANY length of time. To me, this is a trip highlight. The Seals are very entertaining, surfing the waves in and out of the Ocean, and waddling up and down the shore. They climb the rocks, sun bathe, and nurse right there just feet from the people. Touching them is illegal, and at no time did I see any seals actually touched.
In and out burger on the way home!
Day 5 - (Monday) – Temecula: Apple, Mall, Gin Sushi, Playto’s Closet
I should mention Southern Cali was having an unusually hot heat wave and was over 100 degrees on this day. It Could be a hang at home day, but we needed a trip to the Apple store, and the closest location was in Temecula. So we drove back over and walked around the mall. Went to Apple for a warrantee claim on some air pods, then stopped for Gin Sushi for late lunch. The food was delicious! It was about $100.00 to feed our family of 5, however it was the only cost of the day so we splurged a little! When leaving, we stopped by the local Playto’s Closet. This 2nd hand clothing shop truly had something for everyone. I bought some sandals. My 25, 23, and 14 year old all bought themselves some new shoes. My 16 year old got his first direct deposit from his job on this day and was happy to buy himself a couple of Cali Tee-shirts. But the GREAT prices for name brand items and stylish was just what we all needed!
Day 6 - (Tuesday) – 2nd Family Adventure to San Diego ! 🚙
Breakfast at home then leave by 9:00 AM
Something odd happened.... I reached out to a friend I know who is from Coronado to ask her what she would recommend we do while in that area -- and she said they just happened to be there visiting! So we planned to hang with our Florida Friends on the Beach in Coronado for the day! The more the merrier, it is always more fun with friends!
*1st stop - Coronado Beach
Rent a bike and go for a 1 hour ride to see Hotel Coronado, Coronado Bridge, and some pics of the San Diego sky line
Lay on beach
Explore the rocks and seashore
BE HAPPY (11:00 – 2:00) (bring cooler with fruit and bagels) -
We stayed longer than planned because the kids were enjoying their friends from home. They all got ice cream inside at the shop, and us moms even had a roof top coctail while the kids ran around and played on the rocks. It was an awesome afternoon!
*Cabrillo National Monument (at the Southern tip of Point Loma)
America The Beautiful National Park Annual Pass/ pay 10.00 per car
* Point Loma – Tide pooling, and history, old and new lighthouse (by the time we arrived we were too late for the Light House, looked like it would have been fun!)
Open until 5:00
Sunset at Sunset Cliffs - Picnic dinner on the rocks and climb down to the water to watch sun set
Sea World Fireworks Can be seen from Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach
Day 7 - (Wednesday) – Do what ever we want day – Last day in Hemet, relax 🛏🏝
(which means organize the suit cases, eat up all the food and get the laundry done)
Day 8 - (Thursday) - Head to Los Angeles!
Cathedral of our lady of the Angels (Culture and Art rolled into one impressive stop) - WOW! We paid for parking and walked by the symphony to spend an hour in this serene and magnificent church. It's like a museum and a monument in one.
Venice Beach (Wandered around, watched the skate boarders, did some of the obstacles and work out stations, enjoyed the view) Art. Music. Exercise. And the Pacific Ocean's majesty. We as a family were saddened to see an increase in the homeless population on this visit. There were ALOT of people needing help as we wandered, walked and shopped around.
Santa Monica Beach (We have been there before, so we wandered and did not ride the rides which have long waits)
Subway for dinner
The Aquaduct (My son wanted to stop and see how the system works - interesting for the engineers in the group!)
The Getty Center (We ran out of time and didn't make this stop. This would have been a great spot - we stayed longer at Venice Beach checking out the art and watching the skate boarders a little longer than planned)
Drive to Santa Maria
SLEEP at Granny Dee’s house!
Day 9 - (Friday) – Santa Maria- REST
Food shopping, Laundry, hang at home, family day – make S’mores and have ice cream sundae’s for dessert!
Day 10 - (Saturday) – Magic Mountain – Los Angeles 🕶👓🖼
Yes, we drove all the way back to LA, this was not in our original plan. However, on a previous trip half of the kids experienced the thrill of Magic Mountain and the temptation was wearing on us. My oldest son actually saw there were discounted tickets ($60/ each) and decided to splurge for the family. He treated us to this awesome park for the day. Our Cousins even drove over from Hemet to get a little more family time in! It was a last minute opportunity that made us all happy.
*Eat at Wendy’s which is close to the park – and not in the park! The food inside is super expensive! (I am not a fast food advocate – on this day we were really trying to get a fast start and didn’t have the chance to meal plan – if you can bring sandwiches and snacks that is preferable!)
*Lines are long, decide which roller coasters you MUST ride and plan accordingly, as the park is large you don’t want to spend time wandering back and forth.
*From the Teenagers: Ride Full Throttle at Night, and don’t miss Batman or The Riddler
Day 11 - (Sunday) – Santa Maria Day – Pismo Pier, Avila, and Morro Bay
Yes this is a lot of miles for one day, but since we went back to LA Saturday we were not willing to miss any of the stops on our wish list. We made the most of our last day in Central Cali and really wandered and sight saw. It was Super Windy and a little chilly. I was beginning to be sorrowful feeling the rush of an amazing trip coming to an end and didn’t want to miss one thing.
Each little neighborhood has it's own feel to it. We were glad to visit each and walk out to the water taking it all in. The Pismo Pier was grand! The surfers and the whole scene felt huge. The cliffs and mountain surroundings paint you into the moment.
The pier at Avila was literally swaying from the super windy gusts. Looking down at the wooden slats we could see Ocean below and it felt a bit scary! At Morro Bay we wandered the fishing village and ended up watching some seals and sea otters on a raft out in the bay. This was the first time I've seen sea otters in the wild and was a bucket list item for me. This was our last scenic stop and we drove back to Santa Maria slowly on the scenic roads. The colors and heights of Central California just bring you closer to God. It's hard to leave.
Day 12 - (Monday) – Back to LA - Fly out from LAX 3:00 (arrive by 12:30, return car, shuttle) ✈✈✈
Returning the car to FOX was easy. Much quicker than getting it! We put over 3,000 miles on this car in 18 days. Luckily, we did NOT pay for mileage. Flew home on Jet Blue, which was especially nice because we all watched free movies. When we landed in Orlando, we shuttled to our car and drove home. Arrived in Palm Bay Fl at 1:30 AM.
I would do this entire itinerary again just like this.
There were a few days we left later than planned but I was not making people crazy because I wanted everyone to be having a great time, and a crazy mom can blow a whole day. But designating the night before (who is helping pack coolers or do certain tasks) definitely made the mornings easier. Sometimes they even ate a bowl of cereal, prior to our “family breakfast” but what the heck we are on vacation! My compromise was not making everyone get up at 6 and out by 8 (as much as I would have loved that).
Stay where ever you are welcome
If your family is willing and able and welcoming, go spend that quality time. The best memories are made telling stories at night and camping out on the floor. Visit. Explore the available options to you. Authentic adventure is the best kind <3
Explore those areas you can get to!
We had family in Hemet and Santa Maria, but where ever you are located, enjoy the area! There were many more things we could have done locally these were just our choices. Talk to the locals and go to the more recommended spots. Find free parks or hiking trails that will put you outside in nature enjoying each other. No one remembers the times we all sat on the couch and scrolled on our phones. But getting out in nature raises your vibe and helps you in ways that are hard to explain. Fresh air and nature are healing.
Be good guests – Clean up, help around the house, be social, take personal time when needed but over all respect the home and rules that they have. Work out any necessaries beforehand. Our families have been coexisting for many summers together and know each other’s traits and habits so it was not completely crazy to go stay. We have lots of experience, which is why I say start traveling and visiting early. Open your home to family, and don’t be shy! Express your expectations so there are no surprises and plan accordingly. Quality time is truly a gift and our family can be our best resource.