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We did a road trip from San Francisco to Orange County when Milana was 2 years old. We flew to San Francisco and drove down the coast, exploring many places on the way. Our fist stop was San Francisco, where we did our favorite things-visit Dolores Park to go on the big slides and eat crab at the Crab House on Pier 39. We stayed at Hotel Nikko, which was one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed at and we got it for a steal on Priceline!
The upside of not having a picky eater is we can go anywhere and she will always eat what we are having. Crab and shrimp are some of her favorites!
Our next stop was Monterey. Another Priceline score, the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. Monterey/Carmel is one of our favorite areas to explore. On this trip, we just mainly hung around Cannery Row. Bargetto Winery has a tasting room there, and the Monterey location has a small play area for kids which was great so we can sample wines and Milana was entertained.
One of our favorite restaurants ever is the Mission Ranch in Carmel. I highly recommend you don’t skip this if you’re in town!
After Monterey, we headed South to Pismo Beach, where we stayed at the SeaCrest Ocean Front Hotel (also from Priceline). The location of this hotel was excellent, with the beach just below the hotel. It was surprisingly warm in December, so we spent some time enjoying the beach.
We also drove around the area and checked out some of the wineries in San Luis Obispo.
One of our favorite restaurants in Pismo Beach is the Cracked Crab. You order by the pound and they basically dump a bag of food on your table. So good!
After Pismo Beach, we headed to Solvang for the day. Solvang is a Danish village, filled with authentic restaurants and bakeries. We stopped at Ostrich Land, where you can feed the birds. Those things are brutal, they should be paying you to feed them!
We also stopped at Pea Soup Andersens, to try the famous pea soup which wasn’t that great!
On to Solvang. Such a cute little town! We walked around for a few hours and checked out the local stores and bakeries. You can’t visit Solvang without trying aebleskiver. These are traditional Danish pancakes, served with jam and powdered sugar.
After Solvang, we headed to our next destination-Santa Barbara. SB is one of our very favorite cities to visit.
Our favorite restaurant in SB is Palazzio, we visit it every time we go to SB. It’s so hard to find good Italian food on the West coast and this place doesn’t disappoint. The portions are HUGE, so ordering one entree for a family of 4 is more than enough!
They give you these garlic knots when you first arrive:
Caprese, also family size:
Best pasta ever, tre formaggio amadora:
Penne with roasted Italian sausage:
For breakfast the next day, we went to CrushCakes, which was really good. We had the bread pudding:
And the breakfast burrito:
After breakfast, we drove down the coast and stopped in Malibu for lunch at the Malibu Seafood Company . The views here are great, it’s just across the street from the ocean.
After Malibu, we headed home. This trip is totally doable with kids and so much fun to stop at all the places along the way. You can drive as much or as little as you want, we had no itinerary and just booked our hotel on Priceline where ever we ended up stopping that day.