Monday, July 17, 2023

The Great American Melodrama

The Great American Melodrama is a treasure located in Oceano just south of Pismo Beach. It is a 90 minute drive, but totally reasonable to go there for the show and back in a day. The format is generally a two act show with and intermission in the middle, then a musical song and dance section for the third act. The actors also servers during the intermission, singing every time you tip! Is is campy? Absolutely. Is it totally fun? Yes! My kids love it. We often make a day of it visiting the Avila Valley Barn, visit the monarchs, or go tidepooling at Elmer Ross Beach/visit Dino Caves Park. We also almost always enjoy Five Guys in Arroyo Grande or BBQ at Ribline in Grover Beach or Mo's Smokehouse in Pismo.

Cost: $26 and up for kids, $30 and up for adults (this is a treat)
Hours: W 7pm, Th 7pm, F 7pm, Sat 2pm and 7pm, Sun 6pm (they do have breaks between shows, so check their calendar!)
Time: 2.5 hours
Drive Time: 90 minutes
More Information:
Nearby: Monarchs, Tidepooling and more (see links above)
Directions: Take the 101N, take exit 182 N Thompson Ave. Turn left onto N Thompson Ave and continue on Los Berros Rd. Turn left onto Valley Rd, then right onto highway 1. Continue about 2 miles. Melodrama is on the right. There is a small parking lot or street parking. 

Related Posts

Summer of the Day Trips (2018)

Choose Your Own Adventure (2023)

Monday, June 19, 2023

Riding a Surrey


We went on a surrey ride as a family recently and had a blast. Since my kids are big, we chose the double bench model that can seat 6 people (plus 2 tiny kids in a child seat). We did the super tourist option and biked along the bike path to the bird refuge, then back to Leadbetter Beach.

Why it is a favorite: It was an activity we all could be part of and it involved the beach! 
Location: Multiple locations. We used Wheel Fun Rentals.

Directions: Heading south on the 101, exit Garden St and take a right onto Garden St. Turn right again on Yanonali St. Turn left on to Anacapa St and right onto Mason St.

Time Spent: 2 hours

Cost: Single Surrey $50 for 2 hours, Double Surrey $60 for 2 hours

Hours:Year Round-- M-TH 9am-5pm; F-SUN 9am-6pm

Parking: Street Parking limited nearby

Monday, June 12, 2023

Cold Springs Loop

Cold Springs Loop is a moderate trail for older kids or kids who love hiking. This one was another birthday request at my house. All Trails info helped us choose the loop over the East or West trail out and back.

Directions: Take the 101S to Cabrillo Blvd. Turn left onto Cabrillo, then take Hot Springs Rd at the roundabout.  Turn left onto Sycamore Canyon Rd and right onto Cold Spring Rd. Turn right onto Mountain Dr. Park near the trailhead around 811 E Mountain Dr. 

To hike the loop, take the East Cold Spring Trail to where it meets the Ridge Trail and follow the Ridge Trail back to the start. The end is very steep coming down and some people prefer to do that at the beginning. I liked starting with the section in and around the creek.

Trail Rating: Difficult for toddlers and kids not used to hiking, Moderate for others
Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours round trip
Nearby attractions: Hot Springs Trail 

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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Choose Your Own Adventure!


This blog recently turned 8 (what?!) years old! We have covered a lot of territory from parks to beaches (twice) to day trips to museums to nature trails to hikes to family vacations and even some recipes along the way. Traditionally we pick a theme and try to do a whole list of ideas on that theme. Last year my idea didn't fly. My kids are getting older (almost 13 and almost 10) and are less on board with my ideas (plus we have done a lot more camps post COVID days), so I am switching it up a bit. I have only blogged about things I do with my kids and I want to keep it that way. So for 2023 I am picking and choosing ideas from past years that we didn't get to. We did make it to all the parks as well as all the beaches from Haskell's to Miramar but most of the other's years lists had some things we missed. I am planning to let my kids take turns choosing from this long list this summer when we have time to adventure together. Or maybe they will choose things from the Kids Choice list in 2021. I may even ask my not-quite-13 year old to write a post.  I am holding this loosely, like a lot of things right now. 

Cold Springs Loop (From 2022 Hikes)

From 2017 Nature Walks
Wind Tunnels at Gaviota State Park
Cheltham/Westmont Trail
Allan Road Footpath
Ortega Hill Loop
Ennisbrook Trail

From 2018 Day Trips
Lake Casitas Water Park got a facelift! 
Canzelle Alpacas
Pump It Up (Ventura)
Marina Park (Ventura)
Ventura Aquatic Center
Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch (Santa Ynez)
La Purissima Mission

Seein Spots Farm

From 2019 Museums
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Rancho La Patera & Stow House
Santa Barbara Carriage and Western Arts Museum
Santa Barbara Historical Museum (El Presidio)
Ablitt House
Bellosguardo Estate
Casa del Herrero
Casa Dolores
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
Reagan Ranch Center
Ridley Tree Museum of Art (Westmont College)
Santa Barbara Art Museum (UCSB)
Santa Barbara Surfing Museum
Santa Barbara Veterans Museum
Susan Quinlan's Doll & Teddy Bear Museum
UCSB Multicultural Center
Elveroj Museum of History and Art
Guadelupe-Nipomo Dunes Center
Guadelupe Cultural Arts Center
La Purissima Mission
Santa Maria Museum of Flight
Santa Maria Valley Historical Railway Museum
Wilding Art Museum

From 2020 Beaches Part 2
Rincon Beach
Sandyland Beach Adding
Padaro Beach  Adding
Loon Point Beach *  Adding
Finney Beach *Adding  
Summerland Beach Adding  
Gaviota Beach

From 2021 Kid's Choice
Lompoc Aquatic Center
Art from Scrap

From 2022 Hikes
Gaviota Wind Caves 
Lizards Mouth 
Tangerine Falls 
Lizards Mouth
Rattlesnake Canyon
Parma Park
San Ysidro falls
Seven Sisters
Skofield Park
Tunnel Trail
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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Greatest Hits

 Based on the Blogger data, here are the greatest hits (most viewed posts), several with over 1000 views! 

* 1. Birthday Freebies A non-parent friend found this recently and told me, "you're famous!" 😂

2. Visiting Zion, Bryce, North Rim Grand Canyon was part of the National Park with Kids series! 

3. Park with Baby Swings is one of many lists of parks. Another summer favorite is Parks with Shade!

* 4. Where To Go First needs an update, but it is a good place to start.

5. Extensive Park List was the master list for Summer of the Parks  


6. Parks with 2-5 Year Play Structures is helpful as is the partner Parks with 5-12 Year Play Structures!

7. Summer of the Day Trips was our 2018 quest.

8. Hilda McIntyre Ray was the park that got my park idea going. I grew up less than a mile from here and did not know it was there! 

9. Santa Barbara Blueberries should be opening soon!

10. Kid Friendly Hikes and Nature Walks was a staple during COVID days. It was our quest in 2017 too.

11. Bella Vista was the first park I blogged about!

12. Truly Toddler Friendly Parks was so helpful when my littlest started walking, then immediately running.

13. Parks with Bathrooms is helpful for all you pregnant and potty training mamas.

14. Tierra Del Fortuna is an Isla Vista treasure and get in summer when parking is easier.

* 15. Other Goleta Parks has some out of the way suggestions, but the info on Winchester Parks is out of date.

* 16. Pool Options for Santa Barbara has some free or low cost pool options.

17. Nojoqui Falls is an easy hike and probably has a lot of water this year!

* 18. Summer Check List was an idea list for me when my kids were 7 and 4!

19. Upper Manning  Park has a toddler friendly area and Lower Manning has a great climbing space.

20. Hidden Valley was one of our toddler favorites that my kids have outgrown.

21. Scooter Parks list was helpful when my kids scootered and rode bike in the park!

22. Parks for Siblings is helpful if you have multiple kids. Mine were a and 6 when this was written.

23. Summer of the Beaches was our quest in 2016 and we visited more beaches in 2020!

24. Sunny Fields is a fun park for a day trip in Solvang!

25. Summer of the Parks was our first quest in 2015!

* This one needs an update which I hope to do soon!

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Top Ten Posts So Far 2019

Indoor Play Areas 

Carpinteria Salt Marsh and Carpinteria Bluff Preserve

Pacific View Mall

San Miguel Open Space

Friday, April 28, 2023

Vacation Bible School 2023

Vacation Bible School offerings vary from summer to summer.  This is what I have found online so far. All ages are the ages children will be in this fall. If your church plans to do VBS this summer, forward me the info so I can add it!

June 12-16 9am-12pm Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21
Phone: 805-730-1400 Ages: Kinder to 6th grade Price: $80 Register at:

June 19-23 8:45-12 CEF Adventure Club at various trails in Santa Barbara
Ages: 10-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info:

June 19-21 9-12 Ignite Sports Camp (No Noah Camp) Montecito Covenant Church 671 Cold Spring Rd, Montecito Phone: (805) 969-0373 Ages: 1st-6th grade Price: $75 Register at:

June 19-23 9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195    Register: (Waitlist)

June 26-30 9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195    Register: 


July 3-7 9am-12pm CEF Lego Camp Location: Calvary Baptist Church, 736 Islay St. Ages: 5-12 Price: Free Register at: More Info:

July 5-7  9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195

July 10-14  9am-2pm Victory Surf Camp at Santa Claus Beach (Calvary Chapel SB at 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21 Phone: 805-730-1400) Games, Crafts, Bible Study and Worship Ages: 2nd-6th grade Price: $195 (Waitlist)

July 17-21 CEF Soccer Camp 9am-12pm CEF Soccer Camp at Kellogg Elementary School, 475 Cambridge Drive Ages: 5-12 Price: Free Register at:

I couldn't find info for camp at Ocean Hills, Reality or Trinity Lutheran. I am sure I missed something so feel free to comment below or message me through Facebook at

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Pinnacles National Park


Spring break 2023 we visited Pinnacles National Park! It is only 3.5 hours away, making it an easy destination. It is north-west of King City. The closest hotel accommodations and restaurants are in King City, but camping in the park makes it much more affordable and means you can get the best parking early in the morning before the crowds hit. The best time to visit the park is in spring or fall because summer can be hot (and some of the trails are partially closed in summer). There are 2 parts to the park which do not connect by road (but you could hike it). East Pinnacles has the campground and most of the trails.

The campground has tent cabins and tent sites. We stayed in a cabin which did have electricity, 3 cots and a heater/fan. It was chilly at night the week we were there (low of 29 degrees the first night!). We stayed for 3 full days and 4 nights, coming in late the first night. This was longer than necessary to see the park! I would recommend 2 days and you could get the highlights in 1 day.

Kid friendly trails include (listed in recommended order):
Bear Gulch Trail (East Pinnacles, 1.5 mile loop and connects to other trails):  This moderate trail goes through caves where bats nest and mate. We never saw bats but hiking through the cave was my 9 year old's favorite part of the trip. Bring headlamps or flashlights for the cave.

Condor Gulch Overlook Trail (East Pinnacles, out and back 1.8 total): This moderate trail leads to an overlook where you can look down on the condors!

Balconies Cliffs-Cave Loop (West Pinnacles, 2.4 mile loop): This loop trail goes through the cave, but there was too much water when we were there to enter safely. This hike is only reached from the east by a longer rim hike or a drive 65 mile (1 hour, 20 minute) since there was rain in the forecast we ate lunch in King City and hiked, driving back while it was raining.

Other Attractions:
Junior Ranger Program: We did not find any talks or places to visit a ranger, but downloaded the booklet to complete and send in.

Bear Gulch Nature Center was closed when we were there, but it looks like an interesting spot. It is located near the entrance to the Bear Gulch trail (Moses Spring Parking Area).

There is a viewing area for condors in the campground.

West Pinnacles Ranger Station looked big and modern but was only open on the weekend when we were there. (Although we read about an East Pinnacles ranger station, it was a store with someone to answer basic questions and had no displays.)