Friday, February 26, 2021

SLO, Avila and Pismo Weekend Trip

We needed a change of scenery a few weeks back and decided to take a trip to SLO/Pismo Beach area. There are tons of great Airbnb locations here, but we wanted a pool so we went through to stay at the Best Western Royal Oak which is near the Madonna Inn.

SLO is family friendly. 
* Bubblegum Alley might be the strangest tourist attraction you come across. 

* The Maino Open Space has 2 kid friendly hikes, both about 2.5 miles. They are both considered moderate, however the Lemon Grove Loop is the easier of the two. The M trail loop leads you to the large M on the hillside and requires gaining more altitude. They both take you through the historic lemon grove. The trails are closed after heavy rain because they are too muddy.

Historic Lemon Grove

Lemon Loop

M Loop

The View of the City

*Apple picking at SLO Creek Farms. Review

Apple Picking 

SLO Creek Farm

*Restaurants: High Street Deli is an awesome sandwich place with the best lettuce wrap job I have seen. 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have one in SB. Tahoe Joe's is a good steakhouse (also a chain but a fav of my in laws). Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). Doc Burnsteins is the place to go for ice cream. 

High Street Deli

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: SLO Children's Museum

Avila Beach is home to the hot springs.
* Avila Valley Barn is fun with hay and pony rides (not currently operating). You can feed farm animals and buy sweets. It is especially fun at Halloween and Christmas.  Review

Avila Valley Barn

Feeding the Animals

Pony Rides

Christmas Tree Lots

* You can soak in natural hot springs at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. While you can stay overnight, they can also be rented by the hour. It is a bit stinky but relaxing. You can also swim or soak at Avila Hot Springs and this is a cheaper night's stay. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Central Coast Aquarium, the hike to the Port San Luis Lighthouse and Avila Beach

Pismo has many sights to see for families.
Pismo Monarch Preserve traditionally has more butterflies than the Goleta one and it has the bonus that if you follow the nature path you walk out to the dunes for a great nature walk (we looped back along the beach--no ATVs here-- and it was still less than 2 miles). There are no docents there right now, but they recorded their info for field trips and such.

Butterfly Area

Butterfly Area 

Path to the Coast (Boardwalk)


Dinosaur Caves Park is a great park with a unique playground for all kids (it may merit its own post someday). There are many climbing areas, swings, a merry-go-round and a spinning dome (like at Wallis Park). 

Climbing Areas

Climbing Web


Dino Eggs

Elmer Ross Beach is a tiny beach that can be amazing at low tide! We walked down toward the Inn at the Cove just before low tide and saw a wonderland of crabs, sea anemones, hermit crabs, and a few sea urchins.



Sea Anemone

*Restaurants: Mo’s Barbeque is tasty and met our need for barbecue (since Santa Barbara is lacking). 5 Guys is a chain, but its a great burger and we don't have a location in SB. We really wanted to try House of the Rising Buns for sandwiches, but they were out of bread. 

* Places we would like to visit post-COVID: Pismo Pier and Promenade complete with a surrey ride and the Pismo Preserve (this is closed on the weekends for now). 

Other spots nearby
* Oceano has the Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville Review (currently closed). It is truly campy, but fun with 3 acts (normally a melodrama--boo, hiss, cheer--in two parts, then the song and dance vaudeville review). Oceano also  has the Rock and Roll Diner is in a train car (food is meh, but the location is unique).
* Arroyo Grande has chickens roaming in Centennial Park and Heritage Square Park with a walking bridge in between. And another Doc Burnsteins on Branch Street. There is the amazing ice cream, but also a huge train set all around the upper interior. There is also Mustang Water Park (currently closed). 
* If you are willing to drive a bit further north, the Elephant Seals in San Simeon are worth it especially in December through March. 

Related Posts:
Avila Valley Barn
SLO Creek Farms
Easy Day Trips

Friday, January 1, 2021

Best Parks for Big Kids

San Miguel Open Space

When I started the blog 5 years ago, I had a 1.5 year old and a not-quite 5 year old.  They were always happy to go to the park. Nowadays, they are 7 and 10--parks are not as exciting as they once were, but they still need to get out to run around (especially since parks are one of the things we can do these days.) What parks are good for bigger kids? These ones are 10 year old approved.

Santa Barbara
Alameda Park (Kid's World)
Bohnett Park
Chase Palm (Shipwreck Park) 

Wallis Park (Goleta Skatepark)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Nature Walks and Kid-Friendly Hikes

Carpinteria Bluff Preserve

I was asked to share over on Instagram for Santa Barbara Community Children's Ministry a couple times this year about focusing on what we can do, a conversation with my kids I had recently and this week, nature walks and kid friendly hikes. Here is the list of nature walks and hikes I mentioned there. 

Toddler Hikes (Nature Walks) 
Tucker's Grove (trail behind the playground)

Simple Hikes 
San Antonio Creek Trail at Tucker's Grove

Hikes for Older Kids (our To Do list)
Inspiration Point (off Tunnel Trail)

Monday, December 14, 2020

Snapshot Fall 2020


It has been such a weird year and I hope y'all are hanging in there. It is time for the fall snapshot! 

Favorite New Product: In place of the new product I love, these are a few of my favorite things....... (some are affiliate links but I only recommend what I love). 

Leaf Necklace
Tassel Necklace

Riding Boots

For me: Feeling frumpy at home, I have been trying to add accessories to my outfits. This tassel necklace is a favorite and so are these leaf necklaces. These riding boots were my favorite Christmas present from last year. 

For kids: Being at home means that we have had a few pajama days and days where hair brushing was skipped. Yikes. This combing cream is our favorite for taking care of tangles. We also upgraded the kids skateboards and scooters. It was totally worth the money. 

Combing Creme



Balanced Life

For me: I have subscribed to the Balanced Life Pilates with Robin Long since 2017 and have done Pilates almost every day since school shut down. It is simple to find 15 minutes a day to spend time on my mat. 

Ipsy December Bag

Make Up Selections from November 2020

For me: In this strange year, I started to get the monthly Ispy bags which include makeup and beauty products to try. The products get better month by month as you review previous products.

Kids Cook Real Food

For the kids: This summer my kids learned cooking skill with Kids Cook Real Food . We will continue on over winter break. She also launched Kids Cook Solo designed for older kids to do almost entirely on their own! 

Life Hack: The research on gratitude indicates that it is good for physical and mental health as well as self esteem and even sleep. I have been trying to be more intentional about daily gratitude and hope to get a gratitude journal (like this one) off my wishlist for Christmas.  

Last Book I Finished: Circe is a story based on the Greek myth about the goddess Circe, daughter of Helios. She learns to use herbs and potions as a witch, getting herself exiled to an island for her work. Gods and people come and go through the generations. This time drags on (as it would if one were immortal, I suppose). Her life changes when Odysseus visits her island and changes the course of her life. I spent most of the story feeling like is was 2 stars with an unlikable character I had trouble caring about (although beautifully written). The story ends better than it stars though and I even came to like the character in the end. 

What we are eating today: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad! Thanks to my friend Hillary for introducing me to this one. Now we eat all kinds of quinoa salad and I version of this Mediterranean Salad is one of my kids favorite meal (truth--I wouldn't even try to convince you).

Related Links:

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Holiday 2020

Of course many activities have been cancelled this year, but there are many things still happening! 

In place of the Snow Leopard Festival (at the Santa Barbara Zoo), the zoo will be decorated for all of December with places for holiday photos. Seasonal treats available for purchase. (Zoo temporarily closed 12/7)
While there is no Candy Cane train this year at the South Coast Railroad Museum, the train recently reopened and is doing rides from 12-4 on Saturday and Sunday. (SCRM is closed as of 12/11)

Lights Tour: the Trolley of Lights Tour is different this year, but still happening from December 8 to 21. The Rockstar Trolley is also doing tours from December 5 to 24 (12/9 no change on the website.) Create your own lights tour yourself)Check out the light show house on Carslie, generally up by first weekend in December. 
Lane Farms Christmas Tree Lot has farm animals, tractors and a corn mazeNovember 27 to December 20th 10am-8pm (12/9 no change on the website.)
Snow will fall at Paseo Nuevo daily every half hour from 5pm-7:30 (November 27-December 31, except Christmas) (12/9 no change on the website.) 
By Date:
(12/9 no change on the website.)

You can reserve a spot to visit Santa at La Cumbre Plaza and take socially distanced pictures December 4-6, 11-13, 18-20 and 24 (11am-7/8pm except Christmas eve). (12/16 website--Santa Reservations happening.)
Santa will come to Hollister Village on December 12 from 11am-2pm and will take socially distanced photos (photos are free and printed onsite). There will also be carolers and an opportunity to write Santa. (12/9 no change on the website.)
Santa will also be at Paseo Nuevo on November 28 and 29 as well as December 19 and 20 from 12pm-6pm. Santa reads virtually to kids on Thursday at 11am (12/9 no change on the website.) 
Did I miss anything? What are you favorite local holiday traditions? Please feel free to message me through Facebook, Instagram or on the blog! 
Other Activity Ideas:
Choose toys to pass on to other kids 
Toys for Tots
Make a paper chain Christmas countdown
Make ornaments, maybe this one
Make Christmas cards for family 
Make nuts or cookies for the neighbors, one possibility Persimmon Bread 
Gingerbread houses 
Jesse tree ornaments and readings
Make hot cocoa and listen to Christmas music
Christmas movies (Elf, Muppets Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Creature Comforts Christmas Special, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Nutcracker, Charlie Brown Christmas)
What are your favorite Christmas activities? Tell us in the comments here or on Facebook or Instagram

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Veteran's and Memorial Day Activities CO-VID Style

When I mentioned the other day the Veteran's Day was coming up, my 7 year old asked if we could go to that walk with the plates with names of people. I was surprised that she remembered it so vividly!  There are 2 spots that I take my kids on Memorial Day and/or Veteran's Day to remember local service people. 

I covered the Eling's Park Veterans Memorial Walk on a different post, but in summary . There are plaques for the different wars and those from Santa Barbara County who lost their lives. It is a level path less than a mile with plaques for each year of the Vietnam War and then plaques for every war. 

All Wars Memorial

Walking Path

Veteran's Plaque

A second quicker option is a drive to the World War II Memorial by the airport.  The memorial is dedicated to the aviators who trained at the Santa Barbara Airport. The turn off for the memorial is just before long term parking (they also refer to it as the cell phone lot). You can watch planes take off and land here. We once brought a picnic and caused airport security to sit in their truck just over the fence from us. A little known fact is that many of the streets around here are named after these aviators: David Love, William Moffett and James Fowler, for example. 

Turn at the Sign and Park

WWII Memorial

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Election Resources

Today I found a 2018 post on Facebook where people shared their favorite election resources. While it is too late for 2020, I wanted to create a post so these resources are here in the future! These were gathered from my Facebook friends, so if you see your favorite one missing, please let me know!