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  • Writer's pictureShayna Gaman-Bean

Which Coast is the Best Coast? A Very Spring Break Road Trip Down the Cali Coast

"You could travel the world, but nothing comes close to the golden coast." ~Katy Perry



The inspiration for this trip: We have 2 big trips planned for this summer, so we wanted to do something a little simpler for spring break. In addition, we only had 5 days thanks to Aidan's basketball schedule and my work schedule. I really wanted to check out a couple new National Parks and had started with looking at King's Canyon and Sequoia, but then I got a little worried about the potential for snow. So we started looking at Pinnacles which seemed perfect. Then I thought it would be fun to head down to Santa Barbara to visit my old stomping grounds as I went to school at UCSB. Throw in a little Big Sur and here's how it all went down:


Day 1:


We got a little bit of a late start because Aidan had 2 basketball games this morning. We grabbed lunch and were on the road a little after noon.


First stop was Pinnacles National Park. We started with our traditional sign pic.



Then headed to find some hiking. We didn’t have much time here and we were winging it a little bit so we headed to Bear Gulch Caves Trailhead. This made for a perfect hike to the caves.














The entrance to the caves was terrifying.






We hiked a little over 2 miles then headed out to find dinner. We saw a bunch of deer on the way out, one that was almost white in color.



We headed to Hollister for dinner at Running Rooster. It was good, but my goodness so expensive!!


The sunset was amazing!



Then off to our hotel in Big Sur, Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur State Park. We arrived super late, after 2200 and crashed hard.


Day 2:


We slept in and when we woke up we finally got a good look at the beautiful forest we had slept in.



We made it back to the main lodge to officially check in and get breakfast at the restaurant. Food was good, but they were a little slow because of short staffing. Then got some souvenirs and then headed out to the coast.



We explored as much of highway 1 as we could as a large portion is still closed.








We stopped for some pics of all the beautiful views in the Big Sur area including the waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.



Then to the Bixby Bridge.




California is just stunning this time of year!!



Then we headed on to Carmel for Lunch at Pangaea Grill. Then treats at All About the Chocolate and coffee.



And then a walk to the beach to let the kids play for a little bit.



Then onward to Santa Barbara.


We stopped for dinner in SLO at Black Sheep Bar and Grill


We had another late arrival to Santa Barbara Hampton Inn.


Day 3:


We slept in again, got hotel breakfast and then headed to UCSB to explore.



We did a little shopping and walked around campus to all the main areas I used to spend my time. Some of it was familiar, but so much had changed.







Then we headed to Isla Vista to see where I used to live near Del Playa.




Then a quick stop for Starbies before heading to Mission Santa Barbara. So pretty! We took some pics.






Then headed to downtown for lunch at Chase Restaurant.



Next we headed to the Santa Barbara Zoo. We really enjoyed the zoo! Loved the lions, Australian Walkabout, baby giraffe, and all the foxes!






Then back to the hotel to get swimsuits and off to the beach for a little bit. We watched sunset but it got super chilly.




Chik fil A for dinner then back to the hotel to swim.


Day 4:


Today was pretty much just a whale watching day.


We slept in, got breakfast and then headed to Oxnard for whale watching with Island Packers. We grabbed lunch at Chik Fil A and then headed to the dock.







We boarded at about 1315 and then headed out.



We saw a little bit of a Fin whale, but the best experience was the thousands of common dolphins. That was quite spectacular.












We also got great views of the Channel Islands.





We returned about 1700.



Took our pic with the Channel Islands sign.



Then headed back to Goleta for dinner at Nugget Bar & Grill. We really enjoyed the food and ambiance. Loved this sign in the restaurant.



Then back to the hotel for a late night swim and ice cream.


Day 5:


We slept in again, got breakfast and then the kids swam while I packed.


We hit the road at 1200 after grabbing Starbies and had a smooth drive home.


Another fun trip in the books!

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