Posts Tagged ‘California’

Family Travel: Santa Barbara

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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Picturesque Santa Barbara, California has an irresistible charm that you can’t help but notice from the moment you arrive. The city has spectacular beaches, abundant scenic waterfront walkways and an elegance and sophistication that comfortably co-exists alongside a casual beach vibe. The area is packed with attractions, activities, restaurants, parks, festivals, marinas, hiking trails, shops, award-winning wineries, impressive architecture and historical monuments.

Everywhere you look you see natural beauty and breathtaking vistas as pretty as a picture postcard. It’s a great place to bring the family to dig in to a wide variety of outdoor activities from whale watching, boating, cycling, scuba diving and surfing to kayaking, horseback riding, golf, tennis, beach volleyball and hiking. And there’s world-class strolling around this upscale village perched on gentle coastal hillsides. With a number of family-friendly beaches, near perfect year-round temperatures and ample public parks, it’s also a great place to simply kick back and relax.

HIKING
Eager to explore some of the stunning mountains of Santa Barbara, we called upon the Santa Barbara Adventure Company for a guided hike. We were picked up in style in one of their well-equipped shiny red vans. We headed towards the nearby mountains with our knowledgeable guide whose narrative was filled with interesting anecdotes about the land’s history and geography. He also pointed out all the poison oak along the way, and for this I dubbed him my hero. We hiked a good hour or so up to an ocean view vista that was worth the sweat. The hike features lots of great streams and resting spots and makes it a terrific, first foray into the mountains if you’ve never explored them before. TIP: Call The Adventure Company: they’ll get you in and out safely and easily. They’re the prominent outfitter in the area and they also lead guided kayak adventures to the Channel Islands, guided rock climbs, wine country tours by mountain bike or van and they offer group surfing lessons. Pick anything and you’ll be pleased; they’re all pros and we had a great day.Santa Barbara Adventure Company, 410 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Tel: 805-898-0671.

San Diego: Sensational Family Fun

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
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Seeking the ideal family vacation destination? Think San Diego, California. Nestled along 70 miles of stunning California coastline, family-friendly San Diego County offers a wide variety of activities and arguably the best year-round weather in the U.S. of A.HARBOR CRUISE To get the lay of the land (or rather, the water) we began our journey with a harbor cruise. The cruise is divided into North and South and the narrated tour is chock- full of history. The bottom deck of the boat is enclosed in case you’re traveling with small children or infants (strollers are welcome) and the upstairs has ample outdoor seating and a tiny enclosed section in case the wind is too much. One- and two-hour narrated tours are available and take guests on North Bay, South Bay or full San Diego Bay tours. The entire family can take this trip; it’s an easy way to enjoy some time on the water. With a plethora of both historic and active U.S. Navy ships in the bay, budding sailors and pirates are sure to be dazzled. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about some of the ships you see around the bay, check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which consists of several historic sailing vessels including the Star of India, built in 1863 and the world’s oldest merchant sailing vessel still in operation today.

FUN FOR ALL We didn’t leave ourselves enough time to do all that we wanted in San Diego. Average vacation times in this city are between three and four days, but I think a family could be here for a full week and still not have time to do it all. We would have liked to continue riding on the trolley, stopped at a few museums in Balboa Park, hung out at the beach a little more and have had time to take in Legoland and the Wild Animal Safari animal park. San Diego is such a great family vacation spot, I’m happy to have myriad reasons to return.