I checked something off my bucket list last month, and it was everything I dreamed it would be.
FMK, Knox and I rented a car from Alamo at the San Francisco airport and headed south on Highway 1 towards LA. We didn’t’ have much of an itinerary, we just knew that we wanted to truly experience the area and make wonderful family memories! It was one of those trips where all the stars aligned – Knox was so good and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect!
If you remember my Alamo Drive Happy Family Travel Resolution, you know my travel goal for 2015 was to “get off the tourist path and explore the local culture”. Luckily for us, two of my best friends live in California and they shared their local spots with us so we could do just that! It was also nice that FMK and I had been to LA before so we were excited to relax and spend the weekend as locals, instead of all the touristy stuff.
<To read more about our trip and to see all our pictures, click the link below to keep reading.>
We hit the road after breakfast on Sunday morning and less than three hours later, we arrived at Pebble Beach. Knox was still asleep when we pulled in to town so we decided to take the 27 Mile Drive around the Pebble Beach property. There were so many gorgeous look out points, but I think my favorite was the signature lone cypress that is also the club’s logo. Right on cue, Knox woke up at the end of the drive ready to stretch his legs and eat lunch. The Lodge, was the perfect stop to each lunch on the back porch, enjoy the view, and let Knox run around. We played on the grounds to let out some energy before having a delicious lunch on the back porch of The Lodge. It’s the best when you can find a delicious restaurant that is still kid friendly. Anything outdoors usually fits the bill perfectly! It was so cute seeing FMK show Knox around the golf course. It was such a sweet moment with father and son. FMK promised Knox they would come back and play the course when he was older.
Our next stop was Bixby Bridge. The bridge is just a 30-minute drive and a quick stop to take in the view and get some pictures. It is important for us to teach Knox to appreciate the little things in life. To stop and smell the rose so to speak and that was really what this drive is all about. There are so many fun memories to be made in the car! We say our vacations start when we leave the house rather than when we arrive at our destination. One of my favorite views of the trip was seeing FMK sing Knox’s favorite songs while Knox is dancing in the back seat.
We wanted to save the last stretch of the drive for after dinner / Knox’s bedtime so he would sleep the rest of the way to LA. That left us time for an easy hike (I use the term lightly, more like a walk) in Big Sur and a quick dinner at Nepenthe Restaurant. We stopped at Julia Pheiffer Burns State Park and walked down to see the Mcway waterfall. Isn’t it beautiful?! Arriving to LA around eleven p.m., we checked into a hotel for the night to rest up for our fun day ahead!
As I mentioned above, our time in LA was all about just relaxing, enjoying what the city has to offer and getting quality time with our family. Our resolution to get off the tourist path gave us a deliberate focus for the trip and as a result, we did just that.
Our first morning in town, we met up with a friend at Joan’s On Third to grab a healthy breakfast and some caffeine to fuel us for a hike on Runyon Canyon. Since we were pushing the stroller, we opted for the easier hike and drove to the top and walked down. The views were stunning, and it was so neat to see the city and the Hollywood sign from above! This was a perfect morning activity for all of us! When we are at home, Knox loves to start his day with a stroll around the neighborhood. This was a fun way to keep him on schedule while still getting to experience my new favorite thing LA has to offer. Activities like a hike are also a great bonding experience to take in the views together and have quiet time to catch up while you walk without the distractions of technology.
After our hike, we had another fun lunch date with friends and then headed to the Venice canals, where we were spending the night with friends. FMK and I got Knox settled for his nap and enjoyed the picturesque views and a good book from their front porch. While our sweet hosts were at work that afternoon, we made ourselves at home by walking the Venice Canals and watching the sunset on Venice Beach.
For our last day in California, we had another amazing meal at Gjelina, walked around Abbot Kinney, checked out the Santa Monica Pier, and let Knox tire out playing on Venice Beach. Knox was so happy exploring a new city, getting use to the feel of sand between his toes and strolling through unfamiliar neighborhoods with so much to take in! Fred and I embraced the quality family time and enjoyed leaving the stresses of work and our to-do list in Texas.
It was a fun-filled last day that left Knox exhausted for the evening flight back to Houston. Luckily for us, there were extra seats on the plane so we boarded with Knox’s car seat and he slept the whole flight home.
On our way back to Texas, FMK and I were talking about what a special trip it was for us. Knox is at such a fun age and he truly makes exploring a new place so much more fun seeing things through his curious eyes. Our resolution to get off the tourist and just take in the beauty of our surroundings really helped us bond and relax. This was definitely just what we needed!
I hope you enjoyed experiencing a small part of our vacation! We find family travel to be a priceless time to bond with each other and to create special memories that will last a lifetime. Whether planning a staycation or traveling across the world, experience something new together, leave the stresses of life behind and take time to simply enjoy and appreciate your family. Cheers!
*All images from our camera or iPhone.
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