Up North and Down South: California travel tales.

It’s a traffic nightmare and an expensive cluster of people but there is one advantage to living in Los Angeles … it’s  smack dab center to drive to San Diego or Santa Barbara.

So last week I took advantage of that and we went day tripping. First San Diego with it’s myriad of California history and foodie galore.

It is one of my favorite cities in the world, makes me feel like in a whole new place and yet it makes me feel like I’m home.

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This time around we went to Sea World to see the beautiful Orca Whales and the people who train and save them (aside from all the bad rep it has gotten lately, it is a wonderful place to learn about the sea and the world around us.)

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It is also not crowded and the lines to go on rides were something I am unused to (I am a big Disney fan who at best gets 15 minute waits and at worst … well let’s not talk about that). We ate at Old Town to start the day. There is this great restaurant we always eat at .. El Coyote Azul, they hand make their tortillas as you watch them. They have a good Margarita to start your day off because after all what’s San Diego without a margarita right? After the margaritas and a few churros we headed over to Sea World.

The polar bear exhibition was my favorite they were playing and having fun and we got to on an ‘Arctic Expedition’ ride. I bought a hat and then we went to see all the possible shows… my father insisted. The funniest one is the sea lion one and the most popular and majestic of course is the one with the Orca Whales.

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I also did not realize you can walk around with wine and beer all over the park (hurrah hurrah… if you know me) and finally we went on the cable car that dangles over the beautiful San Diego coast. My favorite ride to end the day with.

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 Family fun indeed.

But too much family fun can be overwhelming so the next day we went on a best friend day trip to Santa Barbara. This notorious college town, and central coast town is also home to many wineries who happen to have tasting rooms in the downtown area. So there was the center of our trip, wine tasting and some exploring. By accident or fate we discovered the Wine Collection of El Paseo (winecollectionofelpaseo.com) was a collection of six tasting rooms of which we tried 4 (we had to drive back). They were all distinct in wines, service and ambiance.

Happy Canyon is great is your looking for a very elegant wine experience, complete with Bordeaux type wines and a family history of polo players.  The tastings start at 5 wines for $15 dollars and you can also have full glasses if you want.


Gassini was a refreshing difference, laid back and very Californian it had an option to wine-chocolate pair for $10 more dollars of the base tasting price we got to pair it with locally made truffles. I highly recommend that option.

Jamie Slone (http://www.jamieslonewines.com/) was my favorite winery of the day, attended personally by the owners we got to me Jamie and his wife who tells candid stories of how the wines were named and has a full map of the region in case you’re a newcomer to the Central Coast region. It also comes with a winery local … Sophie the dog who is alone reason to visit the winery.

Sophie the Dog

Au Bon Climat is one of the oldest and most well respected of the area wineries. It specializes in world class Chardonnays and Pinots. Is is a very aesthetic experience, non of the relaxed visitor feeling, none the less the wines are beautifully crafted and the staff helpful in helping you choose.

After the alcohol we sauntered over to French Press a very charming cafe with lovely pastries and a great end to sit and people watch, before our drive back.

French Press Latte

We were of course confronted by some traffic down the 405 as we hit LA but nothing that we’re not used to. I love being so close to all the charming cities around the LA area that make me feel like I can travel far away, even though they are only a few hours away.

Santa Barbara Relaxed Feel

Today for example I went to revisit the San Juan Capistrano Mission at my mothers request, this Mission was the one that started us on the crazy idea of visiting all the California Missions (I will tell you more about that and today’s visit on a separate post.

As always any comments or question on travel planning are welcome 🙂

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