Do you have a happy place? I have a couple of happy places; they’re places where I’ve collected good memories. Santa Cruz, CA is one of my favorite places; it holds a warm nostalgia for me…the nice hippies you meet, the rugged combination of coastline and redwood trees just does my soul good. We go every summer to visit family at my parents beach house, and have only skipped this tradition a couple times, once on the account of being broke and Sam needing to work (ugh those early days of marriage were trying) and once on the account of being hugely pregnant and ready to give birth to Ruby last year. So this year I wanted to make up for those missed adventures with our family and go all out! A summer road trip up the coast of California ending in the beautiful Monterey sounded adventurous enough to me and let me tell you it did not disappoint.
We partnered with Marriott hotels and enjoyed attractions in Carlsbad, Irvine, Long Beach and Monterey. Traveling with kids is not easy but I always say it’s so worth it! The memories made with your kids are forever deposited in their minds and make up their childhood. Marriott freaking blew our minds with their beautiful hotels, amenities, and hospitality. I think I just created a few more happy places. So let me take you on our family road-trip through all the photos we took. I hope it gives you some ideas of how you can get out more with your kids and enjoy yourself while you’re at it.
Carlsbad: The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa
When you walk into this hotel your mind is set at ease with a clean and open concept space. The plant wall, contemporary furniture and updated work areas, views of the Pacific Ocean and coastal foothills make this the perfect place to stay in Carlsbad. The Westin Carlsbad even has a back entrance to Legoland California, say what?! We didn’t get to go on this trip but once we ate dinner at 7 Mile Kitchen and the kiddos saw the pool, all was forgiven. I highly recommend spending some “me time” at the Ocean Pearl Spa if you get a chance. It felt kismet that I got to experience The Flower Fields massage on this trip, since last year at the same time I had a prenatal massage here in which I begged the masseuse to put me into labor. I think I might be a genius getting a massage at the beginning of a road trip with kids, yep there’s no other way to do it then get fully relaxed and then dive into the complete chaos of fun that is being a family.
Irvine: Marriott Irvine Spectrum
Our next stop wasn’t too far up the coast to Irvine! This new Marriott hotel is an urban oasis. We spent our time at the heated outdoor pool, shopping at the Irvine Spectrum, brunch at the Heirloom Farm To Table Restaurant and lounging in our ahhhhhhhmazing room with a view. One of my favorite moments on this trip happened here when I threw out all bedtimes (except Ruby’s)…Sam would put Ruby to bed and I’d take the boys to the pool and let them swim until dark. Then we got ice cream at the market shop in the hotel and ate it back in our room while snuggling up to American Ninja Warrior. Waylon still reminds me of how much fun he had when I went to the pool with them when it was dark. Isn’t it funny how simple it is to create a good memory. For me it was all about putting my phone down and jumping in the pool. I will never regret or forget being fully present with my kids. Also I should note that Newport Beach is just a hop and a skip away so if you stay here you must take a drive for a beach day in Corona Del Mar. We parked in the cutest neighborhood and the neighbors are as nice as the houses. We forgot to bring beach toys and this sweet woman tending to her home that we parked in front of asked if we wanted to borrow hers!
After checking out of the Marriott Irvine Spectrum Hotel we had a little time before checking into the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel so we made a stop in Huntington Beach which is along the way. We fixed the tire on our stroller, walked on the boardwalk, had Zoltar tell us our fortune on the pier and ordered shakes from Ruby’s Diner. Lastly, we stocked up on snacks at Trader Joes and headed to the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel.
Long Beach: Renaissance Long Beach Hotel
So many fun things happened here. I will never underestimate Long Beach again…I mean not that I really underestimated this lovely town before I just never thought to visit and now I don’t know why. Long Beach is amazing. We had so much fun at the Aquarium of the Pacific, touring the harbor, Shoreline Village, eating at Sip Bar + Lounge and splashing it up on the pool at the Renaissance! I have to tell you, I had so much fun with my kiddos doing all these things but one of the best things I did for myself was visit the gym at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel. It was state of the art with 2 Peloton bikes. I took my first ride and got my sweat on for 30 minutes and it was SO MUCH FUN! Not only did I fit in my workout and do something good for my body, I came back to the room as a better wife and mom.
I will now forever have a special place in my heart for the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel! Next we loaded up the minivan and drove 6 hours up the coast to the beautiful town of Monterey where I lived out my “Big Little Lies” dreams and tried to visit as many filming spots as possible ha ha.
Monterey: Monterey Marriott
Nowhere in the world is a grey fog more beautiful than in Monterey, CA. We drove into town, broke out the sweaters and sweatshirts and walked around all of downtown Monterey. We ate the most delicious dinner at Alvarado Brewing Co. on Main Street, had coffee and tea at Captain + Stoaker and Bright Coffee, ate clam showered at Tidal, played at Dennis The Menace park, drove to Carmel-by-the-sea along the 17 Mile Drive and strolled along the canary row bike path….just kidding we didn’t stroll, there’s not strolling with kids but we had the best time looking at the ocean, stopping to play on the grass and just be present in this beautiful town. Monterey Marriott did not disappoint with it’s central location to everything in Monterey.
Special thank you to our partner Marriott for making this trip happen! Make your own family road trip memories with Marriott: https://hotel-deals.marriott.com/southern-california/! I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer and making memories with youloved ones.