A California road trip… for a family of six? No problem, says Manoj Boteju 
 
An epic 17 days in California was probably our best holiday yet. The Cali road trip has become a classic vacation: the open road, the sunshine and swaying palms... Not everyone’s fantasy involves four kids in the back of the car, though. Here’s how we made it work. 
 
LA 
 
Our first right move was at the car-hire desk. We picked ourselves up a Dodge Caravan – one of the few cars that can comfortably carry a family of six plus luggage and pram. Our second was spending the first evening around Hollywood Boulevard. It was a great way of kick-starting things. The next two days were spent, frankly, driving around taking in the scene (a car is a must in this town) and shopping, in Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier. There was also, of course, the obligatory drive around the Hills to see the huge, eye-popping houses. We also found time to trek up to Griffith Park before the masses arrived and take photos of the Hollywood sign – a hit – and the Griffith Park Observatory. 
 
San Diego 
 
Next was a five-day stay at the Hyatt Regency on Mission Bay, where the spacious Tower Wing rooms were perfect for our family. The kids spent most of their time playing in and around the pool. It had two water-slides, bar, table tennis, a fire pit for marshmallows… The hotel has a convenient water-taxi to Seaworld; and the San Diego Zoo and Aquaria are well worth a visit if you need more things to do. We dined at the characterful Loews Coronado Bay hotel, which requires a reservation. And a fat credit card. 
 
Disneyland 
 
It had to be done. We pitched ourselves right in front of the Disney Gates. Staying close helped us spend more time on rides after the masses had left. My wife and youngest retired early whilst the rest of us stayed on and watched the spectacular fireworks, orchestrated to Disney themes. 
 
Pacific Coast Highway 
 
Time to burn some rubber. The drive I always dreamed of started with the most amazing lunch stop at Paradise Cove Malibu. This very laid-back restaurant on a beautiful stretch of beach serves generous portions of loveliness. We all messed around in the sea and then showered before heading north. 
 
Pacific Coast Highway 
 
Time to burn some rubber. The drive I always dreamed of started with the most amazing lunch stop at Paradise Cove Malibu. This very laid-back restaurant on a beautiful stretch of beach serves generous portions of loveliness. We all messed around in the sea and then showered before heading north. 
 
Santa Barbara 
 
What a magical stay: the two days we spent at the beachfront Marriott were easily our most relaxing. Both nights, we watched the sun set behind the famous Santa Barbara palms. At the end of the pier, you’ll find the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, an unassuming place that serves the most awesome fish and chips. There are only a few tables, with the rest of the covers at the bar – which only adds to the relaxed vibe. 
 
Cambria 
 
It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to Santa Barbara. But more stunning views and colourful sunsets awaited us at Cambria. The room allocated at the Moonstone Landing Hotel had panoramic views of the Pacific; we had dinner at the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, a 15 minute pleasant walk away. Cambria is cute. But this was a road trip, and we needed to hit it. 
 
Part of the highway was still closed when we travelled due to landslides. But we wanted to miss as little as possible, so we drove right up to the ‘Road Closed’ sign, and were well rewarded with elephant seals and some of the best views of the trip. Lunch took place to the sound of live rock at the Ragged Point Inn; we burned off the calories with a hike to the ocean. 
 
Monterey 
 
More of a city feel. Our base was the Portola Hotel, which conveniently was hosting the Sotheby’s Classic Car Auction. The world-class aquarium aside, there’s not a great deal to do in Monterey apart from shopping and of course visiting the Big Sur and snapping the iconic Rocky and Bixby Creek Bridges. Our lunch stop was the Rocky Point restaurant, with views of the bridges in the distance. 
 
San Francisco 
 
The positive energy of San Francisco is phenomenal. There’s so much to do. Fisherman’s Wharf didn’t disappoint, nor did the unmissable restaurants like Alioto’s and the Hard Rock Café. Ensure you book your Alcatraz tickets months in advance if arriving during peak times. 
 
That was all, folks. Loved it, loved it, loved it, and will definitely be back soon for more. 
 
For expert travel advice, email holidays@tailoredjourneys.co.uk or call 01442 617 777 
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