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We Love Road Trips With Kids On The Highway 1 Discovery Route

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We are in the first few days of Fall, which is the perfect time for a road trip up the coast on the Highway 1 Discovery Route. We are so excited to share our hosted adventure with you all today. Because there was so much to do, we decided to break it up over two articles. The second one will be posted on Friday and I will update this story with a link to it.


Located a couple of hours north of Los Angeles, The California Highway 1 Discovery Route includes 10 wonderful destinations: Ragged Point/San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay Strand, Los Osos/Baywood Park, Avila Beach & Valley, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Oceano, and Nipomo. For our vacation, we stayed in Cambia. Just about 14 years before (we estimate it was 1 week shy of exactly 14 years), we drove through Cambria, stopping to get a snack at the grocery store and fuel up with gas, before continuing on to San Francisco. The girls were 2 and 2 months old, and it was our first vacation as a family of 4! We vowed to come back and stay in Cambria, and we finally made that happen! It was worth the wait.

The California Highway 1 Route has everything you could ever want in a weekend getaway. Natural beauty, preeminent wine regions, amazing outdoor adventures, and delicious restaurants. We enjoyed all of that and more during our stay. We also discovered that it was perfect for families, couples, and multi-generational travelers. 

Here is part one of our family travel adventure in Cambria.


We arrived in the early afternoon and drove through downtown Cambria. The streets are lined with restaurants and shops and it is what you would imagine in a storybook. Since check-in time for our hotel was a couple of hours later, we decided to check off something that was at the top of our lists to do. Visit Moonstone Beach!


The beach has a charming boardwalk to stroll on and then there are stairs down to the beach from there. We planned to spend a half an hour looking for Moonstones, but we ended up spending more than two hours. The whole family went on a Moonstone hunt and we had so much fun collecting some really unique colored rocks. There were also these huge pieces of wood on the beach that Emmy loved climbing all over!




We were also really excited to sample the cuisine that the region is known for. Fresh, farm to table food that has a fusion of flavors is what excited us. We were blown away by our lunch at Wild Ginger. Not only were the offerings unique, but there were vegan and vegetarian items on the menu along with traditional options. This is a restaurant that we will be returning to whenever we are in the area. 



After lunch, we headed to our hotel, El Colibri Boutique Hotel & Spa in their king queen room. This suite has an area with a king bed, one with a queen bed, and then a sitting area and large spa bathroom. It is located along Moonstone Beach and we found it to be both comfortable and stylish. This one-of-a-kind artisan built hotel is a blend of hand-crafted natural materials and it is tucked in a California State Parkland preserve. 



You can probably sense a theme right? Nature activity, relaxing hotel, delicious food… that was pretty much our vacation goal for this trip and we nailed it! 


Dinner was at Robins Restaurant out on their back patio. This is a dog-friendly restaurant with a menu full of fresh and healthy options. We don’t drink alcohol, but we heard that they had a great collection of wines and amazing desserts. We also don’t eat sweets often, but we were really tempted here. 



Everything we had was really good. They had dishes that were vegan already and some that they offered right away to make vegan. Although this too is perfect for those that follow a traditional diet too. The brussel sprout appetizer was quite possibly Ashley’s favorite dish ever. I agree, it was amazing and the flavors melted together perfectly.


We walked along the streets in Cambria after dinner sipping coffee and hot chocolate until we got sleepy. We knew that we had a really big day planned for the next day and we wanted to have as much energy as possible to do it all.


We all slept in until 6 am and Pete went out and brought us back coffee and smoothies for breakfast. The hotel is close to the beach and shopping so there are abundant breakfast options.

We wanted to get an early start because we were doing something that we have wanted to do for years, visit Hearst Castle! 

Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. In 1919,William Randolph Hearst inherited what had grown to more than 250,000 acres, and was dreaming of ways to transform it into a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, Hearst and architect Julia Morgan had created Hearst Castle: 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to house Hearst’s specifications and to showcase his legendary art collection.


It was spectacular and a bucket list item for sure. There are a bunch of different tours that you can take, even one that allows you to swim in the indoor pool! I recommend booking your tickets in advance, especially during the busier holiday times.



After your tour, you are given the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor areas until closing, so don’t plan anything for directly after your tour. You will want time to enjoy the gardens and views!


Here are our video recaps:


Have you taken a road trip vacation before?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • Exploring with the whole family is always a great time. You look like you had a blast scouting out everything that you could see and do.

  • I would love to go searching for moonstones. My Sister has a big collection of them. I would love to go on a trip like this with the kids. The food looks amazing.

  • This is the perfect weather to get outside in nature. This looks like a fantastic trip for my family.

  • I have been wanting to travel that road for a long time. It is most defiantly on my travel bucket list! Looks like you all had a wonderful time!

  • I’ve driven up the PCH with my family many, many years ago. The scenery was incredible and some of the locations we visited are still among my favorites. I would love to check out Cambria. The location is exquisite and the food sounds and looks amazing. I’m a big fan of farm to table. Fresh food always tastes better.

  • I think it is great that you were able to make it back here as a family of five now. Looks like a great place to check out!

  • First of all I love how you capture the essence of your experience in your photos! They truly transport me with you on your adventure and this looks like such a unique way to road trip with the kids in tow and take in some of California’s beauty!

  • Aww that seemed like such a fun family bonding day–with amazing food included. Simply can’t beat that. PS I loved your daughter’s red lipstick. It take a bold, confident woman to rock that color.

  • What an amazing time for roadtrips, indeed! I really like the relaxing feel of the place and the sights are fantastic. The whole place makes you feel relaxed and at peace, away from all the stress! I love how comfy the hotel room looks, perfect for a weekend getaway as well.

  • Wow, it sounds like you guys are having so much fun exploring Cali! I am so jealous. We are headed on a road trip this weekend in the Midwest to look at the Fall colors–I can’t wait!

  • We live in wa state and my husband and I decided we. We’d to start going so I’ve mapped out some trails to start

  • The food looks so good. I wish that we had some cool places to go hiking or walking would be fun. It is still hot here in Texas and we don’t really have many trails. They are supposed to be building some in our area and I can’t wait. I enjoy walking outside especially when it isn’t too hot.

  • I’d like to do something like that with my kid. We don’t get to do trips like that unless it’s summer time, and he’s not with his dad in Mexico. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • I love road trips with my kids! They are so much fun and there is so much exploring to be done and things to learn and see and road trips make it so you can see so much!

  • How fun and exciting! My family and I enjoy going on road trips as well. It’s such a wonderful way to enjoy life while creating memories to cherish for a lifetime.

  • Can’t decide what looks better, the food or the scenery. There’s a lot to see out West, we are going to start heading that way for our summer trips over the next few years now that we have a camper to ease the pain of travel!

  • your family looks amazing! i would love to do this as well with my family. just waiting for the winter months in dubai so we can finally enjoy outside

  • Family road trips are always so much fun. It looks like you guys had an awesome trip and that food looks delicious.

  • We are a family of four and we also try to have a blast with our two little boys when we go camping or 1 day trips. We moved to Seattle last year and loving all the possibilities we have surrounding us. Keep it up!

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