California's Pacific Coast Highway 1 with Kids...

My family drove the PCH in our camper when we were kids.  We drove from Arizona so it made for a really long drive for all 7 of us.  When we weren't all fighting 😊 I remember my sisters and I checking out all the surfer boys from our cool ride.  Another memory was driving down Lombard Street in our camper... We were so cool!  

Flying helped take out a lot of the drive time and going one way made it more enjoyable especially with a 3 year old.  We took an early flight to Oakland to begin our spring break adventure.  We flew into Oakland rather than San Francisco since the one way drop off was much cheaper.  We didn't have an exact itinerary when we left but we were originally going to spend 2 nights in SF.  We were trying to beat a storm that was going to join us while we were in Big Sur (we wanted to do some hiking) so we ended up spending just one night in SF (if this is your first visit to SF I would recommend spending 2 nights).  Because of a land slide near Julia Pfieffer State Park we had to detour from highway 1 and go inland and take the 101 around.  


Day 1:  Arrived in San Francisco
Day 2:  San Francisco to Santa Cruz
Day 3:  Big Sur
Day 4:  Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea
Day 5:  Morro Bay, Montana de Oro State Park, SLO and Pismo Beach
Day 6:  Solvang and Santa Barbara
Day 7:  Malibu and Los Angeles
Day 8:  Flight home

Day 1: San Francisco
In San Francisco we...

Visited the Painted Ladies 
Lucas Film to see the Yoda Fountain
Palace of Fine Arts
Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge
Dinner at Fisherman's Wharf
Ghiradelli for dessert
Checked out Union Square
Drove down Lombard Street
China Town
Golden Gate State Park

Day 2:  San Francisco to Santa Cruz
China Town 
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
The Fortune Cookie Factory is small but my girls thought it was pretty cool. Worth a visit since the fortune cookie was invented in SF.  Another option in China Town is to get a foot massage.  I had one on a recent layover and it is nice after a long day of walking.
Golden Gate State Park
We couldn't leave San Francisco without visiting this park.  My girls loved it and especially this unique slide.  
Half Moon Bay
Since we visited in the spring we saw lots of flowers and everything was so green from the record rain.  It made for some gorgeous pictures and I kept feeling like I was in Ireland.  
My girls could have spent hours at the tide pools!
Santa Cruz 
My girls loved Santa Cruz and especially the rides on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  We drove the scenic West Cliff Drive.  It's a short breathtaking drive!  It would also be a good place to get out and walk or take a bike ride.

Day 3: Big Sur
Point Lobos State Reserve
I love this State Reserve!  I took all of my photos with my iPhone and I think some of the pics look professional but its just because it's so beautiful here you can't take a bad picture.  We entered the park at the end of the day only because it was full in the morning when we drove by. So glad we waited the views were amazing!

One of the many stops on the PCH
How I was feeling about all of the AMAZING VIEWS!
Bixby Bridge
One of the most photographed bridges in America.  I've seen it on commercials and in movies.
Julia Pfeiffer State Park
(park was closed but they let us hike near the lodge)
We found 4 🍀 leaf clovers here!  What luck!!!

Day 4: Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea
17- Mile Drive
This is such a beautiful drive!  We also enjoyed seeing all of the amazing homes along the way.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
My girls couldn't get enough of the touch pools and the volunteers were so helpful.  I was worried the aquarium might not keep Cicily's attention but they have lots of hands on activity's for young children.

Day 5: Montana de Oro State Park, SLO and Pismo Beach
Morro Bay
Montana de Oro State Park

San Luis Obispo 
Bubblegum Alley

Pismo Beach
This was our kids favorite hotel (SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel).  It was reasonably priced with amazing views.
Charlotte and I enjoyed a walk on the beach behind our hotel.
Driving on Pismo Beach.  If your here at the right time of year don't miss the Monarch Butterfly Grove. We skipped Hearst Castle since we've seen it before and thought our three year old was too young.  Good excuse to come back and see it when our girls are older.  

Day 6: Solvang and Santa Barbara
Solvang- This was our second visit to this charming Danish town.  We ate breakfast at Paula's Pancake House and had Danish pancakes then strolled along Main Street.  Before leaving town we stopped at the Sunny Field Park.

In Santa Barbara my girls found a park on the beach and we window shopped on State Street.
We also visited the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Day 7:  Malibu and Los Angeles

In Malibu we visited El Matador State Beach.  We loved the beautiful views and sea caves.  The girls played in the Tide Pools.   We saw several professional photo shoots... guess it's a good place to take pictures.

We saw spectacular views of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory.  It's also a good place to get a picture of the Hollywood Sign.  We looked through a telescope and saw stars and gained some knowledge about astronomy.  We were there around sunset and got some great pictures of La La Land (was also in the movie).  I loved the Art Deco architecture.  The Griffith Park has great hiking trails and a fun place to bring kids but can be crowded. 

I was excited to show Charlotte the Hollywood Walk of Fame!  haven't been in years and forgot how crazy Hollywood Blvd can get... You know people walking around carrying snakes etc. 

We loved this road trip and so did our girls.  California's Pacific Coast Highway 1 is some of America's most beautiful scenery. 

We spent our last night in LA and took a flight home the next day.


Icefields Parkway Roadtrip... Banff to Jasper, Canada

Day 1:  Flight to Calgary
Greg and I were excited to take our girls on a road trip from Banff to Jasper National Parks.  We did this trip once before and knew Charlotte & Cicily would love all the wildlife.  We took a late flight to Calgary on June 5, 2015... Everyone was sleeping except Cicily. 😅  We stayed in a hotel near the airport.


Day 1:  Arrived in Calgary
Day 2:  Calgary to Banff  
Day 3:  Banff to Jasper
Day 4:  Jasper
Day 5:  Jasper to Banff
Day 6:  Banff to Calgary
Day 7:  Flight home

Day 2:  Entering Banff National Park
We left Calgary and headed out on a two hour drive towards Banff National Park.  
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
We love this hotel!  It opened in the late 1800's.  It's fun to wander and check out the Architecture.  
We arranged horse rides behind the Fairmont Banff Springs. It was a beautiful ride! Unfortunately Charlotte's eyes swelled up and we realized Charlotte is allergic to horses. 😦

Day 3:  Banff to Jasper
We got an early start since we had lots to see and there aren't places to stay between Lake Louise and Jasper.  It took us about an hour to drive from Banff to Lake Louise on Highway 1A.  We made a few stops to watch bears... One walked right in front of our car.  Lake Louise is crowded but worth a stop.  The turquoise water is breathtaking!

We walked along a path that follows Lake Louise.  After our walk we treated the girls to ice cream at the Amazing Fairmont Chateau.
Moraine Lake is a few miles from Lake Louise.  It has equally beautiful views!  The drive time between Lake Louise and Jasper is about 3 hours but it's really an all day drive with all the stops you'll want to make.

One of the many stops along the Icefields Parkway.

Athabasca Glacier
We didn't reach the Colombia Ice Field until later in the day... I think we took one of the last tours available.  The tour takes you on the massive Athabasca Glacier.  We were able to get out and walk and touch the ice.

We had to get a picture In front of the Glacier bus... The tires are huge!  After visiting the Colombia Ice field we headed to Jasper.  It was a long day and we were ready to get dinner and relax.
Day 4:  Jasper

  Miette Hot Springs
A beautiful scenic drive leads you to the Miette Hot Springs.  The 4 pools have different temperatures and the views were fantastic.
Maligne Lake
We love Maligne Lake!  On our last visit we took the Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island.  This time we explored some of the different trails.  

Cicily was a trooper...luckily we stopped a lot to view the scenery and watch the animals!
 Day 5:  Jasper to Banff
It's pretty amazing to hear the water crashing over the rocks and feel the mist of spray on your face at the Athabasca Falls.  The walkways and bridges give you a great view on both sides of the Falls.  Our girls loved all of the trails especially the trail that leads to the river.

  Back to Lake Louise
We stopped at Laggan's for a sandwich.  They have picnic tables out back near the river.  Perfect stop before we headed back towards Banff.
Johnston Canyon 
We loved this trail!  You can see 7 waterfalls but we didn't make it that far. ;) We reached the lower falls in about 20 minutes.  The girls loved the cave and close up view of the falls.

Day 6:  Banff Upper Hot Springs
Soaking up the beautiful views on our last day in Banff. 
Calgary Alberta Temple
We made one last stop to see the Calgary Alberta Temple before we headed to our hotel.  We took an early flight home the next day.  The girls loved this vacation and the Canadian Rockies didn't disappoint.  This is one of the most beautiful road trips I've been on and can't wait to return!