Central Coast mini-vacation

Last month, just before Thanksgiving, David and I spent a few days on the Central Coast.  I love Thanksgiving vacations because work is generally quieter that week, making it much easier to quickly relax and enjoy. And it was very relaxing and beautiful.

I worked from home on Monday, and after work, we hit the 5, bound for Cambria. Usually we stop at In-N-Out, but the hotel night came with dinner, so we pushed on to make a later reservation.

When I found out I was pregnant, I’m embarrassed to say my first instinct wasn’t to research baby books, but it was to research and plan a mini-vacation (a babymoon, I guess).  When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s hard to make travel plans because you have no idea if/when you’ll be mobile. So, it was nice to have some idea of the timeline and begin planning some fun trips. I immediately ruled out anything international, primarily for cost, and I was so exhausted (first trimester) that the thought of a long flight lacked any appeal. All I wanted to do was 1) be near an ocean or pool, 2) not feel pressured to sight see, and 3) sleep, sleep, sleep in a nice hotel. (Again, first trimester). I booked and cancelled hotels in Sedona and San Diego before realizing-hello! Santa Barbara! We loved our honeymoon, we could combine it with our travel to Irvine for Thanksgiving, and it offered everything I wanted.

SB felt a bit far for a post-work drive and I found a great deal for a hotel in Cambria, so we settled on that for the first night.


We stayed at the Cambria Pines Lodge and it was…interesting. The price was right, the grounds were gorgeous, and it included a surprisingly delicious dinner at the restaurant. So no real complaints, but it just wasn’t somewhere I would recommend as a destination-though great for a night while traveling through the coast.

After breakfast, we drove to Cayucos and picked up some super sweet Brown Butter Cookies before driving down to Santa Barbara.


We stopped at The Nook for lunch and I immediately felt that sense of-ahhh, yes, we’re in Southern California. Slightly warmer weather, and just a hint of an ocean breeze. The bar had an incredible selection of beer on tap and a huge fridge with imported bottles.  

With such happy memories of the Fess Parker Santa Barbara, we decided to stay there the next two nights.


Our room faced the ocean (hooray!!) and I camped out on the balcony for much of the next two days, reading Commonwealth.

Later that night, we walked to The Lark for dinner. By far, my favorite meal of the trip. Wish I had the skills and discretion to effectively take a photo of the restaurant, but I don’t, so I’ll just have to remember it. It’s a beautiful wood beamed, brick walled, room and the food matches the stunning decor. A very nice, leaisurly, smallish plates dinner.


The next day, we walked around State Street for a bit and checked out Jeannine’s for brunch. I wondered if it served as the inspiration for Meryl Streep’s bakery in It’s Complicated. It’s thoughtfully decorated, bursting with buttery croissants and pastries, and clearly has a cult following. I would go back, but not order as much. David and I can certainly eat but the portions were large even for us (which is saying a lot).


Later that afternoon, I splurged on a prenatal massage at the hotel. It was really nice. The massage therapist was also a doula, and she placed my hand on my belly at the end of the massage, to rest with the baby. I don’t know why, but I just thought it was so sweet!


It was a bit too cold to fully swim, but I dropped my toes in the water to relax. The rest of the trip was nice and quiet: naps and reading.

Craving cheesy pasta, we decided on Trattoria Vitoria for dinner. Being the night before Thanksgiving, it was packed with families and had a cozy, classic Italian atmosphere. 

The next morning, we watched the Macy’s parade over room service breakfast (vacation is the best). It was nice to be in the US for Thanksgiving! The dance performances in the parade were amazing. Later, I took a long walk along the beach, and it was wonderful seeing all the families out, biking and walking along the water before their Thanksgiving dinners. Once again, I felt very grateful for the jaw dropping natural beauty of the California coast.


The best part was saying goodbye to vacation only to turnaround and head to Irvine for Thanskgiving dinner. This is this last big getaway David and I will take, just the two of us, for a while, and I’m so thankful we got to spend some time soaking up some sun and quiet time such a pretty place.

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