Our Road Trip Adventures: First Stop – Santa Monica, California

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    Manic:  Wanted to get away this summer, but didn’t want the cost of airfare and rental car.

Managed:  My family decided to embark on an 1700 mile 10-day road trip! 

Our view of the California Coast on our recent road trip.

When we returned, several friends asked me I would do it again.  Yep, I would!  Our family of four didn’t kill each other and in fact, we had a great time and grew closer as a family. 

Some of you have asked me to blog about our California adventure, so this week I will write about our family road trip that took us from Phoenix to the streets of San Francisco, with several stops in between.  And I’ll tell you the places that we recommend along the way. 

Plus I’ll share some road trip dos and don’ts in my Channel 3 segment that will air this Wednesday.   But for today, I’ll start with the first day of our big trip that took us from our hot home in Phoenix to the breezy and beautiful Santa Monica area.

Our drive took about six hours and we decided to spend only one night in Santa Monica, so we could continue on up the coast to our final destination, which would be San Francisco. 

We stayed at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel (http://www.fairmont.com/santamonica) and we especially loved the pool area, the Fig Restaurant and the hotel spa.  Our day at the pool was nice because we don’t have a pool in our Phoenix home.  My daughter’s trip request was that we stay one night at a hotel that had a nice outdoor pool.  So on day #1, her wish was granted 🙂

The Miramar Hotel pool area also has a ping pong table that our kids really enjoyed.

Since we booked this hotel with our American Express card, we were able to use several travel package benefits and one included a $100 spa credit!  Guess who took advantage of that one?  Yep, yours truly.  I highly recommend the Exhale Mind/Body Spa (www.exhalespa.com).  I enjoyed the Fusion Massage which combines massage practices from around the world.  When I mentioned tummy issues to my massage therapist, she asked if she could work on my stomach and it worked wonders!

We also loved the hotel’s restaurant. If you are ever in Santa Monica, visit Fig Restaurant (www.figsantamonica.com) for the best breakfast burrito around.  All four of us loved the dish, a tortilla packed with eggs, bacon, guacamole and cheddar fries.  And because I was on vacation, I said yes to the cheddar fries that were inside this delicious breakfast entree!  Surprisingly, they weren’t greasy like you would imagine and that is probably because Fig uses all locally grown foods, so you’re getting the best California foods in each entree. 

We also enjoyed dining at Locanda del Lago Restaurant (www.lagosantamonica.com), an upscale downtown Santa Monica Italian eatery that boasts celebrity clientele.  Although we didn’t spot George Clooney, I was able to order The Clooney Artisanal Cocktail which is a grapefruit flavored gin drink that mixes organic liquors with fresh ingredients from local farms. 

However, to drink like the stars, you have to pay the $14 price tag.  I’m happy to report that when I told the waitress that the Clooney was a bit too strong for me, she happily took it back to the bar and brought me a fresh one that was deliciously toned down.  With that, I felt like I was getting star service, so that took the sting out of the price of the drink! 

I loved my dinner which was the Spaghetti alla Scoglio, a pasta dish with mixed seafood and a lightly spicy Arrabbiata sauce.  The rest of my family all had the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, which was a delicious and hearty egg tagliatelle pasta with Bolognese meat sauce.  We all left happy and full.  So when in Santa Monica, if you want to dine where the stars go, try Lago, but be prepared to pay the price for your star-searching taste buds.  Our entrees were around $16 a plate…and they were very tasty, I might add!

We also visited the Santa Monica beach (http://www.santamonica.com/visitors/what-to-do/beach/) before we left town for our next destination.  I was happy to find a clean area complete with several life guards on duty, which comforts me when my kids wade into the overwhelming ocean.  Plus there were easily accessible vendors that sell towels and beach toys and rent out surf boards, bikes, lawn chairs and more. 

I thought it was great that he was running on the beach because the next leg of our road trip would be a long one! So it was good he was stretching his legs!

I wish I had more beach pictures to share, but lesson one from our road trip is to make sure that your camera and phone are both charged before you head to the beach!

Tune in tomorrow for my post about day #2 of our road trip adventure that took us along the scenic coastal route from Santa Monica to our next destination, Carmel!  I promise to have more pictures as I learned my lesson about having my electronics fully charged while visiting Santa Monica, so my camera was ready to go for the rest of the trip.


  1. maryanne says:

    Your descriptions wet my appetite to hear (and see) more! Thanks for taking us along! M