Monterey/Pacific Grove (although could be rainy), San Diego (brutal drive) for Legoland, beach, science museums?
We go to Santa Barbara frequently since we have family there. We always have a good time, but there's not a lot for toddlers there particularly. There's no "signature" playground in San Diego a la Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey.
I cannot imagine spending a week in Pismo... it is a small town! I think you'd get bored, and it's easily a half hour to SLO for their kids' science center & restaurants.
Ashland OR is 5 hours, has cute little downtown, nice playgrounds, and kids science museum. Again, for an entire week though, I think you're best off going to someplace that's big with a good sized tourist infrastructure like LA or San Diego. If you edit down your trip to 4 days, you could have a great time in monterey, SB, or Ashland.
My personal pick would be renting a 2-bd in Pacific Grove for 3-4 nights. One day at MY Museum in Monterey, one day exploring the coastline in PG/Monterey (rent a 4-person surrey bike), *maybe* one day at the aquarium (not my favorite place on earth, always too crowded), and definitely a long visit to Dennis the Menace. Then back home to normal schedules! :)
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Looking for a vacation rental for August 2008 in the Pismo Beach area for 7-8 people (2 children under 10 and 5 adults). We'd like something within walking distance from the beach that would also be near kid-friendly restaurants and a grocery store. Any leads on a specific home, or a good rental agency that serves that area, would be greatly appreciated. thanks! Julie
Call Coastal Vacation Rentals, 330 Main Street, Pismo Beach CA 93449, 800-700-1254. This company owns or manages most rental property in Pismo Beach. I worked in Santa Maria as a travel nurse this past spring and lived in Pismo Beach on Hinds 2 blocks from the beach ... it was WONDERFUL. This company managed the building I was in. I had a very nice furnished one bedroom with a deck with a view of the beach. The building by mine looked like it had larger, more expensive, very nice apartments. They also rent out houses. There are many restaurants within walking distance of this beach area, and grocery stores and the like a short drive away down 101. loves the beach
I'd like to recommend Pismo Beach as a fun place to go with teenagers. We went for 5 days during spring break - two teen boys, my husband and me, his elderly aunt, my sister and her 5-year-old son. We had a great time despite our crowd and despite the sub-optimal weather. We stayed at the Edgewater Inn. It's only $85/night for a kitchen suite which has a separate bedroom, a fold-out sofa in the LR, full cooking facilities, and two TVs (yeah). Not the lap of luxury but very roomy and comfortable. There's a heated pool and hottub but the best part is there's just a driveway between the Edgewater and the beach. Pismo Beach is wide and sandy like the ones in So. California and there were volleyball nets set up and lots of people kite flying. There were a bunch of tame-looking teens roaming around, lots of little surf shops and pizza places a short walk away including a video arcade. Dogs are allowed on the beach, and a short drive away at Pismo Dunes, horses and ATV's (that's All-Terrain Vehicles) are also allowed on the beach. We rented horses ($10-20/hr) one day - they know the way - you only have to sit in the saddle and enjoy the sights - and another day my sister and all three boys rented ATVs. They even had one for 5-y-olds. They are like big 4-wheeled motorcycles. It was expensive but here is a direct quote from the 13-year-old: That is the most fun I have ever had in my whole life. Thank you SO much. I love you forever. While they rode ATV's, we other 3 went to Solvang - a Danish colony about an hour away, which the aunt enjoyed a lot. The Hearst Castle is also only an hour away but we didn't make it on this trip. On the way home, we stopped in nearby San Luis Obispo at the Madonna Inn which you really have to see to believe. Breakfast is very reasonable in the Coffee Shop, and make sure you get one of the guys in the family to show you the men's bathroom in the bar downstairs!
Edgewater Inn - http://www.edgewater-inn.com/
Madonna Inn - http://www.madonnainn.com/
Pismo Beach Visitor's Guide http://www.classiccalifornia.com/
I'd like to second the recommendation for Pismo Beach as a great vacation spot. When I was growing up in the San Joaquin Valley, my extended family used to vacation there every year in February. I have many fond childhood memories of body surfing (even in February!) and building sand castles. For the last several years my family has been returning there for family reunions. We usually stay at the Sea Crest Motel. I know it is a bit more expensive than some of the other motel/hotels in the area, but you can't beat it for ocean views and beach access. They also have conference rooms with kitchens that can be reserved for large groups. There are also camping facilties in Oceano, just south of Pismo Beach. -- Randall
In response to the San Luis Obispo trip, I recommend heading over to Pismo Beach. There is a nice campground there called Pismo Dunes as well as some reasonably priced hotels right on the beach. The California AAA guidebook has lots of listings. If you are a CSAA member, you can use their web site at www.csaa.com. Lynn