California: San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Travel Guide
We landed at LAX early morning Wednesday and had been up since 3:30 am Chicago time so a tad sleepy when we arrived in sunny California, but we were ready for our five day adventure. We hit the the road in our Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and headed north to San Luis Obispo. First we stopped in Santa Monica and had breakfast at the Blue Jam Cafe. After we filled up our bellies it was time to hit the 101 in our Outlander Sport and go see our friends in SLO.
We stopped for a little break, stretch and to take in the views at Lake Cachuma. I love driving in California because the scenery is so vastly different from what I look at every day in Chicago. There’s something about California that just makes me feel immediately at ease, besides the traffic in LA. After a long day of traveling we finally arrived at our friends house. We showered and freshened up since we had been traveling all day and then started our tour of the town. I absolutely fell in love with SLO and can totally see why they love living there. They have access to the beach, hiking and just about a 30 minute drive to nearly 300 wineries.
On Wednesday night we walked to the downtown which is just a couple blocks from where we stayed. For dinner we went to Luna Red and had Tapas. This is an SLO must eat, it’s dog friendly so the two couples we were with were able to bring their dogs to eat with us on the patio. We had bacon wrapped dates, Black ink squid paella, Ceviche, Skirt steak and of course lots of red wine. Everything was delicious and I can see why that’s one of their favorite restaurants.
On Thursday Rhys and I did a little exploring on our own while everyone else was busy working. Thanks to our Mitsubishi Outlander Sport we were able to see as much of SLO as we possibly could. We first headed to Oceano dunes, before we got to California I did some research on the area. These dunes kept popping up in my search and they looked insanely beautiful. I had in mind the kind of pictures I was going to take and all the pretty content I was going to share with all of you. Then we arrived, drove right onto the beach and couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of us. Since we aren’t your average beach drivers, we didn’t make it very far because we had no idea what was going to be in front of us. So that dream and those pictures only happened on very flat boring sand haha.
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Kristen the girl we were staying with kept talking to us about the marine layer and how the temperatures can change.After our unsuccessful trip to Oceano we drove up to Avila Beach. Wow! What a temperature change. It was sunny, the sky was clear and it was the perfect day to lay out on the beach. Avila is the cutest little beach town, with some shops and restaurants. We stopped at the Common House for lunch, split a cobb salad and shrimp cocktail and then headed down the beach. HOLY MOLY was the sand hot, like I don’t think i’ve ever felt sand as hot in my life. Rhys and I were literally running to find a spot, because we couldn’t stand the heat!
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After catching some rays for a couple hours, I wanted to head north and check our Morro Bay another cute town close to SLO. Again that Marine layer was crazy one minute we were laying in the sun the next minute I got out of the car and wanted a fall jacket. After exploring Morro Bay for a little we headed back to get ready for another night out in downtown SLO.
Every Thursday night except for Thanksgiving there is a farmers market downtown. We went and had a drink at Kreuzberg Coffee Company and ordered vegan buffalo bites. Holy cow, you would have no idea that you were eating cauliflower. I have dreamt about these cauliflower bites ever since and desperately need someone in Chicago to figure out how to make them! At the farmers market Tri-Trip BBQ is the big thing that is served. There is a street filled with BBQ and other food, then the next couple blocks are filled with produce and flowers. Alex one of Rhys’ friends we stayed with bought a ton of strawberries. OMG they were the best strawberries I ever had. I wish that I could have brought them all back to Chicago!
The two couples we were with really wanted to give us the real SLO experience and they did, so we did a lot of eating and drinking! After the farmers market we went to a bar called Libertine Brewing Company and had Tatchos, Those were delicious and definitely something I would suggest sharing for the table. Do you think we were done eating? Nope! Our next stop of the tour de SLO was to Giuseppe’s. The decor here was definitely my favorite of all the places we went, the food and wine did not disappoint either. After dinner we went back to Alex and Kristen’s to just hang, watch the Real Housewives and drink wine!
Santa Barbara, California
After two wonderful days with our friends in SLO we hopped in our Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and made our way just an hour and a half south to Santa Barbara for Rhys’ cousins wedding. Our Mitsubishi Outlander sport was the perfect size for me to drive. I have a car of similar size at home, so I felt completely comfortable driving through the mountains in California. The gas mileage was wonderful, the interior was so comfortable and we were able to hook up our our phones to not only play music or podcasts but to easily navigate with the navigation system. This crossover was the perfect edition and helped us get safely and comfortably to and from all of our destinations!
We wanted to enjoy every moment and amenity of the beautiful hotel we were staying at. The wedding and our stay was all at the The Ritz Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. The second you drove onto the grounds and you were greeted by the valet you knew the next two days were going to be magical. As you entered the hotel lobby and you were waiting in line to check in, you were greeted by a friendly staff member with a glass of champagne. If I could drink one alcoholic beverage the rest of my life it would be Champagne and that’s the only thing I drank the rest of the weekend. After checking into our room we headed down to the pool area to get some more sun, have a drink and get a bite to eat. Everyone in Rhys’ family started to arrive and it was so much fun to hangout with everyone before the Welcome Dinner!
After a little bit of lounging we went back to the room to get ready and then went to his uncles suite for some drinks. They had the Welcome Dinner at the Wine Collective downtown Santa Barbara which was a twenty minute trolley ride from our hotel. Such a fun night eating pizza, drinking wine and spending time with his family. His cousin did not have a maid of honor and her now husband did not have a best man so at the rehearsal dinner everyone in their bridal party said a little something. It was nice because then at the actual wedding, there wasn’t a lot of time spent listening to speeches and more time to enjoy! We headed back to the hotel and rested up for the next day of wedding fun!
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Saturday morning came up quickly and we realized we only had one more full day to enjoy our trip. We started the day with a little breakfast in bed, one of my favorite things to do when I stay at a hotel. More pool time was absolutely necessary before we got ready for the wedding. As you arrived to the ceremony it was located on the bluff/ cliff at the resort and had spectacular views. There was someone who greeted you again with that tray of champagne. Rhys’ Aunt Sherrie officiated the wedding and we had a drink with her in the bar before the ceremony to calm her nerves. The weather could not have been more perfect, just a little breeze, no humidity and the perfect amount of sun. Rhys cousin looked like she fell right out of a bridal magazine, absolutely stunning! She wore a Berta gown that had this beautiful removable train and her husband wore a white suit jacket, black pants and these cool black loafers without socks. The ceremony was about twenty minutes and after we headed to a terrace at the resort for cocktail hour. Greeted with wine, a cheese and seafood table. Everything was fabulous and I think we were all really hungry! After cocktail hour we headed inside for the reception, as we were walking up this grand staircase the band greeted you by immediately playing music and getting people out on the dance floor. I loved that, the party started right away. The Bride and Groom then did their first dance and after we headed outside for dinner. The tables and the setting were absolutely stunning. The parents gave their speeches and toasts and then we danced the night away! I unfortunately didn’t make it to the after party, because I may have overdone the Champagne. I had every intention of going back to my room and coming back out, until I fell asleep soundly in my dress.
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On Sunday we took our time to relax in the morning and then drove back to LA. We were in a little bit of a rush and I said to Rhys “I’m nervous we aren’t going to have time to drop the car and get to the airport” not two minutes later I looked at my phone “Dear Southwest customer your flight is delayed two hours”. UGH! As irritating as that was we were able to not rush anymore and enjoy one last meal in Santa Monica with Rhys’ sister Morgan. We had a delicious dinner at Milo and Olive and loaded up on carbs just before our even more delayed flight. What a long night we had ahead of us! Arriving in Chicago at 4:30am as unhappy and tired as I was, I was so grateful for the beautiful five days I just spent in California!