For years Alex and I have chosen the 101 fwy as our route of choice for getting up to Norhern California, unless we have time to take the slow scenic route being the PCH. At all cost we try hard to avoid the 5, as it breaks my heart to see and smell the unethical cow farms, barren lands and to experience the blazing heat without ac in our gutted 1970’s Aerostar.
Now that Nova joins us on these travels, I have made it my job to scout out stretch, rest, play, eat and nature spots for us to enjoy for an hour or two before hopping back in the van and carrying on to our destination. Stopping at places such as playgrounds, rivers, and parks makes the trip truly feel like a journey not just a means to the destination. Often times I feel as if we’ve had several trips encapsulated into one big trip with taking these breaks along the road.
Best of all Alex and I enjoy these stops just as much as Nova, but who doesn’t love a good stretch, picnic or frolic? I’ve decided to start a list of favorite places that we’ve enjoyed over the years for you to get more out of your California road trips. Best of all these places don’t cost a penny!
Tatums Garden in Salina’s CA This play park is fully accessible, fully inclusive and has separate play areas alongside each other for babies and toddlers. We spent three plus hours enjoying the facilities here. Luckily we had a cooler bag of food to snack on and there were restrooms on site. Tatum’s Garden is one the most fun playgrounds that I have ever been to. They even grow vegetables for the kids to pick, Nova enjoyed picking and eating the tomatoes from the vine. A very impressive community supported playground! Located in the agricultural farming town of Salina’s and bonus that BKM a smoothie bar is located 3 miles away.
Paso Robles City Park Downtown – I love the Organic dining options that this town has to offer. However, since the park is a great picnic spot as it’s fully equipped with tables, a grill and shade I find us picnicking more than dining out. The town has raised money to create a new playground for the kids which will be built by Summer 2016. I recently just discovered that a juice bar called Roots is also opening soon just across the way from the park. Bonus is that there is plenty of free parking along the park and very clean restrooms which is rare for Downtowns.
San Luis Obispo Downtown– This is such a gem of a town! We love stretching by the creek, grabbing a bite to eat from the local cafes and juice/smoothie spots, walking around town and heading back on our adventure. We easily spend 2-3 hours exploring the downtown area by foot. This place has is it all from nature spots, boutique and mainstream shops, art, cafe’s and friendly folks.
Kid’s world at Alameda Park in Santa Barbara– When a whole community comes together to fund and build a playground you know there’s going to be heart and soul in the work. This playground is well thought out for kids of all ages (including us grown ups). We also love the locals in this town, find the area to be very walkable with shade and pleasantry abound with flowers and business’s close by. Restrooms on site and free parking make this playground even more accessible to travelers.
That’s all for now! Please let me know if you have a favorite place to add in the comments below.