Traveling on a budget with kids…

We are very lucky..we live in California so we don't necessarily need to hop on a plane to get to a world-class, kid-friendly destination. Normally we include Southern California in our summer plans but with the economy being what it is, we needed to look for other options. We decided on the Central Coast. A few days at the beach..no amusement parks, no major shopping, no museums..just wonderful weather, ocean breezes, fantastic local restaurants and family and good friends. My only complaint is that is couldn't last longer.

sandcastle2We divided our stay into two very different destinations. The first hotel was a Pacifica Hotel location called the Sandcastle Inn in Pismo Beach, California. It is not a luxury hotel by any means, but it is located right on the beach. You couldn't ask for a better location to spend your days playing with your kids on the beach or letting them play while you hang out on your balcony enjoying a great book. The hotel is clean and the staff is courteous and helpful. There is no restaurant on site but there are a few good ones very close by. The hotel's website offers some great saving tips for families traveling with kids. You can review them here. It provides unparalleled views and great fun for any family who wants to enjoy California beaches at their best. The water is a little cold however so I do recommend wearing wet suits.

cliffs2We continued on after that to the Cliff's Resort. This is more of a true resort with room service and upscale rooms and amenities. However, the beach is not at arm's length. The resort does sit high on a cliff, offering stunning views and gorgeous sunsets. They also have a pool if that is something your family would enjoy. We enjoyed taking the kids along the walking paths that line the cliff and overlook the ocean. There is a tree-lined pathway and staircase along the north side of the hotel, which is a short walk directly to Shell Beach. We would prefer this beach to its neighboring beach at the Pismo Pier, as it is generally cleaner and a lot more private. The Cliff's also offers a Kid's Club with a variety of activities. They change weekly so check the schedule before you make your reservation.

I have lived in California all my life and have traveled from one end to the other. I can honestly say that no other part of California offers so many wonderful things to do, most of them very affordable. You can enjoy the superb Central Coast Wine Region, tour Hearst Castle, go horseback riding or rent ATV's, shop in the many quaint towns nearby, visit the zoo or drive to Santa Barbara for dinner. The region is not crowded and the weather is beyond compare. The weather actually improves during the Fall and rates go down. It is truly a magical place to bring your family....even though you might not get to see a real princess or a singing mouse.

sandcastle1For reservations at the Sandcastle Inn, click here..

cliffs1For reservations at the Cliff's Resort, click here

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