Lazy rivers, plunging waterfalls, and kid-friendly wineries make this coastal trip tops for the whole family.
Trip length: 4 days
Total distance: 262mi/436km
SANTA BARBARA (34mi/54km; 39min). At Santa Barbara Zoo , let the kids check out critters and chug around in the zoo train pulled by a replica 1863 locomotive. Visit the Old Mission for history and awesome views. INFO Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau ; 805/966-9222
SOLVANG (34mi/55km; 43min). Get nose to nose with miniature horses at Quicksilver Ranch. Stop by family- and pet-friendly Carivintas Winery —plenty of puzzles and games to keep kids busy. INFO Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau ; 805/688-6144
SAN LUIS OBISPO (13mi/20km; 16min). Pick fruit at Cal Poly’s on-campus farm . Indulge your kids’ love of all things gross at Bubble Gum Alley, covered with already-been-chewed gum. INFO San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau ; 805/541-8000
MORRO BAY (13mi/21km; 17min). Explore Morro Bay Estuary , home to harbor seals, sea otters, and more than 250 species of birds. Six miles south, hike coastal trails at Montaña De Oro State Park . INFO San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau ; 805/541-8000
MONTEREY (4mi/6km; 11min). At Monterey Bay Aquarium, see sea otters in their newly spiffed-up area. Enjoy sustainable seafood at the aquarium’s excellent cafe. INFO Monterey Bay Aquarium ; 831/648-4800