Amber Mamian is on a mission to inspire more families to hit the road with kids in tow. The Temecula-based mom and founder of Global Munchkins is a travel and lifestyle blogger who tours the world with her family of seven. Mamian has five kids through birth and adoption (8 to 18, plus one on the way), and knows a thing or two about making trips fun for every age.
With summer in full swing, Mamian decided to take a new approach to vacation planning. She let her children decide—with input from her Instagram followers—where they would go and what they would do. The final itinerary: a five-day SoCal trip to Hollywood, Huntington Beach, and Oceanside.
Hollywood ticked the kids’ amusement park box in a major way with a full day at Universal Studios Hollywood. The crew also dug into famous street eats with a stop at the dineL.A. Taco Trek before tucking into the luxurious Kimpton Everly Hollywood. Next up: Huntington Beach where the family relaxed with a Duffy boat harbor tour, dinner at the famous Duke’s Huntington Beach, and a sunset beach bonfire with Waterfront Adventures. The kids loved the “amazing ocean-view pool and waterslides” at The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel.
The final stop was Oceanside, the northernmost city in San Diego County. The Mamians soaked up seaside vibes with surrey bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals and a kayak trip with Boat Rentals of America. A surprising highlight: the California Surf Museum, which was “quick and easy to get through even with young children.” The Seabird Resort, right on the water, made for a perfect home base. Read more from Mamian about how she managed to execute a trip that thrilled the whole family.
What are the top highlights from your road trip through L.A., Huntington Beach, and Oceanside?
Oh man, narrowing it down is tough. We had such a fantastic trip! Universal Studios Hollywood was a huge hit with the kids. You get the glitz and glamor of Hollywood behind the scenes and the new Jurassic World was amazing! In Huntington Beach, roasting marshmallows over a bonfire as we watched the sunset over the ocean was definitely a memory I won't forget. In Oceanside, we were able to stand-up paddleboard right next to a group of sea lions. It was amazing!
Did you stop along the Taco Trek? If so, what did you try?
Yes. We stopped at Pico Boulevard's Sky’s Gourmet Tacos. They are known for their shrimp tacos and "sassy sauce." It's easy to see why: Our tacos were fantastic. We also loved their steak tacos, chicken quesadilla, and shrimp burrito.
What did you like best about your stay at the Kimpton Everly Hollywood?
Location, location, location! The Kimpton Everly Hollywood is a beautiful modern hotel right in the heart of Hollywood. The kids' jaws dropped as they walked into our hotel room to be greeted by the famous Hollywood Sign right outside our window. The Kimpton is just a few blocks away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the TCL Chinese Theatre, El Capitan Theatre, and Pantages Theatre. Plus, Universal Studios was just a five-minute drive away.
What did you all do in Huntington Beach?
Things slowed down a bit when we got to the beach. We kicked things off with a relaxing Duffy boat cruise and picnic through Huntington Harbour. Next, we enjoyed the ocean-view pool and waterslides at The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort. We rested a bit after our swim, and then we headed toward the pier where we soaked up the gorgeous view while we enjoyed a delicious meal at Duke's. Then we concluded the night roasting marshmallows over a bonfire as we watched the sunset over the ocean. If there is one beach activity that I would encourage every family to try, it would be that.
After your visit to Oceanside, what would you put on your must-do list for future visitors?
To my surprise, I would say the California Surf Museum. It is really well put together, quick and easy to get through even with young children, and the history of surfing is actually super interesting!
What was the best thing you ate along the way?
The best restaurant experience by far was Barton G. The Restaurant Los Angeles. The food is amazing—the Don't Be A Jerk Chicken was so good—and you can't beat the towering Marie Antoinette cotton candy sculpture for dessert! It's definitely an experience you won't ever forget!
What makes these destinations great for family travel?
With the sheer variety of activities paired with the many gorgeous landscapes, you can literally go from the beach to the desert then the mountains in one day if you wanted. There is something for every single member of the family.