Skip to Content

Road Trip to California Day 4 & 5: We Made It!

Tonya Prater, Owner

As we continued closer to California, there began to be almost an urgency to get there. It didn’t matter that we were days ahead of schedule, every stop was carefully weighed to determine if it was worth a delay in our arrival. We passed up many roadside attractions (The London Bridge), drove past many national parks I’d hoped to stop at (Joshua Tree), only stopping when nature called. Stepping foot in California had become a mission to my kids’ and NOTHING could distract them.

Driving towards California

Excitement in the car began to build as we neared the LA smog that hovered on the horizon.  We had nearly made our destination in record time, and yet my mind was blown by all we’d been able to see during the past three days. I found myself wondering why we had never attempted a road trip like this before and then, day two crept back into my mind.

Smog in LA

The traffic in LA was crazy. I think we spent more time sitting along the freeway than we did enjoying the city. I’m sure locals would know what roads to avoid at certain times, but we tourists didn’t have that luxury. We inched our way to the Hollywood Wax Museum on Hollywood Blvd.

My daughter had three things on her list that she wanted to do in Hollywood.

1) Walk to the Hollywood Sign. My daughter decided against walking straight up a hillside in the warmer- than- anticipated- 80- degree- temperatures to see something that she could see from below, without sweating and instead snapped a photo of the Hollywood Sign.  

Hollywood Sign

2) See the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Walk of Fame

3) Visit Venice Beach for which the warm temperatures were perfect.

The View on Venice Beach

My oldest son wanted to see the Chinese Theater, but we couldn’t get near it because they were preparing for a red carpet event. My other son was simply along for the ride.

We made a horrible mistake by trying to leave the city during rush hour and once again limped along the freeway, making our way to Santa Barbara where we decided we would stay for the night.

Exhausted, we fell into bed and slept in the next morning. We took our time getting ready and eating the continental breakfast the motel provided before we pulled from the parking lot. The only agenda, to experience more of the shoreline. We didn’t drive long before El Capitan State Beach beckoned.

El Capitan State Beach

The tide was out so we could walk the beach for miles. My intent was to beachcomb, but we encountered a surprise- dolphins in the water a short distance from shore! This was the first time we had seen dolphins outside captivity and we were fascinated. Of course I had hoped to snap the perfect photo but…well…you see.

Dolphins at El Capitan State Beach in California

My kids’ ran along the shore, jumping and laughing and I realized how grateful I was to have the opportunity to spend this time with my family. And when my son told me that this had been a really good trip, all those rough moments that we’d encountered during our road trip slipped away.

Walking along the beach at El Capitan State BEach

We decided to continue up the 101 and using my road trip guidebook, noticed that California boasted an Alpine Village similar to Helen, Georgia. We decided to stop for a closer look.

Solvang, California

After grabbing lunch at the local grocery store and finding a souvenir at the thrift store, we were back on the road. Turning towards home onto CA-166 to drive through Los Padres National Park towards Bakersfield, rewarded with more incredible views.

California 166 towards Bakersfield

We pulled in to the hotel early that evening, allowing us to relax and rest up for the return trip and to try a local pizza.

Need to catch up? 

Road Trip to California Day 1: Viewing the St. Louis Arch
Road Trip to California Day 2: To Texas and Beyond
Road Trip to California Day 3: A Day Full of Surprises

Day Four Expenses:

Gas/Toll Charges/Parking Fees: $78.00

Food: $41.45

Lodging: $120.44 (We were actually charged twice for this- make sure you always double check your credit card statements)

Entertainment: $2.28 (Tickets to the Hollywood Wax Museum were provided for my family in order to review the property)

Total: $242.17

Miles traveled for the day: 445

Total miles traveled for our trip so far: 2586

Day Five Expenses:

Gas/Toll Charges/Parking Fees: $30.00

Food: $66.60 (Saved $10 off the price of our pizza with a gift certificate from

Lodging: $99.56 (Saved with hotel discount book)

Entertainment/Souvenirs: $12.19

Total: $208.35

Miles traveled for the day: 211

Total miles traveled for our trip so far: 2797

This post is linked to Inspire Me Wednesday with Mama Buzz.


Thursday 9th of January 2014

Stumbled on your blog... And I live in Southern California. I saw the note that locals might know how to avoid traffic and laughed... We don't! LA is so big and sprawling and there's generally traffic on the freeways even at the most random times of the day. I've seen traffic on the 405 at 2am! It's just one of the annoyances we have to deal with living here and as frustrating as it is for visitors, it's worse actually living here. :( For some reason, though, people continue to deal with it. Hope you enjoyed your time and Californians were able to show you a friendly smile and hospitality.


Friday 10th of January 2014

I'm so glad you stumbled over here. :) LA traffic is kind of famous so though it was crazy busy at times, I kind of knew what we were in for on our road trip. We loved California and are planning another trip in the future. This time we plan to fly so we can spend all our time exploring the national parks and moving at a slower pace.

Mel {MamaBuzz}

Friday 20th of December 2013

That alpine village looks so neat, Tonya! Was that on the coastal highway? That would be so fun to explore. Thank you for linking up to Inspire Me Wednesday!

Life Images by Jill

Friday 20th of December 2013

It sounds like this has been a huge trip. At least you got in some beach time away from the city crush. Have a wonderful Christmas and thank you for stopping by my blog this week.


Friday 20th of December 2013

I'm just back from a recent trip to LA, I stayed in Venice Beach for three nights and was blown away by the area. The Venice canals were unexpected and the shopping on Abbott Kinney for this non-shopper was sublime. Catalina Island was a treat and a lovely respite from the noise of LA. As I was driving alone I used a GPS in the city and wouldn't have made it anywhere without it. Sounds like your trip was overall a great success. Good for you for doing it en famille.

noel morata

Thursday 19th of December 2013

I'm not a fan of LA, but the ocean drive on Highway to Santa Barbara is gorgeous and beautiful towns along the coastline!


Friday 20th of December 2013

That coastline made up for driving through LA! :) Protection Status
This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.