Southern California Dreaming: Road Trip

Exhausted from 2 hours of being the “Captain” of a two-man orange kayak in the Pacific Ocean, I grabbed my pre-made lunch in the hot burning sun and plucked up my backpack to find a spot in the shade.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

I still had my black ROXY rash guard on but had managed to wrangle out of my water shoes in exchange for some comfy flip flops. Fortunately, on this hot summer day, I found that my sunscreen had continued to work its magic. Eventually, I peeked around the corner of the campsite to see my friend Jeana had already snagged a nice outdoor picnic table in the shade under a tree. I decided to join her. Having just returned from this cave kayaking adventure, I wanted the solid ground to stand on in the shade. It was hot! While in the ocean, we had explored thick kelp beds, deep caverns with sharp barnacle-like jagged edges of rocks, and had also kayaked under the ferry boat pier. I needed a break from all the adventure and the sun.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California, Southern California Dreaming

Some of the Best Places to Visit in California

We had made our way out to the Channel Islands via a ferry boat from Ventura to spend the day. The islands were close enough to the mainland, yet worlds apart from my time spent in Santa Barbara. The Channel Islands National Park has come to be known as “the Galapagos Islands of North America” and I was here to explore the islands for the day. I had heard there were foxes on the island, but I have to admit, even I was shocked how as we were sitting, a young fox walked right near us within 3 feet and sat down, staring at us for a bit. I know all he wanted was our food but was surprised at how close he would come to us as we were having our lunch.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Best Places to Visit in California

I had been invited by Kia to experience the Optima SX-L and the Cadenza vehicles while driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. This gorgeous stretch of land skirts around the coastline of California and challenges even the best driver to keep their eyes on the road.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in CaliforniaMy goal at the time was to make it up to the Belmond’s El Encanto Resort, where I would be meeting up with fellow road trippers for a relaxing Santa Barbara weekend.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Some of the Best Places to Visit in California

But let me digress: It had been 10 am in the morning on a muggy Monday when I finally landed at the airport in Los Angeles. The night before that, I had flown from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Miami and eventually made it on to a delayed flight into Phoenix. Unfortunately, it had been diverted to Tucson for gas since we circled several times near the closed PHX airport due to weather.  Eventually, though, I landed in PHX around midnight and made it home by 1 am just in time to do laundry and leave the following Monday morning for a weekend of reflection and renewal.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

It was a long way getting here, but I was ready to begin my version of

“Southern California Dreaming: Road Trip”.

Some of the Best Places to Visit in California

I started my north bound voyage at LAX as I stepped off the curb from Terminal 5, gate 53 baggage claim. There she was as I stood there and looked at her for the very first time: my sleek dark cherry Kia Optima SX-L. The sweet folks at Drive Shop valet pulled her up and gave me the keys!

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

There are few things that are as exhilarating and give me the sense of freedom that comes along with hitting the open road – especially when that road happens to be one of the USA’s most iconic highways– also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Some of the Best Places to Visit in California

Honestly, Kia had me at HELLO, when I got the message from the #KiaFamily leader that the press event was going to be held in Santa Barbara. I had always wanted to go there and now this event was my chance. To stay at El Encanto Belmond Santa Barbara was just icing on the cake! My itinerary sounded pretty awesome as well when I eventually received the invitation via email.

Here is the 4-day itinerary of the Best Places to Visit in California that they planned for us:

Drive up the coast from LAX to Santa Barbara. Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California Elegant Dinner in Santa Barbara.Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

 Enjoy a Spa Day.

Come along with me as I explore the luxury world of the Grand Velas Los Cabos as I help you experience this all-inclusive resort in the Baja of Mexico.

Winery Vineyard Tours.

We visited two wineries in the area and they were both fabulous!

Grassini Family Vineyards 

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Sunstone Vineyards and WineryCome along with me for the Best Places to Visit in CaliforniaCome along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California 

Have a Cave Kayaking Adventure.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Dinner Cruise to spend time with friends and the #kiafamily.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Photo by Jeana Shandraw

 Drive back to LAX.

Come along with me for the Best Places to Visit in California

Four days of luxury, adventure, new experiences, and fun, with time to reflect and rejuvenate!

Disclosure:  The writer believes in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by Kia Motors.  As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. 

2017-08-20T10:44:28+00:00

8 Comments

  1. Kelly Stilwell July 27, 2017 at 11:01 am

    That looks like a fabulous trip! I can’t believe that little fox got so close to you! The car is beautiful. Did you enjoy driving it? Such a pretty color, too!

    • Cacinda Maloney July 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

      The car was awesome, and since in my past life I was a car label snob, this car blew me away! I couldn’t believe how much KIA has upped its game! Tiny fox stay away!! lol

  2. Roxsanne Slatford July 27, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Your trip looks amazing! I’m gutted we didn’t stop in Santa Barbara when we were in California. Loved the coastal road, totally worth a trip!

    • Cacinda Maloney July 28, 2017 at 8:44 am

      Yes, Santa Barbara is a cute little California town!

  3. Gennifer Rose July 28, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I’ve lived in California for many years but I’ve never made it out to the Channel Islands. I need to make a trip!

  4. Jeana Travels August 13, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    I’m so glad you made it Cacinda – the trip wouldn’t have been the same without you. And you can share a spot next to me on a bench any time :oP

    • Cacinda Maloney August 14, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Ahhh gal! Thanks so much for all you add to my downtime travel life on social, how would I do it with out you?! So great to actually see you again…

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