After we had our last meal with Katie, Jon, and James at our hotel in Disneyland on Wednesday morning, we loaded up our car and headed to Universal Studios for a few hours. Big thanks to my Aunt Rose for giving us complimentary tickets to the park! Note: It was about an hour drive to Universal from Disneyland. Not too bad. (Disneyland recap here.)
I don’t think I have ever been to the Universal Studios in California, only Florida – but YEARS and YEARS ago, so I was excited to see the park. Tommy and Ava didn’t know what to expect as new-timers.
We decided not to waste any time riding rides since we were on somewhat of a schedule with driving about 2.5 hours to Santa Barbara, but we made the most of our time walking around, finding a really cool playground for Ava next to the Jurassic Park ride, watching little musical numbers in the Wizarding World Harry Potter, and grabbing lunch before hitting the road again.
Tommy was pleasantly surprised that Universal included a section devoted to the Simpson’s Springfield + a ride, which he would have loved to have gone on but the wait was 1.5 hours! No thanks.
While we didn’t ride any rides per se, Ava had a blast going on the super long/tall escalators in the park “by herself” (holding one of our hands). Those three escalators were rides in and of themselves!
After exploring the park for about 2.5 hours, we decided to get on the road hoping and praying Ava would nap on the drive to Santa Barbara. (She did!)
The drive to Santa Barbara was scenic (we took Highway 1) and surprisingly fast to me. I guess I forgot about the hour drive to Santa Barbara before all of our Universal Studios fun.
After we checked into our hotel, the beautiful and quite stunning, Fess Parker, we were on a mission to get some delicious Mexican food that a couple of our friends who went to college in Santa Barbara recommended to us, followed by a grocery store run to Whole Foods, before calling it a night.
We decided to make the most of our stay at the hotel and in Santa Barbara and didn’t check out of the hotel until 11am or so before heading to the beach and pier the next day.
Ava was able to get her swim on for a bit (since it was a bit cooler in Santa Barbara than Anaheim she stuck to the hot tub and let daddy swim in the big pool).
The only way we could lure Ava away from the pool (hot tub) was by telling her we were going to the beach next. She was all about it.
The waterfront was quite picturesque.
Then it was time to hit the road for Monterey. This drive was beautiful too, but definitely a lot longer than the previous day’s road trip. Ava took a solid nap and watched a few Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episodes to pass the time away. We rolled into our hotel around 7pm and then promptly met my Aunt Rose and my cousins for dinner and ice cream in downtown Monterey.
- Lodging: The Fess Parker Hotel
- Where We Ate: El Paseo, Longboard’s Beach and Grill
- Thoughts: We really liked Santa Barbara. It would have been nice to have spent another day here as there was obviously plenty to see and do (hello wineries!)