Finds Along the California Coast

This week we took a drive up the coast. Along the way we came across a few jewels that I thought we’d share.

Jewel #1 Seymour Discovery Center


Walking the outside path behind the Discovery Center.

While tooling around Santa Cruz we found a small educational center that’s great for kids and toddlers alike: the Seymour Discovery Center.


There are quite a few indoor touch pools with starfish, sea urchins, and even a small shark! There are a few games and scavenger hunts for the kiddies. Our two toddlers loved running around touching everything. After the adults had had enough indoor play, we all headed outside to sneak a peek at the whale skeleton and walk along the path that hugs the coast.

It was $8 per adults and kids under 3 were free.


Jewel #2 Wonderful Park

Driving down the 5, there is a connection to the 58. If you exit you’ll find a few restaurants, gas stations, and a hotel (I think). Drive west for a few minutes past the open fields and on the right hand side, you’ll discover Wonderful Park.

It has a play structure, a swing set, and is filled with sand. There is also a basketball court. There is an area that looks like it is a splash pad in the summer though I’m not sure as traveled in spring. What makes this park special though is the light game. There are red lights and green lights so kids can play in teams. Children can choose how the lights will be displayed and how they must be captured. There is music. My two toddlers played on it for almost thirty minutes before we dragged them away!

It’s a wonderful little free park that will give your family a place to stretch their legs and eat a meal on the long drive.


Jewel #3 Rodeway Inn for $35 a night


The two queen suite we stayed in at the Buttonwillow Rodeway Inn.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this super cheap Rodeway Inn on the Choice Hotels website but for $35 you gotta give it a shot, right? Lol It’s no palace, but it gets the job done. Rooms are small but clean. Service is … serviceable. Lol We booked the two queens suite for $80. Since have two toddlers and we’d been cooped up in the car all day, we thought a little room to run might be a good idea.

Jewel #4 Quality Inn near Monterey Bay


The one bedroom suite with two queen beds and two televisions.

We wanted to visit the Dennis the Menace playground in Monterey and it seemed like a good place to stop for the evening so we started checking out hotels in the area. They are expensive! Being a Choice Hotels member, I checked the website and found this little Quality Inn only one exit away from Monterey. It was cheap and close, so we booked it but we didn’t expect much.

We booked a suite but the photo of the room two queens room and the photo of the two queens suite was the same photo. I booked the suite because …  in theory a suite is always better, right? Lol

Check-in was smooth. The young man at the desk was friendly and quick, if not thorough. We parked in the lot, grabbed our stuff, and made our way up the stairs to the corner room. When we opened the door and looked down the hallway (yes, there was a hallway) we noticed that the lock into the next room was off and the door was open. As I was about to return to reception to tell him that we booked a room with two beds when the phone rang. It was the young man making sure that our room was okay. I said that the room was fine, but the door to the other room was open. He kindly told me that since we booked the suite, we had two rooms, two beds, and two televisions! Whoo hoo! Instead of two beds right next to each other we were able to put the kids in one room and we stayed in the other room. After being cooped up in a car with two toddlers all day, this was awesome!

The bathroom is a bit dated but everything was clean and roomy. The internet works well. The heat (it’s winter now) was easy to use and warmed up the rooms quickly. The light was great and there is even a small patio with a sliding glass door.

The next morning we drove to Monterey (one exit south). We had a great time on the drive and I’m actually looking forward to doing it again and staying at this hotel.

The beauty of driving along the California coast rivals the scenery of the Hawai’ian islands or the South African coast. It’s amazing …  and a little more do-able with these jewels.




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