Our El Capitan Trip in Santa Barbara, CA

We just got back from a lovely few days away in the Santa Barbara area. We went “glamping” at El Capitan Canyon and it was wonderful.

It really was the perfect 2-night getaway with our boys (4 years old and 1 year old). This was our one big trip for the summer and it was the perfect combination of relaxing + adventurous.

We started off by stopping at Padaro Beach in Carpinteria. This was a beautiful, quiet beach. It was a perfect stop along the way and super easy parking. We parked right on Santa Claus Lane and just walked across the train tracks to the sand. The boys and I walked along the beach, while Lance squeezed in a short run along Padaro Lane. After, we had an amazing lunch at Padaro Beach Grill. This spot is a new favorite of mine. It is perfect with kids as they have a sand area filled with toys. It also has amazing food (the tri-tip fries were delish). It truly did feel like we were in Hawaii. Can’t wait to come back.

We then drove into downtown Santa Barbara and took a quick coffee (Handelbar) and ice cream (McConnell’s) stop. It was such a quiet day out and felt so peaceful watching the boys happily gobble up their mini ice cream cones on a bench. It was Thatcher’s first ice cream cone and he was very excited.

By the end of the day, we made it to our cabin at El Capitan Canyon. We really enjoyed it here. It was perfect with our two small boys. It really gave us a fun, outdoor camping experience while still having the luxuries of a bathroom, shower, mini kitchen, pool and playground. Our cabin was right across from the pool/playground area, which was perfect. On our first night, we went to the pool and went on a short walk to the market. It was a bit longer than we expected and was about a full mile walk round trip, but it was beautiful out and a nice way to see more of the resort. We made it back to our cabin and Lance started a fire and grilled sausage for our first dinner. I will admit it was a bit wild with the fire pit + two crazy boys, but it worked out and all were fed and happy. S’mores were of course had on both nights!

It took the boys a LONG time to fall asleep. They were so excited to be sleeping together on the pullout couch. Once they finally fell asleep, Lance and I got to chat outside by the fire and watch skunks eat Hudson’s graham cracker crumbs.

The sunshine woke us all up early, but it was a good thing! It gave us enough time to hike up to the llama farm and make the 8 am feeding. This was definitely a highlight for us. It was just us and the farmers. We got to feed the one-month old lambs milk from large green, glass bottles. It was the sweetest. Thatcher bonded with these baby lambs and Hudson was fond of the donkey and the pregnant goat, Honey.

After some play time at the playground, we drove to Butterfly Beach in Montecito. We were hoping to just walk to El Capitan State Beach, but from our cabin it would have been a mile walk. We decided to drive to this beach instead and it was perfect with the boys. We literally were able to park our car, step onto the sand, and plop all of our things down. This is the most accessible beach with kids I have ever been to. We even watched one mom with three kiddos manage to park and get everything situated just by stepping outside of her car. We all went into the water and Lance even took Hudson out on his surfboard. Hudson even kind of caught a wave. He also crashed head first, but was happy to be “surfing.” We all walked along this beach. It was really beautiful and felt more like a European beach (I don’t really know since I haven’t traveled much, but it felt like it). Hudson also has become strangely good at throwing a frisbee.

After the beach, we made a couple stops. We got coffee at Caffe Luxxe at the Monecito Country Mart. And picked up some beer at a local brewery, Brass Bear Brewery.

The rest of the day, we spent time walking around by our cabin and really taking in all the beauty of El Capitan. We saw deer, played at the pool, and even went on a “flashlight hike.” The canyon has so many wonderful trails and it was a nice way to end our trip and made bedtime much smoother as Thatcher fell asleep on the move.

On Wednesday morning, Lance and I took turns running. I am so glad we did. It was a beautiful run through El Capitan State Beach and I extended and ran along some trails by the cabin. I loved our trip and all the family time, but having this hour to myself to just run was special. It was one of my more beautiful runs and it reminded me of how thankful I am for the place running is in my life.

The trip was officially wrapped up with one final dip in the pool, one last swing session at the playground, and Hudson getting to pick out one thing at the market (he chose gummy worms…classic Hudson).

Once we left, we made a few final stops on our way back home. We played at Kid’s World. Really loved this park. So unique and a great place to explore. We ate lunch at the Santa Barbara Public Market. This was another awesome spot and we really loved the Mexican food there. We also squeezed in one final beach stop at Rosewood Miramar Beach. We walked through the beautiful hotel and went down to the beach. Hudson even met a little friend and played on the sand for a bit and we all jumped into the ocean.

As I have taken days to write all the details of this little trip of ours, I am left with feelings of deep gratitude. Thankful for my family and these special memories we are creating. Even though we drove just about 2 hours from our home, it really felt like a wonderful adventure. I can’t wait to go back and hope we can make El Capitan an annual family trip.

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