Vacation Photos: California Road Trip

Over the holidays, we took a two-week trip to California to visit friends and family. We went to San Diego, Palm Springs, LA and San Francisco (whew!) with two little dudes in tow. Here are a few photos of the chaos, if you’d like to see…

San Diego:
First we went to La Jolla to see some friends. What a gorgeous place! The weather is 75 and sunny every day.

We went to a playground on the beach each morning…

…and had the best tacos of our lives at The Taco Stand.

Alex always makes fun of me for bringing depressing books on every vacation, but this book was so good. In particular, I really liked the protagonist—a Harvard psychology professor with Alzheimer’s—which made the book that much more compelling.

Palm Springs:
Next we drove to Palm Springs for Christmas with Alex’s family.

That night, the plan was for the boys to eat dinner together around 6pm and for us to have a grown-up meal around 8:30pm. But Toby begged to stay up for “second dinner,” as he called it, and we of course said yes. It was so cute watching him try to stay awake until 8:30pm. (“Mama, I’ll just take a little rest on the sofa…”) But he made it! And he ate all his steak and potatoes and green beans before sleepily declaring it all very “fancy” and heading to bed. :)

A few days later, Alex’s sister got married in the back garden! Toby was the (nervous and giddy) ring bearer.

He did a great job!

Here’s the happy couple getting attacked by a stick.

Then we drove to LA with my dad and brother.

Our first stop is always the Santa Monica pier…

…where Anton learned the all-important game of Whac-a-Mole.

One bonus of grandpas: They help you see dogs over fences.

And Toby, inspired by the recent nuptials, got married at a playdate in LA.

One evening, we played the nerdy game Set, which I have given my dad for Christmas. (I swear we’re having fun.)

And we ordered one of our favorite LA delicacies: salad pizza (with avocado and an everything-bagel crust). Only in LA would they think to put salad on pizza.

San Francisco:
Finally, we went to San Francisco to visit my sister and her husband.

Anton got a new jacket, which I think makes him look like an English professor in his 60s…

…and my sister called Alex and me out on being inadvertent twins. What she didn’t know is WE ALSO HAVE THE SAME WINTER COAT.

Whew! It was a great couple weeks and a total madhouse most of the time. When we got back, we were laughing about how now we need a vacation :) Hope you had a great holiday xoxo

P.S. Past vacations to California—Toby was so tiny!

  1. Mara says...

    I’m so happy to hear that your sister has found love again ❤️

    • Tasha says...

      FYI – this post is from 2015

  2. hi jo! long time…

    just stumbled on this post and am planning a trip to CA this July. wondering which park is pictured in the SF photo?

    thanks, kim

  3. Anonymous says...

    Just wanted to say thank you for the tip about the Taco Stand. My husband and I happened to be in the area and dropped in for a bite upon your recommendation. Best tacos I’ve EVER eaten! Wouldn’t have known about it without your post, so thanks!

  4. Great pictures.. Toby is too cute.
    While you guys actually matched my husband and I have a knack for being accidentally dressed in matching color palettes.. people may think it was done on purpose but it was not.. neither of us want to give in and change.

  5. Cute photos. Also, thanks for reminding me about the awesome game Set!! I loved it as a kid. I bet my Mom still has it somewhere …

  6. I LOVE SET!!!!!! iloveitiloveitiloveit!!!! totally believe that you were having fun in that photo.

  7. what beautiful photos!! thank you for sharing!

  8. We just did 3 weeks from Brooklyn to Texas and back a different route. It was awesome and a madhouse too – just the 1 kid, 16 months, and our dog. Sooo glad to be home.

  9. I love the idea of eucalyptus in the shower. So easy!
    Love your blog.

  10. This trip looks so fun! Thanks for sharing Joanna!

    Is your brother single???

  11. My parents and siblings and I were Set fanatics growing up! I’ll have to go dig that out of the cupboard to play again. :)

  12. +1 on your brother.
    any resolutions this year to post more about him, i mean his style Etc ;)

  13. Looks like an amazing trip! You guys covered so many bases! Great road trip.

  14. looks like a fun and relaxing vacation! abbott salad pizza is so delicious!

  15. It’s so sweet the way Toby is looking at you! I wish my sons look at me like that when I have babies! xx

  16. Looked like you had a wonderful vacation Joanna! I have been readin your blog for quite some time and especially enjoy your posts on motherhood around the world. I’m from Norway myself and I think it’s very interesting to hear other peoples opinions in regards to raising children in Norway. Have a great weekend!

  17. Looks like a fun trip! Makes me homesick, now I want to go too!!!

  18. Don’t tell your brother but I find him cute <3!!!

  19. I LOVE your face (and Alex’s) when Toby went after the ride and groom with a stick. So real. My son would be doing the same thing. Thanks for posting.

  20. Anton really does look like an English professor!! hha! Great shots!

  21. Oh my god – that photo of you and the boys, with Toby playing the recorder….something about it just struck me as the most perfect photo that they will look back on as a snapshot of their mom as a young mother, looking beautiful! The kind of thing your future daughter-in-law might stumble upon and love.

  22. Salad pizza?!?! YUM! I’m reading Still Alice right now – enjoying it so far!

  23. We put salad on all of our pizzas! :) How else can you justify a $3 grocery store pizza? Top it with greens and a splash of olive oil :) Also, that dress is awesome. I’ve been hunting for something similar for my sister’s wedding this year.

  24. How many times has Toby got play-married now?! Haha too cute that little man x

  25. Wow, looks like it was such a great trip!

  26. Your brother is a cutie!!!

  27. JC says...

    I love how Toby is looking at you in the shot on the plane…adorable! Glad you had a good break. We spent 9 days in NYC/Brooklyn using much of your travel advice on the blog for traveling with our 3 kids! So thank you ! The HighLine and walking the Brooklyn Bridge were kids favourites…

  28. You guys are my travel inspiration! We have been too chicken to plan a “real” vacation with our toddler, Luna, in tow. This year I have added to my list that we must make her first plane ride happen, and we should take a real vacation! And just in case my husband has any doubts, I will show him this post..haha! I realize its not the same as traveling sans kids, but its gonna be alright! And those smiles are worth it.

  29. Aren’t you supposed to have 12 cards out when you’re playing set? Makes it easier!

  30. Sigh you’re making this Californian – who missed Christmas at home in 2014 very excited for her next trip back!

  31. jennifer you are so sweet:) (and llna, i hope so!!!!)

  32. thanks for your sweet comments!! to answer questions:

    * my glasses are from warby parker
    * the blue dress i wore to the wedding is from anthropologie (from last year)
    * for san diego, we actually stayed with my friend’s parents, whom we had never met before! they were SO generous and sweet (and brave) to let us crash with them for FOUR nights, and we ended up having a great time and really bonding:) one of those crazy, very lucky experiences.
    * in LA, we discovered our favorite rental house so far in Venice. we splurged on a two-bedroom since it’s much easier when traveling with both kiddos: — i’d highly, highly recommend it; it’s only one block from abbott kinney and right around the corner from gjelina, the most delicious bustling restaurant.
    * for set, oh haha i thought you started with 9 cards and then added addition sets of 3 cards if no one could find a match; i’ll have to reread the instructions!
    * the striped shirt is actually navy and white, and it’s from an etsy store called ANNAKSHOP; her shirts have really boxy shapes that i love love love.
    * lindsay, you are so lucky!
    * and to those who commented, i will give my brother your compliments ha!

  33. So…about your brother. If he is as kind and fun as he is cute, I might have a problem. :)

  34. FUN! New Jersey also has salad pizza – its actually my favorite thing to eat when getting pizza. – Why use a fork and a separate plate for salad when you can put it on pizza?! genious, i say! Also set is addicting – our family just played a new game (for us) called “battle of the sexes” its hilarious.

  35. I work a block away from The Taco Stand in La Jolla! Glad you enjoyed our little corner of paradise!

  36. That dress! You have to tell us where it’s from! Gorgeous! xo

  37. Where is your dress from in the wedding picture?!

    I’m so happy you got a chance to spend some time with your family!

  38. Happy to see another matching couple! My boyfriend and I have the same winter jacket and the same pair of L.L. Bean boots (purchased before we met each other). We get teased by our friends about it sometimes, but at least we know we have similar taste! :)

  39. u r so moving to the west coast, its not even funny )

  40. Sweet – did your brother and dad come to Alex’s sister’s wedding – both sides of your family must have a good bond.

  41. Super lovely dress you wore to the wedding, Joanna! The perfect amount of green to match the colour palette ;)

  42. The sunshine, the smiles, all super free and easy. Gorgeous.

    My favourite is Anton in his new threads. He looks adorable. And wise. My wee lad has a wool cardi with leather elbow patches that we call ‘the academic cardi’. He has a studious brow too. I think he and Anton would click.

    Glad you had great hols, gladder you’re back to share with us all. Happy 2015!

  43. What a lovely trip! I wish we could travel like that… in the meantime I enjoy people’s travels as if they were mine!
    Love your glasses, freshness and kids. Anton is superb in his new jacket.

  44. I think your brother is very cute :)

  45. Congratulations to your sister in law (and to Toby) on the wedding! I hope that all is well with Paul. I visited family in LA, too, and was unhappy about returning home.

  46. I love the “twin photo”! You guys are look so cute.

  47. Is it my imagination, or is Toby also wearing the same inadvertent twins shirt as you and Alex in that first (adorable!) photo? He just needs the glasses!

  48. Loved this! I would enjoy a post about the trials of traveling with small children… We just returned home from our own Palm Springs Christmas with our 6 month old. We actually contemplated coming home early at one point because the nights were so painful!

  49. These pictures had me smiling the whole time!

  50. Joanna You guys look so awesome. I was hoping to hear about your sister and brother in law. I hope they are well. Since I read his article in the news last year I have been keeping them in my thoughts and prayers.. Best

  51. Set is my favorite! But I’m always self conscious introducing new friends to that game. It’s so fun, but it takes a new way to look at things.

    I also remember the first time I read “Still Alice,” lying on my sofa, sobbing but not wanting to put it down. It’s one of my all time favorites for the questions it makes you ask yourself about YOU.

  52. This post is so heart-warming! Thanks for sharing!

  53. this was super cute. all my kids are grown so this really made me smile and know what you mean about now you guys really need a vacation! happy new year :)

  54. I love the inadvertent twinning! The same thing happens to my husband and I sometimes…glad we aren’t alone. :-)

  55. Love the dress you wore to the wedding! It looks great on you.

    I also LOVE that you two wear matching outfits. My husband and I tend to compliment each others color wise deliberately or by coincidence.

    I generally have no desire to visit California but your vacation looks fun.

  56. It’s funny how sometimes we need a vacation from our vacation. I always feel that way after traveling during the holidays. It can be exhausting, but so worth it!

  57. Glad u guys had fun! La Jolla is amazing. We were there just last week!

  58. Adorable! Jo, your brother is gorgeous. If I weren’t already married…

  59. That picture of you ( and the boys and the recorder) looks so much like your mom. Also the dress at your SIL’s wedding is so cute. And the pic of the little one’s wedding is amazing. So much personality and mischievous adn sweetness beyond their eyes.

  60. You look amazing in that dress!
    And I feel tired just looking at all the places you visited on your trip (I have a 3yo and 1yo so I know the pain) but still, it looked incredibly fun :) I hope your January is very restful!

  61. seriously though, I think this dress deserves it’s own blog post! Details, please!

    PS kids grow so fast!

  62. Anton is turning into quite the beauty.

  63. I love the dress you are wearing at the wedding–where is it from??

  64. the pictures are wonderful !!! love greetings from angie from Germany

  65. Great pics!
    As a born and raised NY’er salad slices were the crown jewel of the 90’s. Very rarely can you still find them in NY.But I wish!!

  66. Love how in that pic of you and Alex there’s a stuffed giraffe just hanging out between you. Parenting at its finest!

  67. What a lovely adventure! Could you share where you found your black and white striped shirt? I have a similar one from Forever 21 that’s fraying at the seams and I’d love to find a quality replacement!

  68. Beautiful photos it looks like you all had a really lovely happy time :) so nice to see someone else’s holiday like this, makes me nostalgic for my own xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua

  69. wow! sounds like a whirlwind. we spent 10 days traveling in the Midwest with just our two-year old daughter and definitely needed a vacation afterwards. but worth it to be with family over the holidays. :)

  70. The dress you wore to the wedding is lovely! If you don’t mind me asking, where is it from?

  71. jm says...

    Your vacation looks so great! So many cute pictures with your family and ALL THAT SUNSHINE!

  72. Salad pizza. Mmm.

    I thought it was a Westchester thing. (metro north to M’neck Sal’s)

    Great vacay. Nice family time

  73. Laughing out loud at you having the SAME WINTER JACKET. Why not?? HA! Sometimes it’s comical and just so great to match your spouse! Sorry not sorry. Love your photos – thanks for sharing!

  74. I think those are the best vacations…when you have so much fun that you really need a vacation. How is your BIL doing? I hope well!

  75. lovely photos! extremely nerdy of me to notice this, but how come you only have nine cards laid out for Set? regular play is with twelve cards, no?

  76. Looks so fun! Also, you look so beautiful and fresh faced in the first Palm Springs photo. Just like pics of your mom you’ve posted. Hope it’s not weird that a total stranger said you looked just like your mom! :)

  77. Looks like a great trip! We’re headed to San Diego and LA with our 20 month old in March. Would love to know where you stayed. Same hotels and rental homes as your past trips? Anywhere you’d recommend with kids? Thanks!

  78. Looks so fun!
    I’m planning on doing the *exact* same trip this summer since I have friends from college who are living in La Jolla and SF and I’ve never been to CA before.

    Also Set. I didn’t realize other people knew about that game. I guess if they didn’t they will now ;p

    -E @

  79. miss you guys!!!!!

  80. Love the dress you’re wearing at the wedding – where’s it from?

  81. What a great (if tiring)holiday. Thanks for sharing.