The Wydown Hotel in St. Helena

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A couple of weeks ago my husband, Mike, took part in the Vineman 70.3 race up in Sonoma County.  He spent so much time training & prepping for this race over the last 6 months we decided the girls and I had to be there to cheer him cross the finish line He finished strong and we were SO proud!  As a treat, after the race we extended our stay and ventured over to the Wydown Hotel in St. Helena for a few days of R&R.

When Mike signed up for this race he called our friend Mark from college to see if we could come stay at his newly remodeled boutique hotel called The Wydown.  The Wydown is located in historic downtown St. Helena in the breathtaking Napa Valley.

Since Mike had so much gear for the race, we packed the car (to the brim) and made the 8 hour drive north.  Our girls actually do pretty well on car trips with the DVD player and a few fun snacks + suckers.  We woke up SUPER early and hit the road so they sleep through some of it.

Or if you prefer to fly it’s easy to travel into Oakland, San Francisco or Sacramento, rent a car and make the 1.5-2 hour drive.

St. Helena is rich with scenic countryside and small town charm boasting some of the world’s best wineries, great shops, art galleries, theaters and an almost an overwhelming amount of amazing dining opportunities.

The Wydown Hotel is located in the heart of it all~on the north end of Main Street, a few steps to just about everything.

Mark and his wife Kris bought the 12 room Inn a few years ago, fully remodeled it and re-opened it in May 2011 and named it after their favorite street in Mark’s hometown of St. Louis.

It is gorgeous.  I was SO impressed.  I just loved all the choices they’ve made, the feel is cozy but with very clean lines.  The architecture is classic, yet has a current vibe.

The Wydown is just oozing with charm.  There is a puzzle on the table in the lobby just screaming at you:   s l o w   d o w n.  You’re on vacation!   

It totally feels more like you’re visiting a super stylish designer home rather than a big chain hotel.  

Our room was just perfect- everything is brand new and it feels it!  Clean and plush and elegant, with very high ceilings.  They’ve thought of everything down to the adorable smaller Keurig coffee makers and mini fridges in each room.

Our room even had this uber cozy tempur-pedic pull out chair bed.  Perfect for our Sadie to cozy up on each night.

As a guest at the Wydown you can enjoy a free coffee at the nearby Napa Valley Roasting Company, work out/swim at the Health Spa Napa Valley, wine taste at the Materra Tasting Room (adjacent to the lobby) or utilize the Conceirge to set up a wine tours, dinners or other activities in Napa Valley.

We had such a blast galavanting around the Valley we can’t wait for our next visit!  I would have never thought of visiting the Wine Country with my kids but it turns out there are a ton of fun family friendly things to do in this area.

Stay tuned for a Post of Mark & Kris’s “10 Favorite Family Friendly Things to do in Napa Valley”…

Wydown Hotel

1424 Main Street

St. Helena, CA 94574


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Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara Review

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For those that have been following my blog, you probably know by now my family is a huge fan of the SoCalCation, or family getaways that are easy driving distance from Orange County.  With our two little ones, now 2 1/2 and 5 1/2, it is a dream to load up the car and be at our destination within a few hours.

My oldest daughter had Presidents’ Week off school last week so I thought it would be fun to go somewhere together. When thinking of places, I realized that although I went to UCSB and spent four years there, I had yet to visit with my family! The thought of visiting my old college stomping grounds (and one of my favorite cities in the entire universe) with my family sounded like so much fun.

Once we decided on our destination, next order of business was where to stay? When looking at hotels to stay with the family in Santa Barbara, location was number one priority to me. I wanted a convenient hotel that was walking distance to all the major downtown attractions, which is how I happened upon Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara.

Special thanks to Trekaroo for the awesome review – after reading I was sold. Now that we have experienced our own stay at Hotel Oceana, I am excited to share my own Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara review because we absolutely fell in love with this property!

Situated on Cabrillo Blvd. across the street from the ocean and beautiful expansive beaches, my favorite part about staying at this hotel was the stunning view and amazing convenience.

In our 3 1/2 day stay, we actually only used our car one time to go to the Santa Barbara Zoo. The rest of the time, we walked everywhere! It was so relaxing to not have to load and unload the kids in the car for outings.

From the hotel we were able to walk to the beach, Sterns Wharf, marina, State Street (Santa Barbara’s main strip with tons of shops and restaurants), ocean view playgrounds, you name it! In my opinion, this hotel has the best location in all of downtown Santa Barbara.

I absolutely love bright decor and Spanish style artitecture and this property was delightfully bright and cheery. Bright colored striped rugs decorated the walk ways and colorful foliage hung in Spanish style pots throughout the hotel. Although a fairly large property, the way the buildings were spread out with picturesque courtyards tucked in between, the hotel had a very intimate and quaint feel. It was hard to not be immediately in “vacation mode” when stepping foot into Hotel Oceana.

When staying at a hotel with my kids, to me it is not a true relaxing vacation unless there are separate sleeping quarters for the kiddos, so the Deluxe King Room with sleeper sofa was perfection. Best part? The sleeper sofa was tucked into a separate little alcove with a door that closes off the main room, and my hubby and I got the big comfy King sized bed, TV and access to the bathroom without worrying about waking the kids after putting them down at 8pm.

And the silly girls had such a fun time sleeping in their own little room – felt like a cozy fort to them! They were in heaven!

We got a beautiful room on the second floor with an ocean view, and we found the accommodations to be very comfortable. Although the room was not overflowing with a ton of bells and whistles, we had everything we needed during our stay including a little mini-fridge, iPod docking station and most important to me: a Keurig Coffee Maker and free WI-FI!

Here was the amazing view from our room…

Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara includes a free European Style Continental Breakfast every morning from 7am – 10am weekdays (10:30am weekends) in a charming Bistro with indoor and outdoor seating.

It was so nice to not have to get the kids fully dressed to go out to breakfast. Each morning we all sort of rolled out of bed, threw on our sweats and hit the Bistro for an amazing spread of muffins, bagels, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, ham, cheese, coffee, tea and more.

Having a breakfast included is a huge time and money saver as well!

[Photo credit: Hotel Oceana]

My oldest learned to swim last summer and turned into a little fish. So when we learned there were two separate heated (HEATED! Yes, HEATED!) pools, one of which also had a newly refinished Jacuzzi, I knew where we would be spending a majority of our time.

Lined with poolside cabanas, colorful towels and comfy lounge chairs for relaxation, the pools were great and having them heated was awesome! One day my daughter swam for 5 straight hours. Only in So Cal in February can you do that!

[Photo credit: Hotel Oceana]

The Fitness Center was adjacent to the main pool and they also have a mobile spa service available as well. Sadly to say I did not get to experience either firsthand, but that just means we need to make another trip back!

Hotel Oceana also offers complimentary two hour beach cruiser rentals. One beautiful morning I got one of these bikes and my husband ran my youngest in the jogger and we all cruised along the beachside boardwalk.

One of our favorite stops along the way was Chase Palm Park, but I will save my favorite things to do with kids activities for another post as this one could get quite lengthy! Stay tuned!

If you are looking for a great place to vacation with your family in Santa Barbara, I can’t more highly recommend staying at the very family friendly Hotel Oceana. It was one of the best trips we have ever had, and we will take those memories with us forever! Thank you Hotel Oceana for the most incredible stay!
Follow Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara on Facebook 

Here are a few of my favorites I took on Instagram

[Disclosure: My family received a complimentary stay to help facilitate a review. This is not a compensated post and all my opinions are my 100% honest ones. I am so excited to share this property with you and can’t wait to share all that Santa Barbara has to offer little ones!] 

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We’re off to paradise…

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Paradise Point in San Diego that is!  And from the pictures above, it does look like paradise to me!

Our family vacation week has arrived!  Woo hoo! Every year we try to go somewhere for a few days with our family and this summer we are going to spend it at the beautiful (and I am told extremely family-friendly) Paradise Point Island Resort in San Diego and I can’t wait to share what fun is in store for us.

I love taking family “SoCalCations” to kid-friendly Southern California resorts that are an easy drive from Orange County. Because when you tell a 2 and 5- year- old we are going on vacation to a place with FIVE pools on the bay it takes “are we there yet?” to a new intensity. Therefore, being able to be at our destination in a little over an hour is just about the perfect amount of drive time.

Here is what I know about the property and why I am so excited to go with our kids!

* The property is tucked away on a  private 44-acre island on Mission Bay close to downtown San Diego and adjacent to Sea World. In fact, it is so close you can even take a water taxi from the resort to Sea World and enter in your own separate entrance. This was new for summer 2011. How cool is that?

* The rooms are California beach bungalow style amidst tropical gardens and lagoons. To me, this means lots of roaming space for little ones to run around!

* There are 5 pools including an adult pool. I adore the idea of different choices of water fun! One of the pools even has a sandy area for a beachy feel. These types of pools are perfect for my two-year-old.

Swim AND Sand! The hotel is surrounded by one mile of white sandy beach, so I love the option of heading to the pool in the morning and spending the afternoon on the bay letting the kids build sand castles.

Bonfires! The property has 12 bonfire pits on the beach and you know that that means…s‘mores on the beach at night!

Water sports & family fun activities! The marina has sailboats, speed boats, kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis & more. They also have beach cruisers or surrey rentals so your family can cruise around and explore. On property you will also find croquet, ping pong, tennis and basketball courts.  No shortage of fun things to do on this island!

If you have time, you should read about the island’s long and fascinating history.  My parents told me they celebrated their 5th anniversary at this property back in the ’70’s when it was called Vacation Village. They got sentimental when I told them we were going to stay there.

Fast forward 30-something years later and I think it is so cool my family will be staying on this same magical little island. Although given the recent $20 million dollar renovation I am sure a lot has changed since the ’70’s!

To be continued…now I am off for some R & R with the family and I am thrilled to pieces!

[Disclosure: A portion of my stay will be provided complimentary and a portion will be provided at a discounted media rate. How fortunate are we?! All my words and opinions are my own and any post on Paradise Point is not compensated. Photos in main graphic above provided by Paradise Point.]

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