Monday, August 8, 2011

FVC: Sort of Santa Barbara

The weather is rubbish, the rooms - student dorms - are brown and basic, you eat in a student cafeteria and you can hear the people upstairs doing it. And you need to wear a dorky ID necklace the whole time. It's the best vacation ever!  And this is our seventh year!

We're staying in this part of Santa Barbara...

...not this part
I love telling unsuspecting bods about the Family Vacation Centre (FVC) at the University of California, Santa Barbara on the Isla Vista, 15 minutes north of Santa Barbara. You may have read about the FVC on my blog last year here, here, here and here. We're back again and as the sign on the door says, enjoying "the best vacation since having kids."

Unsuspecting Bod: Sun, surf and swimming all day long? And it's on a place called Isla Vista - the views must be amazing!
Me: Actually it's been foggy and chilly most years, the sea is cold and you get tar on your feet. And views... none unless if you walk out to the cliffs.
UBod: So Santa Barbara University, beautiful campus? And what about the rooms?
Me: University: Plain and stark. Beds are hard, rooms noisy. 
UBod: So the Isla Vista? Cool little student town?
Me: Actually scrappy, dirty and kinda ugly too.

At this stage U Bod starts to move away. Then the "Aha" moment - you tell them the kids are looked after all day by the funnest, peppiest, cutest students who envelope them in phantasmagorically fun days of surfing, crafting, zoo-ing, singing and tennis.

Tallulah with the caped-counsellors
Meanwhile the parents are taken shopping, golfing, hiking, painting, biking, surfing and wine tasting. The food in the caf includes wood-fired pizzas, fresh Asian dishes and fruit and veges. The dorms may be simple but we have four bedrooms with a living room and bathroom. For years we have come with five other families who are great friends and because no one has to host, cook, clean or look after each others' children - we depart even better friends.

And the best of all, the kids are utterly free. They wake up, leave the rooms on their own, get on their scooters and bikes and we only sight them as a passing flash. Cy barely changes his clothes all week and for breakfast he fills a bowl with nuclear reactive-looking mix of Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms, pours Coke over the entirety with a generous chaser of Dr Pepper.

Cy! Put your helmet on!
The fogs clears, you walk to the cliffs to see the sea, then around the corner to get your latte from "IV Drip" and prepare for the wine tour. Oh it doesn't have the glorious orange roofs, the sumptuous stores and the stunningly palm-treed beaches that you see in the travel brochures. But for us, the FVC is the best of Santa Barbara.

Leadbetter Beach, Isla Vista

Now, don't forget to enter our Giveaway - a pair of handmade gold and silver hoop earings from Metal Earth Studios worth $310! The lucky winner will be drawn - randomly - this Friday August 12th.


  1. That actually, believe it or not, sounds awesome!

  2. I am so glad that you posted this......I am impressed that you are 'on the ball' enough to have found FVC and realised that great family holidays do not have to be 5* accommodation...your hols sound like an incredible deal in a great setting with your lovely of our best hols was in Eire and it rained the whole time, the cottage was naff, but we laughed the whole time and had a great, memorable your secret is out better make sure next year is booked before it gets too busy!

  3. You, cuties are putting a big smile on my face every time I read your posts and see your pictures!! It looks like you guys had such a great time there!! I'm so happy for you!! I looveee Tallulah's picture!!!


  4. That looks fun, especially the no-cooking etc part - a holiday for everyone!

  5. I would never have thought that about a university in Santa Barbara - you would think plush environs and beautiful architecture. But, as with many collegs, a dorm is a dorm. Glad your kids are having fun and you as well. Enjoy!

  6. Sounds like a wonderful getaway for a group of families! I love the idea of no one hosting and the kids have their own action-packed day!

  7. sounds wonderful! I'm sorry for having trouble commenting on my blog. hugs

  8. It's hard to go on vacation with kids... so an atypical vacation that you AND the kids enjoy? Priceless! And hey, Santa Barbara the way you describe is still better than Hicksville, Alberta. ;)

    The jewelry draw is on my birthday?! That might mean luck for me! :D

  9. I'm in!! It sounds like a great family and friend retreat. I'm so glad you wrote about it so I can tuck it away in my brain file.

  10. We've been hearing about this for years and have never gone yet. And Randy is a UCSB alum. Next year we're there!

  11. Hey JoJo!!! (Oh my, did I just call you that? Sorry if you don't like it, I call all my friends named Jody, or Josephine, or Joleine, JOJO.) LOL!

    Loving your latest posts... And great to hear about your photos in the comment you left. If you ever need any suggestions, hit me up! :)

    Have a beautiful week! x

  12. Looks like such a fun trip! Santa Barbara is such a fun place to vacation!


  13. I got to Santa Barbara for the first time this June. I only wish I could have been there for more than a day. It was so beautiful -- especially when that sun is shining.

  14. Sounds like an ideal vacation. All the angles are nicely covered.

  15. lol. i love dorms :) this looks like such an adventure!

  16. Woaw..sounds like à vacation With à LOT of funny memories..and things to talk about over dinner until next time ;) Im smiling while Im reading, thanks for sharing your stories. All the best, ( and BIG thanks for visit me) talk soon / Marie

  17. It sounds like you're having a great deal of fun! It's so much more exciting than a "perfect" holiday, isn't it? :)

  18. "doing it" ... You're FUNNY :).

  19. I didn't see the sign up form... You're keeping it to yourself, right?! Sounds perfect!

  20. Haha u have me laughing in public! So glad that u stopped by and introduced yourself :)

    I visited SB in May and had a great time but you're so right about the weather. No beach time for me unless u mean walking. Within 5 seconds my hair would go from bring pin straight to being whipped into dome sort of medusa hairstyle :)


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