I had originally booked a motel near the Mexican border outside of San Diego for our first stop on the California coast, but my mother advised us against staying there. We ended up booking an adorable room at the Leucadia Beach Inn in Encinitas, which is where my parents lived for a year before the g got married (we saw their old apartment!). The inn was really great and it was a nice sleepy beachside town to stop in after the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. We did have the worst Indian dinner of our lives there, but that's what we get, I suppose, for forgoing Mexican food (we couldn't find a place that was open!)
The next morning we got up and drove up the coast, stopping in Santa Monica along the way for some shopping, tacos, and a ride on the ferris wheel (of course).