Kayaking & Wildlife: Cali’s Central Coast With Your Grandchild

Kayak alongside seals and otters, snack on snails and seaweed and climb secluded sand dunes as you explore the Central Coast with your grandchild.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19582RJ
5 days
Starts at
1,099 / ADULT
799 / CHILD
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5 days
4 nights
10 meals
4 B 2 L 4 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, Lecture
Cambria, CA
Cambria Pines Lodge

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. The group will be accompanied by a naturalist throughout the program who will deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the lodge’s meeting room, we’ll have a family-friendly buffet dinner including a variety of foods and beverage choices of milk, lemonade, coffee, tea, water.

Evening: In the meeting room, our naturalist will provide some background information about mammals in preparation for tomorrow’s field trip. Continue getting to know everyone, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Elephant Seals, Forest Ecology & Scavenger Hunt, Lecture
Cambria, CA
Cambria Pines Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 30 miles, approximately 1 hour round trip. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; varied terrain; dirt and gravel paths; sand.

Breakfast: In the lodge’s meeting room, we’ll have a breakfast buffet featuring rotating choices including eggs, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes or French toast, breakfast meats, fruit, and beverage choices of milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: In the lodge’s meeting room, our naturalist will present on Elephant seals — one of the most fascinating species on earth. We’ll learn about their life cycle and behaviors. Then we’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. With our naturalist, we’ll walk along the ocean cliff to a secluded stretch of beach to observe these magnificent animals in their natural habitat. We’ll hear the seals long before we see them. Inflating their huge snouts, males can bellow loudly enough to be heard a mile away. The Northern Elephant Seal is the largest of its kind on the North Pacific coast. They come to the rookery only for breeding, molting, and to rest — otherwise they stay at sea. Elephant Seals have been recorded making the deepest dives of any mammal. Keep your eyes peeled for molted skin on the beach. We will then ride to San Simeon State Park.

Lunch: At San Simeon State Park, we’ll have a boxed lunch including a sandwich, fruit, dessert, and water, followed by some time to splash in the water and enjoy the sunshine.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk with our naturalist up a path from the beach into the forest to learn about its ecology and food web. Then, our naturalist will lead us on a scavenger hunt! Search above and below to find traces of species native to this area such as bones, traces of skin, and feathers. Then we will play a camouflage game to learn how animals of the forest protect themselves from predators. We’ll learn how and why animals do what they do and the importance of protecting our forests. After returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: Lodge buffet

Evening: At the hotel, a local falconer will give a presentation about the ancient practice of falconry (hunting quarry with a trained bird of prey.) We’ll learn about the history of falconry and how it’s used today. We’ll also get to hold some of the birds!

Tidepools, Morro Bay State Park, Movie Night
Cambria, CA
Cambria Pines Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 23 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 1 mile; boardwalk. Note: Sturdy, waterproof shoes required for tidepooling; walking sticks helpful but not required.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet

Morning: We’ll ride to Cambria. On arrival, we’ll set out on a walking field trip with our naturalist to explore the tidepools and share our discoveries with each other. We’ll search in these amazing pools for animals that typically frequent the area such as sea anemones, eels, sea stars, snails, limpets, chitons, and octopuses. For those feeling adventurous, our instructor will boil some of the snails we’ve picked for a mid-morning snack! Then we’ll hop back aboard the motorcoach and ride into the historic village of Morro Bay.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like in Morro Bay. The group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will return to the motorcoach and ride to the Morro Bay boardwalk. With our naturalist, we’ll stroll along the boardwalk and observe the tidal flats and learn about the wildlife of the area. Morro Bay is a designated National Estuary. Its varied ecosystems abound in all kinds of wildlife. Then we’ll ride to the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History. The museum is part of the California State Park system and serves large numbers of school kids as well as the general public. We’ll watch an educational movie together in the auditorium and then set out on a self-directed field trip to explore the exhibits at our own pace. We’ll learn about the estuary and bay ecosystems, wildlife, tidal forces, geology, and erosion, as well as human impact and how to preserve and protect the environment and its creatures. There will be docents available on-site to answer all of your questions. Then, we will be joined at the museum by Pacific Wildlife Care staff for an introduction to the organization and their mission. PWC’s professional staff care for injured, orphaned, and pollution-damaged wildlife, rehabilitate them, and return them to the wild when possible. PWC responds to requests from the public for help with injured wildlife and is a primary response group in case of oil spills or other environmental disasters. We’ll get acquainted with some of the favorite mammal and avian “ambassadors” that are stars of PWC’s educational presentations. We’ll return to the lodge with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Lodge buffet

Evening: In the lodge’s meeting room, we’ll have a relaxing movie night in our comfy pajamas!

Kayaking Morro Bay, Sand Dunes, Craft
Cambria, CA
Cambria Pines Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour roundtrip. Paddling about 2-2.5 hours over the course of the day; calm bay water; extent and duration of walking on sand dunes according to personal choice. Note: wear footwear that can get wet and muddy. A windbreaker or waterproof jacket is recommended.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet

Morning: We’ll board our motorcoach and ride along the coast to Morro Bay. We’ll begin with basic paddle and safety instruction led by kayaking staff and our naturalist, then head out in one or two person kayaks for a morning of beginner paddling lessons. As we paddle, we’ll keep an eye out for animals that are typically seen in the area such as herons, harbor seals, oysters, and sea otters. We’ll then beach our kayaks on a secluded part of the sand dunes and climb to a hidden Chumash shell midden. We’ll make jewelry out of broken abalone shells as we take in the stunning ocean views. We’ll learn about the snowy plover, a protected endangered species that typically nests here.

Lunch: On the side of the sand dunes, we’ll have a picnic lunch on a blanket featuring locally grown ingredients such quinoa salad, green salad, meats, bagels, condiments, dessert, and assorted sodas, juices, water, with beer and wine for adults.

Afternoon: We’ll paddle back to the docks. Along the way, we’ll continue to observe and learn about the local wildlife. Returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free. Swim in the pool or explore Cambria at your own pace.

Dinner: Lodge buffet. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during this farewell dinner.

Evening: In the lodge’s meeting room, we’ll make a keepsake of our shared experiences using abalone shells. With our naturalist and Group Leader, we’ll also get to see how a traditional Native American hand drill is used. This unique drill has an obsidian point and is amazingly efficient.

Wrap-Up Session, Program Concludes
Cambria, CA

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet

Morning: In the lodge’s meeting room, our naturalist and group leader will lead a wrap-up session to review program highlights and say farewell to new Road Scholar friends. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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