Glamour + Camping = Glamping on the California Coast

A glamour yurt at El Capitan in Santa Barbara California
A glamour yurt in El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, California.

About a year ago, we first saw the Toyota Venza boomerang kid commercial with the son whining about mom going to bed without making his dinner – only to find out that the ‘rents were out living their lives.

We thought: wow that is right up our alley. They are marketing this car directly at us.

We have giggled through all of the ensuing ads and their GypsyNesting tone, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that the Venza drove its way into our hearts.

A glamping cabin at El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, California
Our glamping cabin in El Capitan Canyon.

That was when we got an e-mail out of the blue asking if we would be interested in going to California for a “glamping” event. Glamping is a sort of hybrid camping, glamour camping.

Not something we had heard of, but we are always up for something new. Toyota would pay our expenses and provide a brand new 2013 Venza while we romped and played up the west coast from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara. How could we say no to that?

Lowes, Santa Monica Pier

Next thing we knew we had tickets to L.A. booked for us, luxury hotels in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills reserved for our first and last nights, and a cabin at a premier glamping resort near Santa Barbara for the nights in between.

Upon landing at LAX, we were whisked to the Lowes Hotel on the beach right across from the Santa Monica Pier.

The lobby of Lowes, Santa Monica Pier
Palm trees INSIDE the Lowes Santa Monica.

Then, something magical happened. While we were checking in, we took a quick peek at Twitter and found a welcome tweet to each of the guests.

It was like we had made out the guest list ourselves! It was a veritable who’s who list of our Boomer Travel World: Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet, David and Carol Porter of The Roaming Boomers, Jason Oliver Nixon of Sky Magazine and Wayne and Pat Dunlap of Unhook Now.

All people we have admired for quite awhile, but never had the chance to meet in real life!

This was going to be the best week ever.

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier.

Want to see more great pics and info on the Santa Monica Pier? Click here!

Santa Monica Beach from the pier
The view from the Santa Monica Pier.

Lobster at The Lobster, Santa Monica California

After a stroll along the surf and checking out the pier, we met our Toyota hosts, hugged our fellow boomers and walked over to The Lobster for an incredible seafood dinner.

When a restaurant is named The Lobster, it’s hardly necessary to look at a menu. The drawn butter flowed like wine… as did the wine.

More about The Lobster here!

Santa Monica Yacht Harbor Sign at Night
The Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign right outside the door of The Lobster!

Want to see more great pics and info on the Santa Monica Pier? Click here!

Arriving like a rock star - Veronica is snapped by a photographer
Arriving like a rock star: Veronica is snapped by a photographer.

The next morning we got our introduction to the Venza.

Designed in California and built in Kentucky, it’s a nimble cross between SUV and sporty coupe that easily held everything we could need while looking good along the way.

After perusing all of the available colors, we picked one in an eye-catching metallic green called Cyprus Pearl.

The touch screen on the 2013 Toyota Venza

Our Pearl turned out to be a real gem, taking us up the Pacific Coast Highway in open-up-the-sunroof-and-turn-up-the-tunes California cruzin’ style.

We explored without a care because the onboard navigation always knew exactly how to get us where we were going.

It even had one of those newfangled stereo/cell phone/talking computer touch screens that was voice controlled so we could talk into it while driving. We messed with it a lot, even had some deep conversations.

Pearl knows the answers to almost everything, but not in a stuck up kind of way.

When we set out we were enticed by a photo contest – a scavenger hunt of sorts – where we were pitted against our fellow boomers to find the best locations along the way to shoot ourselves having fun with the Venza.

The gauntlet was dropped, and we headed up the coast – GypsyNester style – finding the wildest, wackiest and most ginormous stuff along the Pacific Coast Highway:

Cows on a beach house in Malibu!
Wait. What? There are COWS on top of this beach house in Malibu!
Huge taco guy in Malibu!
There’s always room for tacos! We found a ginormous guy on top of a restaurant in Malibu.

The Pacific Coast Highway has some lovely vistas
The Pacific Coast Highway has some lovely vistas.

Arrrrgh Matey! David gets his pirate on in Ventura Harbor
Arrrrgh Matey! David gets his pirate on in Ventura Harbor.

Being our crazy competitive selves, we were the last to meet back up with the crew at the El Capitan Canyon Resort.

Deer wandering through our glamp site at El Capitan Canyon, Santa Barbara California

The Capitan knows how to put the glam in glamping. Yurts, tents and cabins with all of the creature comforts most any creature could crave.

All of this luxury, and we were still able to commune with nature as quail, deer, and even a coyote wandered through our campsites.

Veronica clearly misunderstood the concept of glamping!
Veronica clearly misunderstands the concept of Glamping! Too much glamour, not enough camping. OOPS! (channeling her inner Lucy!)

Dinner in the Barrel Room at Sanford Winery

That night we drove our Venza into the wine country of Santa Barbara County, to the Sanford Winery for an informative tour and decadent dinner in the barrel room with all of the aging vintages.

Veronica channels her inner Cleopatra at Sanford Winery
“Peel me a grape.” Veronica channels her inner Cleopatra.

In the morning, back at El Capitan Canyon, we hiked up a hill overlooking the ocean and fed some of the resident llamas.

Veronica feeds a llama at El Capitan Canyon Glamping

Biking in The Santa Ynez Mountains

Later in the day we took a drive up the steep, narrow, winding Camino Cielo to the top of La Cumbre Peak in The Santa Ynez Mountains.

Then mounted mountain bikes for a spectacular brake-burning ride all the way down to the sea some twenty miles and 4000 feet below.

Toyota: Oh what a feeling!

We were so invigorated we felt like performing a reenactment of the old Toyota “Oh, What a Feeling!” commercials in front of the Santa Barbara mission.

1, 2, 3, jump!

Freeze frame.

BBQ by campfire brought a pretty perfect day to a close. With all of the calories we burned that day, we would have settled for anything, but El Capital Canyon rolled out an amazing catered affair. Complete with s’mores.

The nice cozy bed in our cabin was much more welcoming that night than a sleeping bag in a pup tent would have been. Our days of “real” camping may be over.

SLS hotel beverly hills

As glamorous as the glamping may have been, things were about to step up another notch as the next day had us headed to Beverly Hills and the new SLS Hotel.

The Venza fit right in. Good thing for us, because if we had pulled up in BAMF we almost certainly would have been mistaken for The Clampetts.

In the white room of the SLS Beverly Hills
Your GypsyNesters trying our best to look aloof in the White Room at the SLS Hotel.

Luckily we had packed us some Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes so we could doll up properly for our dinner at one of L.A.’s trendiest new eateries, The Bazaar by José Andrés.

Chef Andrés creates some incredibly innovative dishes, all served tapas style so the table gets to partake together. The meal became an event as we sampled round after round of delicious tidbits (including liquid olives), great for conversation as well as culinary curiosity.

Veronica at the SLS Hotel, Beverly Hills, California

The next morning, exhausted by all the fun and glampour, we channelled our inner movie star, donned our SLS robes, and ordered up breakfast in bed.

Not certain that we quite fit in among The Glampous People, we found that as the week drew to a close, we were glad we said yes to giving it a go.

We spent the rest of the morning brainstorming how to fit our new friend Pearl into our suitcase.


David & Veronica,

YOUR TURN: Can you BELIEVE we got to do this? What would have been your favorite part? Is Glamping something you’d like to try?

Did you enjoy what you just read? Then you'll LOVE our book!
Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All Going Gypsy One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All 

- See how it all began!
ORDER NOW - Wherever Books Are Sold!
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound - Books-a-Million
Also available as an audiobook from

47 thoughts on “Glamour + Camping = Glamping on the California Coast”

  1. You guys are great!!! We loved glamping with you!! Time to plan a trip for The Roaming Boomers and GypsyNesters to create some great experiences together! Love ya Both!!

  2. You two scouted a west coast road-trip for us…thank you! We’ll take our Prius, though, as it’s averaging 51mpg after a year. My favorite roller coaster EVER was at Pacific(Ocean)Park, known way back as P.O.P. The “Cyclone Racer” was wooden, rickety, and jarringly wild! 25 cents a ride-yeah!!

  3. Looks like a lot of fun in a fun car on a fun trip to fun places with fun folks! How much freakin fun can you have in one lifetime??? Love you funlovers!!! Wish you could bring that fun car to see us soon!

  4. Oh, I love me a car with technology. I don’t miss the days of begging my sweet pahtootie to let us stop and ask for directions.

    What a lovely trip! Lucky Veronica is equal to the glamorous part!

    1. Hahaha! Yeah, she Glamps well once she gets the llama dirt off of her! We were really surprised about the tech stuff too. Not only voice activated but touch screen. Not getting lost is a huge plus! -David

  5. Did I hear someone call my name :-). Seriously, it was a blast traveling and getting to know the Gypsy Nesters. What a cool boomer couple. You’ve captured our Toyota glamping adventure perfectly!

  6. You guys just make me laugh. So hard. All the time. I’m jelly like a fish of your super fancy fun glamping road trip! That car looks like it fits right in anywhere! Are you going to be on the next commercial?

  7. I love those commercials too! This was a wonderful adventure you went on and I’m sure you spent quite a bit of time pinching yourself to make sure it was real. Love the area you were in too and will definitely have to check out the yurts. They look like fun fun fun!

  8. As usual I’m envious of you two, both for the sweet ride and the glamping. Admittedly “real camping” tends to set off alarms in my head (Bugs! No A.C.! No Bathing!), so glamping sounds perfect. And the car–damn. Makes me wish I lived somewhere where I needed one.

    Did I mention the envy? Grr.

  9. What an amazing trip and adventure!! You guys make that Venza look good 🙂 I love living vicariously through you and seeing what’s up and coming. Happy trails and until next time, party on Wayne!

  10. Glamping?!?!! are you kidding? that is the only way i well EVER camp!!!!!

    this trip is amazing!!!!!!!! I absolutely need to do a major road trip in my life…. maybe i can just smuggle myself into your trunk????

  11. I have always been a huge fan of Toyota and once a year my best friend and I go on a short “glamping” trip of our own! You, David and Toyota may have just solved the problem of which car to get next! Thanks for all the fun you guys share with us!

  12. You guys ROCK! When I grow up….well if wishes were money we’d ALL be wealthy. But til then, I enjoy living vicariously through your blog and Facebook posts. Miss you and the theater days in STX. If you ever get up to the Poconos, come see us. We’d love to Glamp with you! Roni, you sure do Rick that Venza. I’m sure David rocked it too!

    1. Hey Eric! So great to see you here – we miss you guys too and may just pop in on you when you least expect it. We should check out your neck of the woods for a glamping spot – we can sit around the campfire and talk about the “old days.” -Roni

  13. I was always a Nissan guy, but I’ve been keeping up with your story and well, i now own a fully loaded Tundra that has everything but leather tires…lol

  14. You two really are living the life of Gypsy Nesters! Thanks for sharing once again your fab adventures! The yurt in El Capitan Canyon is calling my name!

  15. Thanks for the ab workout, you guys!
    That shot of the glamp-fire conundrum had me in stitches & we are always looking forward to your next adventure…
    I have to be honest, I feel like we missed the party to have you SO close and not spot you while in LA, but all we probably would have seen is that beautiful green-pearl blur!
    They should have let you keep it. You two would surely have provided a stable, loving home (…well, loving anyway!)

    Keep us posted!

    1. Yeah, leave it to me to not quite get it! 😉 My little black dress fared much better in Beverly Hills!

      I think Pearl may be having withdrawls from us as much as we are from her. She didn’t fit in our suitcase… -Veronica

  16. Once again you guys did it!!! Since we are looking for something to tow behind the new motor home,( I was looking at the Fiat). After reading this story we are going out tomorrow to look at the Toyota. I tell ya… 2 did it right for everyone. Love the pictures and can’t wait to get the motor home from Vegas to Ca, towing the car and taking it up the coast following in your footsteps. Thanks for leading the way on all counts. You both never cease to amaze Rich and myself. When we grow up……….well we want to be like you!

    1. It’s a beautiful drive – it would be the perfect first trip for you guys! El Capitan has a campground for RVs too – be sure to stop in and tell them we say “hey!” We did ALL THE WAY up the coast a few years ago and it was incredible, so don’t stop until you hit Canada – or better yet – keep going!

  17. What a great trip–especially because you didn’t even have to PAY for it! But I can see why Toyota wanted you to represent their vehicle. You two make the travelin’ gypsy kidless lifestyle sound like PARADISE, especially to me–still in the sandwich generation, having returned (in a Honda CRV) from a trip to PEI with my 80 year-old mom and two teens in the back seat, my husband riding shotgun…I’m definitely fantasizing about doing what you do ASAP! Veronica, you definitely missed your calling as a TV talk show hostess.

    1. Hey Holly – enjoy every moment of your teens that you can, THEN come join us in the wonderful wider world – we’ll be waiting for ya! OR better yet – come be a guest on the talk show 😉 -Veronica

  18. I live in the bay area and one of my favorite trips with my man is going to Santa Monica, staying near Lowes, walking the Pier, eating at Lobsters, etc. You brought back great memories,and also prove that we empty nesters sure know how to have a good time. Fun post!

  19. As a relatively newbie Boomeresque travel blogger I am intensely jealous–let’s say cyprus pearl with envy. You guys and Donna Hull are my heroes (and I’ll have to check out the other bloggers Toyota invited). This type of camping would appeal to lots of Baby Boomers for whom real camping was soooo yesterday. My husband and I have driven the gorgeous Pacific Coast highway both ways from San Francisco. My husband was close to agreeing to trying out an RV on the trip north(one of my fantasies), but the price for one way rentals was astronomical, so we had to settle for staying in charming bed and breakfast places instead 😉
    Sounds like a fantabulous trip. Write on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.