Family Reunion Planning Tools at Your Fingertips

Family Reunion Planning Tools at Your Fingertips


By Cheryl Crabtree

So, your family has asked you plan a multigenerational reunion and you’re not sure where to start. No worries— log onto the California Highway 1 Discovery Route website and click away. How helpful is the site? Just ask the Donovans, an extended family — two sets of grandparents, a college-age son, a newlywed couple, and parents of three girls under the age of 5 — that gathered on the Central Coast last summer.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.02.47 PM“Well first of all, we needed to convince everyone that coastal San Luis Obispo County was the perfect place for us all to meet,” says matriarch Maribeth Donovan. “That turned out to be a piece of cake—I just sent everyone a link to the website, and the photos, films and facts sold everyone right away.”

Then the Donovans needed to find a perfect home base for exploring all the different locations along the 101-mile route. “We were able to search among more than 500 incredible vacation rentals, hotels, motels, and B&Bs in the route’s 10 destinations. We wanted room to stretch out and be comfortable but still be close to one another. We ended up choosing a beachside vacation rental in Cayucos, where we could barbecue on the deck and sit outside and enjoy the ocean air and views.”

Next the family needed to plan their activities. “We relied heavily on the sample family reunion itineraries on the site,” says Josh Donovan, father of the aforementioned young girls. He adds that family members read the visitor guides and watched the online videos—episodes from the Discovery Route’s popular travel show, On the Road with Jo. “Everyone chimed in about what they wanted to do and see. Then I compiled our own itinerary and sent it out for everyone to approve, which they did right away.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 3.05.03 PMThe Donovans say that the videos in particular inspired excitement about the forthcoming trip. “It was amazing to see all the things we could see and do in the area, says Jordan Donovan. “There was something for everyone no matter what their age, from standup paddleboarding and kayaking and hiking to wine and beer tasting and tours of Hearst Castle, lighthouses, and amazing nature preserves. There was a zipline, an ATV ride, fantastic farmers markets and restaurants, golf, surfing, bird watching – you name it. We could hardly wait.”

“Plus, we could bring our dog!” says Josh Donovan, who says they were grateful for the region’s plentiful pet-friendly hiking trails and parks and beaches, and even wineries and other attractions.

Maribeth Donovan says she loved the individual guides for each destination that included a fun local drive loop map. “I just clicked on the area detail map and a special page popped up, perfect for printing or sending to my cell phone.”

She adds that the reunion was a great success, and they are already planning another one in Coastal San Luis Obispo County. “We couldn’t possibly fit everything into the last trip, so we’re already planning to make the CA Hwy 1 Discovery Route our reunion destination for years to come – staying in a different town each time.”

Check out the videos of the Donovan family reunion activities. Day 1 here.   Day 2 here.