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I was surprised we kept our secret for so long but when we stepped off the plane in the hot heat, the kids figured out pretty quick we weren’t headed to Buffalo, NY. Of course a trip to California means a stop in Disneyland but first we were headed to a safari sleepover about 3 hours up the Northern coast to San Luis Obispo.

From congested multilane highways to deserts and grassy hills, our drive exposed us to a lot of landscape I don’t usually associate with California. I mean, we even saw mountain goats working their way up the cliffs as we drove by. Finally the multi two and three story buildings that make up the famous Madonna Inn scrolled into view as we turned off of the interstate.

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The Madonna Inn has been on my daughter’s wish list for some time and since we were already out in California for a social media conference, we thought we would surprise her with this detour.

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All checked in, we made our way to the lower level Safari Suite. The rooms was like a high-end jungle retreat with two king-sized bed supported by elaborately carved bedposts. Animal prints draped the headboard, bed and even the wooden couch that sat in the main room. Even the green tones on the floor and leafy wall prints added to that jungle feel but the best part was the indoor rock wall shower.

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Photo from Madonna Inn

You could opt to use the standard shower head in this cave-like room but why when with the switch of the lever the water could cascade down upon you from a rock ledge. Now close your eyes and let the tropical fantasy sweep you away.

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Photo from Madonna Inn

The Madonna Inn is one big fantasy, with themed rooms taking your down to the rock bed and over to Spain. Yes, the rooms are all a little dated looking but I think that’s what adds to the Inn’s kitschy appeal.

From kitsch You can see this “over the top” feel appears throughout the property with a heavy dose of pink. Before enjoying a special birthday dinner in the Gold Rush Steakhouse, we stopped into the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge. The kids loved sitting up on the gold and pink stool around the circular bar though the high back arm chairs were pretty appealing too. The pink hue even made its presence in the specialty cocktails, like the Peep drink. Our bartender even made alcohol-free versions for the kids.

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The staff at the Madonna Inn had reserved a private booth for our dinner in the Gold Rush Steakhouse but any spot in this opulent dining room would have been spectacular. The room was a sight for the eyes with its bright pink tufted circular booths lit by decadent chandeliers and gold trim. Even the public bathrooms were full of pink and marble charm.

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No meal is complete without one of Madonna Inn’s house made Pink Champagne cakes. You can order by the slice for dessert but a birthday calls for a whole cake, even if it meant eating for breakfast the next day.

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For breakfast we indulged in Belgian waffles, silver dollar pancakes and French toast with a dash of pink sugar at the Copper Cafe. Although you can rent a (pink) bike to tool around the area or visit local attractions like Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa or the Hearst Castle, we spent the rest of the day poolside.

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From the royal treatment during the day to a safari escape at night, the Madonna Inn offers families a fun fantasy escape in Northern California.

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