|Subject: Re: San Luis Obispo, CA vicinity|
The Madonna is right off the freeway, miles from the ocean. (As is San Luis). If you want the beach experience, you're better off at Pismo, which is nothing but beach. Pismo arguably has the best beaches of all the places you mentioned.
As for Santa Barbara, we have stayed there many times. I know they have a per-person room limit of 4, but charging $30 extra for a child seems outrageous. I don't know where you looked, or when you are planning to go, but I just checked Expedia and found a room at the Holiday Inn for about $120/night--for four. Santa Barbara is one of those cities where you don't really need a luxurious room because you won't want to spend much time in it.
JoAnne in California