In May, Daniel and I took two weeks to drive up the West Coast – a trip we’ve been dreaming about for some time now. Up California, Oregon, Washington and back, we drove through some of the most enchanting landscapes you can image. Born and raised in California, I always knew the West Coast was the Best Coast, but a trip along the cliffs and towns that line the western most edge of these great states really solidified the statement.
If you’re planning a West Coast trip – we’ve put together a little stop-by-stop itinerary by state. We didn’t plan much (never do), and didn’t hit everywhere we thought we would, but chose instead to take our time in the places we really wanted to savor. Hopefully you’ll find as much joy in each coastal gem as we did.
We left home in Los Angeles, and started driving up the coast on Highway 1. First stop…
Santa Barbara is a beautiful beach town with great bars, restaurants and nightlife on State Street, but we only had time for a quick stop so we had to choose wisely. We landed on La Super Rica. Okay, so I’ve had a lot of Mexican food in my day. But SB’s La Super Rica is possibly some of the best I’ve encountered, and that just may be beacuse of the fluffy, homemade corn tortillas, which pair perfectly with pork and guacamole. And a Coronoa, of course.
A little Danish town just north of Santa Barbara, Solvang is known for being in the heart of SB’s wine country. They have a variety of wine bars & Danish pastry stops, and we chose to have a couple glasses of Pinot Noir and local reds at the Wandering Dog Wine Bar, where the bartender was uber knowledgeable and friendly.
San Luis Obispo
Only 3 hours from LA, I’ve been to SLO quite a few times, mostly to visit friends who attended Cal Poly SLO. But I always love going back. This time in particular to stay at the uniquly wacky and kitchy Madonna Inn. Each room in the hotel has a different theme, and we spent our first night in the Carin Suite – which was bascially a mini Swiss chalet, entered into up a tower and spiral staircase. EVERYTHING in the room was pink – except, of course, the gold cherubs floating above the bed. It was as gaudy as you can get, and I loved every second of it.
Just north of SLO is the beautiful coastal town of Morrow Bay. We made a quick stop to eat rockefeller oysters and clam chowder at Tognazzini’s Dockside 3. Maybe some of the best I’ve ever had, highly reccomended if you’re anywhere nearby.
Our second night of the trip was spent camping in Big Sur, a serious bucket list trip for anyone, anywhere. The drive up the coast boasts impossible beauty – jagged cliffs pummled by turqouise waters that actually take your breath away.
We camped up Nacimiento Road at an unoffical camping spot our buddy told us about. His directions were: “when you hit the top of the ridge, there is a fire road that goes either North or South. Go South and then keep going until you orgasm because of the view.” We drove for a while, and then a while more, and almost stopped before we decided to keep climbing, and I’m sure glad we did – because the road opened to one of the most spectacular views imaginable. We were above the clouds at Sunset, completely alone on a Tuesday night. I’ll let the picture do the talking:
After a hearty breafast at camp, Daniel and I continued our way up Hwy 1 and make a quick stop at a fruit and veggie stand in Moss Landing. There are an abundance of produce stops along the way, and with prices like 7 avocados for $1, we couldn’t resist.
My best friend Stephanie went to school in Santa Cruz and talked endlessly about the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, so we decided to stop and have lunch and a beer there. The food was delish and so were the beers, a great little stop if you are in the area and have the time!
SF is one of my favorite towns in CA, and one of our favorite people in CA happens to live there. So while we didn’t need to stop in SF cause we visit so often, it’d b hard to pass up a sausage at Rosamunde Sausage Grill and a beer at Mad Dog + The Fog with Phil (the purveyor of Big Sur camping recommendations). Deelish food and deelish beer are hard for us to turn down.
After a full day of driving, Daniel and I pulled into the L&M Motel, which may be the last great motel on earth. If you’re ever in the bay and in need of an affordable & lovely place to lay your head for a few hours, this is the spot.
I’m not quite sure I can say all I’d like to say about driving up the 101 through the Redwood National Park. Los Angeles isn’t known for it’s beautiful landscape, so to have the pleasure of driving through a land so chaulk-full of gigantic, coastal trees was an absolute treat. Among our many stops in the forest was the the Chandelier Tree Park in Leggit, where the famous 315 ft, 2400 year old Redwood lives. We also drove down the Avenue of the Giants and had a picnic and hiked among some of the biggest trees in the world. Daniel was particularly fascinated beacuse this is where George Lucas filmed scenes from the forest moon of Endor in Star Wars. We also drove by the kitchy Trees of Mystery, we didn’t ride their ziplines, but we did take pictures with the giant (right-armless) Paul Bunyon and Babe. All in all, this was one of the most memorable parts of our trip, and certainly the most reccomended.