The California coast line from San Francisco to the Los Angeles is a rugged and beautiful scene to see, and many an itinerary can get you there. I took a route from the Western part of the city to Los Angeles over two days, and wanted to share what was a lovely route.
Start– Western San Francisco- this part of the city is just amazing, right near Golden Gate Park, you can start your dive with views of the lovely shoreline, and sandy beaches of the city!
Stop 1- About 45 min away and over a mountain is the town of Half Moon Bay. We were greeted by dense fog, typical in winter, but you can see the lovely scenes much clearer if you attempt the drive in summer.
Stop 2- Monterey- This city is nearby the lovely pebble beach, and famed golf course. You can veer off to Carmel, but we continued on at this point.
Stop 3- Fruit stands- we stopped near Monterey to grab some awesome citrus and avocados. And because they were in season we got a great bargain, 10 grapefruits for 1 dollar, along with yummy Cara Cara oranges which the locals say are totally delicious.
Stop 4- rugged coastline along the way- as you cruise the amazing mountain-side passes, you can stop and grab photos of the beautiful vistas! We stopped several times!
Stop 5- Big Sur- after some time, about 2 hours from Monterey, you can drive through expansive Big Sur, which is home to some amazing views, and trails. If you stop here, spend the night to ensure you don’t have to drive in the dark. Once at Big Sur, you have to stay coastal to continue the drive, as there are limited roads.
Stop 6- Elephant Seal Vista- this area is inhabited by lots of elephant seals basking in the sun, and has a huge rock formation which looks like the seals as well!
Stop 7- Paso Robles Wine Country- we detoured off the path (about 2.5 hours from Big Sur) to grab a quick tasting at Tablas Creek in Paso Robles. This region is known for having great wines due to the awesome climate. The region was one of the top wine regions of 2013, and has a feeling of Old World wine charm, as it is still a bit unfettered by mass tourism.
Stop 8-Pismo Beach- we stopped for the night in Pismo Beach (1.5 hours from Paso Robles) and ate at Ventana Grill, a top Trip Advisor spot. Though it was dark, we could see the bustling coastal shops and restaurants. Our meal was delicious and filling, ceviche to die for and a massive shared burrito. Portions are huge!
Stop 9- Santa Barbara- about 1.5hrs from Pismo Beach is lovely Santa Barbara. It’s a cute, easy-walking, and fun little town, with an urban wine trail. We stopped for some wine at Santa Barbara Winery and Oreana before heading to Metropolis (a cool deli recommended by the locals) for a lunch to eat on the beach.
Through to the end- we decided to drive the rest of the way without stops, but caught some great vistas along the way to LA, until we reached the hills of LA, and made our detour to the mountains and dessert of Palm Springs (3.5 hours from Santa Barbara).
Your detour could end in LA or San Diego, whatever suits your fancy. But all in all, it’s a drive worth doing!
Here’s wishing you Haute and Happy Travels!