MUST SEE PLACES
ON HWY 101 (SF- LA)
If you are one of the unlucky people (kidding, kidding // but only kind of) who haven't done the drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles you need to put it on your travel list NOW. I often get bossy when something is really worth it- this my friends, is really worth it. It's one of the most breathtaking drives you could take in America. Or the world?? Big call I know- especially from someone who actually hasn't actually travelled the entire world- but I like to make big assumptions like that.
Highway 101 travels along one of the most scenic -and often nail biting*- coastlines you can experience. Incredible rugged beaches, beautiful national forests and picturesque towns - this drive truly has something for everyone. Kids, adults, nature lovers, shopaholics, foodies, people that are hard to please, people that are easily pleased, people that breath---- ok, I think you get the drift--- MOST PEOPLE. Here are my "must sees" along the way. Also, in my opinion- the best time to drive this is from September/October where the chance of fog is not as high as summer months and the temperature is perfect.
* Oh and BTW- "nail biting" is the biggest understatement of the century. I saw my life flash before me approximately 768 times- and they were only the times I counted. But do not fret- I think my husband likes to favour the right side of the road to get cheap thrills & freak me out. Sometimes that man is colder than Paris Hilton's heart (kidding kidding // HI JASE!) He still swears to this day he has no idea what I'm talking about, but I guess that's because he wasn't sitting on the right side of the car WHILE ROCKS WERE CRUMBLING AND FALLING INTO THE OCEAN BELOW.
Now that's out of the way, let's get onto the list before I talk you out of it:
1- CARMEL (by the sea)- approx 2hrs 45 minutes drive from San Francisco. Gorgeous quaint town full of boutique shops and a pretty beach area. You probably couldn't get a prettier little town if you tried. The former mayor is Clint Eastwood (I mean, come on- can you get cooler than that?) If we were to do this trip again we would definitely stay the night and enjoy a full day here, although if you were on a tight schedule I would save your main stop for Big Sur, Nepenthe . We rushed this part of the trip (much to our dismay) and only got a quick walk around town but enjoyed our time here and will definitely be back. For more information on Carmel- visit: http://www.carmelcalifornia.com/things-to-do-in-carmel.htm
2- NEPENTHE RESTAURANT (Big Sur)- 45 minutes from Carmel- breathtaking views & great food. Put 2 hours aside for this stop, trust me! Best to arrive in time for lunch when any fog has hopefully lifted/burnt off. I could sit here with a glass of wine ALL DAY LONG looking at this view- it's spectacular. For more information on Nepenthe: http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/
3- GLEN OAKS CABINS (Big Sur)- if you are a nature lover or just want a peaceful and relaxing spot to rest, these are the cabins for you. Also, the redwoods will blow your mind- HUGE is an understatement. Perfect stop off after your long lunch at Nepenthe! These cabins are nestled within the forest, but have all the mod-cons for people like me who don't really like camping. Hey, don't judge- I need fresh towels, a hot shower and a comfy bed. For more information on Glen Oaks Cabins: http://www.glenoaksbigsur.com/littlesur.html
4- PIEDRAS BLANCAS- (San Simeon). This is the place to see seal colonies at this incredible beach/lookout. We spent a good hour here (maybe more?) just in awe of these very lovable & lazy creatures in their natural habitat. As an added benefit ADORABLE tame squirrels that live in the beach bush often pop out to say hi! For more information: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g33039-d256262-Reviews-Piedras_Blancas-San_Simeon_San_Luis_Obispo_County_California.html
5- HEARST CASTLE- approx 2 hours from Glen Oaks/Big Sur. Hearst Castle is a National and Californian Historical Mansion that operates tours daily. Now this might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's something you really have to see to believe. Grand is an understatement. For more information on Hearst castle: http://hearstcastle.org/
6- CAMBRIA- A sleepy little town, but perfectly situated for a stop off. The main town has a couple of large antique shops (when I say large, you could spend hours in there). Cambria Pines Lodge ticks all the boxes for a comfortable stay. It has a resident cat (---ok, that probably shouldn't be my first & most important point- but hey, I'm an animal lover so this is a major draw-card for me). It has a great hearty buffet breakfast included, a good hot shower and a comfortable bed, all within stunning grounds where a lot of the produce is grown on site. Oh, and deer wander around the property- amazing to see! For more information on Cambria Pines Lodge: http://www.cambriapineslodge.com/
7- SANTA BARBARA- approx 2 hours drive from Cambria. Definitely worth staying 1 or 2 nights here. A gorgeous town with stunning beaches, beautiful cliff views, gorgeous boutique shops, plenty of award winning restaurants and hotels, and a vibrant arts community. We had brunch at a little cafe called D'Angelo Bakery after discovering they are really well known for their "Rose" eggs- which are poached eggs with artichoke spread (weird combination, but works well). There are lots of hotels to choose from, but Canary comes highly recommended. For more information on Santa Barbara: http://www.santabarbaraca.com/
8- SANTA MONICA- Technically, this is on HWY 1, but is a great spot to base yourself at the end of a trip. Plenty of shopping, eating and soaking up the sunshine is what Santa Monica is all about. When we are in LA we rent a cottage a few blocks back from the beach with a small kitchen, gorgeous garden and rental bikes included. We have previously stayed in the Palihouse Hotel, which is an excellent location. There is plenty to do in Santa Monica that will keep you entertained for days on end. For more information visit: http://www.smgov.net/
As you can see, you could probably take a good week doing this trip if you wanted to take your time and really enjoy everything along the way- alternatively, if you are on a tight schedule it can be done over 1 or 2 days. This coastline is really spectacular and should be on everyone's travel list!