If you are following me on Instagram, you might know we were traveling to California for the first time and the best way to explore the area for first timers is a California Coast road trip. We had very little time and decided to do a road trip along the California Coast. Two friends of ours joined us on this trip and it was an amazing experience and of course we captured everything in a video for our Youtube channel 😉
In this blogpost I will let you know why and give you a few tipps on the go 😉
California Coast Road Trip – The Route
We chose the Pacific Coast Highway, formally known as California State Route 1, because it is known as the ultimate road trip route. We started in San Francisco and drove all the way down to Los Angeles. A small part of the road was closed in the Big Sur area and we had to take a detour but it turned out to be a great detour – more about it later. Before I get started with the stopps, I wanted to sum up a few important things which might help you with the planning.
everybody told us how crazy traffic is in San Francisco and Los Angeles – turned out to be true :p Try to avoid rush hour times. We were stuck in traffic for 2 hours in the San Francisco area. Besides SF and LA traffic wasn’t a big issue on our route.
Lack of Gas Stations on the Road
Make sure you fuel up your car in Carmel-by-Sea because as soon as you enter the Big Sur area, there is only one gas station on the way and they will make you pay big bucks for the fuel 😉
Take Food and Drinks with you
We were driving through areas were there was literally nothing within reach. Make sure to stock up on snacks and water for the road. Or at least do better research than I did :p
Choose the right season for your road trip
We were traveling in November which was perfect for us. It’s a bit chilly in San Francisco area and the further south you go, the warmer it gets. I’m not sure if I would do the trip during summer time as it gets really hot and dry.
Car rental – rather safe than sorry
The car rental is usually cheaper than in Europe and we have good experience with Budget Car Rental so far (and we tried quite a few). If you are going on a road trip with more people, make sure to take a bigger car. The extra costs will bring extra comfort. Be aware that you will be charged a high fee if you have a different drop-off location. Pay the extra bucks for the all-inclusive insurance. We had a crack on the windshield because a stone hit it – so yeah, totally worth the extra bucks and rather safe than sorry, right?
California Coast Road Trip – Our Stopps along the route
The title says it all – it was a short trip because originally we wanted to attend the Live The Adventure Summit but we added a few days to see a bit of California. We had no “MUST-SEE”-itinerary, it was more a go-with-the-flow trip as we didn’t have a lot time. But I must say I felt more connected to nature and the surrounding by observing , this was an amazing experience and I even appreciated it more. Lets kick it off with our first stopp:
24 hours in San Francisco
San Francisco was our first stop and it was on my list for a very long time. It’s a foodies heaven, a coffee lovers paradise, it has interesting architecture and it has a very chill vibe. Our first day was very short but we were able to see a bit more once we came back from our road trip.
Where we stayed:
The Argonaut Hotel*/**: beautiful boutique hotel in the Fishermans Wharf area. Try their restaurant “Blue Mermaid” – I can highly recommend the “Tuna Tacos” (the best ones I ever had!) and “Cioppino” (A san fran tradition with crab, mussels, clams, calamari, prawns, salmon, tomato broth – yes all the good stuff! YUM :))
Right next to the hotel you will find the “Powell-Hyde Cable Car” turnaround station and the Fishermans Wharf where you can find some sea lions hanging out (the exact location where they are laying around is “Pier 39”). They have even a live webcam where you can watch them from where ever you are 😉
It’s really hard to squeeze in everything you want to see, but we managed to have a pretty relaxed day in San Francisco by watching the sunrise at Golden Gate Bridge and afterwards we had Brunch at Jane at Fillmore Street, which has a lot of cute and hip cafès and shops – so if you are a fan of those, this might be the place to spend more time at 😉
Of course we had to grab some additional coffee to go at our favorite coffeeshop Blue Bottle Coffee. Luckily the have one of their coffeeshops just two blocks away from Jane. We wanted to capture one of the stunning San Francisco views with the famous architecture of the houses and walked right to Lafayette Park where we took this pic:
Next one on our list was the infamous Lombard Street. Unfortunately it started raining and I just jumped out of the car for a quick pic 😀
Monterey, 17-mile-drive, Carmel by Sea and Bixby Bridge
We drove to Monterey to stay for the night as we were already on the road for quite a while and we just needed a place to sleep + the accomodations are a lot cheaper than in the nearby city Carmel-by-Sea.
Where we stayed:
Ramada Monterey*: clean Motel where we paid around $150 for 4 people
After coffee and breakfast at Cafe Lumiere we hit the road to drive along the 17-mile-drive which was recommended by a friend. There is an admission fee of around $10 for the road.
We reached Carmel-by-Sea which looked like straight out of a fairytail. Such a lovely and charming town.
Next stop is Bixby Bridge which is just a half-hour-drive away. Oh, in case you are wondering: I have no idea why this old TV was there but it made a good pic 😀
Behold, epic scenery ahead! As mentioned, one part of the coast road was closed. Luckily we found a gas station as we were almost running out of gas 😀 The adventure continues YAY
The detour took us up to a stunning mountain road which turned into a forrest road after a few miles. Until we found this:
It’s really hard to capture the moment in pictures. The landscape turned into a stunning steppe. We had the perfect light situation which gave the area a very dramatic look.
Misty morning Morro Bay
Our next stop was Morro Bay – a charming fisherman village. This place was intended to get a little bit of a rest and fuel up on delicious fish at Dockside for dinner 🙂 The morning was a bit misty but beautiful. We went to Top Dog for Coffee and Lox Bagles for the road – yum!
Where we stayed:
Pleasant Inn*: a charming motel with beautiful interior
Our California Coast Road Trip just gets better and better. We left Morro Bay and we hit the road to LA. There are a few stops I wanted to mention.
Coffee in Santa Barbara
We met a guy on the road who mentioned he liked Santa Barbara. We had a very tight schedule so we just stopped by to see the pier (which was beautiful) and we got our coffee fuel at “The French Press” which was on point 🙂
Lunch in Malibu
Next stop was a healthy lunch in Malibu at the “Malibu Farm Cafe”. You will love the view! The Cafe is located directly on the pier.
Check-in in Santa Monica
We were looking for a room for 4 people near Santa Monica beach which would not break the bank.
Where we stayed:
Santa Monica Motel*: this Motel was totally okay and clean and we paid around $157 for 4 people per night
Sunset in Venice Beach
We made it right in time to experience an amazing sunset at Venice Beach 🙂 Which was phenomenal!
Unfortunately our California Coast road trip was very tight with the schedule but I can still give you two recommendations: if you love Ramen head to JINYA Ramen Bar for a $12 bowl of deliciousness and get your coffee fix at Blue Bottle Coffee in the Abbot Kinney Rd where you will find a bunch of hip and cool shops.
California Coast Road Trip – an adventure that deserves more time
I definitely have to come back to Cali. This trip gave me a very small first impression of California and I definitely want to come back to explore more.
I hope you guys liked my little California Coast Road Trip summary. If I have missed anything worth visiting on my next trip, or if you have any questions, comment below 😉
By the way: we created a whole VLOG playlist from this trip which you can watch and get a “real-life-feeling” of our road trip 🙂
PS: don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our channel for more travel videos :-*
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** #CourtesyStay: Thank you to the Argonaut Hotel for collaborating with us! It was a pleasant stay 🙂
California Coast Road Trip