We had a GREAT time in California! We lucked out with the weather because not only did we escape superstorm Juno, but Cali temps were in the 60s and 70s the whole trip (except a few chilly nights) and we didn’t encounter any rain (except for one afternoon while driving through Beverly Hills).
Our trip took us from BOS to SFO where we rented a car and drove down to Los Angeles. From LAX we flew home to a few feet of snow. Reality check much? Ha ha! The major sights…
- City of San Francisco
- Carmel/Carmel Valley
- Big Sur
- Los Angeles
… and a lot more in between.
What we learned on this trip is that we are really, really active vacationers. We like to be on the move, see everything possible, oh, and revolved the day around good food. Over 8 days, we traveled 61 miles BY FOOT. Outlined below. :)
In San Francisco we did the most walking of our trip. Our first day there, we started at the Ferry Building and ate breakfast at the farmers’ market. After that, we took the ferry to Alcatraz and then walked around the entire city. We clocked in 11.2 MILES on foot according to Ryo’s Vivofit!
4505 Meats: Get a gosh darn breakfast sandwich here!
Greco Cafe: Nice salad for me, panini for my partner in crime. It was a nice place to break in the heart of Little Italy. Perk: It was warm enough to eat outside!
Ryoko’s: A Japanese restaurant with amaaaaazing food and a bar feel. Tip: It seems like it’s always packed, so be prepared to wait. Oh, and it is a do-it-yourself list.
This was our Muir Woods day! We hiked among some giant trees, visited Golden Gate Park and watched the sunset at the Sutro Baths. Lunch on most days was an on-the-go or snacking affair. Then, on a few days we ate breakfast at home or while navigating to our first destination.
Distance traveled by foot: 11.2 miles
Equator Coffee: A nice little joint (packed with cyclists) right over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Slanted Door: I was SO excited to eat at the Slanted Door! No pictures, but a must-eat restaurant by the Bay Bridge!
Time to start our road trip down the coast! But first… breakfast in SF and a quick trip to SF’s Japantown (kind of lame after you’ve been to the real thing). In Japantown we grabbed mochi, rice balls and other snacks for the road. While driving we stopped by Pacific Beach, Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz before arriving in Carmel Valley.
Distance traveled by foot: 6.25 miles
Day 3 eats…
Brenda’s French Soul Food: This was on every list of “places to eat in SF,” so we had to.
Blue Bottle Coffee: A popular spot where I got a perfect almond milk cafe au lait.
We had all day to spend in the Carmel area, so we wandered the Monterey Bay Aquarium, did the “17-mile drive” through Pebble Beach, shopped at Carmel-by-the-Sea and then made a little stop in Carmel Valley center. Our two-night stay in Carmel was probably the most relaxing part of the trip — I mean… just check out this view/sunrise!
Distance traveled by foot: 4.8 miles
La Bicyclette: This was a cute, french-inspired cafe with pretty delicious salads and a mega/delicious burger. We at lunch here with a lot of empty nest moms who drive Mercedes and lovebirds honeymooning — or something. Read reviews for the restaurant for hilarious explanations of the “regular crowd.”
Carmel Coffee House: Another day, another almond milk latte.
Cafe Rustica: This food stop was highly-recommended by our AirBnB host. (BTW, we did AirBnB the whole trip and had amazing experiences all around!) We split a pizza and some other goodies.
Back on the road… TIME FOR THE BIG SIR! First, we hiked around Point Lobos Nature Reserve — so breathtaking. Then, we started down US-1 again and made stops at Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Falls, McKay Falls, San Simeon (sea lions), Cayucos and Morro Bay State Park (big, big rock).
Distance traveled by foot: 6.9 miles
Our next AirBnB was about 10 minutes inland from Morro Bay. On the way we grabbed some practical groceries. By that I mean, restocking on snacks and grabbing ingredients for breakfast-for-dinner and breakfast the next day.
Back on the road — next stop LA! We stopped in Santa Barbara on the way, then relaxed at our AirBnB in Santa Monica until it was time for dinner and the LAKERS GAME! (We were only a little bummed about not seeing Kobe. Bad timing for an injury, sir.)
Distance traveled by foot: 5.2 miles
Natural Cafe: A hot Santa Barbara spot with foods for vegans and meat-eaters alike. Fresh ingredients and a lot of locals. We ate outside and soaked in the sunshine!
Yojies: Shabu shabu and other goodies here! It was right near the Staples Center which was perfect for us!
One of my bucket list items was hiking up to the Hollywood sign — so awesome! We hiked right after breakfast, did a quick change in the car, and then walked around Hollywood. If you’ve been to Hollywood, you know it’s over-rated… But it’s a must see. We also took some time to drive through Beverly Hills, where people casually parallel-park their Maseratis on busy streets. We ended the day with dinner at Umami Burger, a stroll through the 3rd Street Promenade and a stop by a recommended ice cream shop. We like to party.
Distance traveled by foot: 6.2 miles
Egg Slut: Be prepared to wait for 30-45 minutes in line here — even longer on the weekends! Ryo got the sandwich below, and I got “The Slut,” a coddled egg over potato mash with a small baguette.
Beard Papas: A cream puff place we like to stop at in every city, haha. Coming in Boston mid-February… so they say.
Umami Burgers: Recommended by friends, this place did not disappoint. There are tons of locations up the CA coast. I got a turkey burger, Ryo got this truffle-everything nonsense.
Sweet Rose Creamery: We are all about dessert — especially love when there are dairy-free options. Coconut banana for me, and some sinful double chocolate something for Ryo.
Our last day! What?! I started the day with the highly-rated mint mojito ice coffee from Phillz (with almond milk). It lived up to the hype. Then, we rented bikes and pedaled down to Venice Beach. We took in all the weirdness and I got to meet up with a great, long-lost friend! We ate lunch on the beach, saw some more weirdness, then headed back to Santa Monica for another sunset.
Our flight wasn’t until 11:45pm, so we had the whole day!
Distance traveled by foot: 9.2 miles (but some of that might be from biking)
Philz Coffee: Just go. There are locations in SF and LA.
Cafe Gratitude: Jason Mraz supplies the avocados — or something like that (I haven’t done my research). Go there to enjoy vegan eats that are both tasty and moderately-priced.
Japadog: Finally! We haven’t seen this food cart in NYC yet, so we were happy to stumble upon it while walking down Santa Monica Pier. I took a few bites of Ryo’s delicious dog. Om nom nom.
Blue Plate Taco: It was conveniently DineLA week while we were in LA. We booked a table at Blue Plate Taco a couple days in advance for dinner. Great deal, great food. Categorized as California Mexican.
A lot of these pictures don’t do the trip justice. If you can, definitely plan to make this drive while you are still young (or young at heart). The views are breathtaking, the food is incredible and the people watching is prime.
Do you have favorite spots in California? Any of these sights on your bucket list?