Freedom was ours! We were now on the road and had two weeks to get to LA. Looking back, the prospect of having a car and the flexibility that brings was very exciting! Everyone goes to America for an epic road trip and that’s exactly what lay ahead for us. In this blog I’m just going to concentrate on the Pacific Coast specifically, but I will share our full route at the end- for anyone who’s interested! We picked up our ‘luxurious’ car from San Francisco airport. We decided to use an American company called Dollar in the end (after much research!) They were the most affordable and one of the few companies that didn’t charge an extortionate ‘one-way fee’ between California and Nevada. Below, are the notable places we stopped off at en route, as well as a couple of pointers which will help the trip become a little less stressful and more enjoyable for both passenger and driver! So, let’s get to it…
1. San Jose
This was our first stop off, about an hours drive from the airport in San Francisco. Our reasoning was breakfast! Oblivious to what was going on when we arrived, we were happy to discover San Pedro Square Market was open. We are both lovers of a good, local farmer’s market and here we sampled some of the most delicious peaches I’ve ever tried! After a hefty breakfast burrito at Peggy Sue’s Diner, we had another wander around the market stalls and left, smug and satisfied with our fruity purchases!
San Pedro Square Market
2. Greyhound Beach
Not only did we fall in love with this beach because it’s likely a breed of dog we’ll own one day, but it also felt very special- almost like a secret. It was the perfect peach stop over, with staggering sea views. Take care on the way down to the beach, it is quite steep. You almost feel like your trespassing which adds to the idea that you’ve discovered a hidden gem!
3. Santa Cruz
I personally would have loved to have spent a few days here. It honestly looks as though the whole town has a dreamy haze cast over it- just as I had imagined it! It’s the essence of laid back cool. We walked along the pier as causal as any resident ‘Cruzer.’ We passed people playing volleyball on the beach as we headed towards the amusements for a little play time on a two person game. I’d imagine the Santa Cruz Boardwalk would have been even more fun but alas our time (and pockets) were limited. Fun fact, this amusement park has been continuously operating since 1907!
4. Monterey- Lover’s Point Park
One of the destinations that draws people to this trip. The views are immense, even when it’s overcast. It’s rugged coastal line attracts tourists year on year. We stopped off to stretch our legs at Lover’s Point Park. It’s a pleasant walk (maybe a little longer than anticipated) along the coastline to the lighthouse. There are plenty of distractions though, from formidable homes to wonderous wildlife spots! We saw ‘sea’ squirrels, a playful seal and comorants. The Monterey Car Week was in full flow during our trip too so we saw dozens of exotic cars which my boyfriend enjoyed!
5. Carmel by-the-Sea & Big Sur
You can stop off for a few days in this area if time permits. Not having specific boundaries, Big Sur is generally considered to cover 76 miles, from Carmel River to near San Simeon. What I didn’t realise was how lightly populated Big Sur actually was. It’s literally just a cluster of restaurants along a road, with National Parks to hike in and explore. We particularly loved Bixby Bridge, a must photo stop for the ultimate ‘Big Sur’ photo! Whatever the weather, it’s a sight not to be missed, with its plummeting cliff views, raw coastline and crashing waves. It’s has been described as mythic in reputation and a national treasure. It is the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the U.S.
Find out more to do in this area in the link below:-
Do your research about any closures along Highway 1! We had to double back on ourselves due to a bridge collapse back in February. This was mostly my fault though as I knew there were closures I just couldn’t work out where…!
Have an ‘In-N-Out’ burger. Just do it and thank me later! 🙂
San Francisco – San Jose – Greyhound Beach – Santa Cruz – Morgan’s Hill (emergency stopover!) – Monterey/ Lover’s Point Park – Carmel by-the-Sea – Big Sur – Santa Maria (stopover.)