Leaving the buzz of L.A. behind us, our roadtrip continues. In front of us lies the pacific coast highway – also known as California State Route 1. Follow us on our way via Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey to our ultimate place of destination: San Francisco.
After the first part of our roadtrip, which you can still find here, today you can join us on our route to San Francisco.
1. Santa Barbara
Driving north from L.A. and Malibu, you’ll soon arrive at Santa Barbara. People also call it the “American Riviera” because of its mediterranean climate and the spanish influences. We stayed here for one night, which is totally enough to get a feeling of this city. There isn’t much sightseeing to do. It’s more like wandering around the streets, taking a glance at the old mission and getting into that relaxed vibe of Santa Barbara. It feels like time stands still here, which leads to deeply relaxation. 🙂
What to do:
- Try the French Toast at Jeannine’s Bakery
- Or have some Pancakes at IHOP
- Check out the beautiful building of the Old Mission
- Go shopping on State Street with lots of cute little shops & the usual retailers
- Have an unforgettable dinner at Hendry’s boathouse while watching the sunset
- Relax at the several beautiful beaches
2. Big Sur
The next day, we started early to get onto Highway 101 , which leads also to the Highway number 1 , that is one of the oldest highways in the U.S. The best thing about it is, that you’ll drive directly next to the seaside. Imagine yourself driving a convertible, on the right hand side the mountains and rough landscape of northern California and left to your side the pacific waves smashing onto the coast. Driving this route was definitely one of the best parts of our roadtrip!
Our first quick stop was around San Luis Obispo. Here you’ll find one of the most famous motels of the U.S: the Madonna Inn. It is sure one of the craziest hotels I’ve ever been to, because you’ll see so much “Kitsch” here! 😉 Each of the rooms has a different theme, plus there is a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Such a crazy place…
Driving further north, you can decide whether you want to stay on the highway 101 (upcountry) or the California State Route 1, which is running just besides the coast. We took the highway 1, making our way onto Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-sea. The landscape here is just breathtaking! Following the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll automatically drive over the famous Bixby Bridge.
Btw, Carmel by the sea is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S, so try to find a hotel in Monterey, which is just around the corner. Monterey itself is also known for “Forrest Gump” and they have a great mall for shopping. 😉
What to do:
- Take the 17-MileDrive which is an Ocean cruise along to Pebble Beach
- For bad weather days: go shopping, for example here
- Feel like Forrest Gump in Monterey – while sitting on his bench and thinking “Life is like a box of chocolates”…
- …or have lunch at the “Bubba Gumps”, the famous shrimp cutter from the movie 😉
- Take your coffee to go and stroll along the Cannery Row (Monterey)
- Relax at the beaches around Pacific Grove
3. San Francisco
The last part of our trip was the drive from Monterey to San Francisco. Maybe it’s because I didn’t expect that much (like I did from Los Angeles). But SF really left me speechless! This city is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, guys! 🙂 I don’t know where to start. Ok, practical things first: make sure you rent a car to get from A to B. The public transport is not as good as we thought, so we used a lot of Uber, as we already gave back our car. Regarding sightseeing, make sure you’ll visit Chinatown with its colorful shops and streets. Another favorite part was the boat ride to Sausalito. There we took the bus back to San Francisco, of course driving over the famous Golden Gate Bridge! The Mission District is another favorite of mine. Here you’ll find mostly hispanic influences and its typical wall paintings (Murales).
So there is lots of sightseeing to do! We didn’t even made it to Alcatraz, as you need to book your ticket weeks in advance (which we didn’t know – oopsy). Make sure you plan minimum three days here, in order to relax and enjoy your stay. For sure it’s not only the vibe of the city, but also the people living there. We met so many nice and helpful people in San Francisco. And I don’t mean the usual “american-fake-smiling”, no, really honest and friendly humans. So, San Francisco was definitely a highlight and I am already looking forward coming back here. 🙂
What to do:
- Take a look at the beautiful wall paintings (Murales) in Mission District
- Buy Gucamole and Nachos & sit down in the Dolores Park
- Of course: drive over Golden Gate Bridge
- Take a picture in front of the famous “Painted Ladies” (Alamo Square Park)
- Have another In ‘N’Out Burger
- Drive down Lombard Street, one of the crookedest streets of the U.S.
- Feel like a hippy walking through Haight Ashbury
- Visit Chinatown and get lost in all its quirkiness 😉
- Have a “Coffee the hipster way” at Sightglass Coffee