Last month, Kevin and I took an incredible vacation. So incredible, in fact, I think it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
We drove the scenic Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Los Angeles to Napa. It was a trip that had been on my bucket list for a while, and we thought it was appropriate for our ENGAGEMENTMOON! Breathtaking scenery, lots + lots of fantastic wine, and not great cell phone service. Yes, please! So, we did some master planning, packed our bags for a nine day trip, and flew to L.A.
We skipped to neighboring Los Olivos, to wine taste in the adorable, quaint city where Sideways was filmed. We filled our day with stops at various tasting rooms: Saarloos + Sons, Alta Maria Vineyards, Coquelicot Estate Vineyards, and lunch at Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe.
Side note: Isn’t this chair at Saarloos + Sons amazing?!
On our way out of the city, we couldn’t resist driving by Neverland Ranch, which was a stone’s throw from Los Olivos.
Yep, we did that.
The next day it was onward + upward to Big Sur with a quick stop in the city of Cambria. On the way, we got to see nesting elephant seals…
Take some photos of our gorgeous surroundings…
And, seriously keep our eyes on the road as the drive got increasingly white-knuckled.
I usually fall asleep pretty quickly on roadtrips, but I was WIDE awake as the PCH drive became steeper and more mountainous. We were literally driving 35 – 40 MPH on a road carved out of the side of a mountain. To our left was the expansive Pacific Ocean…no guard rail between us and the water. It was exhilarating. We patted ourselves on our backs a number of times for planning the trip from South to North instead of the opposite, which would have put us on the outside of the road even closer to the ocean. Take note.
It was difficult to capture the gorgeous drive on my iPhone camera, but I tried…
I tried again with my real camera once we got into Big Sur for the night and I met some deer just hanging out - grazing and such – at the Post Ranch Inn.
We stayed at the Glen Oaks in Big Sur, which was perfect for us, but we didn’t want to be in our room very much. There was SOOOOO much to see and do in this gorgeous city: walk around Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, meals at Big Sur Bakery, and drinks at the edge of a cliff at Post Ranch Inn’s restaurant: Sierra Mar.
It was my favorite stop along the PCH.
From there, we drove over a series of bridges like these (how did someone build this?!) to get to Carmel.
Fun fact: Clint Eastwood is a former mayor of Carmel.
Kevin was in h.e.a.v.e.n. at Pebble Beach.
We also got to see the famous Lone Cypress.
We headed into Monterey for the night, but not before visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I pet a shark, and I made friends with their octopus. It was a successful visit.
For dinner, Kev had his first In-and-Out Burger experience. In full disclosure, I was satisfied – but he was pretty seriously underwhelmed. Oh well, at least he can cross it off of his “to do” list now!
The next morning, we drove through Santa Cruz and stopped at the beach-front boardwalk on our way to Half Moon Bay. The boardwalk was pretty deserted since it was early in the morning on a chilly day, but at least now I can cross that off MY “to do” list.
A short while later, we arrived at the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay. JUST look at this place…
It was, hands down, the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.
It was so hard to leave the next morning. It looked like it was on the edge of the world. Perched on a cliff overlooking the endless ocean – we were in paradise. We spent a large portion of the day in Half Moon Bay’s “downtown” area wine tasting and eating our way from one end of the strip to the other at Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company, Sushi Main Street, and Pasta Moon. When we got back to the hotel, we sat outside our balcony with our personal (outside!) fireplace warming our feet, finishing a bottle of wine, and listening to the ocean. Absolutely incredible.
I will always remember this hotel stay.
The next morning, it was off to San Fran where we cut through the city + drove over THIS bad boy. (Kev, who is slightly weary of heights, was pretty proud of himself.)
We arrived in Sausalito and had the most delicious lunch at a restaurant on the pier called Fish. We were only there for a few hours, but Kev will tell everyone that Sausalito was his favorite city because of this meal. Go there. GO THERE.
To work off our enormous lunch, we drove to Muir Woods National Monument for a hike through the park’s towering redwood forest. We sang Woody Guthrie pretty much the entire time…
These things are just unbelievable. Seeing redwoods should be a must for everyone at some point.
We spent our last two days in California wine tasting in Napa and Yountville. We had both been to Napa before, but we definitely wanted to visit again and try out a few new wineries.
We tasted at Darioush Winery, Hess Collection, and Swanson Vineyards. They were all fantastic in their own right - each so wonderfully different from the other. Lunches at Mustard’s Grill and Oakville Grocery helped us to cut through some of the wine with delicious local eats. Dinner at Morimoto Napa was fantastic, as well. And, Chef Morimoto was there! Naturally, I was in total paparazzi mode…
We splurged on the tasting menu, and we agreed that it was one of the best meal decisions we made throughout the entire trip. Napa was the perfect way to end our vacation. We flew out of SFO this next morning.
Driving the PCH is a phenomenal way to see some of California’s most gorgeous cities. We didn’t get car sick on the windy drive + Kevin never got bored with our surroundings or plans. If we had recorded a soundtrack of our conversations in the car throughout the drive it would have sounded something like this on repeat:
Lindsay (passenger): Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!
Kevin (driver): WHAT??
Lindsay: I CAN’T believe what I’m seeing!/ Did you see that?!/ Oh wow!
Kevin: I can’t look or I’ll drive off of the cliff…
Lindsay: Eh, I’ll take a picture.
We were a captive audience to California’s beauty. We will tell our kids about it one day – I know this for sure. Do this trip. Do it. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Tags: ,california!, careful cowboy!, country road - take me home, day drinking, Hurray for gorgeous weather!, I'm just saying..., incredibly bold statements, Kevin!, LMR, More culture than frozen yogurt!, Mrs. Wolkove, PCH, PLU, put this on your bucket list!, ROADTRIPPIN', Things that are awesome..., vay-cay, wine-O, wise words