2 Girls. 1 World. A Whole Lot to See

TRAVEL JOURNAL

From San Francisco to Los Angeles: A Pacific Coast Adventure!

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View on Devil's Slide Trail

We did it! We cruised the Pacific coast and it was an amazing adventure!

It all started with a flight to San Francisco. I love watching the 8-Year-Old on the plane.

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I’m hoping all these adventures help combat the inherited fear of flying from Dad.

We landed and picked up our rental car.

Mustang Convertible

How could I NOT splurge on a convertible?!? It’s not every day I’m driving down the Pacific coast!

We found a parking garage in San Francisco and explored the city on foot.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz from afar. I waited too long to get tickets. :(

looking at Boats in San Francisco

Walking around Fisherman’s Wharf.

Lunch

Lunch!

I love that my son loves Calamari! We also shared some crab.

I love that my son loves calamari! We also shared some crab.

Trees in San Francisco

He LOVED these trees.

San Fran Trolley

We saw the trolley but the lines were too long to ride.

I had more fun racing him up the hill anyway.

I had more fun racing him up the hill anyway.

Lombard Street

Lombard street! It really is crazy!

We made our way back to the car and drove to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

This was one of the highlights for me. Stay tuned for a whole post devoted to the bridge in the near future!

We left the bridge and drove a little south to Pacifica and spent the night.

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Day 2 started with a stroll to the beach.

We never saw such dark sand before!

Dark sand in Pacifica

We climbed…

On a beach in Pacifica

and frolicked…

Beach in Pacifica

Before getting back on the road.

I had some sites mapped out for our trip and the Devil’s Slide Bunker was one of them.

Devil's Slide Bunker

The bunker was used in World War II and has since been abandoned. The 8-Year-Old’s reaction couldn’t have been better:

“Well, you don’t see that every day!”

On a lower parking lot north of the bunker there was access to an amazing trail I didn’t even know about from my research!

Devil's Slide Trail

We walked for a bit and enjoyed the views.

View on Devil's Slide Trail

About a half mile in they had a beautiful bench and coin-operated telescope.

telescope on Devil's Slide trail

They also had an informational board so you can identify the birds you see on the trail. It was really a great little spot!

Our next stop was Point Montara Light House.

Point Montara Lighthouse.

It’s been turned into a hostel so we signed in and walked the grounds a bit.

scene from Point Montara Light House

It was time to put the top down.

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Light House No. 2: Pigeon Point!

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

I may have to get him his own camera soon. He loves taking shots.

We headed back on the road and made it to Santa Cruz for lunch and some arcade time.

Santa Cruz

By midday the sun really started to come out and we were enjoying our drive. I took a short detour to Castroville to see the Giant Artichoke.

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Ryan wasn’t too impressed. I believe he said, “What’s the big deal? It’s a giant spiky ball.”

Touche.

Our next stop was the Mirror Maze in Monterey.

Mirror Maze in Monterey

I really tried to include a variety of sights, stops and activities to keep both of us entertained. This stop was surprisingly one of our favorites.

Inside the Mirror Maze

Inside the Mirror Maze.

At $12 each it was a little pricey but we went through about 3-4 times and the staff was super friendly.

We then took 17 mile drive in Pebble beach to see the sights, although I was a little shocked they charge you $10 to drive it.

Regardless, I was excited to see the Lone Cypress.

The Lone Cypress

We headed out of Monterey. Our goal was Pfeiffer Beach by sunset.

We made it! (Note: I totally forgot to hit the Big Sur Lighthouse.)

Sun Portal - Pfeiffer Beach

If it was December or January the sun shines through that rock formation making a beam of light. Even though we didn’t get to see it, the sunset on the beach was perfect.

Sunset at Big Sur

We had fun playing in the sand and taking pictures.

Day 2 almost ended in a disaster when I couldn’t find us a place to stay because the Pixies were in town! Thankfully we got a room at the Whale Watcher.

The What Watcher Hotel

That next morning we backtracked a little to see some of the views we missed driving at night. We also stopped at Limekiln Park to see some redwoods!

Red Woods at Limekiln Part

After breakfast at the Whale Watcher, we headed back on the road and enjoyed the sights stopping at vista points for the views. Before I knew it…. BAM!

Elephant seals!

Elephant Seals!

I actually saw them from the car. So we stopped and explored for a bit walking the trails along the coastline.

trail on pacific coast

Hearst Castle was next.

Hearst Castle from Afar

There were 4 or 5 tour options each one $12 and 45 minutes long. We chose the upstairs as I knew there would be no way he would last any longer than that.

Hearst Castle Tour Bus

I will admit I know nothing of William Randolph Hearst or the Hearst Castle so I was completely captivated the entire tour.  Someone else barely survived.

Outside the Hearst Castle

All kidding aside, the castle was a great stop. Fascinating and beautiful. The tours are unscripted so it really depends on the guide you get and ours was a little boring. I’d love to go back and take a few other tours alone. Oh! and the bus ride up is fantastic!

Our next stop was San Luis Obispo for lunch and to see Bubble Gum Alley.

Bubble Gum Alley

734 Higuera Street
San Luis Obispo, CA

I didn’t know anything about San Luis Obispo but fell in love with it by the time we left. Such a great little city to walk around and window shop in. Ryan was ecstatic when we found a little rock shop. He’s been collecting them for years so I bough him a Geode and cracked it open on the sidewalk.

Cracking a Geode

We headed back on the road for the Guadalupe Preserve. Yet again I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

Guadalupe Sand Dunes

It was breathtaking. Just sand for miles!

He could have played here for hours.

playing in the Guadalupe Sand Dunes

Our next stop was in Buellton to eat at The Hitching Post II — a restaurant used in the movie Sideways. It was a HUGE disappointment. Our waitress was just downright rude. I’m not very good at giving negative reviews but I honestly can’t recommend this place. Buellton, however, turned into the perfect place to spend the night. We got a great rate on a Motel 6 and settled in for the night.

Day 4 was all about Hollywood! We drove through Malibu and found our way to the Canyon Drive entrance of Griffith Park so we could hike. Someone was VERY excited to see his first cactus close up and personal.

Cactus in Hollywood

We saw the bat man caves

Bronson Caves aka Bat man caves

and hiked some pretty treacherous trails for about 2 hours.

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We had a blast even though it ended with a bit of drama as Ryan tripped and cut his leg.

I cleaned him up and we decided to stay in Santa Monica for the night so we could hang out on the pier.

Santa Monica Pier

He had a blast even though the pier was smaller than we anticipated.

Ride at Santa Monica Pier

The next morning we walked around Venice Beach and had breakfast before heading to the airport.

Venice Beach

When we pulled the car in to return it we both got a little choked up. Besides a few 8-Year-Old moments that required “mommy mode” as I like to call it, we explored the world together and it was an amazing experience. I have NO idea where we’re going next year but I’m already looking forward to it.

In case you are interested, below you will find the Roadtrippers compilation of our entire week with a link to each spot. I can’t say for sure we drove exactly how it’s outlined below but it was pretty close…

TheUnworldlyTravelers’ SFO to LAX Roadtrip | My new trip on Roadtrippers.com!

 

Maybe it will help you plan your next adventure!



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Discussion

There are 12 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.

    Krista

    April 22, 2014

    SO much fun!!! After reading this, I kind of feel like I got to go on vacation, too. I really love seeing Ryan explore and grow and appreciate travel with you. Reply

    Mary

    April 22, 2014

    Were you surprised at our beaches here in California? Glad you enjoyed your trip~CA is big and beautiful and has so much to see~ Reply

      Roni

      April 22, 2014

      A little! WAY different than the east coast! Reply

    Meghan

    April 22, 2014

    Love this! I am in my 20s now, and I have SUCH wonderful memories of traveling frequently with my mother when I was young (and we still do!). It's so so fantastic that you're giving Ryan similar experiences, he'll grow up so thankful that you did these things with him. Plus, I learned so many great life lessons from traveling while young! I am a whiz with a map. :) Reply

      Meghan

      April 22, 2014

      Forgot to add: my mother would also bring me with her frequently on work trips to major cities, which was great. The extra expense was really only the flight, since the hotel was covered by her company, of course. (This was mostly when I was a bit older and could be on my own during the day.) Reply

    Patty

    April 23, 2014

    What an amazing experience. I'm a little choked up just reading your post. Such a special vacation for you both! Reply

    Tina

    April 23, 2014

    I bet I've left this message countless times on your blog.... but here I go again... Roni, you are an AWESOME mom. Reply

    Claudia

    April 23, 2014

    Looks like a really great trip! I'm not surprised that the Devil's Slide trail didn't show up on your searches -- it just opened at the end of March! I moved out here to the Bay Area a few months ago - your post prompted me to add a few more things to my "Must See in CA" list. Thanks! Reply

    Thea @ It's Me Vs. Me

    April 23, 2014

    This does nothing to alleviate my wanderlust, LOL! What an amazing trip. If you ever have a chance, though, you really need to do Alcatraz. It's an amazing tour and I learned so much I never knew about it. Reply

    Kim

    April 25, 2014

    I am headed out here next month and have been stalking you on Instagram since my trip is not quite finalized. After seeing your route, and suggestions - I am more stoked than ever! Reply

    Angie @ Newton's Travels

    April 26, 2014

    How totally fun! Looks like you both had a blast and it's something you'll never forget. Kev and I are heading to San Fran and taking the drive Highway 1 to Carmel/Monterey for a few days. Then back to San Fran for the Alcatraz night tour. I'm really excited for this long weekend vacation. Reply