California is a big state. We knew this going in, but we still grossly underestimated just how many hours of our road trip would be spent, well, on the road. Lucky for us, the coastal highway between SoCal and San Francisco is about the prettiest road you could ever drive. We’ll share our favourite California coffee shop, the best place to stop for picnic goods, and a breathtaking hike you won’t forget – but first, some (super amateur) photos!
Our first stop along the coast after Santa Monica was the ever-charming Santa Barbra. With only a day in town we had just enough time to explore State Street (the main shopping drag) and cruise bikes up and down the beach (with a pit stop at East Beach Grill for nachos, of course).
Next was San Luis Obispo (SLO). We breezed through pretty quickly, but if there’s one thing we always make time for it’s a good cup of coffee. We fuelled up at Kreuzberg, a trendy downtown coffee roaster by day/bar by night. The coffee is divine, but the retro decor that pays homage to classic lit’s best authors is really what won us over.
Two miles west of downtown SLO is the sunny, sandy Avila Beach. Lined with brightly coloured buildings (vacation rentals, cafes, and shops) the beach is the perfect picturesque pit stop. Be sure to stop at the Avila Valley Barn for fresh local produce (it’s not a road trip without a bag of cherries) and to-die-for baked goods. Don’t leave without saying hello to the adorable critters just waiting to be pet and hand fed. It is a barn, after all.
Our absolute favourite thing about this leg of the road trip was without a doubt the view along Big Sur. We pulled over many, many times along the way (once to watch hundreds of sea lions shed their fur on the beach!) but the epic coastline deserves a closer look than what the vista stops have to offer. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park offers some incredible hiking through lush ferns and the shade of the Redwoods all the way up to hot dusty mountain tops with wild flowers and breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. The view alone makes the sweaty hike worthwhile!
Stay tuned for our final California post about Sonoma Valley!