This summer, six years after spending our honeymoon in California, Brian and I returned to the golden state for two weeks of sunshine and adventure. We'd had so much fun doing a road trip last time that we decided to drive again, revisiting some favourite places and checking out spots we'd missed last time around. The state is so vast and diverse that we still only scratched the surface, but I was really thrilled with the route we took this time and am already dreaming up our itinerary for the next visit.
We flew into LAX, picked up our rental car and kicked off the drive. We stayed in San Luis Obispo for our first night, a beautiful little city in the Central Coast region north of Santa Barbara. This time we were able to visit the Downtown SLO Farmer's Market, which was enormous and delicious. We got barbecue and ate it curbside while listening to a group of drummers entertain the crowds. Then we stopped at SLO Brew for drinks while we planned out the next day.
In the morning, we departed for San Francisco. Last time we were there we'd only had 28 hours in the city, so we stayed for two nights this time around and were able to see a lot more. We walked non-stop for days and ate our way through the many neighbourhoods. Highlights inlcluded dinners at Barzotto (a chic Italian restaurant offering fine food via counter service or takeout!) L'Osteria del Forno (traditional Italian), breakfast at the Ferry Building farmer's market, treats at Dandelion and Tartine and plenty of Blue Bottle coffee. An unexpected pleasure was stumbling upon Tigerlily Perfumery and losing myself in the scents of the shop.
Next up, we headed southwest to Monterey. We chose to stay in Pacific Grove this time, and are SO happy we did! As you might tell by the volume of images from this next segment, this was probably our favourite part of the whole trip. We adored the Monterey Bay Aquarium, delicious seafood meals (Passionfish was our best dining experience of the vacation). We stayed right on Asilomar State Beach and brought a picnic dinner from Trader Joe's during the sunset. We had breakfasts at Crema and Bright Coffee and lunch at Alvarado Street Brewery and went to see a movie at Pacific Grove's historic Lighthouse theater. We stopped into Carmel and also finally had a chance to do the iconic 17-Mile Drive, which was truly spectacular. This part of the trip was so relaxing and peaceful.
On our way back south, we decided to stay in tiny Los Alamos at the refurbished Alamo Motel, which was perfect in every way! We spent the day exploring the handful of towns that comprise the Santa Ynez Valley, visiting Buellton, Solvang (America's Little Denmark!), and Los Olivos. Here, we found the most beautiful light and endless golden fields studded by oak trees.
We drove to the desert to spend two nights at Parker Palm Springs, a beautifully appointed hotel set in a sprawling labyrinth of gardens that tempts one to never leave. For the most part, we stayed on site and enjoyed the bars, restaurants and pools of the resort. It was glorious. We also did drive to Joshua Tree in the sweltering heat and went on a self-guided tour of Palm Springs' beautiful mid-century neighbourhoods and gawked at their gardens.
We finished our time in California by visiting our friends Andrew and Terra in Los Angeles for a few days. During this time, I hardly took any photos! But they were wonderful hosts and we enjoyed ourselves so much. A few highlights included watching a lineup of comics at The Comedy Store, enjoying happy hour at Sage Vegan Bistro, dinner at Mao's Kitchen, snacking at both Gjusta and Lemonade in Venice Beach. I also did more beauty and perfume shopping during this time, visiting Strange Invisible Perfumes and Luckyscent's Scent Bar, the latter of which I visited twice. T & A, thank you so much for being such wonderful hosts!
We loved this trip and were so grateful to spend two blissful weeks together while our dog Pearlie was safely watched by our friends Mel and Tom. Looking forward to planning our next adventure!