One of the most scenic drives I have done to-date is the California Coast. It is breathtaking with so much to offer, give yourself plenty of time when planning a road trip. When my Fiancé and I did a California road trip, we did it over a long weekend, but you should aim to do it over a week if possible as there is so much to do and see. We started our road trip in San Diego and headed for Los Angeles.
Our first stop was Hollywood. We parked at the Hollywood and Highland which is a shopping mall located in central Hollywood. If you eat in the Hard Rock, they validate your parking, so it is only $2 for 2 hours. This will give you plenty of time to check out Hollywood’s walk of fame, street artists, and experience the hustle and bustle of Hollywood. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a busy area which has over 2,600 five-pointed stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of the Hollywood Boulevard in California. The stars represent the names of a mix of musicians, actors, directors, producers, fictional characters and others. We then headed to the Hollywood hills before sunset and got some awesome photos of the iconic Hollywood sign. For more details on Hollywood, I have another blog post on the top 5 things to do in Hollywood.
After dark we got on the road and Santa Barbara was our next stop. Santa Barbara is also known as the American Riviera with its Mediterranean style city which reflects the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. Santa Barbara was a 40minute drive from Hollywood. We stayed at the Quality Inn Santa Barbara which was cheap and cheerful. It was clean and included breakfast which is a bonus.
We spent the morning exploring Santa Barbara and the coastline it had to offer. It was a foggy morning, but I didn’t feel like this took away from the beauty of the city.
Even though Santa Barbara was a great stop and we enjoyed the morning exploring, we were really excited to get back on the road and head towards BIG SUR.
Big Sur was on my bucket list, so this was so exciting for me! Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the California coast which is one of the most scenic drives in the world! Big Sur has many winding roads, seaside cliffs, and hiking trails. It is untouched raw beauty in California! It took us roughly 5hours to drive from Santa Barbara as the south part of Big Sur’s Highway 1 was closed, so we had to drive to the north entrance to drive south into Big Sur. I had done my research on Big Sur and knew that there was no cell signal so I had our destination loaded on Google Maps so we knew where we were going. We had booked a night of glamping in Fernwood Resort nestled in redwood tree’s so we could get the most out of Big Sur for the short period of time we were there. Glamping was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again.
We paid $150 plus tax to stay in the Adventure Tent – I wouldn’t recommend anything less unless you go prepared as we wouldn’t be campers, so this suited perfectly. We did see some brave souls in a pop-up tent by the water (in February) they both looked frozen and miserable so unless you are into that, I would recommend the Adventure tent. Fernwood is a great location in Big Sur and it made it easy for us to go exploring both days we were there. Driving along the one highway where the Santa Lucia mountains meet the Pacific Ocean – it’s breathtaking! The famous Bixby Bridge was definitely one of my favorite spots to stop and check out the amazing views. We pulled in on the side of the road and just took in the sights and enjoyed the back drop looking view!
As we headed north of Big Sur on Saturday we stopped to explore some places – California Sea Otter State Game Refuge, Point Lobos State Reserve, and Carmel River State Beach.
Carmel-by-the-sea was our destination for lunch, needless to say; we ended up staying for the evening and getting in the sunset. Carmel-by-the-sea is on the Monterey Peninsula, with the fairytale cottages and galleries of its village-like center it was the cutest beach city I had been to! We parked the car after driving around the Peninsula and went exploring as the evening approached we grabbed hot chocolates and headed for the beach. It was AMAZING!
After sunset, it was time to get back on the road and we headed for Sacramento, California’s capital city. From Carmel-by-the-sea to Sacramento it was just about a three-hour drive. As we stayed in Carmel longer than initially planned, we hadn’t much time to explore Sacramento. We drove around the city to the spots we had on our list and checked them out – Old Town Sacramento along the waterfront and the State Capitol Building which was really impressive. I will definitely return to this city to check out what else it has to offer. We needed to get on the road early the next morning to avoid any of the city traffic and we stayed at the Best Western Plus Orchid Hotel and Suites, which was on the outskirts of Sacramento.
Another day another destination it was time to hit the mountains and head for Lake Tahoe.
We were on the road early as we had a day of skiing planned. We got to Squaw Valley from our hotel within an hour and a half with a few short stops for photos of the fascinating scenery on route. Squaw Valley is one of the largest ski areas in the United States and hosted the entire winter Olympics in 1960.
We picked up some ski rentals just before we reached the resort as it is always cheaper in the shops approaching the ski towns/resorts. Check out my other blog on my ‘Favorite ski destinations in the US’ for more information on the ski resorts and what it offers to skiers.
After a day on the slopes skiing, we were looking forward to getting back to the hotel and relaxing. The hotel we booked was in Tahoe City with a view of the lake. The view from the hotel was very picturesque.
We stayed at the Pepper Tree hotel and upon arrival they upgraded us to a suite with a Jacuzzi in the room – nice surprise and exactly what we needed after that day! I couldn’t recommend this hotel and the staff enough!
After a relaxing night in Tahoe City it was our final day of adventures. We drove around the lake and couldnt get over the beauty. It was like a back drop! We ended up stopping at many points and when we got to South Lake Tahoe we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for some lunch. We then continued around towards the Nevada side of the Lake and headed for Reno airport where we dropped back our rental car and flew back to San Diego.
I really hope you guys enjoyed reading this blog post – Happy traveling ✨