I've been meaning to do this post since we arrived home from the west coast, but this is a lengthy one, and gosh did it take a lot of time. Many of you have been asking me for my itinerary, where we stayed, what we did, and where we took all those incredible photos. Well here it is - I've listed it all for you guys. If you haven't driven Highway 1 (aka Pacific Coast Highway), plan a trip immediately. It's the best road trip I've ever been on, and it was the most gorgeous, incredible drive. Read on for all the details, and please let me know if any of you end up going or have other places on this route you recommend!
We started our trip in Seattle. I have some family in Seattle, so we ended up staying with them for two nights which saved us a bit of money and allowed me some time to see family I haven't seen in years! They live on Mercer Island, which is just beautiful and was a blast to explore. We got in late on a Friday night and went straight to bed. On Saturday, we drove downtown and explored Pike Place (had to!), as well as strolled around and window shopped a bit, and I snagged these amazing sunglasses at a little boutique we walked through (highly recommend Wonderland by the way). We drove up to Discovery Park to get a good view of the city and do a little hike, swung by Snoqualmie Falls, and then grabbed a doughnut at General Porpoise, which is a must! We finally ended up at Westward for dinner. I honestly have to say, it wasn't my favorite meal, but it has gorgeous views, so I'd recommend it for a lunch spot in the summer when you can sit outside. If you have time, you should definitely take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and explore that a bit!
On Sunday, we got on the road early because we had a pretty long drive to do to get to our next destination (Port Orford). Our first stop of the day was Portland, a city I've been wanting to visit for a while now. We stopped in the Nike store to get me sneakers since I forgot mine (and of course because it's the Nike store and Nike is based in Portland), wandered around a bit downtown, and then headed up to Pittock Mansion to see the view, which is SO good. You can see all of downtown from up there and the drive is very cool also. After that, we hopped on the road and took the scenic route from Seattle down the northern Oregon coast. I wish we had more time to spend in Portland, but it was an 8 hour drive (without stops), so we had to get on the road.
Did I happen to mention we were in the pacific northwest during the typhoon (the one in October)? Let's just say it was a rainy first few days. The drive down the Oregon coast was incredible, but I have to say the weather and tornadoes that had hit just a day or so earlier made that drive super interesting. Highway 1, which can be decently narrow and somewhat treacherous in areas, winds along the coast, high up on the cliffs quite frequently. The pouring rain and winds really didn't make that too enjoyable, but I have to say that the views were just insane. We ended up in Port Orford for the night, at a little resort called Wildspring Guest Habitat.
The resort was tucked away in the woods surrounded by tall pine trees, ferns, and the most gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. It was so unassuming and not something you'd ever find from the road without directions, which we loved. There are about 8 cabins, each one a one bedroom with a living room and bathroom. We got there when it was completely pitch dark, the only way you can find your cabin is with a flashlight and a map. Such an adventure! We threw on our suits and hopped in the hot tub with the sounds of waves crashing on the coast. The next morning consisted of coffee and homemade breakfast on the deck over looking the ocean. I LOVED this little place! We only had one night there, so got on the road early and headed to our next stop (which was the best one of the trip by the way). As you head down the Oregon coast and into Northern Cali, you absolutely have to stop and see the giant Redwood trees. There are a ton of hikes and drives to do - it's hard to pick one. Avenue of the Giants is really cool, as well as Humboldt Redwoods. This is a great list of all the scenic drives you can do! I just wish we had had an extra day or two to explore Oregon more.
GLAMPING!!! This was our next destination, located in Northern California on the Sonoma coast. I found Terra Glamping on Airbnb originally, but booked directly through the website once I did a little research on them (it was cheaper that way). Guys. If could do any one thing on this trip, you have to stay here. There is no street sign, no indicator, nothing to identify the driveway of this place! You drive straight up a mountain on a dirt road and arrive at a little clearing with a grill/table setup, and a welcome tent. There are about 10 tents total, and they all line the side of the hill with a view and sound of the Pacific Ocean. Each tent has the COZIEST, memory foam mattress, a very heavy down comforter (yes, there is no heat in the tent), flannel sheets, and a rug and dresser. It only gets down to about mid 40s at the most in the winter months, but the tents stay toasty if you zip it shut, and the bed couldn't be warmer.
Terra Glamping is in very good company at Stewarts Point (California). You've got a couple great dinner/lunch options at Sea Ranch Lodge to the North, and Timber Cove to the South. We opted for Timber Cove which was the perfect choice. We had the best sleep I think ever that night in that tent - you can legitimately hear the waves crashing from your tent! We got on the road early again the next day after watching the sun rise. You HAVE to make sure to swing by the Stewarts Point store for the best sticky bun of your life. I'm embarrassed to say I ate one whole one all by myself for breakfast. We did a quick hike at Sea Ranch lodge (it's got beach access - definitely a must do!), and hopped back in the car yet again!
San Francisco was next on the list. We decided to spend a couple nights there as it is one of my favorite cities and we wanted to get to know it a little better. We drove through Muir Woods on the way down because it was a much shorter drive than the first two of the trip. Honestly, the parking situation was soo bad, we didn't even get out of the car, but we did see the crazy big trees and drove yet another insane cliff road. We snagged Hotel G on Gilt for an amazing price. It wasn't in the best area, but it was a great spot for a couple nights. They did not have comforters though. Like WHAT hotel doesn't have a comforter for the bed? That was my only complaint.
Dinner the first night was at The Progress, which is the sister restaurant to the extremely popular (and impossible to get into) State Bird Provisions. Everything was big family style share plates - SO so good. The second night we got to join a friend at The Battery. The Battery is like the SoHo house of San Fran. A newer club, really funky and cool, with great food and drink. They have the most gorgeous outdoor rooftop patio for a sunset drink.
During the days in SF, we walked, and walked, and WALKED. Did a little shopping and lunch in the marina district (my favorite!), hiked the lands end hike, saw the Red Bull heavy water stand up paddle boarding race), drove over to the Cliff House to see the views, and also snuck in a couple workouts. We had to hit up Barry's of course, but I talked Nick into trying Core40 with me, since I have a small obsession with the megaformer. He was the only guy in the class... hehe.
By this time, it was Thursday. We were already more than halfway through the trip and not even tired of driving yet. Nick wanted to make a pit stop in Half Moon Bay to see the Mavericks wave (which unfortunately, you cannot see from the shore), but the area is still great to explore and if you have time, the Ritz Carlton down on the south end is worth paying a visit for lunch. Gorgeous views! Our next and most anticipated stop was Carmel. I visited Carmel with my parents years ago, but only really remember walking on the beach and seeing the insanely gorgeous houses. I couldn't wait to go back this time around. We stayed in a little Inn (Colonial Terrace) about a block from the ocean.
There is SO MUCH to do in Carmel and down in Big Sur, I could literally write a second post on it (and maybe I will), but I want to give a brief overview of all the things we fit in. First of all, we fell in love with Mission Ranch. We had dinner there twice while we were in town. So not a good idea because we really should have explored more, but we just loved sitting on that patio with a huge glass of wine and the live piano player! And there's always the chance of running into Clint Eastwood...
During the first day, we got up early for a hike at Point Lobos, did the 17 mile drive, took a million photos, and drove down to Rocky Point Restaurant for lunch. You want to hit the hiking really early, as it can get super crowded and there is not much parking. Rocky Point was way down Highway 1, built into the side of a cliff with views for days and no cell service. A big thing to note is, make sure you know where you're going before you start the drive to Big Sur, because you won't be able to search or google once you're down there.
We had a super fancy, extravagant dinner planned for Friday night - our one big splurge of the trip other than the Glamping: Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn. Now, we planned ahead for this one because we knew it would be pricey (no prices online), but just going to that resort and seeing that view is worth so much more than that dinner cost. We ate dinner above the clouds. Literally (check out the photos below!!). We were so high up that the fog and cloud cover was far down below us. So we saw the most incredible sunset, while sipping on our $25 drinks. HA!! What I would have given to stay at that hotel...
The second full day there, we did the full Big Sur drive. We went all the way down the Pfieffer state park and did a little hike to see the McWay Falls. I HIGHLY recommend swinging by Nepenthe for lunch if you can get in without waiting for an hour... Go on a weekday maybe? The best view down there, after Post Ranch Inn of course! Big Sur Bakery is to die for also. Plan a couple hikes, because there are so many to do, and they're all great. You will also pull off the road to take an obscene amount of photos, so bring the good camera! We came back into Carmel for dinner, and watched the sunset from the beach. There are so many different spots to watch the sunset in this town, but Pebble Beach is a great spot to grab an early drink before dinner and see the sky just light up with colors of pink, orange and red.
I still was on East Coast time most of the trip, so was waking up for the sunrise pretty much every morning and got the most INSANE photos of the Carmel beach in the morning. I have to say this was my favorite part of the trip, other than Glamping. Carmel is like the Nantucket of the West Coast. The houses are all beyond charming, the town itself has some great shopping, and there are endless things to do. If you want the perfect little getaway without the full 8 day road trip we did, I'd highly recommend Carmel and Big Sur. I can't wait to plan our return trip!