The last few days of my California adventure are dawning, read the first parts of the trip here. Next on the agenda, was one of the most scenic drives in the world, with stunning coastal views, seaside villages and untouched forests – we hit the Pacific Coast Highway.
Day 13 – Big Sur
One of the world’s most famous and scenic drives, the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) doesn’t disappoint. The first stop we made was 1 hour 40 minutes from Santa Barbara. San Luis Obispo is famous for its Bubble Gum alley, which is literally as its name implies, an alley where people stick their bubble gum.
It’s actually pretty gross, but for some reason I felt compelled to go there and see what it was all about, satisfied, we hit the road again…
The drive continues for around 2 hours 30 minutes until you hit the Big Sur, and this is where you want to make sure you have your camera out. There are lots of places along the road where you can pull in for a scenic snap. Make sure you do one of the walking trails along the way – the most famous being the McWay Waterfall. We stayed overnight on the Big Sur, but to save money I would recommend staying further north in Monterey.
Accommodation: Fernwood resort – Big Sur
Day 14 – Yosemite National Park
We left bright and early and continued north to the quaint fairy-tale town of Carmel-by-the-Sea and then headed along to the bustling town of Monterey. Both places are definitely worth exploring for a few hours.
From Monterey it is a 4 hour drive to the Yosemite Valley, with not an awful lot to see on the way. We had two nights at the National Park which gave us a full day to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and do some hiking. There are many other activities such as climbing, cycling and horse-riding.
We choose to do a day hike up to the bottom of Half Dome (it was too snowy to actually climb Half Dome). If you are after a less intense hike, but one that passes some of the most beautiful waterfalls go up the Mist Trial and back down via the John Muir Trail. This should take between 4 and 6 hours depending on fitness. Yosemite was definitely another highlight of the trip, such amazing scenery and there is always a chance you will get to see some black bears in the wild!
Accommodation: Curry Village (Half Dome Village) – Yosemite valley
I love this city! We left Yosemite nice and early for the 4 hour drive to San Francisco. We headed straight to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and walked (most of the way) across it. From there it’s a nice long walk along the sea front to the famous Fishermen’s Wharf and Pier 39. If you want to visit Alcatraz – which I am sure you will – make sure you get your tickets in advance! All the trips tend to sell out.
In the evenings we headed to SOMA for dinner, this is a neighbourhood with a lot of restaurants and bars. On our last full day we drove out to Napa Valley for some wine tasting. There are SO many vineyards to choose from so we picked one of the most famous: The Robert Mondavi Vineyard. We did a $35 wine tour which lasted for an hour and a half and included a tour of the vineyard and you are talked through the process of wine making. It finished off with a proper wine tasting. Be sure to spend some time wondering around the main town of Yountville, it is stunning! The perfect way to end my trip.
Best breakfast: Mymy – Nob Hill