We did it! We cruised the Pacific coast and it was an amazing adventure!
It all started with a flight to San Francisco. I love watching the 8-Year-Old on the plane.
I’m hoping all these adventures help combat the inherited fear of flying from Dad.
We landed and picked up our rental car.
How could I NOT splurge on a convertible?!? It’s not every day I’m driving down the Pacific coast!
We found a parking garage in San Francisco and explored the city on foot.
We made our way back to the car and drove to the Golden Gate Bridge.
This was one of the highlights for me. Stay tuned for a whole post devoted to the bridge in the near future!
We left the bridge and drove a little south to Pacifica and spent the night.
Day 2 started with a stroll to the beach.
We never saw such dark sand before!
Before getting back on the road.
I had some sites mapped out for our trip and the Devil’s Slide Bunker was one of them.
The bunker was used in World War II and has since been abandoned. The 8-Year-Old’s reaction couldn’t have been better:
“Well, you don’t see that every day!”
On a lower parking lot north of the bunker there was access to an amazing trail I didn’t even know about from my research!
We walked for a bit and enjoyed the views.
About a half mile in they had a beautiful bench and coin-operated telescope.
They also had an informational board so you can identify the birds you see on the trail. It was really a great little spot!
Our next stop was Point Montara Light House.
It’s been turned into a hostel so we signed in and walked the grounds a bit.
It was time to put the top down.
Light House No. 2: Pigeon Point!
I may have to get him his own camera soon. He loves taking shots.
We headed back on the road and made it to Santa Cruz for lunch and some arcade time.
By midday the sun really started to come out and we were enjoying our drive. I took a short detour to Castroville to see the Giant Artichoke.
Ryan wasn’t too impressed. I believe he said, “What’s the big deal? It’s a giant spiky ball.”
Our next stop was the Mirror Maze in Monterey.
I really tried to include a variety of sights, stops and activities to keep both of us entertained. This stop was surprisingly one of our favorites.
At $12 each it was a little pricey but we went through about 3-4 times and the staff was super friendly.
We then took 17 mile drive in Pebble beach to see the sights, although I was a little shocked they charge you $10 to drive it.
Regardless, I was excited to see the Lone Cypress.
We headed out of Monterey. Our goal was Pfeiffer Beach by sunset.
We made it! (Note: I totally forgot to hit the Big Sur Lighthouse.)
If it was December or January the sun shines through that rock formation making a beam of light. Even though we didn’t get to see it, the sunset on the beach was perfect.
We had fun playing in the sand and taking pictures.
Day 2 almost ended in a disaster when I couldn’t find us a place to stay because the Pixies were in town! Thankfully we got a room at the Whale Watcher.
That next morning we backtracked a little to see some of the views we missed driving at night. We also stopped at Limekiln Park to see some redwoods!
After breakfast at the Whale Watcher, we headed back on the road and enjoyed the sights stopping at vista points for the views. Before I knew it…. BAM!
I actually saw them from the car. So we stopped and explored for a bit walking the trails along the coastline.
Hearst Castle was next.
There were 4 or 5 tour options each one $12 and 45 minutes long. We chose the upstairs as I knew there would be no way he would last any longer than that.
I will admit I know nothing of William Randolph Hearst or the Hearst Castle so I was completely captivated the entire tour. Someone else barely survived.
All kidding aside, the castle was a great stop. Fascinating and beautiful. The tours are unscripted so it really depends on the guide you get and ours was a little boring. I’d love to go back and take a few other tours alone. Oh! and the bus ride up is fantastic!
Our next stop was San Luis Obispo for lunch and to see Bubble Gum Alley.
I didn’t know anything about San Luis Obispo but fell in love with it by the time we left. Such a great little city to walk around and window shop in. Ryan was ecstatic when we found a little rock shop. He’s been collecting them for years so I bough him a Geode and cracked it open on the sidewalk.
We headed back on the road for the Guadalupe Preserve. Yet again I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.
It was breathtaking. Just sand for miles!
He could have played here for hours.
Our next stop was in Buellton to eat at The Hitching Post II — a restaurant used in the movie Sideways. It was a HUGE disappointment. Our waitress was just downright rude. I’m not very good at giving negative reviews but I honestly can’t recommend this place. Buellton, however, turned into the perfect place to spend the night. We got a great rate on a Motel 6 and settled in for the night.
Day 4 was all about Hollywood! We drove through Malibu and found our way to the Canyon Drive entrance of Griffith Park so we could hike. Someone was VERY excited to see his first cactus close up and personal.
We saw the bat man caves…
and hiked some pretty treacherous trails for about 2 hours.
We had a blast even though it ended with a bit of drama as Ryan tripped and cut his leg.
I cleaned him up and we decided to stay in Santa Monica for the night so we could hang out on the pier.
He had a blast even though the pier was smaller than we anticipated.
The next morning we walked around Venice Beach and had breakfast before heading to the airport.
When we pulled the car in to return it we both got a little choked up. Besides a few 8-Year-Old moments that required “mommy mode” as I like to call it, we explored the world together and it was an amazing experience. I have NO idea where we’re going next year but I’m already looking forward to it.
In case you are interested, below you will find the Roadtrippers compilation of our entire week with a link to each spot. I can’t say for sure we drove exactly how it’s outlined below but it was pretty close…
Maybe it will help you plan your next adventure!