Travelling around California & driving down Highway 1 has been my dream for a very long time and now I finally got to do it. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes, it certainly did and it was even better than expected because not I only did I get to see the stunning views & visit amazing places, I also got to know tons of great travellers. We started our trip in San Francisco, drove south and hit Highway 1. First we stopped at Half Moon Bay and enjoyed the breathtaking view over the bay and the beach (and we had lunch and I had the best omelette ever!). Then we headed to Santa Cruz, a city you’ve probably all heard about. Santa Cruz was a very quiet place at this time of the year but I really enjoyed the peacefulness and we took a walk along the beach, watching some people play volleyball (it could have been a scene out of a movie). In the afternoon we continued our journey and drove down to Monterey, where we spent the evening & the night. It is hard not to fall in love with the place. Monterey has beautiful nature, a small & interesting town centre with a lot of restaurants and independent shops. The best thing is the 17 miles drive to Carmel-by-the-sea, though. You have to pay for driving along the coast but if there is something that is worth the money, it’s this. The views were absolutely stunning, the air smelled clean and fresh. The 17 miles drive ends in Carmel, where we stopped to grab lunch (at a Swiss Café that wasn’t very Swiss but nevertheless delicious) and to walk around and explore. Carmel mainly consists of independent boutiques and shops, including a Cowboy Shop, a little bakery and then, much to my surprise, a Lush (speaking of independent little shops, right?). We couldn’t spend too much time in Carmel, we still had a very long drive ahead of us. So we hit the road and went all the way along the Big Sur, which is the part of Highway 1 that is most talked about. And I understand why, the nature is incredible. My favourite part was definitely the waterfall ( I just love waterfalls, they are symbol of nature’s strength) and it almost doesn’t look real in those pictures. What I found most interesting about this trip was the difference between NorCal and SoCal – driving down Highway 1 in Northern California you can see plenty of trees and it feels like driving through a forest. When you take the same road in the south (south of the Big Sur), you mostly see cliffs, rocks and dry land. I couldn’t say which landscape I prefer, they both hold a certain kind of magic. On our way to Santa Barbara, we said hello to some seals and stopped at Morro Bay, a beautiful place with a huge rock that is known as Morro Rock. For dinner we stopped in San Luis Obispo and had some Japanese Food – I went for rice and veggies which was the healthiest food I had had in a while ( I am guilty of going to In ‘n’ Out too often). In the evening we headed to Santa Barbara, where we also spent the night. The minute we arrived I knew that Santa Barbara was one of my favourite places. And my feeling seemed to be right. The next day we visited the Mission of Santa Barbara, an old Spanish church (and I felt like being on vacation in Palma de Mallorca), and walked along the Pier and the Promenade. Santa Barbara has one of the prettiest beaches of California and I wish I would have had a few days just to relax at the beach and have dinner at one of the cafés. But instead, we hit the road after lunch and drove to Los Angeles (if you hate being stuck in traffic, LA is not for you). I will write another blog post about LA & San Diego because I don’t want to bombard you with 100 pictures. Anyway, driving down Highway 1 has been of the best experiences of my life and I really hope I can do it again one day – it is unbelievable how much we managed to see in just 2.5 days. If I go again I will make sure to spend more time in Monterey and Santa Barbara, these two towns hold a special place in my heart.
Have you been to California? What did you think about it? Leave a comment below. x
-near Half Moon Bay-
-17 miles drive-