road trip recap: california's central coast

by Stacy

Our day in Sonoma was lovely and definitely repeatable. From there we actually went to San Jose to stay with my aunt while her daughter (my cousin) was also visiting. We were too busy cooking a huge meal and having fun for me to stop and take pictures.

The next morning we drove my cousin and her boyfriend to the airport in San Francisco. We spent the day being touristy — the Ferry Building, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghiradelli Square.

golden gate bridge from pier 39

We stayed with our awesome friend in the city, and left after I made us eggs Benedict for breakfast. The journey was the destination that day because we were driving the scenic California’s Coast Highway from San Francisco down to Cambria.

pigeon point lighthouse

Above is Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a hostel along the highway and a popular photo subject. I couldn’t resist, either.

along highway 1

The coast highway is spectacularly beautiful, but curvy and complicated. We determined that the best plan was for me to drive as I have a greater tendency toward motion-sickness. This was a good plan.

A handful of state parks dot the route; $20 gets you a pass for all of them which would be a great way to spend several leisurely days. Who wants to go with us on that trip?

the california coast

This is not life in the fast lane. The curves and cliffs require much more reasonable speeds than the interstate and the multitude of scenic overlooks make frequent stop almost unavoidable. We didn’t stop in Monterey or Santa Cruz since we’d had a late start and wanted to get a fair distance south before dark.

The one stop we did make was just north of Monterey, a brief dip east away from the coast. I was giddy when we saw the sign for the turn off; my husband was less enthusiastic. My parents have the same photo from the road trip they took out west in the ’70s on their motorcycle because they also stopped in Castroville.

castroville, the artichoke center of the world

Castroville is the artichoke center of the world. This area produces a whopping 75% of the artichoke supply in the United States. The surrounding land turns out a substantial amount of Brussels sprouts and strawberries, too. We popped by to take this photo, then I bought five small artichokes for one dollar and beamed happily for the next several hours.

We made it just past Hearst Castle by sunset (we didn’t stop there) and had no desire to drive in the dark.

pacific sunset

We watched the sun set from a gravel pull out, listening to the waves crash and sea lions holler and bark, just out of sight but not out of smelling distance.

We stopped for the night in Cambria, a few miles down the road. Dinner was straight-up well made seafood at the Sea Chest before a good night’s sleep, lulled by the ocean waves audible from our hotel room.

Have you driven along the California coast? What was your favorite part?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jen R. ( December 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I love San Francisco and those are gorgeous photographs. Thank you for sharing.


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