Road

ROAD TRIP! Santa Barbara to Santa Cruz

June 12, 2014 • By

For the fifth leg of our Progressive Road Trip, Mr. H and I started in Los Angeles and worked our way (pretty slowly) up the coast to San Francisco. Frankly, its a story best told in pictures. Nothing beats a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and the part between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz has to be one of the Top Ten Road Trip Destinations in the world. Yep. This one’s a classic.

As the Red Hot Chili Peppers say “Blue, You Sit So Pretty West of The One“…so PCH, Highway 1, The 1, the Cabrillo Highway – whichever name you prefer, just drive it.

At least once in your life.  Here’s how we did it.

Technically, you could drive Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) between Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz in a day. But don’t! Take three days or even more, if you have it and explore the coastal towns, nature preserves and awesome views.

Here are some photos from Santa Barbara. We stayed in a nice hotel there, nothing spectacular but it had simple, clean rooms and was within a block of the beach. It was a good place to start…

20140612-113502.jpg

20140612-113523.jpg

Palm Trees and Hotels Facing the Beach in Santa Barbara, California

20140612-113539.jpg

20140612-113550.jpg

Under the Pier in Santa Barbara

After breakfast in Santa Barbara, we headed north to Morro Bay, had lunch and then spent the night at Moonstone Landing in Cambria. Here, our room had a fireplace and a glass-walled balcony overlooking the sea. Sleeping with the sound of crashing waves and the clean,sea breeze was perfect. For dinner, we discovered a great restaurant in Cambria called The Black Cat Bistro, which is worth a visit. The food was fresh and good and the atmosphere was cozy and quaint.

20140612-113726.jpg

Moonstone Landing in Cambria, California

20140612-113944.jpg

The Beach, Just Across the Street from Moonstone Landing in Cambria, California

 

20140612-114042.jpg

The next morning took us further up the coast to San Simeon and the obligatory stop at Hearst Castle. Yes, it’s touristy.

And for good reason.

20140612-114438.jpg

Hearst Castle in San Simeon is Full of Art and Antiquities

20140612-114457.jpg

A Guest House at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California

20140612-114515.jpg

Gargoyles and Architectural Details in Hearst Castle

20140612-114632.jpg

Moorish, Mediterranean and Art Deco Details at Hearst Castle

20140612-114650.jpg

A Fireplace Inside Hearst Castle

20140612-114700.jpg

Hearst Castle – The View from the Top – (Yes, That’s the Sea Below)

From the top of Hearst’s magnificent hill we went on to one of my favorite spots in the world, Big Sur – with dinner at Nepenthe.

Big Sur is the spiritual home of vagabonds, poets, artist and lovers…Its a magical mystery place with a history that includes Hollywood movie stars, drop outs, druggies, astrologers, architects, flower children and more.  It was a hit with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and of course the writer, Henry Miller. You get the picture.

This trip, we didn’t stay in Big Sur, but next time I hope to splurge on the very rock-and-roll (and luxurious) Ventana Inn.

I love the surf-chic, bohemian vibe of Big Sur and I wish we’d had more time to soak it in. You will, too.

20140612-114844.jpg

Dinner at Nepenthe is a Must Do if You Want to Experience Classic Big Sur

20140612-114854.jpg

20140612-114904.jpg

The View from Nepenthe’s Garden

From hippie-chic Big Sur, we traveled up the coast to the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea and then on to Monterrey.

Great food is easy to find in the area and we sampled lots. And for the first time on this trip we repeated a lunch spot. We were staying in Carmel and the food and service at Le St. Tropez, downtown, was so good, we did it twice.

(Ah! the Crepe Suzette!) We also did some shopping, and visited the Carmel Mission…

20140612-115421.jpg

20140612-115429.jpg

20140612-115436.jpg

20140612-115453.jpg

20140612-115502.jpg

The Carmel Mission, Carmel, California

20140612-115514.jpg

20140612-115520.jpg

20140612-115534.jpg

And of course, we spent some time in Monterey, at Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row. Yes, there was a lot of eating involved. And I have no regrets!

We also did the famous 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach.  Another road trip must…

20140612-115816.jpg

20140612-115841.jpg

The View From Cannery Row in Monterey

20140612-115937.jpg

Classic Pebble Beach View

20140612-120018.jpg

The next day we spent a windy afternoon hiking around Point Lobos, where we visited wildly beautiful China Cove and the aptly-named Bird Island.

When the fog rolled in, it became even more beautiful.

20140612-120153.jpg

 

Bird Island at Point Lobos

Bird Island at Point Lobos

20140612-120201.jpg

 

Looking Down on the Green Waters of Bird Island, off Pacific Coast Highway in California

Looking Down on the Green Waters of Bird Island, off Pacific Coast Highway in California

20140612-120243.jpg

20140612-120251.jpg

China Cove, Point Lobos off Pacific Coast Highway in California

China Cove, Point Lobos off Pacific Coast Highway in California

Then, on our way to San Francisco, we made an unscheduled stop in Santa Cruz. This was a great tip from my new Instagram friend, @candiecoatedlove and I was able to get some new shots for an art project I’m working on. Thanks, Candie!

20140612-120656.jpg

20140612-120704.jpg

20140612-120713.jpg

Stay tuned for more pix once we get all our Progressive Road Trip photos (and our planned interactive map!) loaded and created.  You’ll see pix from San Francisco, Napa, Bodega Bay and more. And that’s just a tiny portion of our 19,000 mile (to-date) trip.

And if you’ve got any special tips for this area, I’d love to know about them!

The Classic California Road Trip, along the coastal highway - Highway 1, Cabrillo Highway, Pacific Coast Highway, PCH - many names and many great stops - this has got to be one of the Top 10 Road Trips you should do now.

The Classic California Road Trip, along the coastal highway – Highway 1, Cabrillo Highway, Pacific Coast Highway, PCH – many names and many great stops – this has got to be one of the Top 10 Road Trips you should do now.