California dreamin’

We’ve had some crazy cold weather this winter and our snow pile is taller than me. Despite a warm forecast this week, we still have plenty of winter left!

Thankfully I have sunshine to daydream about— California sunshine to be exact.

In February we’re going to pack up our van and head south. Kelly, Harold, and I are road tripping down the Oregon and California Coast for our holiday this winter.

We’ve scoured California road trip books and websites. We’ve narrowed down some must-see stops. And we’re keeping our fingers crossed for the notorious California sunshine we hear about all winter long!

We don’t have anything set in stone and plan to just go with it, stopping where we like and exploring all that region has to offer.

We’ll have Harold with us so won’t be able to do everything. We plan to spend the majority of our time in Southern California and hope to take in a lot of outdoor activity! We may head towards the Grand Canyon and spend some time in Arizona, time permitting.

Here’s where you come in. Are you lucky enough to live there? Have you been to California and fallen in love with a specific area? Do you have the perfect running route? Do you have a dog and know of dog-friendly hikes and beaches?

Leave me a detailed comment about where we should go, what we should do, places we should eat, hikes we should take, websites we should visit, etc, etc. 

One of my girlfriends honeymooned along the coast, so I have some great recommendations but am always looking for more!

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57 responses to “California dreamin’

  1. Lucky you! That sounds soooo nice! I will actually be in San Diego in mid-Feb. It would be awesome if our schedules matched up!

  2. I lived in SoCal for 4 years. I’m pretty sure that during the winter you can bring dogs (on leash) to the walkways in Venice Beach and Santa Monica, but during the summer it’s against the law. I lived in Pasadena, and dogs are actually allowed in some of the stores there (like the Apple store)…mostly because of rich customers complaining. San Diego has a super awesome big dog park area that is called Dog Island or something (just google “San Diego dog park island” and I’m sure that it will come up). You can bring Harold to the beach in Malibu. Technically he’s supposed to be on leash there, but most of the residents there are pretty chill about that and won’t be upset if he’s off leash.

  3. That sounds like an awesome road trip!!! I’m so excited for you – so fun to have something like that to look forward to!!

  4. This sounds like an ace trip. G and I have that on our list too, but ‘the list’ has been divided into trips we could do with kids and trips we’d better get out of the way first. Hence Tanzania! 😉 Cali is definitely on there but falls into the ‘with kids’ category. So I shall rely on your experience when the day comes! 🙂 Happy planning.

  5. What an awesome road trip! You’re going to have a fabulous time. If the weather is nice when you’re passing through Oregon, stop at Cannon Beach. Cute little town and gorgeous beach. We went there for a wedding last January. There aren’t many places you can run on the beach while looking up and seeing snow on the not-so-distant mountains. I’m going to send you an email about SoCal! So much to see and do!! Put La Jolla on your list. San Diego too!

  6. Yay, I love California! You are going to have an awesome time. I love to run on any beach when I’m there, I’m not picky! Around Newport Beach and Huntington Beach the beach bike path goes for miles and miles, so it makes for an easy long run location. Can’t wait to hear about your trip.

  7. ari @ whatarisaid

    I haven’t spent that much time in California, I was only there once and it was for a wedding so I didn’t do much sightseeing. Therefore, I will have to live through you!

    Now Oregon, on the hand… I agree with Cannon Beach. I took some amazing pictures there, it was beautiful.

  8. I’m not sure what it would be like in winter, but the Benbow Inn in northern Cali and swimming in the river, eating at the amazing breakfast joint nearby, and everything about that area made me super happy. Also exploring Mendocino tide pools and cliff walks and Sausalito 🙂 I’m a huuuuge fan of Northern California. Oh, and the redwood forest! Great running trails there too 🙂

  9. I don’t have any recommendations for you unfortunately, but can’t wait to read all about what you do so I can get some tips on where to go and what to do!

  10. Ahh yay!! Please come to San Diego! We have Torrey Pines state beach/reserve (I believe dogs are ok) as well as plenty of trails. Del Mar has a dog beach and then of course you must come to Encinitas! Encinitas has some pet friendly places including Surf Dog Java Hut coffee shop with dog food there for pets! I should be running just fine by then so we can go for a run! Email me! Nwoyski@gmail.com once you have a better idea of your plans 🙂

    Besides San Diego, Malibu and Santa Monica are musts and I’m partial to Huntington Beach since I grew up there. Huntington Beach has a nice park (Huntington Central) where you can bring a dog and there is a cafe in the park that is dog friendly. Ill let you know if I think of more ideas and maybe more specific restaurants depending on where you end up going.

    • Also it has been ridiculously nice lately – mid 70s and sunny. Ill keep my fingers crossed that it stays for you! It’s known to change in a day here but we typically have nice winters!

      • We’ve been following the weather- can’t believe the heat you guys are having!
        Thanks for the tips! I’m going to send you an email and I really hope we can meet up and go for a run! I am always envious of your running photos, so maybe I’ll actually get a chance to go on some of your routes!
        And yay- saw you ran 3 pain-free miles today!

  11. Oh, beautiful!! Ben and I went to San Diego last August and had a fantastic time. We really enjoyed Coronado Island!

  12. Yay that sounds like a great trip! When you’re driving through Northern California you should stop for a day or two in Sonoma! There’s wine tasting of course, plus some really nice hiking and restaurants. My blog has a list of fun stuff to do here! http://thesonomalife.wordpress.com/

  13. Sounds like its going to be an epic trip!! You have to come to Portland!! You can run in Forest Park. I will totally take you to breakfast at one of my favorite places that you can take Harold too!!! I like the CA coast more than the OR coast. I do love Astoria and Cannon Beach. You can check out the Goonies spots if you are interested!! Manzanita is a cute little pocket not a lot of people know about!! I haven’t ventured down the southern coast but I’ve heard its great!!!

    • I would love to come to Portland and hang out with you one day! I think we’re going to get south as quickly as we can…maybe one summer we can plan a date?!
      We stayed in Cannon twice- love, love, love it there. We actually visited Manzanita last summer! It was a super cute place!

  14. I’m jealous! You’ll have a blast! Funny story, I saw the Mamas and Papas in concert in college. They were very old and not well (Mama Cass was even dead), and I had no interest in them, but a gal in my dorm had an extra ticket, and I was in the process of trying to impress her. haha. It was an interesting night.

  15. I would love to help but I just arrived in California, so I don’t know yet what to recommend. What I can say for sure : you’ll get your sunshine ! And, believe me, it’s ssoooo good to see the sun in the winter. And, the temperature… right now, in Camarillo (north of Los Angeles), January 16th, it’s 29C/84F… sssooo good 🙂
    I am pretty sure you’ll love it !

  16. Runner Girl Eats

    Matt and I are talking about maybe taking this same trip! Can’t wait to hear about yours so we can get some ideas/tips 🙂

  17. I went to CA a few times last year and really got to explore. The only place I haven’t been is San Diego, but I was sincerely impressed with the hiking opportunities near LA. I was there for a conference and thought I would hate it, but it was pretty nice (outside the city). The Bay area has my heart, though 🙂

  18. It looks like everyone that posted so far is recommending SoCal but I live here in Monterey and would have to say we are pretty special too! Most places/beaches are dog friendly and there are Awesome hikes/treks/rides to do. A must see in my opinion would be Big Sur! Surreal! Drop me a line runrchick@comcast.net

  19. I soooooo want to do this road trip too! It’s on my list of definite holidays. I’m very much looking forward to reading about it. I’ve never been anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, but would recommend, if you get the chance, to try some Stand-Up and Paddle surfing (or SUP-ing). It’s a great way to get out on the water when it’s calm and flat, and it’s an intense core workout.

  20. take me take me! i’ll sherpa the trip! we love san fran and san diego

  21. Sounds like an amazing trip! Can’t wait to follow along on your journey because I’m sure it will bring back some memories. My hubby and I drove from Utah north through Idaho to Washington and then south through Oregon to California, and back to Utah via Nevada and Arizona. It was an amazing trip. We camped along the way, but that was many years ago!

    • That sounds like such a great trip! My husband’s work is busiest in summer so we usually can’t take longer than a week. If we could get the time in summer, we’d love to do something like that! Utah biking has been on our list for a while!

  22. Ooooh lucky lucky you!! HAVE FUN!!

  23. So jealous!! We were out in Cali 2 years ago. Most Westin and Sheraton hotels take pets. Also Loew’s hotels take them as well. The one right in Santa Monica is awesome (pricey but worth it). It is right along the Strand (which I ran daily….so cool!) and walking distance to the pier. SoCal was a little to harder to find hotels. I always check out petswelcome.com for hotels in certain areas. I can’t wait to read all about it!! Have a great trip!!

    • Did you take your pup when you guys went? Thanks for the hotel tips!

      • runnerbydefault

        Yes, we take him everywhere with us! Last November we stayed over 10 nights at a Sheraton in Agoura Hills. It was a great location with a reasonable rate. It allowed us to do day trips to Santa Barbara, L.A, Simi Valley, and Studio City. Malibu was only a short drive away. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip. It makes me miss California just thinking about it!

  24. Wow – what an amazing trip! You are going to see some incredible countryside. If the weather from January holds, then it will be sunny and dry (sigh – we really, really, really need rain).
    A lot of the beaches are off-limits to dogs but there are some great places where you can take dogs. I think that N. California is a bit more dog-friendly (just my opinion!) than Southern CA. I love the desert – it sounds as though you’ll be heading east and it is so worth it to explore JTree.
    Also, for dog friendly hotels – if you need a recommendation – Motel 6 and La Quinta don’t charge extra for pets. They don’t offer too much in the way of luxury, but when we travel, we’re usually not spending a lot of time in our hotel/motel room!
    If you want to know anything about the Pasadena area, shoot me an email. It doesn’t have the “wow” factor of other places in the LA area, but there are some great things to do and see.

    • I’m a bit surprised that Southern California doesn’t seem as dog-friendly!
      We definitely want to hit Joshua Tree. And thanks for the hotel recommendations! we are so rarely in the room, so those would be great.

  25. Stephanie@nowiun.com

    You are going to just love the Grand Canyon (if you haven’t already been). When you are there shout a hello to me into “the big hole” (that’s what some people call it here) since I live only about an hour and a half away from it!!

    I don’t know California well. It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful trip ~ just the three of you 🙂 Love it!

  26. Manhattan Beach or San Diego, two of my faves! It’s still kind of chilly in the spring, but nothing like the northern winters.

  27. That is my dream trip!!! Starting in San Fran and driving through wine country up through Portland and Seattle and ending in Vancouver. Enjoy!!!

  28. My DREAM vacation! You’re sure to have an amazing time! I’ve only been to Cali once – San Diego is fantastic – so don’t have any good recommendations, but it’s Cali! You can’t go wrong with anywhere 🙂 Have so much fun!

  29. Sophie @ life's philosophie

    SO jealous! I wish I knew something about the West coast, but I imagine people are going to give you some great advice. Road tripping is my favorite.

  30. Sounds like such a fun vacation! I haven’t seen much of California, but did stay in Mt. Shasta for a few days before my glacier climb. It’s a cute, quiet town in northern California and the views of the mountain are breathtaking. I’m certain there is also great hiking there. A good place to stop in if you have some extra time. 🙂

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