We drove 7,165 km (4,452 miles) through eight states and two provinces, stayed in nine places and four states, and were gone for 28 days.
Our jaunt down the California Coast was our best holiday yet. I spent over three weeks by the beach with my husband and dog- who can complain about that?
We decided to power through Washington and Oregon since we’ve been a couple times and get to California. We hopped on the Redwood Highway in Grant’s Pass, Oregon, which is where our holiday truly began!
Here’s a list of all the places we visited with asterisks by where we stayed overnight:
- Tacoma, Washington (travel night)
- Crescent City
- Avenue of Giants
- San Francisco*
- Santa Cruz
- Santa Monica
- Hollywood and LA
- Newport Beach*
- Huntington Beach
- Laguna Beach*
- Del Mar*
- La Jolla
- San Diego
- Las Vegas*
- Great Falls, Montana (travel night)
Nothing I write (nor the photos we took) will do the trip justice, so I thought I’d highlight some special places.
It was fun to drive the iconic Golden Gate to kick off a fun couple days in San Francisco.
We scored an awesome dog-friendly hotel a block from Pier 39. We walked countless miles over our two days and stuck to the tourist spots: Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, Ferry Building, Chinatown, the crookedest street, Union Square, and Golden Gate Park.
And what’s a trip to SF without Ghiradelli’s? I ate a delicious sundae and have been craving their marshmallow topping ever since!
Carmel by the Sea
We heard that Carmel was one of the most dog-friendly places in North America (thanks, Mary!), and it certainly lived up to its reputation.
Carmel is an upscale village with European architecture, art galleries aplenty, and a beautiful beach.
Everyone we met in Carmel, from store workers to people who wanted to meet Harold, was incredibly friendly. We loved to walk on the beach and take in the town.
We ended up spending 13 nights in Laguna Beach, seven our first stop and six on our second. It was our favourite stop.
We fell in love with the area. It had a small town feel, the beach was dog-friendly, the ocean was perfect to SUP, and there was amazing Mexican food! We both had fantastic runs here on the road, Crystal Cove State Beach, and the trails. (see my previous post about keeping fit on our holiday including a race in Del Mar.)
Del Mar is in San Diego County. We weren’t sure where to stay in the SD area, but Nicole gave us some great tips! We chose Del Mar because dogs are allowed on their beach any time of day, it has a nice laid-back vibe, and there was perfect surf. Kelly surfed there every day we were in town!
I also had a chance to meet Nicole! It was my first blogger meet up and I loved talking to her in real life.
We didn’t stay in Huntington but did spend two days there. It was a fun place and we had a blast cruising on the beach sidewalk.
Kelly also surfed; after all it is called Surf City USA for a reason!
Cruising California’s iconic highway
It was the first holiday since we backpacked in 2004 that we didn’t have a real itinerary or plans other than a date we wanted to be home. We booked hotels the day of or the night before and decided on our next destination a couple days before we moved along.
While driving the 101, we’d pull over if we saw anything that caught our eye.
Mavericks on an extremely calm day!
I absolutely loved a driving holiday and would highly recommend the California Coast to anyone! It was nice to go in the off-season. It enabled us to book accommodations late notice, and we still had fantastic weather. (It only rained half a day throughout our entire trip and was hot in Southern California!)
A driving holiday also allowed us to take Harold, our dog. We love camping with him in summer, and have had him with us on various trips to British Columbia and a couple times in Oregon. It was wonderful to include him on our winter holiday this year.
My favourite thing about travelling with Harold is spending so much time outside. With him we generally get take out (Mexican!) and eat on the beach. We would time it right and caught dozens of gorgeous Pacific sunsets.
I must admit, we’ve talked about doing California again for next year’s winter getaway!
What’s your favourite road trip? Do you like to have a holiday planned out or play it by ear?