After a whirlwind weekend in San Francisco, we jumped in our Jeep and embarked on our West Coast road trip down to L.A, driving down the iconic Big Sur – a long-time dream of ours for quite some time; so the excitement levels were high, lets put it that way.
We had five days, and with four main stops to make. It’s hard to sum up the holiday in words, and even my photos can’t really capture the sheer beauty, breathtaking views, experiences and feelings we had when embarking on this journey of a life time. All I can say is, if you ever can and have the opportunity, add this road trip to the top of your bucket list! But for now, I leave you with our West Coast travel diary (TAKE ME BACK.)
SAN FRANCISCO TO CARMEL
After leaving San Francisco early in the morning, we set off towards our first pit stop to see some Elephant Seals. After a 45 minute hike through woodlands and a costal walk way, we arrived to see these beautiful creatures.
After this we continued our journey towards the seaside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea (often just called Carmel), which is known for its artistic history, quaint little french-style cottages, wine community and rural scenery. After checking into the pretty L´Auberge Carmel, we grabbed some lunch and fresh green juice from the local convince store and hit the beach, and within minutes we saw a whole family of dolphins! Magical.
In the evening we explored the boutiques, enjoyed some wine tasting and had an incredible meal at La Bicyelette, where we feasted on one of the best pizzas we have ever had (BIG statement) and a plate of salted caramel. Heaven!
We finished off the evening with milk & cookies in the room (only in America).
Entering Big Sur was nothing short of stepping into a 3D movie – the dramatic view, scenery, colours… Absolutely incredible.
After a couple hours drive, we checked into the iconic Ventana Inn & Spa. Located in the heart of Big Sur, amongst rugged landscape overlooking the Pacific Ocean – this luxurious yet rustic hotel, with wooden lodges, hot tubs, fireplaces, saunas, yoga, Tai Chi – was nothing short of magical! This is definitely the place for you if you’re looking to retreat and relax (and switch your phone off!).
With close access to dramatic hikes from the hotel, we headed to the Pfeiffer Falls to explore in the morning – and spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool.
Dinner with a VIEW…
Catching the sunrise down by Pfeiffer Beach – one of our main highlights from our Californian journey…
Feeling very happy and rejuvenated after only one day at this place – can’t wait to come back for a full week!
BIG SUR TO SANTA BARBARA
Unreal coastal views!
After a long drive down from Big Sur, we arrived to Santa Barbara – often referred to as the “American Riviera”. We checked into the stunning Belmond El Encanto – which is to date, one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed at, located in the hills, overlooking the town and ocean. A landmark since the 1920s, its original architectural features have been brought back to life, with modern additions such as their luscious pools and spa. We stayed in our own wooden bungalow, with the dreamiest interior including the marble bathroom with a standalone bath tub, his & hers sink and fireplace (my idea of heaven).
Dinner and drinks The Lark – an absolute MUST if you ever visit! Mouth watering food located in the Funk Zone area of town, with wood-lined quarters and a dreamy patio. This area was definitely one the nicest we came across within Santa Barbara.
Breakfast at Finch & Fork in town.
After spending a couple of hours bicycling along the coast to the nearby town of Montecito – we had a lunch feast at the iconic seafood restaurant Brophy Bros, located in the harbour. Although touristy and very busy, it was worth the wait, and tucked into fresh oysters, seafood salad and calamari (well earned after our bike ride!).
Getting ready for our last night out in Santa Barbara – soaking in the hotel views and dreamy setting.
Pre-drinks at Tydes – overlooking the ocean with cocktails and Prosecco – feeling very lucky!
After cocktails, we went to the iconic and celebrity hot spot San Ysidro Ranch for dinner – set on 500 acres, this upscale boutique hotel and restaurant dates back to 1893. With breathtaking views and accommodation (they have 2,500-square-foot villa and a cottage where John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned!) – another must if you’re ever in SB. We had the most amazing dinner, made with local, site-grown produce – cannot wait to come back and stay here!
Last dip in the pool before we head off again!
SANTA BARBARA TO MALIBU
Would love to dive into these vineyards! Sadly we didn’t have time to stop off at any this time around – next time!
Obligatory pit stop at the renowned Madonna Inn just off the highway – which is one the most surreal place Ive ever been too – completely Americanised and intriguing (rest assured I did NOT eat a fluorescent pink cake).
Our last day in America – ending it on a high with sushi and champagne at Nobu in Malibu. Perfect finish, to the most idyllic holiday. I feel so fortunate for everything we experienced whilst being in California – we came across so many new and characteristic areas, discovered history rich places and cultures, and witnessed the most stunning, natural sceneries. I love the super relaxed Californian lifestyle, and although there are some parts of the American ways which I don’t necessarily embrace; nowhere is ever perfect – but in the end of the day, its the imperfections that makes a place unique.
Until next time, Cali!