Heading To California To Escape The Cold In Toronto
A big snow storm hit just before we left Toronto to start our 3 week road trip along the California coast. It was certainly great timing to leave. We thought about transporting our car out there with a service like Cars Relo to avoid the stress of driving out of the snow ourselves and travel in the warmth and comfort of a train instead, but we ultimately decided we fancied the adventure!
We freaked out a little when we got an email saying our flight was cancelled. But then we read we were re-booked on another kind of plane. And then we sat at the gate for 90 minutes for one after another problem. Part of the issue was that it was so cold that they gave ground workers frequent breaks to go in and warm up! Yes, we were very happy to be leaving as the polar vortex hit Toronto.
It was much warmer on our stop in Vancouver. And was quite reasonable by the time we hit San Diego.
Our road trip along the California coast started in San Diego. From there we headed to the desert and then to Temecula wine country. A long drive north took us to St Luis Obispo next to explore the California coast around Cambria. Monterey, Napa Valley and San Francisco finished up our 3 week California visit.
We Started In San Diego
It was great to be back in San Diego on our 3 week road trip along the California coast. As we were leaving, a waiter told us about the best yacht charter in San Diego. A bit late now! We were gutted we missed that opportunity, but we agreed next time we come (because we will be sure to return) we will hire the yacht and will make sure it’s during prime whale-watching season.
We Found Rain And Snow In The Desert
It was so strange that our drive to and from the desert was in the rain. But it did mean we saw so much green countryside. On our visit to Palm Desert, we headed high to the Coachella Valley and Cahuilla Tewarnet viewpoints to get awesome panoramic views over the desert.
A trip up on the Palm Desert Tramway gave us both stunning views of the variety of views that is California. And a walk in the snow. It was a fun outing for the day.
The town of Palm Desert was a fun surprise too. Everywhere we looked we found art in the street.
A trip to the desert gave us a different view on a road trip along the California coast.
Views Of Temecula
The skies were blue for our visit to Temecula. The clear skies brought crisp mornings. And hot air balloons in the sky. We wished we had booked a hot air balloon ride on our visit. We’ve always wanted to give it a try, ever since a friend of ours told us about those Napa Valley Balloons from their vacation.
The valleys of Temecula were all green from the rains. But in the distance we had the continual view of snow capped mountains. One day we chased them to get just the right spot for views.
We enjoyed our first wine tasting in Temecula. We started with drinks at the South Coast Winery. And then spent an afternoon at the Leoness Cellars. We loved the chance to meet other travel bloggers and photographers. And were happy that the winery was patient as we all worked for the absolute perfect picture. We finished up at the Carter Estates Winery and learned a little more about sparkling wine production.
We had our first great wine tasting stop in Temecula on our road trip along the California coast. It was our introduction to the great vineyard views we found as we travelled.
San Luis Obispo Was A Great Base To Explore Cambria
After a long drive around Los Angeles, we settled into San Luis Obispo. With this as our base, we headed over to the sea for several day trips. We found colourful cows scattered around the county. Great sea views in Cambria. And the best sunsets at Pismo Beach.
When we visited Cambria we found a new berry to love. Linn’s Restaurant specialized in serving olallieberries in every way. We started with healthy salads. But we could not resist the olallieberrie fudge sundae. And the tarts were good too.
The drive from the coast along Hwy 46 (aka the Green Valley) was a delight. It almost felt like we had detoured to Ireland. Along the way we passed acres and acres of vineyards. We were sorry we missed the chance to taste the wines of Paso Robles.
Our stay in San Luis Obispo provided a great base on our road trip along the California coast.
The Great Drive Up Hwy 1
Hwy 1 is also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). It was such an amazing road to drive. But there are a few mandatory stops as you head north. Our first stop was at the amazing Hearst Castle. The views from high above the coast was stunning. The grounds were beautiful. And the inside of the Hearst Castle was an eclectic delight.
The second stop we made was to see the elephant seals. We could hear them before we got to the edge. They lay side to side enjoying the sunshine. And barking to put on a show.
The drive up the PCH is not for the faint of heart. The roads went up and down. And twisted and turned. All as they hugged the side of the hills. These stunning seaside views are the ones I always remember about California.
The drive up Hwy 1 (the PCH) is a great reason to road trip along the California coast.
On And Under The Seas In Monterey
Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row provided the seafood and whale watching trips that bring you to Monterey. We were delighted to return to the Monterey Aquarium on this visit. We again enjoyed the jelly fish exhibit. But saw so much more on this visit.
If the views below the sea were fascinating, the pounding surf kept our attention for hours. We drove along Pacific Grove and moved from spot to spot trying to catch the best view of the waves.
The views above and below the seas in Monterey were a fun stop on our road trip along the California coast. We could watch the coastal views in California for hours and hours.
An Amazing Wine Tasting Experience In The Napa Valley Area
We had three days to visit Napa and to taste test the wines of the Napa Valley Area. It was great to visit with friends in Napa. We started in Green Valley at GV Wineries. Then we visited 4 wineries in one day – Keller Estates, Domaine Carneros, Clif Family Winery and Luna Vineyards. We taste tested many great wines.
We saw some beautiful wineries. And we enjoyed exploring Napa when we weren’t wine tasting. There was so much art around the town and in the vineyards. Great markets offered food and drink. And iconic views were everywhere.
Up And Down The Hills Of San Francisco
Our stop in San Francisco let us travel up and down the hills. We ventured low to the waterfront to enjoy Fisherman’s Wharf and the sea lions.
When we walked up the hills of San Francisco, we visited the Cable Car Museum and the Grace Cathedral. From that point, we went higher up to the Top of the Mark to watch the sun set and the moon rise. City views are definitely one of the reasons to visit California.
And no trip is complete without riding the cable cars up and down the hills of San Francisco. It was a great final stop on our road trip along the California coast.
We Loved Our 3 Week Road Trip Along The California Coast
It was 5 years since we last visited California. We could not believe it had been so long since we last travelled around California.
But our 3 week road trip along the California coast reminded us how much we loved the varied views of California. We saw green valleys, dry deserts, snow on the heights and the most amazing sea shore views. Stops for wine tasting in Temecula and Napa Valley gave us great winery experiences. City stops in San Diego and San Francisco provided another perspective. We were sad when we got our last view of San Francisco out the airplane window.
Every stop on our road trip along the California coast was just so different. And there were so many reasons why we need to visit again soon.
Have you done a road trip along the California coast? What was your favourite stop?
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