In November of 2015 I crossed an item off my bucket list; driving the Pacific Coast Highway!
On the recommendation of my friend Mary, I started my journey in Pismo Beach, CA, where I witnessed the Monarch Butterfly Migration first hand at the Butterfly Grove. I then made a quick stop to dip my toes in the sand at the beautiful beach and lastly found a hidden gem called Eldwayen Ocean Park which had stunning views of the cliffs and ocean.
I am always keen on finding the most interesting things to do when I travel so I made sure to stop in San Luis Obispo, CA and add my chewing gum to the Bubblegum Alley.
When looking into accommodations for this drive (because I knew I couldnt do it all in one day) I happened to come across a listing for the Inn at Morro Bay. The room looked nice enough and I knew it was right on the Bay so I took a shot that it would be a great place to rest for the night. Boy was I surprised! They upgraded me for free to a room that had a walk out to the balcony overlooking the Bay and I arrived just in time to watch the sun setting over it! Once I caught up my Snapchat followers with my adventure recap for the day, I hit up the restaurant that was part of the Inn called 60 State Park Restaurant & Lounge. I had the place to myself and lounged out on their sofa seats eating to my hearts content all the delicious items on the menu that I could muster including Butternut Squash Soup w. Goat Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds and Crispy Sage, Pacific Crab Cakes w. Chipotle Aioli, Snap Peas and Arugula, and Beats and Goat Cheese w. Butter Lettuce, Croutons, Cucumber and Balsamic. YUM!!
After an amazing nights sleep, I explored Morro Bay, CA a little more and discovered that they have something called Morro Rock which is a volcanic plug – HOW COOL! And I even saw a sea lion swim by!
Next up I hurried my butt to Hearst Castle where I did a tour of the property and home. It was quite the hike up stairs and through the gardens but the view was spectacular and the decor was so eclectic and high end for its time you couldnt help but be in awe. This guy was loaded and was always updating everything. Oh and did I mention he had an outdoor AND indoor pool plus a movie theatre??! Ya, colour me impressed. I highly recommend this for anyone doing the PCH drive!
Now was time for the part of the drive I was most looking forward to (besides the ocean views of course), the Elephant Seals at San Simeon!! I spent a good 20 minutes watching them do their thing, sleep and snore, cuddle, swim and I am pretty sure they were fighting. (watch a live feed HERE)
I spent the next 2.5 hours driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). The road eventually ends up right along the ocean, up and down mountains with winding roads, sharp turns and plenty of turnouts to either let someone pass or take in the view. As someone who is pretty scared of heights and loses her balance when close to the edge of anything, this drive was nerve racking as hell. I went the speed limit of 20 mph, clutched the wheel and took many long and deep breaths while I concentrated and made sure I didnt crash! I just kept telling myself (yes I talked to myself) that I was going to feel amazing after completing the drive… and honestly I felt beyond anything I can describe, just so so proud of myself! Once again I had perfect timing as the sun was setting during this stretch of the trip. I only stopped to take a few photos and tried to focus more on being in the moment and soaking in the sunset and views for my memory bank.
I drove through Big Sur but because it was dark out and no street lights I couldnt see much of anything but trees and darkness so I decided to head to my overnight destination and head back to Big Sur the next morning. I stayed over in Monterey Bay, CA for the night and found some good grub at an italian restaurant called Rosines which had been featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I had Calamari that was so thick and so good and it was paired with fries (never had it that way before), then had a basic pasta and meat sauce as my main. I was stuffed to capacity but they had a display of cakes at the checkout and I just HAD to grab a piece to go. I swear the piece was the size of my head too! I never ended up eating it as I was too full that night and it went bad being in the car all the next day but I just know it would have tasted heavenly if I had been able to eat it! Definitely check this place out if you ever find yourself in Monterey.
Woke up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day with my Starbucks Caramel Frapp in hand. I backtracked an hour through Big Sur, CA to Pfieffer Beach. This beach is really hidden so make sure you map it out ahead of time. I really thought I could handle walking on sand to get to the ocean but boy was I ever wrong! I tried my best taking my time and eventually hit the ocean and dipped my feet in the water. Yay! The beach was quite big from what I could see but I was not up for the adventure of walking it up and down, plus I needed to head back into Monterey. So I snapped a few pics but unfortunately didnt see any purple sand, which is what this beach is known for. Definitely check out this hidden gem if youre doing the PCH drive! OH and of course I made a pit stop to grab a snap of Bixby Bridge. Add that to your list of things to see too! On my way back through Big Sur I stopped and took some photos of the view as well.
Once I was back in Monterey, I headed to the well known Monterey Bay Aquarium. My favourite part of this aquarium was all the jellies! Plus the touch pools were really cool. I can see why this one is so popular with children, so much to learn about! I spent some time outside on the deck looking over the Bay and spotted a sea lion frolicking! So cute.
Last but not least, I finished my drive to Santa Cruz to visit the Natural Bridges State Park and Beach for around sunset. I wish I had arrived just a little but earlier and wasn’t so exhausted from my drive to walk the beach to get a better picture but I still saw it in person, and it was beautiful!
Hope you enjoyed this recap as much as I loved going on this adventure!