Thursday, November 5, 2015

Nothing's like the Golden Coast (California Road Trip Part 2)

Driving down the California coast is legendary.  It's definitely one of the most scenic drives to take, and one of the most care-free! Since California is blessed with great weather year-round, you'll be able to hit up beautiful beaches, cultural metropolitan cities, and towering trees and forests, in the comfort and ease of your car.

We wanted to keep our road-trip impromptu and have the flexibility to stay where we would like when we would like. Check out our previous blog post about flexible road trip planning for tips and tricks!  The only thing that was booked was 2 nights at Wawona Campsite, at Yosemite National Park. Knowing that Yosemite is a massively popular camping destination, we had to book about 2 months in advance. Thankfully, there were still spots, since I hear sometimes people have to book at least 6 months in advance for busy season!

Thus, embarking on our 4-night, 5-day trip, starting and ending in Las Vegas!

Day 1: Death Valley, Bishop, Yosemite - Death Valley is the hottest place on earth! Visiting in the winter is the best time to avoid heat stroke! It's definitely got such an array of landscapes of deserts, mountains, sand dunes and canyons. Bishop is a little town on the way up to Yosemite and it had an amazing bakery called Erick Schat's Bakery http://www.erickschatsbakery.com/, creator of award-winning jams and breads! 

Day 2: hikes and camping at Yosemite National Park - there are such a variety of hikes based on your level of expertise! Breathtaking views and towering mountains, galore! We went during the dry season, so you may want to check if it's the right season to be able to see the waterfalls. And if you want to take a break from all the physical activity, head on down to the Yosemite Village or one of the beautifully-decorated Yosemite resorts for some R&R.   http://www.yosemitepark.com/

Day 3: drive to Monterey - home of the best aquarium in the world! Monterey is a historic fishing and cannery town, where the big industry were sardines! Now the home to the infamous Monterey Bay Aquarium (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/), this little town educates people and discovers new aquatic species through their research team! So many amazing things to be said about this visit, and taking advantage of multi-day passes, behind-the-scenes tours, and their daily shows and feedings is a must!

Day 4: more time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel, Pfeiffer Beach and drive through Big Sur. For the drive down California, we opted for the scenic route of Highway 1 (aka the Pacific Coast Highway) instead of Highway US 101. You really get to be close to nature where the mountains meet the ocean, and eventually the sky. A tip would be always to look back, behind you, on the road you've travelled on and literally see how far you've come! This is not a metaphor, people! Just pure, unadulterated nature.

Day 5: Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Santa Barbara was the town that was the most surprising, as we literally didn't expect anything! It had such a peaceful beach and pier, famous seafood, and a developed main street for those that do want to do their shopping and souvenir-purchasing!  We've been to LA many times and only really stopped en-route back to Las Vegas for one thing and one thing only: a delicious bowl of ramen from Tsujita (http://tsujita-la.com/ ).  Yes, it is that good, and yes, it was worth getting stuck in traffic for 2 hours (to get in and out of LA).

Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to really explore the whole California coast in detail, and there is still more on the travel bucket-list! Sequoia Forests, Redwood Forests, Napa Valley, and Southern California (Laguna Beach, San Diego, Palm Springs) is still waiting!  What are your favorite tips and stops to go to in California? Let us know!