California Trip Advice: Part 2

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I can't believe this Saturday I am heading back to the Golden State! So, I figure it was high time to share some more photos from last September :) See Part 1 for the first bunch.

After we explored San Francisco, we rented a car and headed down the Pacific Coast Highway. Let's just say for miles on end I wanted to stop every 15 minutes to take pictures.

It was a breathtaking, leisurely drive down to our Airbnb in Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you couldn't tell by the charming hyphenated addition to its name, Carmel by-the-Sea is a city overflowing with charm. The city is on a hill that spills into the Pacific Ocean. The beach overlooks the famous last hole in the Pebble Beach Golf Course. Since Carmel is not a cheap place (there were people visiting from all over the world!), we stopped a farm stand on the side of the road on the way down and stocked up on incredibly delicious and cheap avocados and almonds. So, pro tip: buy fresh avocados and almonds!

If time were no factor, I would have spent an entire day marveling at the cottage-style Carmel houses. Most have adorable names like Robin's Nest, Sanctuary, and Pear Tree Cottage. Of course, we opted to spend out days driving along the Pacific instead. Our airbnb was only a few minutes from the start of the 17 Mile-Drive, a drive through a gated community of famous views. For only $10, you can take your time driving through a well-marked route and stopping for the sites. The highlight of the drive is the famous Lone Cyprus standing triumphantly above the Pacific. 

The Lone Cyprus
Although you won't see the Lone Cyprus anywhere but the 17 Mile Drive, you don't have to pay for incredible views in California. Driving on the PCH south of Carmel leads to the Bixby Bridge—a must-stop spot! The beautiful arched bridge connecting the winding highway cutting through the mountains is a site to add to your bucket list, stat.

The Bixby Bridge
It's difficult to leave the Bixby Bridge, but Big Sur beckoned. The road winds on and on, and right when you think there couldn't possibly be another magnificent view, there was one. We veered off the PCH to make stop at the secluded Pfeiffer Beach. This also had a $10 entrance fee but was worth every penny.

Pfeiffer Beach
Although the wonders of the PCH continued, we spent our evenings in Carmel, watching the sun set over the beach and eating at places like La Bicyclette and Dametra Cafe.

Our final stop was Yosemite. Actually staying inside Yosemite National Park is astronomically expensive, and also must be planned as far as a year in advance. However, I can't stress this enough: stay as close as you can to an entrance. You're going to inevitably be doing a lot of driving to get to Yosemite, so don't add more car time onto your trip. Also, there was actually lots of traffic in the park, so just be ready and wake up early! We stayed in an Airbnb in a one-room private apartment about seven minutes fromt he south gate which was perfect. Pro tip: Go old school and print your directions! Cell service cannot be relied upon in most parts of the park, so don't trust in your GPS to get you where you need to go! There's no point in splurging on a large room in Yosemite, as you'll want to spend as much time as possible outside, as shown:

Here's the breathtaking Glacier Point that looks like a painting:

We also spent a morning wandering around the vibrantly red otherwordly Mariposa Grove, the only pictures I shared in a reasonable amount of time :) Based on our Airbnb host's recommendation, we ended up dining at The Narrow Gauge Inn, a rustic steak house near where we stayed, and really enjoyed the food. 

And that leads me to the biggest problem about California: There are so many beautiful sites to see, you'll never want to go home. I'm very excited to go back this weekend, though this time I'll miss little TT. :) Hope everyone is having a great week! 

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