California Coastal Route

Having grown up in northern California, with family in southern California, I used to travel twice a year to Los Angeles or San Diego. My family always took a car, always drove 80 mph, and always took the fastest route- Hwy 5. So when my European Bf wanted to take the coastal route to Palm Springs, I agreed, despite the fact that it would add 3 to 4 hours to a 7 hour drive. (A little back story, my bf recently had knee surgery, so I had anticipated driving the whole route.)

Road trips are harder the older I get. Within 2 hours of leaving the city Friday night, I was already kaput. So we stopped in Monterey Bay. We stayed in a little cottage. We arrived so late we didn’t bother to let them know we had a dog. Blitz is well trained and we had already been turned away from a few other hotels in the area that aren’t pet friendly. Places were filled up; it was the fourth of July weekend. The cottage was cute, unattached to the other rooms, and close to the beach.



The beach was rocky, but that didn’t stop surfers. There’s a beautiful forest route you can drive for a small fee ($10), but we were burning through the weekend, it was time to move out.


On our way to the beach, we saw these cuties haunting a graveyard.

Our next stop was Santa Barbra. The dew on our car from Monterey Bay had long burned off by the time we reach the sunny and warm beach town. Finally warm weather. This is what I was chasing – the heat. “There’s no colder winter than a summer in San Francisco,” and that’s precisely what I was trying to escape.

Our tour guide and close friend, Kate, took us to a cute cafe in old town of downtown. Dogs littered the streets of Santa Barbra and it took no time at all to find a dog friendly joint that served healthy, light meals. (After our last meal of in-and-out we needed something healthier, but I’m sure there’s greasy options for hardy foodies.) After lunch, we took a 10-minute walk down to the beach. It was not the prettiest beach as Kate pointed out but it was warm, open, and a place for Blitz to dig and run. The pier was packed beside us with people going for lunch, checking out the small aquarium, or perusing the tourist shops. At the end of that pier you can enjoy the south facing beach, which really messes with your internal compass and gives you the impression that the sun sets in the north. No you are not looking to the west, S.B. has mainly south facing beaches. On the other side of the pier were artistic sand castles ranking in dollars here  and there for pictures. We considered staying a night in Santa Barbara, but hotels were running no less than $400/night for the area, thanks fourth of July.


Even the parking garages are pretty in S.B. (above photo)


We kept moving to our final destinations – La Quinta in Palm Springs. About four hours from Santa Barbra southeast. Temperatures were hiking more than we could in the rising heat. Our plan to hit up Joshua Tree now seemed daunting. I’m from Sacramento, were summer temperatures easily break 100 degrees. Somehow I forgot how the heat dictates your actions. I found myself moving much more just to get a tiny air conditioned break from the outdoors. Still we went swimming in the pool and even ate on an outdoor patio at a wine bar. They had misters and shade, but sweat rolled off our backs faster than Blitz could drink up ice water. We decided that November would be a more appropriate month to see Joshua Tree. Unfortunately the lovely house on a golf course where we stayed was booked up from fall to spring.


Stay posted to see if we make it back to Joshua Tree. In the meantime follow me on Instagram @gabriella_briana for mini trips around San Francisco and the surrounding areas. Photos are by Charlie Schock. For more of his photos follow his Instagram @schockcharlie.



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