California Road Trip- LA to San Francisco

California Road Trip: LA to San Francisco

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Los Angeles is a city built for cars. It is practically impossible to be a pedestrian in this sprawling metropolis. Traffic can be a nightmare, even just getting to the local grocery store, and for a tourist with a hire car, the chock-a-block highways can be a daunting prospect.

Frankly, the only thing to do is leave the smog and the city crush behind and head out on the open road, on that great all-American institution – the road trip.

Coming out of Los Angeles on Highway 101, you quickly leave the down-town areas behind, and head out towards the central Californian wine growing regions. First stop, Santa Barbara, the chic town dubbed the ‘American Riviera’. We blaze on through, completely missing the famous Santa Barbara Mission, an historic building founded by Spanish Franciscans in 1786. We’ll have to save that fascinating architectural gem for another trip, we think.

At San Luis Opispo we join the stunning Pacific Coast Highway. This is one of the best driving experiences in the world, with the one of the best views of any road in the United States. It winds up the coast, clinging tenaciously to the rugged cliffs.

At Morro Bay, peregrine falcons soar above the towering rock, and as we follow the smooth curves of the road, the Pacific Ocean, with small, white capped waves, glistens in the warm sunshine.

Near San Simeon is Hearst Castle, the eccentric creation of billionaire and newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst. (Also known as, the guy ‘Citizen Kane’ was based on.) While the eclectic architectural and interior design style may not, lets say, be in the best possible taste, this crazy collection of periods and styles has a definite charm. You can also imagine that you may well be walking in the footsteps of some of your idols. Many A-listers and famous people were glad to obtain a coveted invitation to stay here in the 1920s and 30s.

Moving on, we skim the coastline and reach the stretch known as ‘Big Sur’. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park you can walk a short distance to walk the McWay waterfall pouring over the cliffs into a beautiful cove. Redwood groves scattered along the roadway reach for the sky. At one point we stop and look at hundreds of elephant seals lounging on a beach.

As we are in no hurry, we camp for the night at Kirk Creek Campground, one of many camp sites in Big Sur, but arguably one of the most scenic and best situated, right on the cliff tops between the road and the ocean. We are treated to a glorious sunset over the Pacific as we sit at a picnic table and enjoy a few drinks. In the morning, we walk down the steep path to the bay below, watch the waves, and feel the salt spray on our faces.

But the road beckons us ever onwards. We head on towards San Francisco, through the up-scale, artistic little town of Carmel and historic Monterey. The mist begins to roll in off the sea as we make our way up the coast.

The wonders of San Francisco await us.

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