California Road Trip on HIghway 1 | The Pacific Coast Highway

I had heard about the Pacific Coast Highway before we left for vacation, but admit I knew very little.  Turns out, this stretch of coastal highway was by FAR the most beautiful part of our trip and held some of the best finds along the way.  We started in LA with cheap eats and Jimmy Kimmel, but quickly entered the strawberry fields and were accompanied by ocean breakers and cliffs as we started down the Pacific Coast Highway. 

We spent one night in a little Danish town (Solvang) -- at the Day's Inn (it had a windmill!) and then ended up in Monterey for a few days before heading on to San Francisco. If you love the big city, you might be a little bored by the drive along the coast, but we were definitely ready for a break from people after several days in LA.  The peaceful trip up the coast was just perfect!

A few highlights:


Sadly, we were in a hurry to get to Heart Castle to make sure we got our ticket time, so we ate quickly.  However quickly those chips and salsa went down though -- they were delicious.  The salsa is the traditional, spicy, chunky, kind of watery salsa I adore.  There were locals eating here, service was very fast by 1 in the afternoon (after the lunch rush) and prices were not bad at all.  We ate for about $20 for the two of us including tip.

Hearst Castle

I was a little annoyed at Hearst Castle before we arrived because you had to arrive EXACTLY on time in order to get on the bus for your ticket time. However, once we arrived (late! by a few minutes),they were able to get us on the next bus and there was no harm, no foul.  Call ahead, get tickets and get there on time.  The place is CROWDED.

The tours are expensive -- $25 for the tour of the "GRAND rooms", $25 for the upper rooms and $25 for the cottages.  We just took the grand rooms tour, and then were able to wander around the grounds, the gardens and the pools.  Even though I adore old historic homes, I had no desire to pay the extra $50 to take the other two tours.  The grand rooms tour included a cocktail room, the dining room, a game room and the theatre -- all very cool and much grander than you might picture.  The tour is fairly short (yay!) and you are able to stay up at the castle and look around as long as you want.  My hands down favorite spots are the two pools.  Grand to the EXTREME.  Would I do it again?  Probably not.  Should you do it once?  Probably.

Main Patio of Hearst Castle
One of a bajillion side patios...
The drive up to The Castle...
Little animal shelters along the drive where the "zoo" animals used to hang out -- very cool!
grand, eh??
...and this is where they dined...
...and where they swam...indoors...
...and where they swam OUTDOORS...
Driving back down the hill...

Elephant Seals

Another fun stop along the way are the elephant seals.  Humongous.  That is all.

Make sure you stop -- takes 2 minutes to jump out of the car and be amazed by these puppies.

very pregnant...
I REALLY wanted to take this home.  I settled for some rocks...
Are you SURE I can't take some driftwood home???

Roadside Stands

There are multiple roadside stands along the way, but this one really caught our attention.  A cool airstream with local creations, yummy homemade jams (free samples!) and cheap cider and lemonade ($1) along with a fortuitous barn/yard sale made this another favorite stop.

I scored this runner for picnics, painting parties and such.  It fits perfectly long ways on a picnic table too!

I also found:

 -- An apron to match little lady's Anthropologie steal ($4.95!)

 -- A couple wooden bowls

 -- ...and a few more little onesies and such -- all for $4.00. FUN TIMES.

Is there ANYTHING better than a surprise barn sale on the way up the Pacific Coast Highway with GOOD prices??  I think not.  Unless you have fresh strawberries in the car to munch on while you drive along the coast.  yeah.  that is even better :)

Inside the little store next to the barn sale...

Goodbye roadsides....we are headed to SANFRAN!!


Love your pics. I totally agree with you about Hertz Castle, would I take the tour again? Probably not, but people should do it at least once, especially since there is nothing for miles and miles around the castle.
Amy Renea said…
That is totally what Alex (my husband) said too...I was talking about skipping it so we could enjoy a peaceful lunch and he made the point that if we didn't hit the castle that afternoon, we would be doing NOTHING until San Francisco. Glad he made that point!! I do wish it were a bit cheaper though!
Julia Konya said…
Gorgeous photos and I totally want to take a trip like this with my family one day.
Laura said…
That is so so fun! I had fun dreaming about what it would have been like to be a guest at the Hearst Mansion or what it would be like to live there. And those pools perfect. Inside for daytime, outside for night. No sunscreen necessary. Sign me up! The tennis court over the indoor pool was also a highlight for my sister and I.
Amy Renea said…
You would love it Julia!!

Laura -- those pools were my FAVORITE - SO divine. I couldn't believe my eyes when we came up over the hill and looked down into the outdoor pool. Like the Great gatsby came to LIFE!