Drew and I just got back from an amazing vacation! We spent just over 8 days taking a road trip across California!
The map above gives you a good idea of our route. It isn’t completely accurate, because Google Maps would only let me put in 10 destinations and we went to several other places in the San Diego area. In general, this is where we went:
Friday, April 3 – Fly from New Orleans to San Diego, California. We got there around 6 p.m. and Drew’s brother, Wes, his wife, Trang, and their 8-month old baby girl, Aili, picked us up from the airport. We ate dinner at home with them and stayed with them in La Mesa, California.
Saturday, April 4 – We all had a lovely breakfast together, then Drew went to work with Wes at Societe Brewing, stopping along at a coffee shop along the way. Trang, Aili, and I got ready and went to North Park to walk around in some cute shops (loved Pigment). Later on, we picked up Drew and had a nice lunch. We had a nice afternoon walking around at Sunset Cliffs (one of my favorite spots in San Diego!) and then stopping by to eat some raw desserts at Peace Pies. We headed back home, prepped dinner, Drew and I took a walk around La Mesa, we visited with Wes once he got home from work, and ate dinner. After dinner and more visiting, Aili went to bed, Trang and I had a great time chatting about fabric design and our business dreams and Wes and Drew went out to check out Fall Brewing, Counsel Brewing, Toronado Bar, Hamilton’s Tavern, and a burrito shop for him to get a California burrito (with french fries in it).
Sunday, April 5 – Drew and I took a nice morning walk around La Mesa while Aili took her morning nap. Then we got breakfast from a restaurant called The Mission and ate it at the Cabrillo National Monument, overlooking the ocean and San Diego. Then we visited Torrey Pines beach, Coronado Brewing, Ballast Point Brewing, AleSmith Brewing, and had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant before heading back home. Drew and I were exhausted from travel and the time change, so we fell asleep at 6 pm! We woke up later to visit some more before going to bed again.
Monday, April 6 – We woke up and had brunch at The Cottage in La Jolla, then spent the morning hanging out at La Jolla Cove (another favorite spot in San Diego!). The weather was so nice, the water so beautiful, and there were some sea lions sunning right next to us on the beach! We walked around in some shops in La Jolla, had some awesome gelato, then left to drive around San Diego a bit more. We drove up to Carlsbad, California to check out Pizza Port Brewing and walked around there and went to the beach. We also went to Lost Abbey Brewing (can you tell that Drew and Wes are into craft beer!?) and then had tacos for dinner. We spent the rest of our last evening in San Diego visiting with Wes, Trang, and Aili — Drew and Wes sharing some great beers together, as always.
Tuesday, April 7 – We had breakfast together one last time, before packing up our stuff to head to get our rental car. On the way, we stopped by a gluten-free bakery in Santee, California (my great-grandpa used to live in Santee). Drew and I headed up the coast, stopping in Laguna Beach, California to check out Kerry Cassill’s gorgeous block printed linens shop (beautiful area too!) and then we continued on, stopping to eat lunch at Joe’s Falafel in Los Angeles (probably a totally random place to go for our only stop in LA, but it was delicious!). We would have explored LA a bit more, but we had more ground to cover and we didn’t want to exhaust ourselves. We did see the Hollywood sign as we drove through. Then we headed up and into the mountains to the Ojai Valley. Gorgeous area with mountains and orange groves. We dropped our stuff off in the pretty little cabin we stayed in, then walked around for a bit, enjoying the scenery, visiting shops, and eating dinner in the little town.
Wednesday, April 8 – We woke up, packed up our stuff, then headed into town for breakfast. The drive from Ojai to Yosemite was gorgeous. We drove through the mountains, seeing green hilly mountains, sharp stone ones, and dusty desert hills. We drove through the Santa Barbara pistachio farms, stopping to get a bag of pistachios to snack on from the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company. We also passed the Sunmaid Raisins vineyards. Then continued on, stopping in Fresno for food/groceries for our stay in Yosemite. We continued our drive into Yosemite where there was snow on the ground!! I had thought that we were going to drive though the Mariposa Grove on our way into Yosemite to see the giant sequoia trees, but I guess you had to go off the main road to see those (and I think the road might have been closed to there because of the snow). I’m a little bummed we didn’t get to see those, but I guess there is always next time!
Thursday, April 9 – We woke up, ate breakfast in our room, then bundled up and headed to the Yosemite Valley Floor to start hiking and exploring. We visited the Yosemite Visitor’s Center, then hiked part of the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls (it was steep and slippery, so we didn’t hike it all). We packed snacks and our lunch, so we stopped on a rock along the trail to eat lunch while admiring the scenery. After that we relaxed for a few minutes by the river, then headed over to hike to Mirror Lake. That hike was much easier and less steep, but Mirror Lake was less impressive than I had imagined. We stopped back by the Vistor’s Center to see the Gift Shop and Yosemite Museum Exhibit before heading back to our car and then back to our room. It was an exhausting day of walking! We made dinner in our room and spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching HGTV.
Friday, April 10 – Drew and I both developed head colds when we started heading into the mountains on Wednesday, so by this point, neither of us were sleeping very well. I guess this day it came to our benefit, because by 6 a.m. I was wide awake and tired of laying in bed and not being able to sleep, so we got up super early (for us!) and packed up our stuff and headed out to make our way to San Francisco. It worked out well that we left early because we made it to San Francisco by lunchtime. We stopped downtown for lunch, walked around in some shops, and Drew checked out a bar with some local craft beers on tap. After that, we headed to the Ferry Marketplace to check out a gluten-free bakery and walk around the pier a bit. Then we drove down past the piers to get a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge before heading to check into our room. I took a brief nap, as my head didn’t feel good and I was exhausted from lack of sleep. Once I got up, I drank some tea, then we drove through Golden Gate Park, up to a beautiful look-out over the Golden Gate Bridge, then past the Painted Ladies, and on to a little seafood place for dinner. After dinner was ice cream and then a stop at the Palace of Fine Arts and then a drive through Chinatown.
Saturday, April 11 – We got up and had breakfast at Radish in the Mission District. I had the gluten-free pancakes with freshly-squeezed orange juice and Drew had the biscuits and gravy with hashbrowns. Both were great! After breakfast, we headed North of San Francisco to Santa Rosa, California to go to Russian River Brewing, then Petaluma, California to check out Lagunitas Brewing. We then drove around through Napa and Sonoma, admiring the gorgeous lush hills and vineyards, eating dinner at The Red Grape in Sonoma, California. After that, we headed back towards San Francisco to the Berkeley/Oakland area to check out Faction Brewing (amazing sunset views of SF), head to IKEA, visit Rare Barrel Brewing, and lastly to Target to get cold medicine!
Sunday, April 12 – Our flight back to New Orleans left at 6:15 a.m., so we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. to have time to put gas in the rental car, drop it off, get through the airport, etc. So that wasn’t fun! But we made it to our flights on time and got back into New Orleans around 3:00 p.m. (we had a stop over in Dallas). Let me tell you, flying with a head cold is no fun! I woke up that morning with a raw throat and no voice and the change in elevation/altitude hurt my ears so bad! It wasn’t until Monday that they finally popped and started feeling better (although not 100% for a few more days!). I could barely hear all day Sunday! But we were so happy to see our kitty again!
Overall this was such an amazing trip! California is just so beautiful! We saw cities, small towns, beaches, mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers, streams, lakes, waterfalls, hills, orchards, nut groves, vineyards, bays, sunrises, sunsets, and so much in between all in the same week! Drew and I had been to both San Diego and San Francisco before (we got engaged in San Diego almost 5 years ago!) and flying is so convenient, but you just can’t see the same things you do when you drive across a state. Such a different experience! And really, for us, 16+ hours of driving across a week is no biggie. We are used to driving 20 hours (10 there, 10 back) from New Orleans to our hometown in Southern Illinois over long weekends, so this trip, with such beautiful things to see and the driving spread out over several days, was super enjoyable!
Until next time, California!