Pacific Coast Highway

8:28 PM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

WARNING: Super long post ahead!
We knew we wanted to go on a little trip to celebrate Craig's graduation, so we decided to go to San Francisco and make a road trip out of it! We were already planning on going to Anaheim for a Parson reunion, so it worked out just perfectly to go out there the week before and drive up the PCH before we headed back to SoCal.

Immediately after Craig graduated, we loaded up the car and drove straight to San Diego. We arrived late and stayed at Anna's aunt's empty beach house near La Jolla.

On DAY 1 we spent the whole day in San Diego. We ate breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake house (a recommendation from Anna's aunt), and we ended up deciding it was the BEST meal we had all week. We split a massive German pancake that was so divine. Then we went to Balboa Park where Craig stalked Hilary Clinton doing some press conference, we went to the free art museum, and we walked around the gardens. We went to lunch at The Taco Stand in La Jolla, which Craig claims had the best tacos ever (even though they were cold by the time we ate them at home). We went to the beach at La Jolla Shores, which was the best part of the day. It was Max's first time at the beach, and he LOVED it! He just kept laughing and squealing at the waves crashing -- it was adorable. It was kind of a chilly day, so we didn't do too much swimming. But seriously Max's face was so lit up, and it was magical to see. We finished our day by having ice cream sandwiches from the Baked Bear for dinner (oops).

On DAY 2 we drove from San Diego to Morro Bay. It was the longest/least enjoyable day of our trip, in my opinion. That morning we walked the Pacific Beach Boardwalk and then drove to Palos Verdes to see Lynette's childhood home. We had lunch at the Happy Diner in San Pedro. We drove through Malibu but skipped LA and the nearby beaches because we knew we'd be back down for Craig's family reunion the following week. We finally made it to Santa Barbara, where we got out of the car and just relaxed for a while. We went to the beach by Stearn's Wharf and then walked down their main street. We ate dinner at Persona Pizza and got a Pressed Juicery freeze. I was so in love with Santa Barbara. It was so adorable and much prettier than the rest of SoCal. I loved how green it was and how close the mountains were to the beach. I would totally live there if I could figure out an easy way to fly there and back. From there we drove through the GORGEOUS countryside and stayed the night at an airbnb in Morro Bay. It was our first experience with airbnb, and it was pretty good! Our host let us in, showed us around, and then let us be. We didn't even see her the next morning.

On DAY 3 we drove from Morro Bay to Santa Cruz. We drove through Montana de Oro State Park and saw Morro Rock in the morning, and then we went to San Simeon where we saw elephant seals at Piedras Blancas, saw ZEBRAS on the side of the road, and took a tour of the Hearst Castle. I thought it was much prettier on the outside than inside. Neither of us were blown away by the gothic art, but it was still a pretty cool tour. The pools and the grounds were by far the best part. We had lunch at Sebastian's and headed for the Big Sur.

THIS was the highlight of our trip. It was absolutely breathtaking. The best part about the Big Sur is that it is SO BIG! and you get to just keep on enjoying it for hours. We would have loved to stay overnight there and spend a day or two hiking. Our highlights were the McWay Waterfall (onto the beach!) and the Bixby bridge. Once we got past the Big Sur, we drove through Carmel, which is also a place I could live in (so cute!), and made a quick stop at the Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey. We tried to see Cannery Row but chickened out after seeing the rush-hour traffic. We finally got to Santa Cruz around 7, and we walked the boardwalk and ate dinner at the Picnic Basket. We stayed at Makena's house, which was so fun!

We didn't get to see Makena until DAY 4, Sunday, when we went to church with her family. After church we drove through the Big Basin Redwoods State Park and walked a little trail there. It was so incredibly beautiful. I was falling for NorCal, HARD. It was SO green! I really loved the Redwoods and all of the rolling hills. We drove all the way to San Francisco that day, and because it was Sunday, we tried to take it easy and spend as little money as possible. First we went to the Golden Gate Park, which reminds me of Central Park but more natural/older and less manicured. The trees were fantastic and there were all these cute ponds. After a long walk, we drove to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was SUPER foggy and you could hardly see it, but we walked along it for a while. I'm grateful we didn't rent bikes because I kind of got freaked out once we were up there. I guess my fear of bridges is no joke. We grabbed dinner at Trader Joe's and stocked up on some breakfast/snacks for the following day. We spent the next two nights at an airbnb in Daly City. I think the owner doesn't live there and just rents out all 5 bedrooms, but I'm not sure. It was a nice place, and we were happy we didn't run into any other guests.

On DAY 5 we spent the whole day in SF. We started the day at the Palace of Fine Arts, a monument left from the 1915 world fair! It's crazy because it looks like ancient European architecture on this serene pond in the middle of the city. Then we went to Fisherman's Wharf where we checked out Pier 39 (& its sea lions), ate lunch at Boudin Bakery, and walked around Ghiradelli Square. Then we went to Octavia Street for "Smitten" ice cream (strawberry white balsamic!). We met up with Sarah at the Painted Ladies, but Alamo Square Park was closed, so we drove to Dolores Park, where we took a break and just hung out for a while (and enjoyed secondhand weed). It was a much needed break from all of our driving and walking! We all went for round two of ice cream (yep) at Bi-Rite Creamery, which TOTALLY lived up to the hype with its SNICKERDOODLE flavor. Hands down best ice cream I've had in my life. That's saying something. We met Robbie for dinner in Little Italy where we had Golden Boy pizza and explored the neighborhood for a while. It was super fun hanging out with them and I wish we had had more time together! We said our goodbyes and drove down Lombard Street before we headed back to Daly City.

The world's worst picture of Lombard Street -- I was taking a video and quickly snapped this picture before we were too far away
I really loved San Francisco. It has such a unique charm to it that is hard to pinpoint. I loved the architecture of all of the houses (so ornate!), and I loved the rolling hills. It has a way of feeling like a smaller city than it really is. Maybe its just that there aren't as many high rises as I expected. I seriously just loved the Bay area. Beaches, trees, rolling hills. What more could you ask for? ... okay maybe lower cost of living.

On DAY 6 we headed back to Orange County. We left Daly City in the morning and drove by Stanford. Then we drove to Santa Maria to see the Hansens' new home that they moved into over the weekend. We were on our way to Newport when our tire blew out (UGH), so we stopped in Ventura to replace our tire. We just barely made it to Newport in time to meet Erin and Kyle for dinner. It was super fun to see them. I am so glad that we've been able to make it out to southern California a few times while living in Phoenix and that we've always been able to meet up with Erin for a few hours each time!

That night we stayed in Glendora with Nils and Loraine, which is when our little road trip came to its end and our time with the Parson family began. It was such a fun trip and I'm SO glad we did it. I'm not a huge fan of long drives, so if I did it again or recommend it to anyone, I'd suggest spending maybe twice as long as we did so you can really enjoy each stop. I particularly wish we had another day or two in Santa Barbara, the Big Sur, and San Francisco. However, I think we truly made the most of our time table and our small budget, and I'm so glad we made it happen before we left Phoenix while the drive to CA was reasonable.