Having just come back from a fantastic California road trip I can comfortably say that I've ticked off one destination from my travel bucket list. It says plenty about a place when on return you start thinking about going back, cherry picking your favourite spots and raving about it to anyone who will listen.
San Francisco to San Diego
We spent 16 memorable days travelling down from San Francisco to San Diego, with a stop at the breathtaking Yosemite National Park. We saw snow in June, tasted the wines and champagnes of Napa Valley, got drenched under Bridaveil Falls in Yosemite, spotted four humpback whales in Santa Barbara, maxed out our credit cards in LA's malls, soaked up the sunshine of Orange County, partied on a rooftop in San Diego and ate everything from waffles to oysters.
Northern & Southern California
The biggest surprise to me was the evident difference between Northern and Southern California. From San Francisco to Santa Barbara the weather is windy and volatile, the scenery rugged and the speed limit is 55 miles an hour. From Santa Barbara onwards the weather is better, the roads are straighter and everything seems somehow manicured and wealthy.
The Big Sur
The iconic 'Big Sur' drive which stretches from below Carmel until just past Morro Bay is only about 90 miles - easily done in a day. The road is narrow and winding but fun nonetheless, although I am not quite sure I (or my hair) would have enjoyed it with the roof down! Travel from North to South for the best views - it's a single lane and easier to pull over, I wouldn't recommend it for those who are scared of heights though. Unfortunately there aren't many places to stay on the Big Sur, Post Ranch Inn and Tickle Pink Inn are the best options.
'Three things to remember are to bring a good camera, stop often and not to wear a floaty dress.'
A glimpse into the variety of the state
All in all having driven 1,500 miles I feel like I got a small but comprehensive glimpse of the variety this state has to offer. There is something for everyone, regardless of how much or little you want to drive, how cosmopolitan or rural you want to be. Although the 'classic' California roadtrip may be in a convertible Mustang down Highway 1, it is by no means the most 'Original' one.