California Road Trip : Part One

California Road Trip
It’s safe to say driving the Pacific Coast Highway was one of my favorite trips, and one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever done. We’ve had my dad’s birthday trip to Napa planned out for a while, but Brian and I decided to fly into Los Angeles a few days early and meet the rest of my family in San Francisco mid-week. Both of us wish we’d had more time to explore all of the adorable beach towns along the drive and get in a few hikes that looked amazing, but we just couldn’t fit everything in in a few days. If you have a week to really take your time along the coast, do it!

(this is long, hang in there!)

Venice Canals
Stop 1-2: Los Angeles / Santa Barbara
We flew into LAX early Sunday morning, picked up our rental car and hit the road. Obviously grabbing lunch at In-N-Out was a must. The weather was beautiful so we headed over to Venice Beach to walk around the canals and enjoy the sunshine before making the drive up to Santa Barbara. You could definitely tie in some time in Malibu if you’re working at a leisurely pace (Malibu Wines is a great spot for an afternoon!).Simpson House Inn CA
We stayed at the Simpson House Inn and I seriously can’t recommend it enough. It’s the cutest bed and breakfast and the grounds are beautiful! Not to mention they stock the room with Kiehls products — our favorite! There were gardens surrounding the house, a fire pit that they lit during cocktail hour and tons of comfy chairs to relax in. They offer a complimentary wine and cheese hour in the evening, so grab a glass and a small plate and unwind in the garden area. Breakfast is also included and served in the garden or to your room.
Santa Barbara Courthouse
We kept dinner low-key and had amazing ramen (for me) and duck (for B) at The Black Sheep and dessert (always) at McConnell’s. Best ice-cream ever. Honestly. When the line is out the door you know it’s worth stopping for. The next morning we stopped by Old Mission and climbed to the top of the courthouse for a beautiful panoramic city view. I definitely want to come back and stay a few days to explore more of the city!

Stop 3: Carmel-By-The-Sea
Monday morning we drove from Santa Barbara up to Carmel and got to experience the beauty that is Big Sur.  There are so many great turnoff’s and shoulders that you can pull over to along the drive to really take it all in. We stopped by Ragged Point Inn on our entrance to Big Sur and picked up the most amazing dirty chai latte from the espresso bar. If you’re entering Big Sur from the south end you have to stop by and get one to sip on while you make the drive!
Carriage House Inn CarmelOnce you’ve stopped a million times to snap photos, you’ll reach Carmel. We stayed at the Carriage House Inn and couldn’t have loved it more. Possibly one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in — complete with a fireplace right next to it and a giant soaking tub in the bathroom. The rooms are so cozy and it really does feel like you’re staying at a friend’s carriage house. On our next trip to Carmel I can’t imagine us not staying here again. We loved it to say the least. They also offer a complimentary wine and cheese hour along with breakfast delivered to your room the next morning. Highly recommend the homemade quiches!
17 Mile Drive Pebble BeachPebble Beach Golf Course
The next morning we walked up and down the beach to checkout the Pebble Beach golf course from the waterside, before driving the 17 Mile Drive within the neighborhood. Another chance to pull over every few feet for beautiful photos. If only I knew how to golf… We grabbed lunch at the clubhouse deli (grab sandwiches and take them outside to enjoy the sunshine!) and stopped in the shops so Brian could pick up some PB gear. The 17 mile drive was definitely worth it and a great way to see the course without having to play it! We’re already trying to plot how we can get back to Carmel on vacation soon. It’s the cutest beach town!

Stay tuned for next week’s Part 2 — Napa/Sonoma!




    • September 8, 2016 / 12:31 pm

      I used to drive from Huntington Beach down to Dana Point and back on PCH just to drive, clear my head and listen to music…I’d leave at just the right time so I could have the sun setting on the beach on the way back…just breathtaking and calming. I miss living there.

  1. September 8, 2016 / 6:25 am

    1. already saved this because we want to do this trip in March. 2. I hope you don’t mind if i literally just do everything you did and stay where you stayed LOL!! Looks amazing! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

  2. Joanne Brockmann
    September 8, 2016 / 7:19 am

    Did the same trip a few years ago along the coast and your photos brought back so many wonderful memories. might just be time to enjoy it again. thanks for sharing. Joanne

  3. September 8, 2016 / 7:45 am

    Oh my gosh Ashley! What a dream! It looks like you had so much fun, and I love these recommendations!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  4. September 8, 2016 / 8:22 am

    seriously the PCH is the best. and i just love me some california. great recommendations – i would love to stay in that first hotel!

    btw – update your WP to the latest update that came out yesterday – fixed the email thing!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  5. September 8, 2016 / 8:48 am

    AHhhh I’m living vicariously! Sounds like the most amazing trip. I loved following along!! I’m headed to Sonoma in October, so I cannot wait to see what you recommend 🙂

  6. September 8, 2016 / 8:57 am

    This looks like the best vacation ever! The weather looked absolutely perfect, the scenery is stunning and how can you go wrong with wine country?! That hotel you stayed at sounds pefect. Kiehl’s products and wine and cheese? Yes please! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  7. September 8, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    Ugh I seriously need to visit California! I can’t believe I’ve never been.

  8. susy
    September 8, 2016 / 12:50 pm

    Great photos and would love to stay at the the B&B!

  9. jillian
    September 8, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    everything SO beautiful! H keeps saying we should move to cali– ha! im really tempted to at least take a trip there. xo jillian

  10. Katie Elizabeth
    September 8, 2016 / 2:14 pm

    The California coast is SO gorgeous! This trip is on my bucket list!

  11. September 8, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    I’m loving all these bed and breakfasts that you talk about – it sounds so chic and relaxing! California is so beautiful – I hope we get to do this drive someday!

  12. September 8, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    Saving this post! On my bucket list for sure!!

  13. September 9, 2016 / 10:09 am

    What a wonderful trip! Beautiful pictures. The coast of California is beyond gorgeous.

  14. September 11, 2016 / 12:32 pm

    This is the best trip! It’s been a few years since we have done it, but my parents started taking us on it when we were kids and then Josh and I would do parts of it when we lived in California. Santa Barbara is just dreamy and Carmel is so gorgeous!

  15. September 11, 2016 / 11:59 pm

    Part 1 of your trip looks great! I just came back from a week long honeymoon road trip down the PCH (Napa to LA). You really need at least twice that long to see enough, and I’m not even sure that would be enough! I had SO many pictures, I set mine up as a 7-part series to post on my blog!


  16. September 12, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Love the pictures in this post! I recently moved to San Diego, CA in May, and have explored quite a bit since I’ve been here and I find something new to love everyday! Hopefully you will have more time on your next trip out here to explore!

  17. September 13, 2016 / 7:37 am

    I’ve definitely wanted to make that drive! I used to live about 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara and loved the coastal drive! I’ve only driven down to the pebble beach area from the north as a day trip, so I’d love to stay in Carmel and Big Sur!